Ski Holidays in Europe - you should try Val d'Isere ski resort

May 24, 2013

It’s not often that I get to cross the Atlantic to indulge in my love of skiing so when my wife and I finally arranged the time (and the funds) for an European ski holiday I had my heart set on picking one of the best resorts in the Alps. Nestled in the magnificent French Alps, Val d'Isere is truly one of the most incredible skiing destinations on the planet. I regularly ski the big American and Canadian resorts so believe me when I tell you that Val d’Isere can easily match the best of North American powder and pistes. Linked with the adjacent resort for Tignes, to form the huge Espace Killy ski area, Val d’Isere is the chief contender with the Trois Vallées in terms of superior French skiing. The resort offers well over 300km of pistes along with infinite off-piste skiing, which makes for a combination that is perfect for beginners, intermediates, and experts. Non-skiers aren’t left out either but I will talk about that later.

Geneva is the best airport for access and there are plenty of direct routes serving North America. From Geneva, it takes less than 3 hours by car to reach the town. Alternatively, a train runs from Bourg St Maurice to drop you in 40 minutes at the Val d'Isère ski resort. The ski season runs from late November to end of April but if you are a total powder hound the locals recommend end of February or start of March for perfect skiing conditions. This is the mountains of course so don’t forget that the weather can be fickle.

Popular amongst British and French snow fans, the ski resort is full of charm and typical alpine style chalets and apartments. The village it is flanked by the soaring mountains on both sides and the Isère River passes through it in the Manchet Valley. This once small farming village is now a modern Alpine ski village packed with shops, restaurants, excusive boutiques and plenty of non-skiing activities for all ages. Don’t forget to bring your stamina and wallet !!! We stayed in Le Fornet a little village just above Val d’Isere. My wife had searched online with allChalets and found a really cute chalet style apartment that was just perfect. We could ski to the door and the main ski lift was just 50m downhill. It is worth noting that the resort offers a complimentary bus service from morning until late night which runs the full length of the valley from Le Fornet, through central Val d’Isere and on to La Daille at the bottom of the valley. I say bottom but La Daille is still 1850m high. In terms of ski accommodation there are both budget and luxury ski chalets to suit all price levels. The best part is that you can pick pretty much any location in the village and select any chalet because all of them are easily accessible on the highly efficient ski bus system.

A majority of the skiing occurs above 2300 metres where the resort has an unparalleled snow record. If you are an expert, start your day by hitting the Espace Killy’s legendary 300km of pistes (La Face, Ok, and Orange) and more than 10,000ha of lift-served off-pistes. The trees in Le Fornet, the Tour de Charvet, and the Cols du Pers are a challenge for the very best skiers and boarders. Cols du Pers is not for the faint hearted and I have to say a guide is always recommended.

For an easier ski experience, try out the wide and gentle slopes at the foot of Solaise before returning on the gondola. Careful intermediates should explore the edges of the piste map, above Le Fornet, and the Glacier Express lift.

It wasn’t all about skiing of course. There is plenty of après ski action in Val d’Isere. The night can be easily spent in exploring the lively apres ski scene with Dick's Tea Bar known for the best laser show and live DJs and the Moris Pub for a lively band atmosphere. We didn’t have time to try the myriad of activities in Val d’Isere but for non-skiers and entertainment fans, Val d’Isere offers plenty of options such as skidooing, ice driving, sleigh rides, and helicopter rides. My wife tried the ice driving and all I can say is I’m glad it wasn’t my car.

For tasting some high-quality original cuisine, I would recommend Pier Paul Jack over three courses, each with special menu, especially the white chocolate foie gras; Les Marmottes for good lunches on the mountain, La Grande Ourse for typical French dishes, and La Becca for Michelin-starred dishes. You will simply not forget what your buds will taste here!

Genuinely Val d’Isere is perfect for all levels of skiers. The village has that traditional French mountain charm combined with a shot of adrenalin fueled madness if that’s what your looking for. You choose which you want and you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to Simon and Louise for the rundown on their week skiing in Val d’Isere. For any of you who are thinking of giving Val d’Isere a try, you can check out our Val d’Isere chalets . We have a selection of accommodation in Val d’Isere including catered chalets and self-catering apartments.

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