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Family Fun in the Sun: A Guide to Les Arcs
Looking to escape to the mountains with your young ones for that magical, glowing combination of sun and snow? Les Arcs is one of the best skiing resorts I know for families, with accessible slopes for youngsters and intermediate skiers, a great range of activities, and affordable prices. Here’s why it makes an ideal spot for a winter holiday destination the whole family can enjoy.
Les Arcs is home to over 200km of pistes, many of which are perfectly suited for beginner or intermediate skiers, comprising gentle, smooth runs lined with trees that all lie within easy reach of the main accommodation villages. The best blue runs for new skiers are at Peisey-Vallandry, served by their own drag-lifts, at Arc 1800, which is near the fantastic Mille8 complex, and Arc 1600, which is served by the Combettes lift. There are also good runs for novices at Arc 1950 and 2000, while slightly more seasoned skiers should make for the Apocalypse snow park, which has plenty of pistes for those of an intermediate level.
What’s great about Les Arcs is that it’s not just a skiing resort, but an all-round winter holiday haven with a vast array of activities for the whole family:
• Snowmobiling at the Arc Aventures forest park is a fantastic way of exploring more of the mountains for families with children aged over 10. All you need is a driving licence and you’re free to roam.
• At Rodeo Park, meanwhile, you can take part in a Luge Run and ride down the toboggan piste by night, for an added icy thrill! If you have a ski pass it’s free, and open to children aged over 10.
• If the weather doesn’t play ball, then play the Laser Game instead. Housed in two large ultra-flourescent rooms in Arc 1800, and open long into the evenings, this is guaranteed to entertain the whole family and exercise your competitive spirits.
• Over at Arc 2000 in the Place de la Patinoire, meanwhile, there is a large natural ice rink, with plenty of space for mastering the skating basics – simply hire some skates and let yourselves loose.
This is the real jewel in the crown at Les Arcs for families – a gigantic centre containing both an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, fitness room and gym, spa with steam rooms and saunas, and much more besides. After all that work on the slopes, what perfect way to unwind than with a massage jet and bubble bed? If the children still have energy to spare, there are waterfalls to explore and a river splash and games area that will be sure to tire them out!
Getting the Best Out Of Your Trip
Taking the whole family on a skiing break is a great way to get active and enjoy lots of different things together, but it’s always safe to prepare for any small bumps and bruises you may encounter along the way. Taking out a comprehensive winter sports insurance will give you all the cover you need, and keeping you protected in the case of any eventuality. Make sure to choose a full winter sports insurance, as these policies take into account all the many different activities you’ll want to take part in out on the slopes. To find out more about which winter sports insurance is best suited for your family, get in touch with InsureMore, and we’ll help you prepare for your perfect snow-filled, action-packed holiday in the mountains.
High-Tech Skiing: 2017’s Greatest Gadgets
2017 has been a gift for the skiing and snowboarding aficionado, thanks to the release of some incredible new high-tech gadgetry to make your time on the slopes all the more special. From Smartphone apps to clothing, watches to equipment, this has been the year when it’s really paid to get ahead with some top-quality gear.
Already sketching out plans for hitting the pistes this coming winter? These are the finest offerings from 2017 you need to make sure you are taking with you.
Leki GoPro Adapter
Designed to capture you and the mountains from all the best angles, this adapter will easily attach to both Leki racing poles and freeride mountaineering poles, offering a far wider variety of shots than a helmet-mounted camera and ensuring you look slick and smooth as you make your way down the pistes.
Snoww Social Tracking App
Not all the best gear need cost the sun and the moon – this is free to download on iPhone but offers an incredible package, combining social media with a video game experience. Using GPS, it can monitor how far you’ve skied, your top speed and energy used, vertical drops taken, and much more. It also allows you to compare your stats with friends, track where they are, and share photos via your online profiles. Make sure you’re king of the mountains and the person to beat!
