At an altitude of 2300 meters, Val Thorens ski resort France is considered to be the highest in Europe. Due to the altitude this purposely built ski in and ski out Ski Resort, pretty much guarantees snow as early as November (or earlier sometimes) and as late as May. Meaning it has one of the longest ski seasons in Europe.
Val Thorens ski resort provides something for everyone looking to have a fun packed ski holiday in France. It is great for families, for beginners and advanced skiers who are looking to create those fresh lines off piste. Not to mention any avid skiers and boarders chasing that first bit of snow at the start and end of the season.
Table of Contents
- 1 Val Thorens Ski Resort
- 2 Fly over a Glacier like an Eagle
- 2.1 Preparing for take off
- 2.2 Fly like an Eagle
- 2.3 Additional Information
- 2.4 Take a Thrilling Ride down the Longest Toboggan Run in Europe
- 2.5 Day Run
- 2.6 Evening Run
- 2.7 Accommodation
- 2.8 How to get to Val Thorens
- 2.9 Catching the Bus
- 2.10 Top Tips for Val Thorens Ski Resort
- 2.11 Would I recommend Val Thorens
- 2.12 Other French Ski Resorts
Val Thorens Ski Resort
Val Thorens ski resort forms part of the 3 Vallees (or also known as the 3 Valleys) in France and is considered to be one of the biggest ski areas in the world. The ski area covers over 600klms of slopes that are interlinked across 8 Ski resorts in the French Alps, with some of them being renowned like Courchevel and Meribel ski resorts.
Having already been to the other two main resorts in the 3 Vallees before, it was only a question of time (and money) until I would get to experience Val Thorens Ski Resort and the all-important slopes and apres ski myself. Fast forward a few years and I have now been twice to Val Thorens Ski Resort and it keeps getting better every time I go.
Ski Runs & Pass Areas
Ski passes are available for Val Thorens – Orelle Area, Belleville Valley Pass (Les Menuires, Val Thorens & Orelle) or for the 3 Vallees Area (Les Menuires, Saint Martin, Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens, La Tania, Orelle, Brides Les Bains).
Like with Les Menuires Ski Resort, you can also get different types of group passes Duo (2people), Tribu (3 People & more) and Family Pass ( 2 adults + 2 children (5 to 17 years old)). Both children under 5 years and Seniors over 75 years can ski for free.
Make sure that you have the right travel insurance so your mind can be at ease when you are hitting the ski slopes in the Alps. Compare the best holiday insurance for FREE
Ski for FREE in other Ski Resorts around the world
As of the 2017 season, the ‘3 Vallées SEASON Skipass holders’ have gone into an agreement with other Ski Resorts around the world to offer free lift passes for up to 3 consecutive days in the following Ski Resorts:
- Skiga Kogen (Japan)
- Mount Buller (Australia) (Where I learnt to ski :-))
- La Parva & Valle Nevdo (Chili) &
- Vail Resorts (USA)
For SEASON Skipass holders of the above resorts, they are entitled to 3 consecutive days in one of the 3 Vallées resorts (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens, Orelle).
If you are interested in discovering more of the 3 Vallees interlinked ski resorts Les Menuires Ski Resort is a great option. It is located next to Val Thorens Ski Resort and easy to ski to and from either ski resort.
Overview of the Val Thorens Ski Resort Area
- They are long and wide in most parts
- 150kms of Ski Slopes
- 83 (11 green / 34 blue / 29 red / 9 blacks )
- 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 familypark
- Most places are ski-in and ski-out
- 31 Ski Lifts
- 18 Free Wi-Fi Zones (So you can share your trip to VT on Social Media)
Read More – 6 Top Tips for Saving Money for a Ski Weekend
- If it is a clear day and you are a confident skier, head up to one of the highest points Cime Caron (3200m) and take either the black or red slope back. The views are amazing all the way back to Val Thorens Ski Resort.
Fly over a Glacier like an Eagle
Preparing for take off
I am not going to lie, my heart was pumping when I stepped onto the ledge of the zipline (known as ‘The Tyrolienne’) before take off. Even when I was safely strapped into my harness, I felt like I was going to literally fly off the edge.
My adrenaline didn’t stop there, once I took off I just got faster and faster and then there was a slight drop and that was it, I thought I was gone. I quickly shut my eyes and then remembered this was a once in a lifetime experience, so with hesitation, I opened them again to take in the views.
