An immense ski area, three glaciers, a buzzing chic nightlife and a truckload of things to do when you're not skiing make Val d'Isere one of the most popular mountains in the French Alps.
The resort sits at 1850m, and the skiing goes up to 3,550m. Its vast size extends to 24,700 acres of skiable terrain along with 300km of marked piste. You could ski here for a month and still be finding new adventures each day. Boarders, there's a ripping terrain park with a recreational area and music, BBQ facilities, chairs and tables. You can relax on the outdoor deck of Les Marmottes restaurant and watch the crazy flips and turns of boarders and freestyle skiers as they defy gravity.
This part of Espace Killy (also home to the Tignes resort) is an expert's dream with the huge amount of exciting black runs and kilometre after kilometre of off-piste gold. Intermediates probably have the best choice of on piste runs, with an enormous amount of slopes laid out for them from Tignes le Breviere all the way to Le Fornet. Beginners have plenty of free lifts and runs to start on, but there's not a wide selection of easy blues for them to move onto next.
Val d'Isère is divided into four sectors corresponding with the three main ridges dropping into the town and the glacier area (Le Fornet, Solaise, Bellevarde and the glaciers). Each offer different joys, from wide-open beginner and intermediate paradises to thousands of feet of steep black faces. If you purchase an Espace Killy ski pass, which includes Val d'Isere and Tignes, you'll want to stay for the rest of your season, just so you can work your way through the overwhelming terrain.
More on Val d'Isère:
Val d'Isère for Different Ski Abilities
There are great free beginner areas and lifts at Val d'Isere, but some of the intermediate runs can be a bit challenging when you move on to them. The new super modern Les Marmottes chairlift has a brake system which makes it easy to get on and off. Its location makes it accessible to skiers of all levels and assures an easy return for beginners to Val D'Isère. At the top of the chairlift, you just take the cable car l'Olympique down to return to the resort. There are two nursery areas in Val d'Isere - one in the centre of the resort and one in La Daille. Here, there are gentle slopes which are ideal for beginners and in addition, there are seven lifts in total which are completely free of charge - two chairlifts (Village & Rogoney) and three drag lifts ( la Savonette 1/2 & la Légettaz) in the Solaise area and "Les Lanches" 1 & 2 drag lifts in La Daille. After feeling more confident on these nursery slopes, the Solaise and Bellevarde areas are a good option as there are several slow and steady runs.
Like many resorts in the French Alps, intermediate skiers have it best. You'll find absolutely everything you need here to progress from the easier wide rolling blues to some steeper blues and easier reds. If you are here for a week you will progress like crazy! Le Fornet is Val d'Isere's best kept secret. It has some easy long, open and often empty pistes and is guaranteed good snow since it offers glacier skiing up to 3456m. The area offers 1500m of vertical descent along blue runs all the way from the top of the glacier to the bottom of the resort at 1930m. There are also some great blue runs in and around the Vallon bubble, and pistes should be quiet. You can stop for lunch in Le Signal or l'Edelweiss (half way down the Mangard).
Val d'Isere is an expert's paradise with hundreds of on piste choices and much more off piste. From the top of Bellevarde, there are several steep descents down to both Solaise and La Daille. They are definitely quieter in the morning - so hit them hard then. You can ski Face, Santons, or Epaule du Charvet (steep black moguls) back down to the Olympique. OK (World cup run), Orange, Diebold and Raye are then options down to La Daille. In the afternoon, you can attempt the Vallee Perdue. This is an off-piste run which starts at the bottom of the Tommeuses lift and involves negotiating rocks, nooks and crannies.
Val d'Isère Ski Schools
There are 17 ski and snowboard schools at Val d'Isere offering every type of lesson under the sun. Many independent instructors are also just a phone call away.
Progression Ski and Snowboard School
0208 123 3001
+33 4 79 00 18 12
Is a lively après-ski atmosphere as important to you as great skiing? Val d'Isere is the perfect place to party. The resort comes alive at night as its many dazzling bars over flow with a festive atmosphere where friends meet for a drink and to celebrate their exploits on the slopes. DJs spin their discs right through to the early hours for revellers who have just as much energy for the dance floor as for the ski slopes. The central town of Val d'Isère is large and cosmopolitan with countless bars, restaurants and clubs. The nightlife is hectic and we recommend Le Bananas for après ski with a young crowd, The Moris Bar for live music and theme parties, Petit Danois for pool and shooters, The Underground for quirky French style partying, Victors for 2-4-1 cocktail happy hours, and of course you can't visit Val without going to Dick's Tea Bar after midnight. Check out the various happy hours 4-7 p.m. Other good bars in town are the Café Face in the Christiania Hotel and St. Hubert Pub under the St. Hubert. For a real French disco, try Le Graal. Perdrix Blanche is normally packed with a young crowd after skiing and Taverne d'Alsace offers a very rustic bar and quieter après-ski for a slightly older crowd. The copious restaurants in the resort offer a warm welcome and serve a variety of local specialities such as the Savoyard cheese fondue. Local specialties like cheese, sausages, cured hams and Savoy cakes and pastries are a must-taste. Just a warning - your diet will probably go out the window!
