Photo: Valmorel – © Scalpfoto.com
Valmorel is a cute little skiing village located in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps. It is one of the most accessible ski resorts to get to in the area, as it is linked by main roads with Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc and Grenoble airports. It is also the first resort in the Tarentaise valley from Geneva. Valmorel is popular with families, beginners and intermediate skiers. In this ultimate guide to Valmorel, we will go into all the details of this beautiful ski resort. You will learn what Valmorel has to offer, know what to do when you get there, where to stay and what to expect.
Valmorel La Belle
The ski resort of Valmorel is picturesque thanks to its characterful Savoyard style architecture. It is a purpose-built ski resort built in the 1970s. But, it is unlike many purpose-built French ski resorts, with its cosy and welcoming atmosphere. You won’t find concrete high-rise buildings here, but attractive buildings made with wood, stone and slate.
The whole of Valmorel is pedestrianised, with snowy streets illuminated by fairy lights in the evenings. Many of the accommodation choices are ski-in-ski-out too.
Doucy is set right in the heart of the ski area. It is very peaceful, but also a delightful place for families to enjoy their skiing holiday. The traditional style buildings and chalets are arranged around the central square. This is the place to stay if you want a quiet and relaxing time.
During the winter Nâves transforms into a Nordic ski domain. It boasts the highest cross country skiing track in the Savoie. It is also a haven for snowshoeing, thanks to its unspoiled landscapes and stunning views.
Celliers is an excellent place for those that love peace and quiet and wide-open spaces. Its pristine setting is popular with ski touring and snowshoeing enthusiasts. Celliers is connected to the Valmorel ski area by a gondola.
The main focus of La Léchère-Les-Bains is its thermal centre on the banks of the Isère river. This features a beautiful spa with thermal water, perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation. There is a range of treatments too, along with the use of a sauna, hammam, outdoor jacuzzi, and pool in the grotto.
All of the villages are connected by shuttle buses and a cable car. So no matter where you stay you are never to far from the action.
Valmorel is perfectly suited for families with the majority of slopes being blue runs (perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers).
ON THE MOUNTAIN
Valmorel is linked with Saint-François Longchamp; creating Le Grand Domaine ski area. This is quite a large area, meaning that there is something for all skiers and snowboarders. The ski area covers both sides of the mountain, so you can stay in the sun all day and find the best snow conditions.
The ski area around Valmorel is not the most challenging. Its terrain lends itself to cruising around with a few safe, accessible beginner areas. Along with fun areas to entertain families.
Intermediate skiers love Valmorel’s long cruisy pistes, with the majority of them being graded blue. But there are also some excellent reds and blacks to enjoy too. If you are a beginner, or simply love easy tree-lined runs, cruise down to the charming village of Doucy.
For snowboarders and freestylers, there are a few snowparks, snow zones and a boardercross to play in. If you are a little more experienced, there is a good selection of off-piste to explore. To make the most of the off-piste, book a guide or an instructor to take you to the best places.
More advanced skiers will enjoy the Grand Domaine’s full potential by heading to Saint-François Longchamp to explore the other side of the Col de la Madeleine. If you want to try something different, the area’s wide range of cross-country skiing terrain makes Valmorel the perfect place for it.
Valmorel has historically had many drag lifts, but each winter, we are seeing the installation of more high-speed chairlifts. There are still a lot of drag lifts in use, so if you don’t like them, Valmorel may not be for you. However, it is an excellent place to get good at using them.
Valmorel is a charming ski-in ski-out pedestrian-only village built with local materials – wood, stone and slate. It is the only ski village in France with this type of beautiful architecture.
With the architecture staying true to the Savoyard style, Valmorel features some lovely self-catered apartments. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Valmorel.
Residence Anitéa is perfectly located at the foot of the slopes in the heart of Valmorel. The residence features luxury self-catered apartments with tailor-made service. Its location gives guests easy access to everything Valmorel has to offer, from its fantastic pistes, local shops, restaurants and bars and the resort’s fun activities.
Residence Anitéa has a contemporary design with traditional mountain style cues, creating a wonderfully relaxed ambience. To add to the feeling of relaxation, guests have access to a beautiful spa and wellness centre. The spa has a range of cabins, where you can enjoy a wide variety of treatments and massages. The wellness centre has a gorgeous indoor swimming pool, steam room and sauna. In addition to all this, the Nordic spa, hot tub and sensory shower provide the opportunity to soothe and recuperate aching legs.
The onsite bar is a great place to sip après or evening drinks in Savoyard surroundings. It has a fireplace nook, where you can relax on large sofas while enjoying the selection of wines, champagnes and cocktails.
Residence Anitéa prides itself on pleasing every one of its guests. Therefore, the children’s area is a great place to keep kids entertained in a safe and fun environment.
La Grange aux Fées is another wonderful self-catered residence with an excellent location within Valmorel. The Lanchettes ski lift is immediately outside the property, while the Altispace 1 and Télébourg ski lifts are just a short walk away. Not only is La Grange aux Fées ski-in-ski-out, but it very luxurious with fantastic amenities.
The residence has a range of well-proportioned apartments to choose from. All guests have modern, alpine-inspired décor and a balcony for soaking up the afternoon sun.
Guests have access to the residence’s fantastic pool and spa facilities. These have a relaxing atmosphere, ideal for unwinding after a day on the slopes. The facilities include a free private indoor heated swimming pool and a kids paddling pool. For extra relaxation, there is also a hot tub, saunas and steam rooms. If you want to keep up with your workout routine, the well-equipped fitness room is also available to you.