Powervision Robotics Poweregg Drone
This sleek egg-shaped drone not only looks good but is designed to make you look stunning too – all 360 degrees of you, in fact, with a top-quality 4K HD camera that can capture real-time video from long range. Not only that, but it’s also incredibly practical, being small and light enough to carry with you, and easily operable by remote control.
Suunto Spartan Ultra Sports Watch
The ultimate item for the true pro, this sports watch is packed with amazing features and is the perfect guide for getting the best out of your skiing. Its GPS heatmap allows you to check out the top places for making runs; once there, you can record your speed, altitude and distance, and then share your stats and times with other online users. Don’t let yourself be seen on the slopes and in the après-ski bars without one.
Poc Spine VPD 2.0 Airbag Vest
Keeping yourself protected doesn’t need to look, or feel, bad – thanks to this smooth fitting airbag vest, you can feel comfortable pushing yourself to your limits. Capable of detecting any unavoidable falls you’re due to encounter, it will inflate in less than 100 milliseconds, and is also sensor-fitted to monitor for crashes and cushion your upper body from the impact. Even if you make the odd tumble, you’ll be falling with style.
Before You Hit the Slopes
Looks like you’re all set to go. There’s just one more, slightly less glamorous piece of kit to think about: ski travel insurance. Of course, no matter how much high-tech wizardry you have with you, or how strong your Airbag Vest is, it always pays to have great ski travel insurance cover, so that you can always salvage the best from any bad scrapes you may encounter. For that extra peace of mind, investing in some solid ski travel insurance will ensure you, along with your gear, are safely covered when you’re taking to the slopes – get in touch with InsureMore today to find out how.
Beyond Skiing: The Natural and Cultural Wonders of Chamonix
Attention, ski enthusiasts! Chamonix is renowned for its fantastic skiing – and for good reason! However, this means that its other wonderful attractions are frequently overlooked. You’ve just stepped off your shuttle from Geneva to Chamonix… now how about something a little different? For something distinctly non-touristy yet incredibly worthwhile, why not wander off the beaten skiing track and try some of these alternative activities?
Visit the Mer de Glace
At 200m deep, this is France’s largest glacier. It flows 7km down Mont Blanc’s northern side, moving at a rate of up to 1cm an hour or 90m per year. The ‘Sea of Ice’ is stunning to behold, and after the 430 steps that lead into the grotto, you’ll see some of the best crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif. It is reachable by the Train du Montenvers, a picturesque cog railway that will bring you to an altitude of 1913m, from where you can access the Grotte de Glace by cable car. The entry price also gains you access to the Glacorium, which examines the birth, life and future of glaciers – so hold on to your ticket!
Take the Cable Car to the Aiguille du Midi
Rising to 3842m at its peak, the Aiguille du Midi is perhaps Chamonix’s most noteworthy geographical feature. If the altitude doesn’t put you off, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps, which will literally take your breath away.
You can take the cable car Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi all year round, and the journey itself is quite spectacular. Either hop out halfway at Plan de l’Aiguille to begin hiking or paragliding, or continue to the top for views in every direction, thanks to the glass floor of the ‘Step into the Void’ attraction.
Be aware that even in summer, it will be only be about -10°C at the summit, while temperatures can plummet as low as -25°C in winter.
Musée des Cristaux
This museum is home to a dazzling display of crystals from the Mont Blanc massif, and there are also rocks and minerals on display here. The Espace Alpinisme section focuses on the art and science of mountaineering. It has interesting interactive displays and mesmerising videos and photos of ascents that must be seen to be believed.
This collection focuses on the region’s rich history of Alpine adventure, including highlights such as the first ascent of Mont Blanc by a woman, and the cliff-hanging exploits of Jacques Balmat on his quest for crystals.
How to Get There
There are plenty of budget airlines that fly from the UK to Geneva. To get from Geneva to Chamonix, why not book a quick and easy airport transfer? Shuttle Direct offers both private and group shuttles from Geneva to Chamonix, guaranteeing a convenient and pleasant start to your trip.
