(1550m - 3550m)
Great skiing, great snow, great atmosphere and great nightlife – what more could you want – Val d’Isere has it all. High altitude skiing guarantees snow sure conditions over a vast area set in the Tarentaise Valley. Val d’Isere is also linked to Tignes forming the Espace Killy ski area (300 kms of slopes), and therefore has more skiable terrain than almost anywhere else in Europe. With a glacier that also offers summer skiing it really is a world class resort.
Resort at a glance
|Ski Lifts||88 (area)|
|Ski Range||1550m – 3550m|
|Green Runs||23 (area)|
|Blue Runs||66 (area)|
|Red Runs||40 (area)|
|Black Runs||27 (area)|
Val d’Isere’s slopes are split amongst 3 main areas all of which are accessed from the village. A word of note here however is that some pistes on all sectors are under classified with regard to difficulty so beginners and timid intermediates would do well to plan ahead. From Val d’Isere you can take either the Solaise express chair or Solaise cable car to access the Solaise area. Here you will find a variety of slopes which will suit all abilities.
For those beginners who have just progressed from the nursery slopes the Madeleine run is a lovely long green run that beginners and early intermediates will enjoy practising on. From there the majority of the slopes in the Solaise sector are long cruisey blues with the occasional red that all except the most expert of skiers will enjoy. In the Solaise area adventurous intermediates should try the long genuine red run, Arcelle, which culminates in a steep finish, whilst experts should try the black 3000 run which is a heavily mogulled piste accessed by a drag lift.
From Solaise you can access the second main area, the Col de L’Iseran, via the Leissieres chairlift which offers excellent views as you drop over into the next valley. The Col de L’Iseran consists of almost exclusively blue runs which on the whole are easier than those in Solaise and are great for building confidence. At the bottom of the Col de L’Iseran area is the Vallon de L’Iseran gondola which takes you right to the top of this sector. From here you can then access the Glacier de Pissailas, which has some excellent blue and red runs. The glacier is reasonably quiet and the snow up here is excellent with summer skiing on offer as well. The runs on the glacier are generally easy with Moraine and Cascade being ideal for timid intermediates who are looking to try their first red runs. The runs back to the village from Col de L’Iseran via Solaise are not easy however, and timid skiers should look to take the cable car back down.
Finally from the village of Val D’Isere you can take the L’Olympique cable car which takes you to the Bellvarde sector which is the most varied of the three main areas. For those staying in La Daille access to Bellvarde is either by the funicular or the Daille gondola. At Bellvarde you will find pistes to suit all abilities. Those looking for easy slopes should head for the piste tranquille area where there are a number of green runs, ideal for those who are looking to progress from the nursery slopes. However despite the name this area is not policed as it should be with too many skiers ignoring the rules. It is a shame given the fact that this area has been specifically established for near beginners or those wanting to ski at more leisurely speeds.
From Bellevarde there are a number of testing blue and red runs that lead back down into the valley ending up at La Daille. Those looking for a real challenge can try the famous 1992 Winter Olympic downhill course, the Face Olympique de Bellvarde which is a long and often mogulled black run leading directly back to the village. On Bellvarde there is also a slalom run and an excellent terrain park which includes a large number of kickers, jumps and rails. Finally the extensive slopes of Tignes can also be accessed from the Bellvarde area which greatly adds to Val d’Isere’s appeal. Again runs back down to the valley from Bellevarde can be tricky, so many skiers tend to avoid this by taking the cable car back down to Val d’Isere or the funicular to La Daille.
Val d’Isere is an attractive town and is one of the true après ski capitals – there are numerous options to choose from depending on your penchant. Everyone here speaks English which may be a benefit or put others off, but beware, whether in town or on the mountain, things can get pricey.
There are plenty of mountain huts such as the Folie Douce at the top of the La Daille gondola and the Tipi Bar on Solaise. In town there are also many options such as the lively Petit Danois where you can play pool and the Alexandra Bar - again with pool and live music. More music can be found at Le Saloon, MBC, the Underground Cafe, Café Face, the Lodge and of course the Moris pub.
