Val d’Isère, France
The perfect start to the season
It is a pretty good estimate that if you mention Val d’Isere to a British person or any avid skier they have either been there, going there or have heard of it. The luxury and charm of the village teamed with a world-class ski area with snowsure slopes attracts devoted skiers, snowboarders and party enthusiasts every year.
I am so glad that I did because I got the chance to see why Val d’lsere have just won 3 awards at the 2016 World Snow Awards Ski Resort of the Year, European Resort of the Year and Après Resort of the Year. With over 300 klms of ski runs, connect via resorts such as Val d’Isere and Tignes there is definitely something for every type of skier or boarder. Its long season stretches from the end of November into the first week of May.
Due to conditions and the terrain, Val d’Isere hosts a number of ski and snowboard events each year. I was lucky enough to be there for the AUDI FIS Ski world cup competition, which the atmosphere was electric. This is considered one of the most important ski events of the calendar year.
New Solaise Gondola
For when it gets really cold, you will be glad to know that Val d’Isere has recently invested millions in upgrading the Solaise summit area, which includes the impressive 10 seater Solaise Gondola with heated seats and FREE WIFI. Not only can you warm up but you can also keep your friends updated (envious) about your ski trip on social media at the same time.
Ski Runs & Area:
Linked with the neighbouring Tignes to form a ski area of 300km of piste, there is something for everyone from a complete beginner to seasoned skiers who enjoys going off piste.
- They are long and wide in most parts
- Plenty of on and off piste skiing, especially after a fresh dump of snow.
- Lots of places for kids to ski and there is also a children’s area
- 153 Groomed slopes (pistes)
- 2 Snowparks
- 78 Ski Lifts
- 2 Glaciers
Our transfer from Geneva was with SnowDrone Transfer It was the first time I have caught a transfer where you were given movies, bottled water and FREE WIFI for the journey. This made the 3hr drive so much more pleasurable and before we knew it, we were there.
As most skiers or boarders know, you can’t beat using your own gear when on the slopes but when Snowberry Ski Hire offered me a pair of skis to use from their ski hire collection, I thought I would give them a try and I am glad I did. I used my own boots but the Rossignol Skis that I had were light and easy, I felt like I had been using them for years. The only downside was that I wanted to buy a pair!
Snowberry Ski Hire offer some of the latest ski and snowboard collections for hire and are located right next to the main Piste.
A team of professionals will come to your chalet and do the fitting services for you in the comfort of your own place, without you even having to leave. They will take your measurements before returning to the hire shop to make sure everything ready for your first day of skiing.
No doubt you are definitely spoilt for choice in Val d’Isère from the Luxury Chalets with 24hr service and swimming pools to apartments and budget hotels. There is something available for everyone with all types of budgets.
I stayed at Kilco Penthouse with Hip hideouts which are Luxury chalet that sleeps 10 people and is only 5minutes from the new Solaise Gondola . This place was definitely the ultimate in Luxury Chalets with everything from Michelin star trained chefs, private swimming pool to having your own private 4×4 chauffeur ( Full review to come).
There is nothing more enjoyable than having a drink of some sort after a hard day of skiing or boarding and Val d’Isère definitely, does not disappoint in that department. Considered to be one of Europe’s top apres-ski spots, with countless bars across the resort on and off the slopes.
You are never in short supply of places to go, notably the Folie Douce at the top of the La Daille gondola to kickstart your apreski for the day, before heading to the Cocorico for some live music at the foot of the slopes in the afternoon. If you don’t want the party to stop, you can continue on to Doudoune Club which goes to 5 am!!!
Other hot spots include The Morris Bar, Dick’s Tea Bar, Petit Danois and The Underground.
Keep your eye out for the colourful statues (like the blue bear), placed around various parts of the ski slopes. They are a great photo opportunity with the snow in the backdrop. They were created by a renowned contemporary French artist Richard Orlinsk
You can buy your lift pass online to miss the queue and pick it up from the ski office.
If you want to take a break from Skiing or if the kids are climbing the walls, visit the swimming Centre Quasportif
There is a free bus that runs between La Daille – Val d’Isere center – Le Fornet. I understand that this runs from 7:35 am to 3:00 am most days.
Val Thorens France is also a great option. If you are looking for a resort a little smaller but still want the same vibe.
This is my second time to Val d’Isere and it has only gotten better. Granted I was invited and I was shown around but this does not affect the fact that I would not hesitate going back again with both friends and my family.
I mean, what is there not to like about Val d’Isere, with its 300klms of ski runs linked without the need for long and boring connecting trails or lifts. A lively town packed with bars, restaurants and upmarket shops. Not to mention, the additional facilities that are available in town like the Aqua leisure centre, Ice-skating, climbing, ice driving or paragliding. Val d’Isere definitely has something for everyone during the winter ski season.
And the best bit is it is only going to get better, with the tourist office continuously spending money to update areas, chairlifts and gondola.
Have you been to Val d’Isere before or are about to? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.