Renowned for it’s high altitude terrain, picture perfect town center and bustling nightlife, it is easy to see why Val d’Isere is one of the most popular French ski resorts. Val d’Isere is part of The Espace Killy, where it is naturally linked to Tignes offering 300km of pistes without long boring connecting lifts or trails. It is also nestled alongside the Italian peaks over the Col d’Iseran, which is said to create it’s own microclimate where it will continuously snow even when surrounding resorts have clear skies. This lovely snow spot boasts a long season stretching from the end of November until the first week in May. Another highlight, with eight main mountain access points from Le Fornet to La Daillie, even during high season there are rarely any life queues!
Skiing in Val d’Isere
Val d’Isère is great for… strong intermediates and advanced
There are a wide number of nursery slopes for beginners, but it is the advanced areas that make it stand out. The terrain here is steep so a blue run here is more like an easy red elsewhere. The resort has 25 black runs including the famous and deeply challenging Olympic run, La Face.
Where to stay in Val d’Isère
Hotel Blizzard is a high-end central hotel with a contemporary style and a pool and spa as well. It also has a great lounge bar for a quiet drink. Other centrally located hotels we recommend are Hotel l’Aigle des Neiges or Hotel Tsanteleina for high quality rooms, great service and lovely food both of these are great choices.
Where to eat and après in Val d’Isère
A lovely lunch spot on the mountain is La Grand Ourse. It first opened in 1936 when there was just one lift on the mountain and many consider it Val’s finest restaurant. Another mountain restaurant we recommend is L’Edelweiss. It is halfway up Fornet area and is very famous for it’s excellent food.
In the village check out Le Lodge for savoyard classics as well as meat dishes, pizzas and pastas. For a cozy atmosphere, go to Le 1789 for it’s famous fire-grilled dishes prepared right in front of you!
La Folie Douce is a high altitude club located on the mountain. It has DJs, live bands, and dancers performing on an open terrace rocking from mid-afternoon until the lifts close every day. Another option is Bananas. It is the first bar near the bottom of La Face. It burned down in 2011 but has since been rebuilt and is now one of Val’s liveliest après bars.
Pick of the pistes
For some easy rolling pistes to get your legs warmed up, head to the Bellevarde side of the mountain and down the green Grand Pre and the blue Club des Sports pistes. With usually only a few skiers and nice conditions all day long, it is the perfect place to start the day. Le Fornet glacier has a red and blue pistes that are usually crowd-free. The Cascade red piste in particular we love! Or for a challenge, head down La Face Olympic run for steep descents and ungroomed moguls. Enjoy the gorgeous view of Val d’Isere below!
Secret powder stashes
One great area is accessed by the Grand Pré chair, which offers terrain for novices and experts. For an easier route with stunning surroundings, head into the Tour du Charvet; more competent skiers should follow a high traverse onto the Face du Charvet for a variety of route. We also recommend the Charvet Tour, this is the best-known off-piste run in Val. Take the Grand Pré chairlift and at the top, carry on along the line of the lift before cutting in right at the large flat area
Before the popularization of skiing, Val d’Isere wwas a mountain village with long winters where there was no work to be had. The men would leave to find work in the valleys each winter. Once winter sports became popular, Val d’Isere had the perfect terrain for skiing and the town grew. Luckily, Val d’Isere has kept its pretty old village buildings around the church.
After the lifts close
The Center Aquasportif in Val has swimming, watersports, climbing wall, fitness center and a spa to keep you busy while off the mountain.
For some fun for the kids, head to the nursery slope next to the Savonette lift in the evening where you can go sledding with interlocking sleds – kids ride for free!
To keep the party going all night head to Café Face, where La Folie Douce party migrates afterwards. Enjoy a similar crowd and music, until 2AM. Or check out Dick’s Tea Bar, established in 1979, it is an après bar that turns into a nightclub at 10:30PM. It has a shuttle bus that runs from the bottom of La Daille to Dick’s. They even supply furry slippers for those sore ski boot feet!
So the scores on the doors for Val d’Isere…
beginners 2/4 **
intermediates 4/5 ****
advanced 5/5 *****
après scene 5/5 *****
families 3/5 ***
dining 4/5 ****