What’s New in Val d’Isere?
Ski Val d’Isere and you may find that little has changed up on the pristine pistes. Down in resort however, Val d’Isere accommodation has been taken up a notch with two hotels receiving their 5th star. The resort already lays on a full timetable of events and fixtures, with the latest being the new tours of the resort for Val d’Isere ski holiday makers.
Overview of Val d’Isere
Val d’Isere skiing started life as the not so humble medieval hunting grounds of the Dukes de Savoie. The settlement dates back to 1553 – pretty impressive for a village that sits at 1850m above sea level and gets an average of 5m of snow per winter. Val d’Isere successfully reinvented itself as one of the world’s finest ski resorts in time for the 1992 Albertville Olympics. Ski Val d’Isere and you will find a village that is everything a skier could wish for – beautiful yet lively, with plenty of amazing places to eat, combined with some seriously impressive skiing. The resort oozes an old-fashioned aloofness and is certainly one of the four priciest in France, but whilst you may see plenty of posers and ski bling, Val d’Isere accommodation covers everything from 5* hotels to comfortable Val d’Isere chalets, plus more reasonable Val d’Isere apartments, especially if you are willing to stay in the satellite villages of La Daille, Le Laisanant or Le Fornet (which are all linked by frequent and free ski buses). Whilst some may wish to be seen strutting around the villages of other high-end resorts, those who have the skills to go with their La Croix skis and their Chanel onesies head to Val d’Isere to be seen on the slopes.
Skiing and Boarding in Val d’Isere
Val d’Isere skiing has a pedigree that few other resorts can match. Jean-Claude Killy, the Espace Killy’s namesake and the “Daddy” of elite French skiing, has left a legacy which includes 300km of pistes and over 10,000ha of lift-served off-piste. This is one of the world’s best for experts with more skiable terrain than Whistler, however beginners may find that even some of the green and blue runs can be tricky to negotiate and the runs back down into resort are nearly all either black, dark red or crowded. That said, the nursery slopes at the bottom of the Solaise are wide and gentle and so long as you head high, you should find plenty of nice runs to try before floating back down on a gondola. Cautious intermediates should stick to the edges of the piste map, the top of Le Fornet, the Grand Pré or the lovely blues under the Glacier Express lift are particularly good for re-gaining ski legs and speed. Stronger intermediates should make sure they tackle the OK-Orange down from the top of the Olympique gondola, a high-speed rolling red. For advanced skiers, the advantage of being above the treeline is that virtually every face offers a myriad possibilities and lots of deep powder, some of the best free-riding in Europe in fact, although the most popular itineraries can get tracked out pretty quick (off-piste skiing should be undertaken with a local guide as avalanches can and do happen in the area). On-piste, ski Val d’Isere on one of the many championship courses – don’t miss La Face, the extremely steep and mogully black that hosts the Men’s Downhill. Park rats will already know about the big jumps and rails of the Val Park, but if that all sounds like hard work, spectators can cheer them on from the viewing sundeck, whilst enjoying the BBQ and music.
LIFT PASSES IN val d'isere
In both Tignes and Val D’Isere we only sell the full area pass that covers the entire Espace Killy area. The neighbouring areas are so well connected that even first time beginners will benefit from having the option to cover the entirety of the ski area. In both Val D’Isere and Tignes the lift pass also allows free access during your stay to the swimming pool in your chosen resort.
Apres Ski in Val d’Isere
If you’ve got the energy, Val d’Isere’s nightlife can only be described as hectic. Things kick off early with DJs on the roof of the original and legendary Folie Douce bar (also accessible to non-skiers) and by 4pm, the champagne-spraying is in full swing. From there, the choices are endless! Cafe Face at the foot of the black is a good spot for a hometime drink as happy hour starts at 4pm and prices rise by 10% each hour thereafter. Dive into Pacific Bar, reputably the friendliest pub in Val, for live music, sport on 7 plasma screens and ski and snowboard raffles on a Wednesday. The Saloon is a good place for cocktails and dancing, while The Lodge has a more family and French feel and holds live bongo and reggae nights. No Val d’Isere ski holiday would be complete without a visit to the legendary Dick’s Tea Bar whether for afternoon tea, happy hour (from 3-7pm) or the crazy club night. There are also Club Le Graal, which hosts big nights like Hed Kandi, and new Doudoune Night Club and both run free shuttles back to your Val d’Isere accommodation.
When Val d’Iserites are not skiing or après-ing, they will usually be cruising the fine selection of excellent ski and board shops and other boutiques, some of which are even quite reasonably priced. The resort offers all the usual winter sports, from snowmobiling, husky sleighs and ice skating to helicopter tours and parasailing, plus a few that you might not have tried, such as airboarding (a bit like tobogganing on a lilo). There’s also cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and a cinema. Always down with the latest trends, it is even possible to take a yoga or cooking class when you ski Val d’Isere and the spectacular new leisure centre should definitely not be missed, especially as you get one free swim with your lift pass.
Dining Options in Val d’Isere
Val d’Isere dining does not quite reach the gastronomic heights of some resorts with a mere two Michelin starred restaurants, but what it lacks in stars, it more than makes up for in high-quality quirky cuisine. Pier Paul Jack is set over three levels, each serving a different menu, and offers guests the chance to pull up a bean bag and sample such delights as white chocolate foie gras whilst enjoying live jazz piano. La Perdrix Blanche is a fish and sushi restaurant where you can even pick your own lobster. One of the resort’s best and most fashionable restaurants, La Grande Ourse serves classic French dishes accompanied by excellent wines. If you’re looking for a mountain cheese fix, head for Le Lodge or for pizza and pasta, Le Petit Danois is the restaurant of choice. If you like your dinner with a star (of the Michelin variety), you will want to book a table at restaurant La Becca or La Table de l’Ours. For awesome late night-eats, there’s nothing quite like a Tocard Burger on the way back to your Val d’Isere apartment or Val d’Isere chalet.
Up on the hill, top of the list is the Edelweiss, where it is more than likely you will need to book a table. If it’s full, pay a visit to La Tanière for delicious hot Savoyard classics. For the best value, grab a seat on the terrace of the Bar de l’Ouillette where you’ll find lunchtime classics inside and a marvellous sizzling barbeque outside. If you like your dinner with a pumping baseline, the Folie Douce serves up hearty beef stews, quiches, tarts and pies, or venture next door for a lunch that’s a little more high brow at Val’s best known restaurant, La Fruitière, where the food is distinctly Savoyard and the decor is stylish yet reflects the restaurant’s former mountain dairy roots.
This winter we are delighted to offer a private nanny service in partnership with t4 Nanny in Val d'Isere. For more information on t4 Nanny and what they can offer during your family ski holiday, please see our t4 Nanny page.