Right from the very start of our journey as triplet parents, we always said that we would try to provide our three girls with the same lifestyle and opportunities that we would have provided to a singleton (multiple parent speak for one baby at a time). That’s easier said than done, but we are giving it our best shot. That’s pretty much how we ended up taking our triplets skiing with Peak Retreats this winter!
Despite our love of skiing (pre-kids) we knew that doing the family thing was going to be a completely different ball game. We spent hours looking into how we could make this holiday as triplet friendly and consequentially least stressful as possible! Now don’t get me wrong, travelling with young children is difficult for all of us, it’s not just a triplet thing. I am not looking for a parenting award here just for taking my kids on holiday… but I hope that through sharing our experiences, it might save a few of you quite a bit of legwork along the way.
My husband and I had skied before. We learnt as adults and therefore we would be stretching it to describe ourselves as advanced skiers but, we can battle our way down most slopes. One thing we can’t do is jump on a lift and take three complete beginners down with us. So, the search for the perfect resort began… and when I say search I mean hours and hours of (often fruitless) research. We stumbled across the amazing Peak Retreats who, from the very beginning, helped us to navigate all the finer details. Below, I’ve included details of how we got there, where we went and how we managed our days.
Travelling to La Rosière
Having enjoyed our fair share of ski holidays we have previously experienced the long delays that you can often get lumbered with during transfers from airports to accommodation. Additionally the more we thought about flying and the challenge of navigating our way through security with three little ones and all the usual parenting baggage… then not to mention suitcases, helmets and ski boots we decided that flying just wasn’t going to work for us. Peak Retreats offer a fantastic ski-drive option and we jumped in feet first.
The north of England to the France/Italian border (via the tunnel) is an epic journey. Last time I went to the channel tunnel I am pretty sure I slept through the entire thing in a drunken haze, so I must admit, I was childishly excited myself. Arriving in Folkestone we had wound the girls up into oblivion telling them that we were going on a train under the sea. Excited would be an understatement… but 20 minutes later on said train journey there were a few questions about where the crabs were and whether the sharks were coming to eat us. We maybe took it a little bit too far in hindsight! On the whole though, the tunnel experience was surprisingly luxurious.
Peak Retreats organised us a FlexiPlus pass which meant that we could swoop into a cabin style café and gorge ourselves on complimentary food and drink before our crossing. The girls were also moderately entertained by a very small but adequate toddler area. Loaded up with bread rolls, jam and a plastic knife I made the worst jam sandwiches of my life whilst under the English Channel. Importantly there were also NO QUEUES!
Departing at Calais we switched on the iPad, resigned ourselves to the annoying sounds of Ben and Holly and those flipping elves with their flipping horns and we headed to Dijon where we were stopping overnight to break up the journey.
The French service stations are weird, we definitely experienced (good) coffee withdrawal but the huge plus side was that almost every service station we stopped at had a small children’s play area, allowing the girls to stretch their legs and let off some steam before jumping back into the car.
The drive was okay, genuinely there were no dramas. ‘Twas a shock to us all! The next day a slight detour up a snowy mountain added a touch of interest to our last days driving but we made it, sane and intact by 5pm!
We researched resorts endlessly. Our most important criteria was that the snow gardens and nursery slopes were at the bottom of the mountain and not accessed via a gondola or chairlift. Equally, we wanted a nursery slope with a magic carpet, not a button lift. The other boxes that La Rosiere ticked was that it was a small, family resort, it was pretty snow sure and it was sunny and south facing.
La Rosiere is split into two villages, there is the larger La Rosiere itself and we stayed in the slightly smaller Les Eucherts. The two are linked by a five minute bus ride or the beautiful Narnia Trail that’s about a ten minute walk.
We certainly weren’t disappointed by our choice. The snow was excellent and our accommodation was ski in and ski out (for us – unfortunately not the girls!). We stayed at Les Cimes Blanches. There was a little bus a few minutes stroll from our accommodation and arguably the girls enjoyed this just as much as anything else! They loved driving around looking at the mountains, being amazed by the enormous icicles hanging off the wooden chalets and spotting snow dog after snow dog.
Girls on Skis
Surprisingly the girls tolerated the ski boots incredibly well, if I’m honest much better than I do. I had imagined that they would be moaning about the boots feeling too tight, too heavy or that they couldn’t walk properly but genuinely, they just loved everything about our holiday.
I am not going to lie, my husband and I found the first day hard. We were carrying our own skis and poles as well as the girls and my goodness, this coupled with keeping control of three excited pre-schoolers was a little bit too much. Much wine was consumed that evening.
