There’s a reason why most of us Brits find ourselves on the sensational slopes of Val d’Isere when we’re in need of a winter sports hit. The world-renowned resort is, without a doubt, the top destination in Europe offering quality skiing, epic winter thrills and legendary après parties. Whether you’re coming with a group of beginners, experienced powder-hounds or a bit of both, Val d’Isere is the place to be for winter fun.
Located beneath the looming Pointe du Montet, the village itself stands at a decent 1,850 metres. The daring among you will find it hard to resist the highest slopes that reach a dizzying 3,400 metres. Its lofty location, vast ski area (made of 300 kilometres of pistes and 78 lifts) and year-round snow cover means that Val d’Isere truly reigns supreme in Europe. Experience it once and you’ll soon become one of the thousands of Britons that are drawn back, year on year, to take advantage of the varied and exhilarating slopes.
Despite being one of the most popular resorts in Europe, Val d’Isere manages to avoid all rush-hour queues thanks to its unbeatable seven main-mountain access points. So evening if you’re visiting at peak season, you’re guaranteed to get the most of the slopes. Better yet, you have a whopping four areas to choose from, two of which are easily reached from the resort. For intermediates, you’ll find navigating between sectors a breeze, making for non-stop fun.
Although not the steepest at 2,827 metres high, this range of slopes is home to the notably challenging La Face: a formidable black run that races back into town. If you’re not quite bold enough to tackle that beast, the back of Bellevarde offers a variety of slopes that take you to Tignes one way and back into Val d’Isere the other.
The original of all the areas here in the valley, which opened in the 1930s. It’s perfect for intermediates offering a wide range of pistes including the Rhone-Alps Black for the more courageous among you.
From here you can make your way to the highest of all the pistes on the Fornet cable car, which will take you to the Pissaillas glacier that sits directly below the 3,488-metre summit of Pointe du Montet. This is an especially fun option for more experienced snow chasers, as you can explore the frozen playground of pistes that lead all the way to Tignes Les Brevières.
Last but not least, this hamlet is easily reached by bus. Then, I recommend you jump on the underground funicular, which will take you all the way to the top of Bellevarde. From here you can test your limits on the OK men’s downhill course back to La Daille. If you’re not feeling as brave, there’s an easier piste that will take you to the link lifts in Tignes.
My Top Three Alternative Thrills
While most visitors come for the skiing, many stay for the variety of activities on offer. You’ll find almost everything from ice-diving to dog-sledding, so everyone is bound to get their adrenaline hit. Here are a few of my favourite alternatives.
Experience Val d’Isere from a completely different perspective and take to the skies. Soaring above the snow-capped mountains is probably one of the most exhilarating ways to explore the area, and is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. Once you’ve decided on where you want to take off, the top of Olympique gondola being a good choice for non-skiers, you’ll be strapped to a highly trained instructor who will navigate you both over the icy peaks.
Often overlooked, winter walking is a fantastic way to experience the immensity of the mountains around you. Routes such as the Manchet Valley walk offer incredible scenery, beautiful wildlife and a sense of awe for the world around you. A highlight of this particular route is witnessing the frozen waterfall which stands like a feat of nature. Choose a sunny day, get your snowshoes on and head out for day of wonder.
Après (No Ski)
The after party, often one of the main reasons seasoned enthusiasts love the sport, and there’s no doubt that the guests of the resort know how to party. After a long day sweating it out on the snow, there’s nothing better than a refreshing drink with your mates. As the night wears on, those that are looking for an epic night of music and non-stop dancing will find they’re well catered for.
- La Folie Douce – the original après ski experience, notorious in the valley for its cabaret and rowdy music. Head here for a wild night of table dancing.
- Cocorico – a youngster in comparison to La Folie Douce, but a great night nonetheless. Only a quick walk from town, it’s an easy choice for those who are more about the après than the ski. There’s happy hour and a DJ every afternoon between 2-8pm, making for a feel-good atmosphere.
These are just a couple of the many bars and nightclubs on offer. The vibrant energy is infectious and you’re bound to find your favourite spot in no time.
Where to Stay
Saint-Roch Piste Apartment – these apartments are set in a great location, close to both the Bellevarde and Solaise Express lifts. Perfect for groups, guests have access to free WiFi, a private bathroom, and a kitchenette complete with fridge and stove top.
Résidence Pierre & Vacances Les Chalets de Solaise – these chalets offer affordable luxury, with a heated pool, sauna and fitness centre offered on site. The apartments themselves include a fully equipped kitchen, living room and balcony.
How to Get There
Flights to Geneva are quick and affordable, with flying time a mere one and half hours; British Airways offer a number of great departure options. Once you’ve landed in Geneva, I’d recommend having a pre-booked airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. Their drivers are friendly and easy to use, getting you to your destination in less than three hours – with their excellent service you’ll be on the slopes in no time.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is a large and experienced team of dedicated drivers that offer airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa. We’ve been getting clients to their holiday destinations for decades and we pride ourselves in top customer service.