Overview of Val d'Isère
Located at 1850m at the end of the Haute Tarentaise Valley, with access to top slopes at a heady 3400m underneath the Pointe du Montet summit, Val d’Isère is one of the most popular ski resorts for UK skiers and is perennially favoured by Erna Low clients.
With sister resort Tignes, it forms the excellent Val d’Isère - Tignes ski area which has historically been known as the Espace Killy. The ski domain has an impressive 300km of pistes and 78 lifts, with snow-sure slopes that are perfect for anyone from absolute beginners to grizzled veterans. The highest lift in Tignes sits on the Grande Motte glacier at 3456m where you’ll find plenty of pristine powder, but snow conditions on all slopes are usually excellent and the resort also has Europe’s largest snow-making capacity to top up cover in the rare event that there’s a lack of natural snowfall on some pistes. You won’t waste time trekking along trails and taking lifts to make the most of the entire Val d’Isère - Tignes area because the pistes are linked in an organic, accessible and convenient manner, maximising your action time.
Val d’Isère has been operating as a ski resort since the 1930s, but its most major transformation over the years occurred on the lead up to the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, when its Face de Bellevarde run (known to insiders as ‘La Face’) was the site of the men’s downhill, giant slalom and Super G events.
In general, the skiing here is possibly more suited to intermediate and experienced enthusiasts than complete beginners, but the resort’s nursery slopes have been improved significantly over the years, especially with the Pim, Pam, Poum magic carpet lifts at the top of the Solaise lift and you can also access long, interconnected green runs from the Borsat chair that are ideal while you’re still finding your feet.
For advanced and adventurous skiers and snowboarders, Val d’Isère provides some of the highest quality lift-accessed off-piste anywhere on earth, and the Tarentaise Tour is one of the most popular off-piste runs. Intermediate kids and adults are satisfied with cruisy blues and reds, there are plenty of excellent ski schools and childcare options, while a whole range of accommodation for all budgets with easy access to the slopes is standard.
Last but not least, the après-ski at this lively resort is in a league of its own, with everything from fine restaurants offering haute cuisine to buzzing bars and clubs.
When you want to experience the best of the winter wonderland that is the French Alps, Val d’Isère is the jewel in the crown for many visitors.
Skiing in Val d'Isère
With high-altitude snow-sure slopes and a huge variety of pistes, Val d’Isère has much to recommend it to all aptitudes of skiers, plus it’s part of the impressive Val d’Isère - Tignes ski area, which extends your Alpine pleasure zone even further ̶ here are your skiing highlights at this highly rated resort:
The pistes here can be a little more challenging than their equivalents at rival resorts ̶ for instance, a Val d’Isère blue might be in the red category elsewhere and a black run almost always represents a very tricky but genuinely exciting endeavour.
The Solaise slopes are blessed by some of the best beginner slopes here, they’re served by three moving carpet lifts (Pim Pam and Poum) and you can reach them via the plush Solaise access gondola, which has heated seats and free Wi-Fi. As novices progress, they can hop on the Madeleine Express lift, which takes them to another (slightly more difficult) beginners slope set on a gentle gradient, and there’s yet another excellent beginner’s area at La Daille. 55% of the slopes in the vicinity are green or blue, and there are five beginner zones in all, two of which are particularly quiet ‘ski tranquil’ areas.
Solaise is Val d’Isère’s original ski area and has been serving visitors since the resort first opened in the 1930s. A network of intermediate runs is nestled at the top (2560m) and you’ll also find FIS Women’s World Cup downhill course the Rhones-Black.
The Bellevarde area reaches heights of 2827m on the other side of the resort and you can reach it using the Olympique jumbo gondola. This is where you’ll find the thrilling La Face and the World Cup Downhill OK run, but you’ll also be kept busy by a large circuit of varied slopes that lead to Tignes and then you can loop back down to Val d’Isère.
Bellevarde is also where you’ll find the best off-piste opportunities in Val d’Isère ̶ the Banana is a large vertical drop you can access from the start of La Face, and the Charvet Tour is another famous off-piste run which is accessible from the top of the Grand Pré chairlift. You’ll also find a few off-piste tracks and fresh powder at La Daille and an area called the Lost Valley which you reach by passing over the bottom station of the Tommeuses chairlift bottom station and taking a drop down to your right, but as always, it’s safest to hire a local mountain guide wherever you’re looking for fun off the beaten track.
Le Fornet is a tiny village at the resort’s west end which you can access by free ski bus or from the Solaise pistes. You can reach the Pisaillas glacier below the 3488m Pointe du Montet from here via the Fornet cable car, a gondola and a couple of other lifts, and there are superb runs back down to Solaise, many of which are intermediate.
Snowboarding in Val d'Isère
An excellent lift system, reliable snow depth and plenty of off-piste areas close to the lifts mean that Val d’Isère is an awesome resort for snowboarders too ̶ take a look at what’s on offer:
The snowpark at Val d’Isère is located at a lofty 2500m high at the Mont Blanc chairlift ̶ it’s around 500m long and has 40 kickers and 6 lines for all levels of boarders.
The Swatch Snowpark at nearby Tignes is situated at the Grattalu chairlift and has a variety of jumps and obstacles as well as a big air bag where you can practice your most outrageous moves while staying safe in the event that you wipe out. If you’re looking for even more entertainment, there’s also a boarder cross course.
There are plenty of off-piste opportunities in Val d’Isère and a local mountain guide can take you to the hotspots for fresh powder during your holiday dates ̶ the best times for off-piste tend to be January, when you’ll find deep powder, and March/April, when spring snow conditions are conducive to outstanding boarding outside the marked runs.
