By Patrick Cook
This Easter holiday my nine-year-old brother Joe, my dad and I went on a skiing holiday to the Chalet Hotel L'Aiguille Percée in Tignes, next to Val d’Isère. With just a week’s experience of skiing three long years ago, I found getting the hang of it again very hard, and it wasn’t until the end of the first day that I remembered just how immense skiing is.
'My brother Joe went bonkers about marmots and his daily highlight was seeing a marmot peering at him from below the lift.'
We flew from Heathrow to Geneva only to find our luggage had not bothered to make the flight and would only be arriving at Tignes the next afternoon. After a three-hour coach journey on roads as twisty as a rollercoaster, we arrived at Tignes. As we had nothing to unpack, we went straight up to the bar. We played a very long game of Scrabble, which I won (in your face, Dad!) then went to have a look at our room. A few minutes later, two ladies who work for Mark Warner came to our room with a choice of spare coats, hats, gloves and salopettes – they even had my size! Thank you.
Here are a few facts about Tignes: it has 300km of piste, joined by 97 lifts, which amazingly is only 11% of the total skiing area (the remaining 89% is off piste). As we went late in the season, most of the south-facing mountains were snowless, which meant that the marmots were coming out of hibernation. My brother Joe went bonkers about marmots and his daily highlight was seeing a marmot peering at him from below the lift.
He liked them so much that on our last day of skiing, when my knees had practically turned to dust, he persuaded our dad to take him up on one more lift in the hope of seeing a marmot (I'd gone to the hotel to die in peace). They didn't see any on that particular lift, although the sight of the cute furry rodents will never leave us.
Saying goodbye to Tignes was very sad, but I had achieved a lot, getting my Level 2 badge despite being in Group 1, and going down my first black run – something that a week before had seemed years off. All this would not have been possible without the Mark Warner staff (most had worked at other Mark Warner ski resorts and were looking forward to the summer season in various Mediterranean resorts – lucky them!), the skiing instructors and, of course, my sporty (kind of) dad.
Easter is a special time in Tignes – a lot warmer but with enough snow to cover more mountains than we could possibly ski down in just a week. I cannot wait to go back.
Read more about family ski holidays at L'Aiguille Percée and book with our specialist agent.