off the mountain
The king of après-ski activities, you can do anything you want at Val d'Isere when not skiing up a storm. One of the more unique options is the igloo evening, where you can spend the night heading up the mountain in a helicopter, then on a snow scooter before dinner in an igloo and a torchlight descent! Take the kids to L'Adroit farm, where they can meet the animals and watch cheese making (and taste it!). Discover local crafts in Seez (spinning, taxidermy, gold / silversmith, blacksmith, tannery) or try your culinary hand at French patisserie classes. Head along on a baroque trails tour, or try: snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing, husky sleighs, ice skating, walks, village discovery tours, mountain biking, paragliding, glacier walking, helicopter tours and ice driving. If you need to unwind, check out some of the great shops, an art gallery or two and have a body melting massage. Highlight of the week: Val d'Isère's magical moments. The village glitters with a thousand colours, and pedestrians have priority on the streets.
How to get to Val d'Isère
The closest airports are Geneva, Lyon Saint-Exupéry, Chambéry and Grenoble.
Val d'Isère's closest railway station is located in Bourg St Maurice, 30km away from the ski resort. Every day, especially in the winter, numerous trains (TGV, Eurostar, Thalys...) arrive in Bourg St Maurice train station. Eurostar runs both a direct daytime and an overnight train from London or Ashford. There are two also Eurostar direct services weekly. The night service leaves London/Ashford on Friday evening and arrives in the French Alps early on Saturday morning (returns Saturday night/Sunday morning) while the day service leaves early Saturday morning from London/Ashford and arrives late afternoon (same for return). An alternative is to take a Eurostar to Paris or Lyon and take a French train (perhaps overnight from Paris) to Moûtiers Salins.
SNCF INFORMATION & BOOKING
SNCF +33 4 79 06 03 55 (Val d'Isère office)
Bus companies Cars Martin (+33 4 790 6 00 42) and Autocar Nicolas (+33 4 79 441 01 25) will pick you up from the station. Alternatively you can hire a taxi from one of the companies listed under Airport Transfers.
Driving out from the UK by car is relatively inexpensive if you can share the journey with friends. Bear in mind that the normal nine hour journey across France may take much longer if you chose to travel on a very busy Saturday or hit heavy snowfalls.
From Calais the journey takes from seven to ten hours depending on your speed. There is motorway or dual carriageway from Calais all the way to Bourg St Maurice (45 minutes past Moutiers) and then a 20-30 minute climb on single carriage road to the resort.
The better route is via Reims and not via Paris. Try using ViaMichelin to plan your route.
Recommended route during the winter from Paris, Lyon or Chambery: Take the motorway A43 to Albertville, then the dual carriageway to Moutiers. Finally, jump on thee road D902 to Bourg St Maurice.
Road Information Centre Osiris + 33 4 79 37 72 40
(Forecasts, conditions, resort roads...)
Europcar Relais d'altitude +33 4 79 06 07 44
Europcar France [centre car park] +33 4 79 04 04 20
Val d'Isère Childcare
t4 nannies provides the loveliest nannies in the Alps by hand picking nannies for the full season who share their belief that undivided attention, fun and getting involved are the key ingredients to a happy family holiday. All t4 nannies are first aid trained and CRB checked with glowing references. Every day a t4 nanny will come to your chalet and take your children out on an adventure such as a trip to the farm or whizzing on a sledge. Crates of toys are dismissed and instead it’s all about playing with arts and crafts – plenty of cutting and sticking, painting and messy play!
Jelly and Ice Cream
Jelly and Ice Cream, experts in childcare, offer private nannies and babysitting services both during the day and evening in Val d'Isere and Tignes. You can rest assure that your babies and children will be looked after, leaving you free to enjoy your skiing! Jelly and Ice Cream have the ability to provide care to virtually all age groups of children, as young as just six weeks up to pre-teens and older. Today's varying demands of a family can be accommodated with flexible business hours, tailor-made for each individual on a virtual 24/7 basis. Because of their excellent service, clients return to Jelly and Ice Cream year after year and are full of praise for Tina and the team!