Located in eastern France, around five miles from the Italian border, Val d’Isère offers some of the best skiing in Europe – if not the world.
Skiing really started in the area back in the 1930s when the first lift was installed and ever since the resort has grown and developed substantially. However, it’s still often overlooked by some of its more popular counterparts (such as Courchevel and Meribel), for reasons that escape most who have visited!
There’s no doubt France’s other resorts all have their benefits and you’re unlikely to be disappointed wherever you go, but many people often disregard Val d’Isère straightaway – and this is almost always because they don’t have even a basic understanding of exactly what’s available.
Skiing and lifts
Jumping right into what everyone wants to know, there are no two ways about it – the skiing in Val d’Isère is world class. Boasting a fantastic 300km ski area, there are 131 pistes catered for by 86 lifts and because of the high altitude (although the resort sits at 1,785m, you can actually ski up to 3,450m!), you’re almost guaranteed to get the best skiing conditions from November right through to May.
With plenty of nursery slopes for those just learning (and dozens of highly respected ski schools and instructors), Val d’Isère has excellent off-piste skiing opportunities, with many of these runs served by the lift system (something you don’t often find elsewhere!).
The other main point to mention here is that Val d’Isère is connected to the popular skiing resort of Tignes, giving you easy access to dozens of more pistes and a whole other atmosphere if you’re looking for a change one day.
It is worthwhile pointing out that some of the green and blue runs are a bit more challenging than seen in other resorts, but this only adds to the excitement, as you can push yourself that little bit further while still feeling confident whatever level you’re at.
Après-ski and atmosphere
Whether you’re a keen skier or not, Val d’Isère is regarded as one of the best resorts in Europe – and that’s all thanks to its fantastic après-ski!
An extremely attractive resort, packed full of restaurants and one of the liveliest atmospheres in Europe, there really is something for everyone. Ice rink. Sports centre. Cinemas. Markets. Husky dog safaris – you’ve even got ice driving, tobogganing and paragliding if you’re looking for something to really get the adrenalin pumping!
What’s more, although many choose neighbouring Tignes if they’re looking to visit the area with young children, Val d’Isère has come on leaps and bounds in recent years to cater for all families. Sure, the après-ski might be more lively than you need it to be, but during the day you’ve got everything you could ever want – from a ‘children’s village’ for kids from 18 months to 13 years through to a creche facility that will pick your kids up (from three upwards) and drop them back off with you whenever you need.
A quick tip – when you’re first driving up to the resort, you need to understand that it is essentially developing from the inwards out. With a lot of the basic construction work taking place a few decades ago when concrete buildings that were useful but not attractive were built, although these are almost completely gone inside Val d’Isère, there are still few yet to be renovated on the outskirts.
We know how much your heart can sink when you’re looking forward to your holiday and the first thing you see is something that is miles away from your expectations, which you think is a reflection of what’s to come – we promise this isn’t the case with Val d’Isère!
The great thing about Val d’Isère is that there’s an abundance of accommodation to suit everyone’s needs and at France-Skiing.net, we’ve got over 30 Val d’Isère ski chalets that can sleep from six up to 22 people!
Ranging from being right near to the slopes and lifts to being far enough away that you can feel secluded if you want to, hotels are without doubt available in Val d’Isère, but ski chalets are the way forward in our eyes. A much more social atmosphere but with your own space if you want it, your meals are all included and you really are in a home away from home.
Val d’Isère is one of those ski resorts that people visit once and wonder why they’ve never been before. Packed full of things to do (and by the way, wherever you are in the resort, there are busses running frequently all over, so you’re always with easy reach of whatever it is you want to do), there never has to be a quiet moment if you don’t want one!
Our group skiing holidays to Val d’Isère start at just £339 per person and really do offer everything you would ever want from a skiing holiday.
Image courtesy of Thomas Guiblain