For those that want to be pampered, the superb ô des Cîmes Spa Centre has a selection of fabulous massages and beauty treatments to make you feel like a million dollars.
5***** Residence Anitéa offers exceptional access to the Grand Domaine, a ski area with 165 km of slopes. This new property opened in 2018, nestles at the heart of Valmorel’s pedestrianised village.
EATING AND DRINKING IN VALMOREL
The après and nightlife is a more laid back affair, but there are some great places to to enjoy a drink after a day on the mountain.
Even though Valmorel is quite a small village, there are many places to eat. You have a wide choice of restaurants serving local specialities to international cuisine. Here are some of our favourite places to eat in Valmorel.
L’ Altipiano is located at the top of the Télécabine de Pierrafort. Which makes it accessible to skiers and non-skiers for a fantastic lunch consisting of traditional Savoyard fayre. The friendly staff serve diners either on the sunny terrace or inside the cosy restaurant. There is even a play area to keep the kids entertained between courses.
A popular feature of L’Altipiano is the barbecue, but the menu also consists of excellent burgers and Asian inspired dishes. This is a very popular restaurant, so make sure you book a table, especially in peak weeks.
Les Voiles du Nant
Les Voiles du Nant is located at the top of the Altispace chair lift. You cannot miss it, thanks to the bright pink furnishings on the terrace. The south-facing terrace is an ideal spot for sampling fine French food on the mountain. The menu is varied, but most of the ingredients are locally sourced. You can order a quick bite from the sandwich bar or enjoy a full meal with a glass of wine overlooking the Tarentaise valley
Après is a more laid back affair, but there are some great places to to enjoy a drink after a day on the mountain.
In Resort Restaurants And Bars
Le Petit Savoyard
Le Petit Savoyard is a lovely family restaurant with various nooks for an intimate dining experience. The restaurant is situated right in the centre of Valmorel. It has a bar with some quality beers to choose from before your meal. Here you can enjoy traditional dishes, such as the brazerade, which is like a little barbecue on your table, on which you cook chicken, duck and steak. There is also a great selection of pizzas, which are huge.
Jimbo Lolo is rare for a French ski resort, as it is a Tex Mex restaurant. You can’t miss it due to its brightly coloured exterior making it stand out from the other buildings in Valmorel. Although not a traditional French restaurant, Jimbo Lolo, is a great alternative when you want a change from fondues and raclettes. This is a great place for tapas and après too.
Hotel du Bourg
Hotel du Bourg is a bit like a British pub right next to the Piou Piou kids club. This makes it perfect for warming up on a cold day with hot chocolate. You can expect a roaring fire, complimentary bar snacks, and a huge range of whiskeys.
SkiRoc serves a superb menu featuring French and European dishes, and many are Savoyard specialities. You will be amazed at the refined presentation of each dish. Every course is a work of art and tastes fantastic.
Valmorel is one of the best locations for dog sledding in France. Every winter, Valmorel plays host to the La Grande Odyssée dog sledding race. If you happen to be in Valmorel from 8 – 19 Jan 2022, it is well worth seeing.
NON-SKIING ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
Sometimes you want a day off your skis, or you want to see what other things a ski resort offers. Also, if you are with children, they may not be able to ski all day, so you will need to keep them entertained. Valmorel has a few options for activities; here are some that we think you may want to check out.
Cross country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are very popular in Valmorel, thanks to its thousands of hectares of gentle terrain. This makes the area a perfect introduction to these sports. They are both excellent forms of exercise, but you don’t have to work up too much of a sweat if you don’t want to. There are many easy routes for you to take, giving you access to fantastic views, and the possibility of spotting local wildlife is always exciting.
Either hire your equipment from a shop or book a guide. Your guide will have everything you need, take you to the best places and give you all the pointers to get you going.
Valmorel is a great spot for trying your hand at ice climbing if you are still feeling energetic. There are a few waterfalls above Valmorel that freeze during winter. A guide will take you to the best one to suit the conditions and your ability. They will also have all the necessary ropes and equipment.
Valmorel For Animal Lovers
There are several ways to experience Valmorel with the help of local animals. Dog sledding is one of the best ways to see the area as you sit back in your sledge while a team of huskies pulls you through the local forests. Valmorel is considered to be one of the best locations for dog sledding in France. Every winter, Valmorel plays host to the La Grande Odyssée dog sledding race. If you happen to be in Valmorel from 8 – 19 Jan 2022, it is well worth seeing.
Alternatively, why not go on a pony or donkey trek tour to experience Valmorel at a more sedate pace.
Every year Valmorel is host to the winter Spartan Race. On 29-30 January 2022, Valmorel will be converted into a massive obstacle course in the snow. This is a gruelling 5 km race, where competitors climb, jump, and run through and over 20 obstacles. The Spartan Race is a fantastic event, whether you are competing or just watching from a safe distance. If you fancy giving it a try, you can sign up online before you travel and make it part of your ski holiday.
Valmorel From The Sky
Seeing the French Alps from the sky is an extraordinary experience. You can book a paragliding discovery flight that takes off from Doucy and lands at Aigueblanche. These are tandem flights, where you are strapped to your pilot, who steers your paraglider into the thermals to fly you over the peaks and valleys of Valmorel.
You can also fly over Valmorel in a helicopter or microlite. There is a range of sightseeing flight providers in Valmorel, providing stunning views of the spectacular alpine landscape.
Why Book your Ski Holiday to Valmorel
Valmorel is a beautiful ski resort with lots of Alpine charm. Its locality to airports, range of easy ski slopes and ski-in-ski-out accommodation make it a great place for family ski holidays.