Ice Climbing in Chamonix: What to Expect
For an athletic adventure that will really get your adrenaline pumping, look no further than ice climbing.
Ice Ice, Not For Babies…
Ice is unlike any other climbing surface. During the day its consistency changes massively, from hard and flaky in the morning to the soft in the afternoon, so the sport gets easier as the sun warms the ice later in the day. Every time you climb, the route will be slightly different and your guide will need to alter the route and the position of the rope anchor.
It’s unpredictable and has an element of danger, but that’s part of the reason why the sport is so exhilarating!
Physical Fitness: Are You Up to the Challenge?
To properly enjoy this sport, you need to be fit and prepared for the challenges of ice climbing. You should be fit overall, so start adding some more cardio to your workout routine a few months before your climbing trip to improve your endurance.
On top of this, you should incorporate some moves such as dead hangs, weight sit-ups, pull ups and overhead weighted lunges into your fitness routine to start working on the muscles you´ll be using when climbing.
Ensure You’re Equipped
This is an equipment-intensive sport – you’re going to need a climbing harness and helmet, two ice axes, boot crampons and special winter boots. Most lesson providers will be able to rent you these essential items at a fair price for very good quality gear; it may be a good idea to make sure you like the sport before investing a lot of money in specialist equipment.
On top of the equipment, you’re going to need top-of-the-range winter clothing and water-resistant trousers, coat and gloves – and don´t forget good sunglasses and factor 50 sun cream and lip balm.
Climbing in Chamonix
Chamonix is famed for its ice falls, and in the resort and surrounding area you can find over 200 routes for all skill levels. The icefalls at altitude tend to begin forming in December, with the best time to climb being January and February.
Equipment can be bought or rented in all sports shops in Chamonix, and there is a wide variety of different professional guiding organisations who offer ice climbing courses for beginners and intermediates to the sport.
There are great routes for all skill levels in and around the resort, making it a brilliant place to start out and progress during your trip.
How to Get There
Hop on one of the many frequent flights offered by budget airlines offering the UK to Geneva route. You can be in Geneva in under 2 hours from several UK locations, and in just 90 minutes if you´re travelling from London. Getting to Chamonix from Geneva will be the least demanding part of your trip, as Shuttle Direct has years of experience in providing comfortable and convenient transfers to Chamonix. From Geneva, you can even bring you equipment for free as long as you choose that option at the time of booking.
Upgrade Your Pro Ski Gear in La Plagne
No matter how up to date your ski gear is, there is always room to upgrade. If you are anything like me, then only the latest and best equipment will do, and you know that hav-ing the most current gear is a great way to optimise your performance on the slopes. It is also the best way to turn heads!
In my opinion, the best place to upgrade is always at a ski resort, instead of back home or online. La Plagne is an excellent place to do this, as there are many fully stocked shops. What’s more, it is also one of the best resorts for a holiday with superb skiing and the option of booking a luxury chalet. La Plagne is a much better place to upgrade than back home for the following four reasons:
1. Experts on Hand
For me, the primary reason for upgrading at the resort is that you can get the opinion of experts to find the best and latest gear that is right for you. It can be daunting to shop for skis, boots, helmets, clothing and other gear when there is so much variety. An expert will be able to guide you through what is available, and help you to find the right equipment for your age, gender, height, weight and personal preference.
Another reason to buy at the resort is because of the wide range that’s available to you. Modern ski gear is catered to different terrains and personal tastes, so it is helpful to be in the store and browse a selection. This could be cross-country skis, race skis, mini skis, slope, all-mountain or another type.
3. Try Outs
A huge benefit of buying in La Plagne is that many places will allow you to try out the gear before making a purchase. You never really know how the equipment will perform until you are on the mountain, which is why buying at home is a huge gamble that may not pay off.
La Plagne has a selection of sports shops that are full of the latest gear and have friendly staff to assist you. Here are a few of the best!
