We stayed here in December 2013 as a budget ski rental. We chose this rental as it seemed to be quiet, near the slopes and it had a garden. We weren't disappointed. We arrived after a two day journey with our two young children in the car. We were unable to find the house at all; it turned out that the address given isn't on any satellite or road map. However after calling the contact she showed us where to go. We went in the third week of December and, unusually, there was very little snow. This was a real disappointment to us but there was enough in the little front garden for the kids to play in. The ski slopes are just at the back, a three minute walk in a normal person but a fifteen minute walk with a whingy, cold, tired, refusing four year old. You can ski back to the apartment though via the field but I don't know if we were meant to. The ski slope at the back is called Vormaine and had some greens and blues but when we were there only one green was open. Above that is Le Tour, with more blues and greens but we didn't get up to that. This flat would be really convenient for people who are average to good skiers. The flat was beautifully quiet in the evening and we loved Le Tour itself, a pretty little French village.
There is no bread shop or any other shop in Le Tour, so you need to drive to Argentiere each day. This is only a few minutes but does mean getting the car out and tackling the snow if there is any. There is a big ski lift to Le Tour with a huge car park which gets packed. There is also a hotel and Loc a Pic ski hire shop, but the hotel didn't seem to be open and the ski hire shop is not online. Argentiere has everything you'd need and Chamonix wasn't far.
The flat is part of a larger house with other holiday rentals in it. (We were glad the people over us only arrived the day we left as we could hear everything - walking, talking, putting stuff on radiators...but we chatted a lot to the Italian family renting the flat next door.) The flat hire came with a garage, which we thought was great - secure, and we didn't have to clean the car (the one day we had snow).
There is a bench and general area outside the flat useful for taking off boots and skis, but no ski room. So the skis had to go into the garage each night and all the boots into the flat. We knew this when we booked, but the whole family with all our ski clutter in a ski flat did start to irritate after a few days.
The flat is compact. We knew it would be, but it was made worse with two children (4 & 9) and each of us having coats, salopettes, socks, gloves, boots, shoes, winter boots. luggage, shopping etc, most of which needed drying each day. The heating was great and easy to use - they are like fan heaters on the walls - but this made drying things hard as we couldn't hang ski kit directly on them like radiators. So we spent some time each evening trying to find ways of putting things near - but not on top of - the heaters.
The kitchen had most things you could need, apart from a Christmas Dinner Family Sized oven and a microwave for the Christmas Pudding. We managed, it was fine, just don't put food on the bottom of the oven...The oven also had, strangely, numbers 1-10 rather than degrees of heat, and no instructions. How hot is 1? How hot was 10? We found that 4 would burn croissants well enough. The oven was fine for normal cooking; for our Christmas dinner we had to design containers out of tin foil so they'd fit.
The fridge was an undercounter one and a good size for the week, there was enough crockery and cutlery and plenty of other useful stuff like graters and peelers. We kept milk on the windowsill just because we could. There was a useful washing machine, but no instructions, just wash numbers. We guessed the first time and they all came out dirty, so the next one we did a higher number and it seemed ok. There was also a slim dishwasher, again no instructions, but it wasn't hard to figure it out.
The rooms were nice - clean and simple - and the children loved the bunk bed and having to open and shut external wooden shutters. The underbed storage boxes in the bunk bed room were a good idea, but a few hooks on the wall or door would have been great for coats or dressing gowns. They were mystified about how Father Christmas would get in without a fire or woodburner (either of which would have been fabulous) but there seemed to be some kind of chimney in the flat and we assured them he'd come down that.
The bathroom was small and practical but the ventilation fan was not working and we were worried about making it damp by not opening the door, as it had no windows. By a combination of using the heater when were in there and leaving the door open (tricky with the loo door directly opposite and the outside door adjacent) we kept it fairly dry, we hope.
The table seated four but we discovered that it extended so we opened it out and used the top for a bit more storage. The sofa in the lounge was pretty uncomfortable; I think it is a futon sofabed which folds down. It was too deep to sit on comfortably and had no end bits for lounging on. The views were nice if you looked over the tops of the backs of the other houses and it was nice that the flat had a big double window/door.
I think this flat would be great for a couple or people with slightly older children. As our kids are young and we had no cash to splash we had to spend every evening in the flat, being quiet and uncomfortable on the sofabed with ski kit cluttering the place up. The flat would be great for a few evenings in, a few evenings out but wasn't so great for us, in all the time. It was fine to cook in, it was lovely and clean, it was possible to ski back to the flat which was great, and we loved having the use of the garage. We would come here again when our children are old enough to spend more of the evening out, or to sit and play games at the table. I think it would be lovely here in the summer too, with all the walking and cycling.
The location, for us, was great, just what we wanted and just what we thought it would be. The garden suited the kids, the views suited us, it was peaceful and beautiful. Even better, there was no WiFi and the tv was in French so we couldn't understand it. We talked in the evenings and had a proper holiday without distractions.
One random thing: the picture of a breastfeeding angel on a wheelbarrow was a great talking point.
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