Photo: Val d’Isère ski resort © Gilles Riou – Top Snow Travel
Val d’Isere is one of the most well-known and iconic ski resorts in the world. Its picturesque villages are brimming with luxury accommodation, fantastic restaurants, and bars. Val d’Isere attracts people from all over the world to enjoy its party atmosphere and huge ski area. In this blog, we are going to give you the ultimate guide to Val d’Isere. You will learn about the ski area, the fantastic aprés scene and what you can expect when you arrive.
Val d’Isere is made up of the main village of Val d’Isere and two additional villages La Daille and Le Fornet. You can easily get around the villages using the free bus service, which runs late at night.
If you are looking for more affordable accommodation, La Daille is your best bet, and it is really easy to get on the mountain, via the local lifts and funicular. Most of the nightlife is in Val d’Isere itself, and carries on well after the buses stop. Therefore, if you stay in La Daille, you will have at least a 20-minute walk if you miss the last bus (depending on how much beer and toffee vodka you drink).
Le Fornet is pretty quiet, with not much nightlife to speak about, and is about a 5-minute drive from the centre of Val d’Isere. If you want to be where all the action is, and have the most convenience, you need to stay in Val d’Isere.
Olympique Avenue, in the centre of Val d’Isère where you will find plenty of shops, restaurants & bars.
LUXURY HOTELS IN VAL D’ISERE
Val d’Isere has an abundance of luxury hotels to choose from. The hotels in Val d’Isere have a reputation for being among the best in France, thanks to their quality of service and high standards. Here are a few hotels that we recommend:
La Refuge de Solaise – To experience first tracks every morning, check out Le Refuge de Solaise. This is a ski-in-ski-out luxury hotel located on the pistes, with a fantastic restaurant with panoramic mountain views and a wellness centre.
La Blizzard – If you want to experience luxury while having easy access to all that Val D’Isere has to offer, you may want to stay at La Blizzard. This five-star hotel is well known for its high standards and excellent service. The bar and restaurant have a wonderful ambience, while the spa is a perfect way to relax after a day on the mountain.
Mademoiselle Val d’Isere – This is a luxury hotel with attractive medieval architecture. It offers a unique experience to its guests, with an ultra personalised service. Mademoiselle Val d’Isere, is an excellent choice for families, thanks to “The Children’s Kingdom”, which has everything a child could possibly want, including a spa.
Le Yule – This is a 5-star hotel that sits at the foot of the Bellevarde and Solaise pistes. Its stunning rooms are inspired by Scandinavian design, and many of them have balconies overlooking the mountain and village. Which is perfect for the weekly fireworks display and torchlit descent.
Le K2 Chogori – This is a NEW luxury hotel and spa located in the heart of the village. It has a number of options for your stay in the form of apartments, penthouses, suites and hotel rooms. Le K2 Chogri also boasts a fantastic bar and restaurant.
Opened December 2020 – Le K2 Chogori ***** Hotel & Spa
LUXURY CHALETS IN VAL D’ISERE
Staying in one of Val d’Isere’s luxury chalets is an unforgettable experience. Many are catered, as they are serviced by chefs and chalet hosts. This makes your skiing holiday very easy and allows you to eat fantastic food every day.
A great example of a five-star chalet in Val D’Isere is Chalet Chene. This excellent property has 7 bedrooms, sleeping 16 people. Its home cinema, spa, indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna and massage cabin are perfect for resting tired legs at the end of the day.
You may also want to take a look at the White Pearl and Black Pearl chalets. These stunning twin chalets sleep 10 people in 5 bedrooms. These chalets are right next door to each other and offer the epitome of luxury, comfort and service. Your private chef will prepare all of your meals for you to enjoy in an environment that blends contemporary design with traditional materials.
These chalets are within easy reach of both the centre of Val d’Isere and the Funicular at La Daille.
The 7 Bedroom luxury Chalet Chene – part of the 5 star Village La Mourra hotel.
ON THE MOUNTAIN
Located in the Savoie region of France, Val d’Isere has a lot to offer skiers and snowboarders. Along with neighbouring resort Tignes, Val d’Isere forms part of what used to be called the Espace Killy ski area. The area is now known as Val d’Isere – Tignes, and the slopes are linked by a lift system that covers 24,000 acres. Most of the area is above 2,000m. This altitude and vastness give the Val d’Isere – Tignes a long winter and snow-sure pistes.