Zig Zag – This is a very friendly sports store that’s run by the welcoming and helpful Yannick, who will happily spend time with you to find the right gear. This is very handy, as they have a huge selection of products, stocking all of the major brands like Stockli, Drake, Fisher and Northwave.
Elpro – There are four Elpro stores around the resort, so chances are there will be one close to your chalet. La Plagne’s most experienced skiers come here to shop, as the store always has the very latest equipment and offer everything that you need to hit the slopes in style.
Guidon Sports – Guidon Sports is a popular shop which is conveniently located right in the heart of La Plagne. Guidon also offers high-end clothing and ski equipment with the chance to make huge savings with the generous discounts usually on offer.
Belle Plagne Sports – Belle Plagne Sports renews their skis, snowboards, clothes, boots and accessories each year, so you will always find the latest here. There are three stores around the area, and each has equipment for all abilities. There are plenty of staff members on hand to offer sound advice.
La Plagne is a superb place to upgrade your gear, and it is also a great choice for skiing and relaxing. Thanks to the option of booking a luxury chalet, La Plagne attracts avid skiers from all around the world – so if you are looking to buy the latest gear, this is the best place to do so.
Out and About in La Plagne: Get Busy Off the Snow
As any avid ski enthusiast knows, ski holidays are not just about shredding powder each day. After a long day on the slopes and once the sun goes down, there is nothing better than soaking up the atmosphere at the resort and mingling with other powder hounds.
One of the best places for events and après ski is, unquestionably, the famous resort of La Plagne in the Paradiski region. In my humble opinion, it is the best pick of the resorts for a group of lads looking for fun and adventure – this is because it has all kinds of fun activities that you might not normally try at home. Additionally, it boasts fantastic ac-commodation, so you can also spend time unwinding/nursing a hangover in your chalet. La Plagne has plenty of entertainment to choose from each night, but the some of the best events take place in a lively venue named Splitting Feathers.
Splitting Feathers is a brand new bar, which is conveniently located at the entrance to Plagne Bellecôte. It has an electric atmosphere every night of the week and a huge se-lection of beers, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and food – everything you could need after an exhilarating day on the mountain! Here are a few of the best ways to let loose in this venue.
Sink a few beers for some courage and then get up on stage and sing your heart out with your mates. The great thing about karaoke on holiday is that you’ll never see your audience again, so there’s no need to hold back. This is a barrel of laughs and most per-formers do not take themselves seriously, but keep in mind that the prize for best singer is a bottle of champagne. So get practising beforehand in your chalet! La Plagne’s greatest karaoke act is just waiting to be found…
Put your heads together or perhaps split into different teams for the brilliant pub quiz, which will put your trivia knowledge to the test. This is an excellent way to unwind and soak up the warm and friendly atmosphere inside Splitting Feathers, as everyone gets involved and the excitement can escalate rather quickly. There are also superb prizes from a few of the local businesses, such as a free trip on the Tyrolean Zip Wire. What’s more, this is an opportunity to sample the bar’s “resort-famous” home-made curry or to share a plate of nachos.
This is not like the bingo your nan plays! Bingo in Splitting Feathers takes the typically quite sedate game and ramps it up a few levels by offering free shots for lines and house. You are sure to walk/stagger away from the bar, feeling very merry and content. Again, bingo is a great time to order some food from the bar and sample the wide range of booze that’s available (there may even be some ale on draft).
I love Splitting Feathers in La Plagne, as there is such a fun vibe and there are so many activities on offer. Of course, there are also plenty of other options in and around the area, which are easily accessible from your chalet. La Plagne has a lot to offer for young groups, and fun times are easy to find!
Sophisticated Sightseeing in Sliema
Whether it’s art galleries you’re after or strolling around amazing churches, the atmospheric coastal town of Sliema offers a wealth of sights for culture aficionados.
Unwind while our Malta Airport transfer whisks you away on a pleasant 20-minute drive to the heart of Malta’s culture capital, where you will be able to explore the historic town of Sliema at your own pace.