Fly like an Eagle
They say that the sensation is to be similar to an Eagle, hence the half man half eagle on the ticket. But it was one of the scariest Ziplines l have ever experienced, especially when l looked down & everyone underneath me looked like ants. I certainly didn’t feel like an eagle but a scaredy cat!
When you watch the clip, you can even see me shaking my head saying l don’t want to go. It didn’t help that l am the first person of the day to do it because they had a break in the fog. However, I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat!
You are strapped into a harness, with a section for your skis/snowboard on your back (Don’t worry you can’t even feel them there) by one of the experts at the start hut. Once adjusted and comfortable you head outside to the takeoff point of the Zipline. There you will be in a sitting position ready for takeoff.
You start at an altitude higher than 3200m (10498ft) from the top of the Bouchet chairlift in Orelle, then you zipline over the Glacier du Bouchet at speeds up to 100kms an hour (like an eagle). Finishing at the top of the Funitel de Thorens in Val Thorens which is 3000 (9842ft).
The length is 1300m and the flight will take you around 1 minute 30 seconds to complete, depending on your speed. Depending on conditions, the activity can be stopped in case of high winds or bad snow conditions
Here are some good suggestions for day backpacks for skiing or snowboarding, all are reasonably priced.
- Held Between– 10am and 4.45pm
- Duration – 1min 30sec’s of pure excitement
- Price– 52 € Per Adult
- You purchase the tickets on site at the top of the Bouchet – Orelle chair lift.
- Age Requirement – 8 to 88
- Weight Requirement – Minimum 40 kg / maximum 120 kg
- Max Height – 250 m
- Start and End Point– Top of the Bouchet chairlift in the Orelle resort (3230m) and finishes at the top of at the top of the Thorens Funitel (3000m)
- Helmet – If you don’t have a helmet, one will be provided for you.
Take a Thrilling Ride down the Longest Toboggan Run in Europe
If ziplining at 3200mts is not for you but still want something exciting and fun to do off the slope, then how about the Luge? A 6km (3.7 miles) Toboggan run from start to finish, it is considered to be the longest toboggan run in Europe. With all the twists and bends down the purposely built run, this activity is not only for the kids but for the adults too.
The Luge is situated at the top of the Peclet Cable Car at the foot of the Peclet glacier at an altitude of 3000mts. You can get to this from the centre of Val Thorens Ski Resort, where the Toboggan run finishes. Don’t worry though if you don’t have a lift pass, as your ticket price includes lift pass and sledge to the top. All you need to do is turn up with warm waterproof clothes.
- This is a great activity to do before you start skiing for the day.
- It is free for children between the age of 5 and 10 and under 1.25 m tall, riding with an adult (above 18).
If you want to do the Luge but don’t want it to cut into your skiing or snowboarding time, then that is not a problem. The toboggan run is open during the evenings from Monday to Friday at 4.45pm until 6pm.
Be aware that booking is mandatory and tickets will have to be purchased on the day and your toboggan will need to be picked up from the ticket office. Also, you will have to pick up your Toboggan before 5pm, otherwise, you cannot do the run.
- Held Between– Mon to Fri from 12:15 am to 4:00 pm (Day)
- Sat to Sun from 10 am to 4 pm
- Mon to Fri from 4: 00 pm to 6:00 pm (Evening)
- Duration – 45 Minutes
- Price– Day 15.50 € Per Person (Day) and 23.50€ Per Person (Evening)
- What to bring – Helmets and gloves are COMPULSORY for everyone.
- Minimum Age – 5 and Above
- Start Point– Access is via the Péclet funitel.
- Only children over 10 years old and over 1.25 m tall are allowed to use a sled on their own.
- Another fun option for the family is Family Ice Driving
With over 260million invested in diversifying the accommodation in Val Thorens Ski Resort over the last 6 years, there is definitely no shortage of different types of accommodation. You can even stay in an Igloo pod with a Finnish hot tub at one of the 5 Star hotels.
The best bit is that because it is a purposely built Ski Resort most of the accommodation is ski-in ski-out, which is definitely a bonus.
Alberta Hotel is a stylish modern ski-in and ski-out hotel, situated right on the main ski slope, near Val Thorens slalom stadium. The hotel has definitely taken advantage of the views with both the bar and restaurant overlooking the ski slopes. It was really nice getting up in the morning, enjoy my continental breakfast, while getting excited about the day ahead with the views.
Most of the main chairlifts, cable chairs are only 100mts -200mts away from the hotel. All you need to do is go out the ski-locker room allocated at the bottom of the Alberta Hotel and ski down.
