One of the most well known French Ski resorts, Val d’Isère is approximately two and a half hours from Geneva Airport (GVA) and one and a half from Chambery Airport (CMF).
Linked with the neighbouring resort of Tignes, the Espace Killy ski area covers 300kms of pistes. This snow sure resort is situated at 1850 metres with the top slopes reaching to 3400 metres.
The ski area
There are no less than eight different ways up the mountain from Val d’Isère, ensuring that you don’t have to queue even at peak times on the busiest days.
Beginners have the free use of five nursery slope lifts: Les Lanches at La Daille, the Legettaz and Savonnette button lifts as well as the Rogoney and Village chairs at the foot of Solaise. Another new beginner area, served by a covered magic carpet lift, opens on Solaise this winter, reached directly from the top of the Solaise Express chair-lift (a gondola is due to replace the chair at the start of the 2016-17 season, see below).
The valley stations for this giant ski area begin in the hamlet of La Daille at the entrance to the resort where the underground Funival funicular brings skiers swiftly up to the top of Bellevarde. They extend through the centre of town and beyond, all the way to the cable-car at Le Fornet. This lift gives access to the Pissaillas glacier, which is so high that it’s open for summer skiing in June and early July.
Val d’Isère suits all standards, but a key part of its huge attraction is the off-piste – some of the most exciting in Europe. An extraordinary range of sweeping powder bowls, challenging couloirs, and glacial descents are all easily accessed by the efficient lift system.
A huge undertaking began this summer on the first stage of a €16 (£11.1m) million two-year project to entirely redevelop the top of the Solaise mountain.
The extensive work will effectively re-shape the summit and has involved moving around 70,000 cubic metres of earth (approx. 1 million tonnes) to build a new mid station at 2500m.
The Solaise Express 4-person chair lift and the cable car will stay in service for this winter but they will be replaced next year with a 10-person gondola, with 91 cabins, heated seats and Wifi! This new gondola will have the capacity to carry 3,600 passengers per hour and solve the problem of peak week bottlenecks at the base. When the new system is in place journey time should be around 7 minutes.
With the huge amount of work required to put this system in place, the lift company has been committed to reducing the environmental impact of their work as it progresses this season and in the future. For every tree that has been cleared another five have been planted. The improvements also mean that the number of pylons on the mountain will be reduced from 34 to 16, and the number of lift stations will decrease from eight to just two.
Where to stay
Five star hotel. This family run hotel is in the centre of town and 100 metres from the slopes. With a pool and spa to relax in après-ski, the hotel also has a renowned restaurant, which prides itself on fresh, straight-from-the-market cuisine.
Four star hotel. With 53 rooms, including a VIP side, this modern Savoyard hotel offers traditional charm close to the centre of town and directly on the slopes. The hotel also has a wellness centre with a pool and spa.
The UCPA centre is very well located just a couple of minutes walk from the bars and shops. The centre is a large traditional chalet which can sleep 250 people and has plenty of the usual UCPA extras like a bar and dining room, it even has its own surprisingly good and ever popular nightclub.
28th to 29th November 2015
The first event of the season! New skis and snowboards for 2016 will be available to test at the top of the Solaise Express gondola and ski instructors will be on hand to show you around the ski area of Val d’Isère.
60th birthday of the Critérium de la Première Neige
11th – 19th December 2015
Ever since 1955 when the Val d’Isère Club des Sports invited the world’s top racers to compete against each other, the resort has been the focal point each December for the start of the ski-racing season in France. This winter, the mens’ races take place from 11th to 13th December on the incredibly steep and technical Face de Bellevarde. To mark this anniversary milestone, the finishing arena has been extended to the roof of the Centre Aquasportif, giving spectators a much-improved view of the racers. The World Cup women’s events take place from 17th to 19th December on the OK downhill course above La Daille.
Val d’Isère Tourist Office