Visit Remarkable Churches
Sophisticated travellers will appreciate a wander around one of the many stunning churches that this tiny Catholic country has to offer. The Chapel of Our Lady of Graces is well worth a visit. Dating back to 1802, it is the oldest church on the island and is home to two wonderful paintings by Italian Baroque artist, Mattia Preti.
A few streets away, the stunning neo-gothic façade of the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel cuts an impressive figure from its vantage point overlooking Balluta Bay.
When you’re ready, you can take a quick stroll to the impressive Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which boasts five works of art by the Maltese painter, Giuseppe Calì.
Perhaps the most striking church is the Baroque Stella Maris Church, which houses a statue of the Virgin Mary.
If you’re lucky, you may even get to witness these spectacular churches in all their glory during the village festivals, which are celebrated from July to September.
Christine X Art Gallery
Art lovers will not be disappointed with this glorious gallery. Formerly known as Artitude, this wonderful little gallery boasts a number of avant-garde abstracts, contemporary interpretations of the Maltese landscape and figurative work by local and foreign up-and-coming artists. Occasionally, the gallery hosts temporary exhibitions that feature local and international artists.
The Salesian Theatre
Just over a century ago, the Juventutis Domus opened its doors with the intention of giving young people a space to create new ideas. Not much has changed since then, as the Salesian Theatre is still considered the artistic and cultural soul of the country.
Each year, this cosy venue hosts a number of live music events, ranging from classical to jazz music. Theatre and art buffs will not be disappointed either, as a number of plays and contemporary art exhibitions take place in the venue on a regular basis.
Folklore Night at the Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens
Enjoy a sultry Mediterranean night in the open air whilst you relax with a glass of red wine and enjoy an evening of traditional music and dancing in Malta’s most unique venue.
Set in impressively landscaped grounds, the Limestone Heritage Park is perfect for a night under the stars. Enjoy the freshest and most authentic Maltese gastronomy, such as crispy traditional bread that’s been dipped in olive oil, tangy goats’ cheese and tempting beef olives. And why not wash down these delicacies with a glass of local wine? If you’re looking for entertainment, you’ve come to the right place: dancers and musicians will perform local dances such as the Maltese Frejgatina (Fishermen’s Dance) and the Farmer’s Dance. The hospitality and friendliness of the Maltese people ensure that this will be an unforgettable night.
How to Get to Sliema
Valetta is the only airport on this tiny island, ensuring that you are never far away from your destination. The flight time from the UK is around three hours, and Malta is served by a number of carriers, including easyJet, Ryanair and Monarch.
Avoid the hassle of looking for a taxi on arrival and pre-book a Malta Airport transfer online. You’ll be sure to start your holiday in style when one of our expert drivers takes you on a pleasurable 20-minute drive to Sliema.
Savour the Flavours of Sliema
Once a tiny fishing village, the town of Sliema has grown to become the veritable gastronomic capital of Malta. From typical Maltese dishes to Asian fusion, you’re sure to find a restaurant to suit your palate and your wallet in this delightful town.
Situated only 20 minutes away from the airport, you can easily travel from terminal to table with one of Shuttle Direct’s transfers from Malta Airport. Our knowledgeable local drivers will be delighted to whisk you away to a restaurant that tickles your taste buds.
Our Top Picks
We have hand-picked some of the best restaurants in Sliema for sophisticated travellers and foodies alike. Check them out!
Dine in the tranquillity of this secluded family-run restaurant, which is located near Sliema’s waterfront.
Named after Malta’s national bird, – the blue rock thrush – this intimate restaurant offers a variety of traditional dishes from Malta and from the rest of the Mediterranean. The dishes, which are lovingly prepared by the head chef Patrick, are very generous in size, so only dine here if you’re hungry! The large portion sizes ensure excellent value for money.
For lovers of fine Italian dining, L’Artiste will not disappoint.