I had a cosy modern room with a balcony and direct views of the Val Thorens ski slope. I actually felt like I was on the ski slope from the bed, I was that close. I forgot a couple of times to close the blinds when I was getting changed and remember that the skiers outside could see. I did love waking up with the views of the ski slopes and the ice wall that was in the distance.
The room also had good Free-Wifi that worked really well, power outlets and a small desk, this is always a bonus when travelling.
- I think the best way back to the hotel is to take the Bleuets run and pick up a bit of speed at the end and you can ski straight up to the hotel ski-locker room door. Anyone can do the run, as it is only a blue.
How to get to Val Thorens
The closest international airports to Val Thorens Ski Resort are Chambery, Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble. The best way to get to Val Thorens are either via bus, car or transfer, as there are no direct trains. Beware though if you are flying into Geneva Airport, as it has three arrivals areas, two on the Swiss side and one on the French side.
How about these suggestions for ski boot bags that you should be able to use as carry on for your flight.
⇒ If you like to get a FREE, easy and fast comparison of flights, then try out Skyscanner’s flight comparison site.
Catching the Bus
My husband took the local ski bus Altibus which takes around 3 and a half hrs (including the stop over to change) from Geneva Aiport. You can get this bus from both Chambery and Lyon airport as well.
If you do take the Altibus for your return on a Saturday or Sunday, you will need to confirm your return ticket 48 hours in advance via phone or at the ticket counter located in Val Thorens Ski Resort bus station.
Transfer and car hire
Beware it is really expensive to organise private transfer to Val Thorens Ski Resort when you are not in a group. If you have booked a package deal check to make sure the company have organised a transfer for you.
If you are comfortable driving in Europe and the snow, look at hiring a car and splitting the costs. You can get a FREE, easy and fast comparison of hiring a car, then try out Skyscanner’s car comparison site. If you are worried about getting lost it should not be a problem, as most car hire companies hire Sav Nav too.
Top Tips for Val Thorens Ski Resort
- Check out the new blue slope that has been added to the Plein Sud sector, called La Corniche. This would be great for a group of mixed levels or families. It is also a great way to get back from the other resorts in the 3 Vallees.
- Experience the very lively La Folie Douce at the end of the day at least once. Even if you are not into Apres ski, you can stand on the outside and watch, it is a great atmosphere to see.
- Check with the airline that you are travelling with because some of them allow you to check your skis on the plane for free.
- If you can, try to get up for the first lift of the morning and go up to the top and ski on the glaciers. The view is amazing and the runs down are great especially when the snow is fresh. Best spots at the Cime Caron, Col De Rosael or the Col De Thorens
- Head over to Visit the other resorts Les Menuires Ski Resort which can do if you have a Belleville Valley Pass or 3 Vallees ski pass.
- You can never have too much Snow Gear
Would I recommend Val Thorens
Val Thorens Ski Resort France is an amazing place and I would definitely go back in a heartbeat, the atmosphere was relaxed, the skiing was great and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from. It is also super easy to get around and it is good for both families and groups.
However, I would not do a long weekend again instead I would do a whole week. To be honest, it is a long way to go for just a weekend especially as it is a 3hr drive from the closest airport Geneva .
There were a lot of areas to ski both on and off the piste and you would not have a problem going there for a week to ski. They recently added another chairlift to link Les Menuires Ski Resort to give you access to even more runs. Not to mention it is already part of the 3 Vallees one of the biggest ski area in Europe at 600klms.
As it is the highest resort, there was plenty of snow and the weather was a little unpredictable at times. It snowed heavy for the first two days we were there and one of those days was a total whiteout, so no skiing. But even knowing all of this, I still would not hesitate to go back and ski again
Other French Ski Resorts
If you are interested in discovering other Ski Resorts in France, feel free to read my following ski articles. All are great options for a French ski holiday with either family or friends.
La Clusaz Ski Resort – Annecy is only 30mins away
Val d’Isère Ski Resort – Famous for apres ski and fine dining
Les Gets – Within an hour transfer from Geneva airport
Chatel – You can ski between France and Switzerland as it is on the border
Thank you for reading this article ‘Val Thorens Ski Resort, where the season starts early and ends late’, I hope it helped you to decide what to do when you are there for your next ski holiday. Val Thorens Ski Resort is truly a skier’s paradise.
Have you been to Val Thorens Ski Resort France or the 3 Vallees area before? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Even though I was there as a guest of the Val Thorens tourist office. All views are my own and based on my own experience.