You can even ski and snowboard in Val d’Isere – Tignes during the summer. This is thanks to the Pissillas glacier and the Grande Motte Glacier in Tignes.
Val d’Isere is a high-end resort; therefore, they really look after the slopes during winter. The runs are well-groomed, and there is an abundance of snow cannons for when the snow is a bit thin.
You can buy a lift pass that just covers Val d’Isere, which gives you access to 150km of slopes. But unless you are a beginner, you would be better off getting a full area pass. This will give you an additional 150km of slopes in Tignes. The lifts are well connected, and most of them are fast and modern, keeping lift queuesshort.
Val d’Isere is home to the old Olympic downhill course, La Face de Bellevarde. This is a challenging black run, that is deceptively easy at the top. The best time to ski La Face is in the morning before it gets chopped up with moguls.
There is a blue run that brings you into Val d’Isere; however, this is rarely open due to avalanche risk. Also, the classification of it being a “blue” is a little questionable (as are some of the other runs). Therefore, most people get the Olympic ski lift back down from the Bellevarde area or take on La Face. But there are plenty of wide and long blues and reds up there to keep you entertained all day.
The run from the top of the funicular to La Daille is awesome fun. You can enjoy some seriously fast turns to wake you up. For wide groomed slopes, jump on the Solaise Express lift and check out the runs above it. There is also a fantastic restaurant up there next to a frozen lake, perfect for springtime barbecues.
A good tip is to follow the sun around throughout the day. This way, you will get softer and much nicer snow conditions.
Val d’Isère Video
The Val d’Isere – Tignes area is excellent for off-piste skiing and snowboarding. There is a lot that is accessible from the lifts and with just a short hike. However, this easy access means it gets tracked out pretty quickly. But, if you know where to look, you can still find some freshies in this massive area.
You need to be aware of the steepness of many of these slopes, as it makes them prone to avalanches. Therefore, you will really benefit from hiring a local guide or instructor. If you time it right for your visit, you may be able to take advantage of Henry’s Avalanche Talk (HAT) to get some knowledge. Henry lives in Val d’Isere, is very knowledgable and also offers his own guide service. He will tell you lots of stories that will scare you and help you stay safe, while taking you to the best spots.
After a good dump of snow and when the light is flat, head to Le Fornet. The slopes around Le Fornet take you through some epic trees runs. On a good powder day, you can lap these tree runs until you are too tired to stand up. Just watch out for cliffs that are too big to drop. Also, pay attention to the signs to stay out of trouble.
Walking through the old village of Val d’Isère with fluffy powder everywhere
Val d’Isere is a very alpine skiing biased resort. However, in recent years their attitude has changed, and they have realised that some skiers and snowboarders like to jump from time to time. Located under the Mont Blanc lift, is the ValPark. This is getting bigger every season, and has its own snowmaking facilities. It is serviced by an undercover magic carpet and a T-bar so you can get in plenty of park laps.
The park has zones for all abilities, so beginners don’t have to feel intimidated by the big boys. There is also a boardercross course nearby, and a selection of jib features too. For more fun snowparks, head over to Tignes.
APRÈS AND NIGHTLIFE
Val D’Isere has a wide range of bars to suit most people’s tastes. You can enjoy anything laid back après beers, to full-on all-night parties. Val d’Isere rightly earns its reputation as a party town.
For many visitors to Val d’Isere, après starts at about 3pm, and it can even start on the mountain. This is because located on the slopes above La Daille, is La Folie Douce. You will hear this bar long before you see it. It is extremely lively and is basically a nightclub on the slopes. It is filled with revellers getting soaked with Champagne while enjoying the entertainment. La Folie Douce is definitely something you should experience at least once.
Val D’Isere itself has plenty to choose from too. A firm favourite with holidaymakers and workers is Cocorico. This is right at the bottom of the slopes and is great for live music and DJs. Below Cocorico, is Doudoune, which is a nightclub that opens at silly o’clock in the morning and closes at about 5am. Dick’s Tea Bar is a legendary late-night spot too, full of good-looking people dancing to DJ’s from all over the world.
A top tip for when you go out on the town in Val d’Isere is to use the cloak rooms or keep an eye on your jacket. It is not uncommon for jackets to go missing with lift passes and phones in the pockets. This is not great if you have to walk home in -20OC.
La Folie Douce in Val d’Isère is a must-do – Champagne showers, dancing on tables, live bands & DJs
PLACES TO EAT IN THE VILLAGE
Finding decent food in Val d’Isere isn’t difficult. However, if you are planning on eating out, you should book a table as early as possible. This is because restaurants get booked out pretty quickly. Some restaurants work in “sittings”, so they will only have two times you can eat per evening.