Situated at the beginning of the Tigne Peninsula, this intimate family-run eatery offers the perfect setting for a romantic meal.
At the front of the house, the restaurant manager Gino will make your evening extra special with his witty repartee. He takes genuine pride in advising diners on the best dishes and, as an added bonus, he may even serenade you with his wonderful guitar playing.
In the kitchen, chef Steve Schembri passionately recreates local and Italian dishes with a contemporary twist. There is also something special on offer for wine lovers, who will be spoilt for choice when they behold the restaurant’s exhaustive wine list.
Serious foodies will love this unique concept café. Situated on the densely packed Tigne seafront, which is where many restaurants jostle for attention, this atmospheric café-cum-wine bar stands out against the crowd.
Rocksalt is famous for its stunning and elaborate dishes, and also boasts a carefully crafted ambience. For those looking to sample the crème de-la crème of cuisine from France, Greece, Italy and Spain, then this restaurant is the place to go.
If you’re impressed by the food, you can also bring some home, as the café boasts a recently opened delicatessen store, where you can buy a selection of high-quality products.
Medasia Fusion Lounge
Situated bang in the middle of Sliema’s coastal road is the unlikely location for this chic gastro-lounge.
As its name suggests, this bold eatery offers an exotic combination of Mediterranean and European cuisine. If you want to sample the culinary delights from Japan, Thailand and China, which are all prepared with a distinctly European flair, this is the place for you!
Charles Grech Bistro
Highly reputed in Malta, the Charles Grech brand took the country by storm with the opening of its first café in Valletta.
The restaurant in Sliema continues to wow diners with its sophisticated French cuisine. This eatery boasts a menu consisting of everything you’d expect from a Parisian bistro, including foie gras and beef tartare that has been cooked to perfection.
African Safari – Kenya Safari Tour has Received Huge International Attention!
There are many reasons why visiting the African safari has appeared as a top choice these days for many tourists. This continent is now receiving a good flow of tourist population. Especially the east African regions and the safaris located there are receiving a good flow of tourists. People coming to South Africa and Kenya like countries cannot even resist paying a visit to the Kenya safari. There are so many things to see, explore and feel when you are opting for an African safari tour. Your tour planner can arrange everything for you. And this is where the tourists are enjoying maximum convenience during the Kenya safari tour. Some time the question may rise in mind is that what are the reasons that drive so many people to explore Kenya safari?
Well, the contrasting wilderness you find at the Kenya safari is what you are surely not going to feel while exploring the wildlife at other parts of the world. If you are looking for a breathtaking leisure or holiday in the African region, then a tour to the Kenya safari can make it happen for you. Kenya is surely the land in Africa where every expectation can exceed! This is the place where you can explore the savannah planes and can find the zebras and the wildebeest dwelling and thundering. And when you are looking for more, then Masai Mara is the place that can really draw your attention at the first instance.
If you are keen enough to move for the sandy beaches, then Kenya is having places like Malindi, Watamu, Galu and Diani to display before you. These places are best for beach vacation. At these places, you can see the palm trees that use to sway in a gentle manner due to the gentle breeze coming from the ocean side. As far as Kenya is concerned, this part of the world is often considered as the land of beauty and diversity. And once you are at the spectacular Kenya safari during the yearly migration time, you are surely going to receive a mesmerizing experience.
The abundance of wildlife at the Kenya safari can really make you feel great about your presence at this place. You might have ever imagined for such a tour to a safari where you can see so many things happening around you. The landscapes and the animals here are well protected. There are agencies which are working very seriously to safeguard these natural treasures. Even for the discerning guests, Kenya safari can bring so many things to cheer about!
Due to the constant management efforts, a proper balance has been established between the wildlife preservation and humans. Due to these efforts Laikipia and Lewa like conservancies have come into existence. The local conservation efforts have really made it possible! This type of success has surely managed to bring international attention towards Africa safari. And now the time has come for you to explore the real charm of Kenya safari simply by being there.