Sport is shown in many of the bars on large plasma screen TVs, try the Pacific Bar and the Vspot Bar. For something more refined then be tempted by the wine or cocktails in La Belle Etoile, the Avenue Lodge Bar, Wine Not, Le Blizzard's Bar and of course the M Bar in the Hotel Tsanteleina.
There are also a few nightclubs in Val d’Isere such as the famous Dicks Tea Bar, the Doudoune and Le Graal if you still have the energy at the end of the day for a boogie.
There are numerous restaurants in Val d’Isere catering for a wide range of tastes and pockets. Many serve a variety of regional specialities such as a delicious cheese fondue and other Savoyard specialities such as cheese sausages, cured hams, cakes and pastries, there’s no dieting here, yum!
Notable places include The Grande Ourse, by the nursery slopes or the Michelin starred restaurant The Table de l’Ours, in the Barmes de l’Ours Hotel, also don’t miss La Savoyarde.
More mid priced places include Bar Jacques, Chez Paulo and 1789. There is also La Table des Neiges, Le Pré d’Aval and Corniche. The Perdrix Blanche does a wide variety of cuisine from different countries, Le Coin des Amis does Thai food, Italian and pizzas can be found at Chez Paolo, The Grand Cocor and La Casa Scara.
For something lighter then try Quick Silver and the Billabong Cafe for burgers or Sur la Montagne for a variety of smaller dishes. Food within the hotels also tends to be very good and as accommodation is a mixture of hotels through to swanky chalets there’s something for everyone.
As you would expect Val d’Isere has a vast range of activities to keep you occupied and as your weekly lift ticket covers the neighbouring resorts in the Tarentaise Valley (Les Arcs, La Plagne, Courcheval, Meribel, Val Thorens, etc), you’re sure to have something to occupy you.
Of course, there is the token leisure centre with a pool, climbing area and wellness zone. There is also a range of traditional winter activities to amuse you such as ice skating, snow shoeing, husky sleighs, parasailing, helicopter rides, ice driving and snow mobiling. If you fancy something a little different then how about ice climbing, an igloo evening or why not pamper yourself with yoga, pilates or try a spa treatment within one of the hotels.
There is a huge choice of ski schools in Val d’Isere catering for beginners through to advanced in small groups or private lessons, there are also a number of independent instructors.
British run ski school New Generation has a base here, they have group lessons starting from €189 for 5 days tuition with 2 hours per day and private lessons starting from €165 for 2 hours.
Evolution 2 has won several ‘Which?’ awards, they do group and private lessons, group lessons start from €159 for 5 days tuition with 3 hours per day, private lessons start from €50 per hour they also do freestyle lessons.
Oxygene Ski do group lessons from €219 for 5 days tuition with 3 hours per day and private lessons starting at €59 per hour but with a minimum time of 2 hours.
Most of the schools run off piste lessons and one school specialising in off piste is Alpine Experience. Group off piste lessons start from €55 for 1 morning or 5 mornings from €260, they also do private off piste lessons starting from €130 for an afternoon.
Where to stay in Val d’Isere, France
Hotel Le Samovar
Located in La Daille, a peaceful area at the bottom of the funicular, this stunning hotel also has a spa with pool, steam room and sauna. Virtually ski in / ski out, you’ll be on the mountain in no time.
This warm and cosy hotel is located just 250m from the slopes and has an attractive lounge, quiet bar and lively restaurant so you will be made more than welcome here.
Club Med Val d’Isère
This luxurious all inclusive hotel really looks after guests, with a dedicated spa on site, beautiful views and a restaurant serving traditional Savoyard dishes, what more could you want.
Chalet hotel Le Val d’Isère
Just a stone’s throw away from the lifts and ski school and right in the heart of resort, this cosy chalet hotel has an outdoor heated pool, in-house creche and of course stunning views.
Chalet La Vieille Maison
This charming chalet in La Daille is opposite the foot of the funicular which allows you easy access to the slopes, the warm and cosy atmosphere make you feel right at home.