Snow Conditions in Val d'Isère
Val d’Isère boasts bountiful snow from the end of November right through to the beginning of May, 60% of the pistes top 2200m and it has over 900 snow cannons ̶ here’s the lowdown on snow conditions in this high-altitude resort:
The resort is close to the Italian mountains over the Col d’Iseran mountain pass, which is believed to bless it with its own microclimate, meaning that it can snow non-stop here even when nearby resorts are completely clear.
Many of the Val d’Isère slopes are north facing, which means that they retain their snow exceptionally well throughout the season, and the extensive high-altitude slopes means that you can experience fresh snowfall well into the spring thanks to low temperatures.
The resort has the most reliable natural snow anywhere in the Alps but it has amazing snowmaking facilities to produce more than 1000 cubic metres of artificial snow per hour in case top-ups are required on lower slopes which is three times more efficient than most snowmaking plants
Official snow statistics in the most recent season reveal a total snowfall of 618cm, a total of 45 snowfall days, largest snowfall of 42cm, average base depth of 109cm, maximum base depth of 168cm, average summit depth of 232cm and maximum summit depth of 347cm.
Apres-Ski in Val d'Isère
Ski hard and party hard seems to be the formula for fun at Val d’Isère and there’s a huge variety of bars and clubs that suit revellers of all tastes ̶ here are a few venues you shouldn’t miss:
Petit Danois is a lively bar where you can have fun dancing the night away to DJs on the wheels of steel ̶ since you get a free toffee vodka with every drink, it won’t be long until you feel like throwing some shapes or dancing on the tables!
Bananas is located close to the nursery slopes in Bellevarde and has separate bars for beer and spirits. It specialises in pint-sized cocktails that are eye-wateringly strong, but also serves good Tex-Mex and Indian food. Meet your friends here for a delicious meal, warm up with a few drinks and get ready to hit the rest of the hotspots in Val ̶ it’s the perfect recipe for an evening to remember.
La Folie Douce offers a diverse mix of cabaret, live DJs, wild dancing and strong drinks ̶ why change a winning blend that’s been charming people for decades?
The Blue Note Bar is located opposite ESF Ski School, next to Hotel Ormelune and it’s an awesome place for après-ski. Their jazz and funk playlist is absolutely ace and makes a welcome change from some of the endless Europop you’ll hear at some rival resorts, plus they serve delicious alcoholic hot chocolate!
Doudoune Club has been a fixture on the Val après scene since 2008 and over the years it’s welcomed world-class DJs like Pete Tong, David Guetta and Roger Sanchez for some of the biggest club nights the resort has ever seen. Open from midnight to 5am, this is definitely the place to let your hair down and lose yourself in music.
Facilities in Val d'Isère
As you might expect, facilities at this famous ski resort are first class, with plenty of activities for all the family on and off the slopes, high quality accommodation and eclectic entertainment options.
Ski Hire in Val d'Isère
There are various ski hire operators in Val d’Isère, but rather than arranging gear for your group independently, include it in your Erna Low holiday and we’ll find the best quality equipment for your ski style and level, from the closest location to your accommodation. If you’d like to chat about ski hire, feel free to contact us via live chat.
Ski Passes in Val d'Isère
We can also easily include ski passes in your customised Val d’Isère break and we provide regular special offers throughout the season, such as early bird deals, free kids passes and group deals ̶ keep an eye on what’s available. We send you the ski cards before you head out to the Alps so there is no waiting in line to collect them from a machine/ski pass office.
Spa and Pool in Val d'Isère
With so much action available on the pistes, you might want to spend some time relaxing and recuperating in one of the resort’s spa and pool facilities. The Oxygen sports centre is bang in the town centre and offers several pools, a lazy river, sauna, steam rooms and bubble beds, Mountain Équilibre offers massage and reflexology, and many of the accommodation options have their own gyms, pools and spas.
Shops in Val d'Isère
Fancy a spot of retail therapy while you’re in town? There are shops aplenty in Val d’Isère ̶ you can pick up local cheese and fine wine at Boutique Les Sonnailles, sample the lip-smacking cakes at Clarines, and pick up some posh undies at Lingerie Caresse, to name but a few options.
Facilities for Children in Val d'Isère
Children will never be bored in this resort ̶ read on to find out all about what’s on offer.
Ski Schools in Val d'Isère
We have a couple of recommended ski school options in Val d’Isère:
Oxygène Ski & Snowboard School caters for skiers of all ages and abilities and their experienced instructors have years of know-how in developing kids’ skills so that they can make the most of the slopes.
Prosneiges opened an office in Val d’Isère for W19.20 and they are a great option for private and group lessons.
ESF Ski School is a tried and trusted brand who offer lessons in English for children with quality instruction and customer care.
Entertainment in Val d'Isère
Val Kids is an innovative adventure programme that takes youngsters behind the scenes of the ski resort and teaches them all about the mountain, ski culture and the staff who ensure Val d’Isère runs smoothly. It includes a playground dedicated to exciting resort job roles, a fun piste peppered with games, a toboggan run and a mini ski cross course for improving technique. Solaise and Bellevarde both have these zones and they operate right through the season.
Childcare in Val d'Isère
Jelly and Ice Cream provide childcare for kids on and off the slopes for individual children or groups. All nannies are CRB checked and if they’re looking after your children at your accommodation, they’ll bring their own games and creative art and craft materials, plus they’re happy to prepare a healthy lunch.
Val d'Isere Mountain Info
Val d’Isère sits at an impressive altitude of 1850m but the pistes reach far higher ̶ up to the Pointe du Montet and Pissailas glacier, at 3488m and 3450m respectively. Benefitting from being a meteorological enclave with a large number of north facing slopes, this snow-sure resort offers some of the world’s best skiing and snowboarding opportunities throughout a lengthy main season.