We soon got into the swing of it though, the girls had lessons with ESF and our teacher, Emmanuelle was absolutely magnificent. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better, she had the girls belly laughing in under five minutes and they really enjoyed their time with her. We booked a private lesson for an hour a day at 12 o’clock and they were worth every penny. The design of the snow garden means that the whole experience was fun, enjoyable and much more like playing in the snow than learning how to ski. The girls loved the magic carpets, whizzing around on their skis pressing bells, giving things to different (plastic) animals, following puppets down the slope and generally they did all of this while shouting “faster faster” or “weeeeeeeeeee”.
It was an absolute joy to watch them though I must admit we were both incredibly jealous that we hadn’t learned to ski when we were three! In fact, by the time they are eight they’ll be much more competent skiers than my husband and I will ever will be!
How did we do it?
Our everyday life is fairly regimented, it works very well for us and it means that we can navigate our days easily and enjoyably though it can be hard work at times. We started the day with the family breakfast and then at 8:45 either my husband or I would go out for a ski (alone) until about 11:30. The other parent would then get the girls ready in all their ski gear and make their way to the bus stop for about 10:15. Heading down into the centre of Les Eucherts we enjoyed a chocolate crêpe and gaufre in the local café – a reward for battling with thermals, salopettes, ski boots and such.
The thing with triplets is, everybody gets to know you very quickly. On my mornings, I had strange but wonderful bilingual conversations with the local grandmas and the café owner – an amazing woman who watched for us getting off the bus every morning and would come running out with a coffee for me. As and when her friends arrived she would introduce me to them followed by introducing the girls in broken English and we would try to converse the best we could with my very basic French.
By the time we had finished our pancakes, waffles and hot chocolate there was time for a bit of a play in the snow before the mammoth task of taking everybody for a wee. Everything takes longer when you’ve got a few kids in tow, we were prepared for this and it’s just how it is. Taking triplets for a wee when they’re in full ski gear takes half an hour. No joke.
To keep the costs down, we would then head for a picnic next to the snow garden as a family, my husband and I encouraging the girls to eat plenty of lunch to give them “strong legs” for their ski lesson. Watching the girls skiing was a real privilege. They have no fear, are full of confidence and do everything with enormous smiles on their faces the entire time. It is times like this that you can easily forget how fragile they were when they were born. How far they’ve come and what a credit they are to themselves. By day three Emmanuelle, their ski teacher encouraged us to sneak off for a coffee whilst the girls had their lesson. 20 minutes of grown-up time felt strangely luxurious as we sat on sun terraces slurping our Café au lait, safe in the knowledge that the girls were having the time of their lives.
In the afternoon we swapped over. One of us went skiing until around 4 o’clock whilst the other one took the girls back to the apartment. A bit like the morning, by the time you got back and had taken all their ski stuff off, time had pretty much disappeared. The girls were tired by this point and a couple of episodes of Paw Patrol allowed us to get everything organised for an evening of sledging.
Now I know that not everybody would want to ski alone like we did, but it worked for us and the times that I got a few hours on the slopes to myself was BLISS. In fact, it is almost 4 years now since the girls were born and I think it is the most amount of time that I have had to myself since then.
It is however also 6 years since I have been on skis and I must admit on the first day heading down my initial blue run I was pretty rubbish. I did (eventually) remember what to do with the old legs but I found that skiing alone is a lot different to skiing in a group – it took some getting used to…..though I can’t deny that coasting up to a mountainside café and ordering an iced tea whilst sitting in the sun was amazing. The runs are incredible. Long, fairly quiet and often bathed in sunshine. Genuinely – it’s my favourite resort that we have visited.
We were all back together again at around 4 o’clock every day at which point we would either make use of a small play area in the residence's reception or we would head out sledging. There are sledging runs in both La Rosiere and Les Eucherts and they are BRILLIANT!
The mountains are invigorating and we have returned home more rested and relaxed then we have from any of our other holidays (and trust me we’ve had a few). My kids don’t always have all the possessions that others do and my husband and I definitely don’t but what we do have are memories, memories which we are building upon every day and it is a pleasure to be able to show our children the world and all that they can experience within it.
Huge thanks to Peak Retreats for all their support in helping us to make our first ski holiday run (!) so smoothly. Same time next year?
Sarah Ramsden is a Birth and Parenting Educator and runs Vesta Birth and Parenting which is a provision of support beginning antenatally and running through the early years. Sarah provides bespoke support to families across the UK both in person and online. (www.vestabirthandparenting.co.uk)
Original version of article featured on vestabirthandparenting.co.uk