Head for the family ski playground of the Portes du Soleil. At one end of the circuit sits Les Gets, a friendly village with excellent easy slopes above the centre, and others that are quieter in the Chavannes area. Chavannes also has a beginners’ boarder-cross course (bumps and banked corners) with its own lift. The resort (which also has an ice-skating rink) offers charming skiing over to the jolly town of Morzine, with its own good beginner area. The pair combined offer enough skiing for most families.
However, it’s worth taking the little road-train (kids love it) across the centre for the second sector, where, after some rather flat skiing, you’ll find Avoriaz (family-friendly and traffic-free) and Châtel (with family skiing either a bus or gondola ride away), and cruising runs into Switzerland and resorts such as Champoussin and Morgins. Avoriaz is high altitude (1800m) so very snowsure, with curiously appealing modern architecture.
Flaine is another family favourite, safe and car-free. Chamonix is one of the world’s most famous resorts, but it’s best experienced with children willing to walk and able to carry their own skis. A decent alternative for families determined to get a Chamonix fix is Les Houches, a sprawling but pleasant village 7km down the valley. Its large area of easy, tree-lined runs is a great place to improve. Determined adults can get the Mont-Blanc Unlimited lift-pass, which allows exploration of the Chamonix slopes (as easy to get to from here as from Chamonix itself).
If you like traditional French style, delightful La Clusaz has wonderful skiing in the most scenic of surroundings. Nursery slopes in the village and up above give way to easy runs, plenty of cruising and even expert terrain, both here and at nearby Le Grand Bornand (a bus-hop away), bringing the total skiing to 200km. They are also very close to Geneva.
Megève is another classic French spot – a medieval village transformed into a posh resort town in the 1920s. Although it has lost its title as France’s glitziest ski resort (Courchevel now has that pleasure), this is a lovely place for a fairytale French holiday, where skiers seem more concerned about the overall ambiance than rushing around. Skiing is on several peaks around the town, with beginner areas on each, as well as at the base. It’s a place high on stylish hotels but low on apartments. There’s lots for intermediates, plus family attractions such as an open-air ice skating rink, sleigh rides, a market and an indoor pool.
Check out lovely, medieval Talloires on Lake Annecy – a great base for both winter and summer activities in the area.