Val d’Isere guide: The very best places to ski, stay, eat & relax
Val d’Isère is the perfect ski resort offering miles of slopes and trendy après ski, that’s why more Britons than ever are getting their winter sport fix here. Kate Morfoot checks in and gives you all you need to know about hitting the snow guaranteed slopes.
Why Val d’Isère?
Its natural terrain provides the opportunity for perfect skiing! It’s linked to neighbouring Tignes to form a ski area of 300km of pistes and 78 lifts. ‘Val’ offers high quality, snow-sure slopes for everyone from complete beginner to advanced powder hounds.
The pistes of Val and Tignes are naturally linked without the need for long and boring connecting trails or lifts and importantly a snow cover is usually reliable throughout the season. This starts in late November through to early May. Nature is backed up by the largest snowmaking facility in Europe. The giant snowmaking operation based beside the Olympique gondola can churn out a mighty 2500 m³ of artificial snow in one hour. (That’s enough to cover a football pitch in a metre of snow in less than 30 minutes).
You won’t be let down as the snow is of excellent quality. The glitzy resort has world-acclaim for their extremely high groomed pistes and they are groomed to extremely high standards.
Where is it?
Found at the end of the Tarentaise valley, the village stands at 1,850m, with the top slopes at an altitude of nearly 3,400m lying beneath the summit of the Pointe du Montet. The top lift in Tignes is on the Grande Motte and reaches a height of 3,456m.
Val isn’t the prettiest ski resort, however there are ambitious plans afoot with a £170million project planned to redevelop the centre over the next five years. This will include two new hotels, a new piste with an underground moving walkway linking the centre of town with the lifts.
The Solaise gondola was updated for the 2016/17 season, with a state-of-the-art lift to replace the old Solaise Express chairlift. The 10-person gondola, complete with heated seats and wifi, now has capacity that can carry up to 3,600 passengers per hour, an increase of 40%, bringing a welcome end to bottlenecks in high-season.
At the top of the gondola, a new North American-style lodge and a free-to-use picnic area featuring microwaves and vending machines were added at the beginning of the 2016/17 season. Nearby, the now defunct Solaise cable car station is being turned into the highest hotel in France. This is planned to open in December 2018 with 40 rooms, a spa, and a restaurant seating 380.
Restaurants and Bars
There are no shortages of restaurants and bars in Val d’Isère. You will find five-star sophisticated restaurants depending on your budget lower scale eateries. La Folie Douce (lafoliedouce.com, +33 479 06 07 17) also owns the next door La Fruitiere Restaurant. It has modern, white washed furniture and serves contemporary food from burgers to steaks and some of the best puddings in the Alps. Combined with their famous outside club, this is a party hangout and the place to begin Apres Ski. Try the new Cocorico (cocoricovaldisere.com, +33 4 79 24 60 04), also a cool après ski hang out with live onstage music.
Dick’s Tea Bar (dicksteabar.com, +33 6 51 39 99 81) is an old staple in Val. There’s a great atmosphere with a trendy vibe.
Celebrating its ten year anniversary, La Doudoune (doudouneclub.com, +33 4 79 24 60 04) has a reputation for great DJ’s, live music and serious parties.
Also L’Etincelle (letincellevaldisere.com, +33 479 06 03 38) is worth trying for its upmarket food in a relatively genteel atmosphere.
Where to stay?
VIP SKI CLUB Aspen is the perfect location within the heart of the town centre. Just a short 250m walk you have easy access to the main slopes.
The ten bedroom chalet can be booked room-by-room which is ideal for couples and small groups. The VIP CLUB service offers a flexible menu plan in the dining room, with a choice of delicious dishes provided by a highly trained chef and a friendly team of dedicated chalet hosts.
You will find two lounges, a bar area with complimentary beer and wine, TV, music system, DVD player, games console and Wi-Fi.
Next door, there is a well-equipped ski and snow board hire shop. A full price list for ski rental can be found at vip-chalets.com.
A seven-night stay at VIP SKI CLUB Aspen is priced from £709 pp and includes return flights from Gatwick to Friedrichshafen, coach transfers, accommodation, catered chalet board (of cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, a three course evening meal on six nights followed by a cheese board, coffee and mints), complimentary beer and house wine, and toiletries are provided.
For more information on VIP SKI visit vip-chalets.com or call 0208 875 1957.
Tip: Much of the rental accommodation is available for Sunday arrivals and departures. Avoid the Saturday traffic jams and get more time on the snow.
Lift passes: A one-day adult lift pass for Espace Killy is priced from €57/£51; a six-day adult lift pass is priced from €285/£253. A full price list for lift passes can be found at valdisere.com.
Ski school: An adult beginner group ski lesson costs from €265/£234 in Val d’Isère with Oxygene; an adult intermediate group ski lesson costs from €245/£216; an adult ‘Steep & Deep Off-Piste’ lesson costs from €375/£331. A full price list for ski lessons can be found at oxygene.ski.
Ski hire: Ski hire can be booked with VIP SKI. Advance bookings save up to 25% on resort prices.
– 6 days’ ski hire is priced from £91
– 6 days’ ski and boot hire is priced from £154
January 23 – 26th 2018
Europa Cup Ski Races – where the top European skiers take part in the Giant Slalom competition on La Joseray.
April 3rd-6th 2018
La Scara is a glimpse of the future of Alphine Skiing World Cup. The best racers under 14 and under 16 gather in the town for their own competition.
April 27-28th 2018.
Join top yogis at the Congress Centre, with numerous workshops for all levels over three days.
Nearest airport: Chambéry, 120 minutes (145km); Geneva, 170 minutes (223km).
Nearest station: Bourg-St-Maurice, 40 minutes (30km). Regular buses run from the station.
More information: valdisere.com.