Val d’Isere has everything from a takeaway burger to Michelin star restaurants. There are new places to eat every winter, so it is worth doing your homework to see where the best new place is.
For an authentic taste of the French Alps, head to La Casserole, for Savoyarde specialities, such as fondue and raclette. 1789 is also a fantastic restaurant that serves an excellent cote de boeuf, cooked to perfection on an open fire.
But if you want a truly exceptional dining experience, we recommend the La Luge restaurant at Hotel Le Blizzard. This is a luxury hotel, with fantastic food and the hotel bar is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails. We also like Les Barmes de l’Ours, which has three restaurants, including the Michelin starred La Table D’Ours.
La Baraque serves excellent food too, but it is also ideal for a drink in a pleasant atmosphere, especially if you enjoy live music.
Make sure you checkout the weekly market (every Monday) for some local cheeses and cured meats.
PLACES TO EAT IN THE MOUNTAIN
When you are on the mountain, you will want to refuel with an excellent lunch stop. La Peau de Vache is located on the Face de Bellevarde and is accessible via the Bellevarde Express chairlift for non-skiers. This is a nice cosy mountain restaurant, with a traditional menu
l’Edelweiss is another great lunch stop situated in La Fornet. Their menu is a good mix of traditional local food and house specialities.
When skiing from the Solaise and Bellevard areas, you will see many excellent piste-side bars and restaurants to choose from.
The Aquasportif Centre in Val d’Isère is a great place to visit on a windy white out day
VAL D’ISERE FOR KIDS
Val D’Isere has a lot of choices when it comes to childcare. There are also many babysitting and nursery facilities. These are worth booking in advance, especially in peak weeks, to avoid disappointment.
Local ski schools offer a combination of childcare and ski tuition for children over 3 years old. You can book your child in for full or half-day programmes, and often lunch can also be provided for an extra charge.
Every week the tourist office puts on various activities and events that can be enjoyed by the whole family too.
The ice skating rink in the heart of the village centre is great place for the family to enjoy after day’s skiing
OTHER STUFF TO DO
You may have people in your group that don’t ski. Luckily there is more to Val d’Isere than just sliding around the mountains and drinking. There is a whole host of activities you can do during your trip. These give you the perfect opportunity to try something different or to just rest your legs.
A popular activity is ice driving and biking. Val d’Isere has a racetrack covered with snow and ice, where you can hone your drifting skills. You can go ice driving with the help of an instructor, but you can also have a proper race with your friends on ice in go-karts. This is super fun, but remember to wrap up warm and wear gloves.
Taking to the skies is one of the best ways to see the valley. With a tandem paragliding session, you can soar over Val d’Isere. This can be in either a relaxed sightseeing kind of way, or your pilot will make it more interesting with some stomach-turning manoeuvres if you want some excitement.
A guided snowshoe trek is a more relaxed way of experiencing the mountains. It gives you the opportunity to check out the epic scenery, wildlife and frozen waterfalls. Snowshoeing is ideal for non-skiers to see things they wouldn’t usually get to see.
If you fancy diving under the ice of a frozen lake, head to Tignes, Le Lac. Here you can put on thick dry suits, and with guidance from an instructor, you can have a unique experience. If you are feeling especially brave, you can even dive at night.
Sitting on a sled towed by a pack of dogs through a winter wonderland is a great adventure. But, if you like, you can take the reins and control the dogs yourself. Seeing what these dogs can do is an experience in itself.
If you want an afternoon off the mountain, you can visit the Aquasportif centre. This is an attractive building with swimming pools, spas, indoor sports, a climbing wall, gym and much more. It is an ideal place to go on bad weather days or if you feel like having a rest.
Driving up to Val d’Isere, you will see the huge dam. Next to the dam is a 200m high frozen waterfall, perfect for climbing. Ice climbing is supervised by a guide and is suitable for beginners and advanced climbers.
Why Book your Ski Holiday to Val d’Isere
Val d’Isere is a fantastic resort with plenty to do. It is one of those places that you will always come away from with a story to tell. This is thanks to experiences on and off the mountain, along with the people you will see and meet.
2020 saw the start of a €200 million redevelopment, which is to be completed in 2022. This will make the village even more enjoyable for years to come. This forward-thinking and the quality of skiing makes Val d’Isere one of those places people come back to year after year.