Europe, Travel

A guide to skiing in Val d’Isere, France

I’ve recently returned from a ski holiday in Val d’Isere. It was my first time visiting this resort and I now consider it to be one of my favourites in Europe!

Here’s my guide to skiing in Val d’Isere…

About Val d’Isere

Val d’Isere is located in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie in the French Alps. Along with nearby Tignes it forms part of the Espace Killy ski area, named after the Olympic skier Jean-Claude Killy who grew up in Val d’Isère. It is regarded by many as one of the world’s greatest ski resorts.

Planning the trip

Two of our previous ski trips have been booked through SNO Holidays and we got in touch with them again to help organise this one. We gave them a bit of background on our skiing ability, our budget, and some of the resorts we’ve enjoyed previously. They came back with a few resort options tailored to our requests and we decided to go with Val d’Isere, staying at Le Savoie.

Our trip package included flights and transfers to and from the hotel so everything was taken care of for us, all we had to do was rock up.

Accommodation

I’ve previously written about the differences between hotels and chalets at ski resorts but Le Savoie was like a hybrid of the two. I loved it because it had some of the best features of a chalet, like complimentary afternoon tea and wine with your evening meals, while having the facilities of a hotel like in-house ski-hire, a cocktail bar, and a spa. The location was ideal as well, situated on Val d’Isère’s central main street and a short walk from the ski lifts.

The choice of hotels in Val d’Isere seems to be fairly small but there are plenty of chalets and apartments, all in varying size, quality and price.

Skiing

The pistes at Val d’Isere are quite challenging, so it is best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. There are beginner slopes as well but if you’re just starting out with skiing you’d probably feel more comfortable at a different resort.

The interpretation of the colour grading here is different to what I’ve experienced at other European resorts. Some of the blue runs feel more like red runs, and red runs are more like black runs.

The ski area is huge, especially since your lift pass gives you access to Tignes as well. After 6 days there were still plenty of areas on the map that we hadn’t covered. Unlike some other large resorts, the pistes of Val d’Isere and Tignes are naturally linked so you won’t spend all day travelling from one to the other.

Our hotel was closest to the Olympique and Solaise gondolas, although we found these lifts to be quite busy in the morning. We preferred catching the resort’s free shuttle bus from outside our hotel to the La Daille area. The buses run every few minutes from one end of resort to the other and it’s the most efficient and reliable service I’ve encountered at a ski resort.

Eating

Meals and drinks in Val d’Isere come with a premium price tag, similar to what you might expect in Switzerland. We noticed a lot of people packed their own sandwiches to eat on the mountain, and there are a number of picnic tables scattered about for people to use.

These are some of my favourite places to eat that I discovered on our trip:

Crepe Val’s
Situated in the middle of town, offering a selection of more than 200 types of crepes, both sweet and savoury.

Les Tufs
This restaurant is located in the La Daille area of Val d’isere at the bottom of the Orange piste next to the La Daille funival and the Etroits chairlift. We found Les Tufs to be less crowded than other restaurants higher up the mountain, and there’s plenty to choose from on the menu including pasta, pizza, salads, and burgers.

Tipi Bar
We stopped for a break at this little bar on Solaise and I was delighted to discover they sell churros. The perfect way to re-fuel after a few hours of skiing.

Fondue Factory
Our hotel package included dinners, except for Wednesday evening when the catering staff had their day off. We took this opportunity to dine at Fondue Factory which was conveniently located next to our hotel. We enjoyed a classic cheese fondue and raclette.

Après ski

The nightlife in Val d’Isere is quite lively by French standards. Most of the early partying happens in the famous Folie Douce at the top of La Daille gondola. Dick’s Tea Bar seems to be most popular among the Brits for late-night partying.

Other info

  • The ski season in Val d’Isere generally runs from late November until the end of April. Its high altitude means it is regarded as having the most reliable snow in the Alps, making it an ideal choice for an early or late season trip. Some of the pistes at the top of the mountain are even open for summer skiing!
  • A 6 day adult lift pass for the Val d’Isere/Tignes area costs €278 during high season. A discounted price is offered if you visit early in December.
  • Chambery is the closest airport to Val d’Isere but flights to Geneva are more frequent. Our transfer time from Geneva to our hotel was 3 hours.

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