Val d’Isère Review

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Vla disere ski lift and village panorama

Val d’Isère Review

Rating: ★★★★★ 9,5 out of 10

Val-d’Isère is the most famous winter resort in France. With Tignes it forms one of the largest snow sports areas in France and Europe. The village was host to the biggest skiing competitions in the world. Freeriding opportunities are endless. It is frequently visited by royalty and celebrities. Val-d’Isère is renowned for world-class hotels, luxurious chalets, boutique shops, posh restaurants, and crazy après ski parties. The village is charming; it has great atmosphere and an alpine feel to it. 

Pros: Huge domain, diverse slopes, superb infrastructure, great for off-piste skiing, interesting night life…

Cons: Can be difficult for beginners (read the rest of this Val-d’Isère Review to see why), pricey, and crowded during peak season.

Val d’Isère Slopes

Easy                       170 km (57 %)

Intermediate     78 km (26 %)

Difficult                 52 km (17 %)

Together with Tignes, Val d’Isère has 300 km of pistes. They are 6th on the list of the biggest ski resorts in Europe. Runs are diverse. Slopes are long and cruisy. Infrastructure is top class. Lifts are new and fast. Some resorts also have long runs but after you go down it takes you ages to climb back up. That is not case with Val d’Isère, as you will be at the top in no time.

The village lies at 1,850 m above sea level. The highest peak you can reach by lift is at around 3,200 m. Tignes’s glacier called Grande Motte is even taller. It sits at 3,456 m (marketing department did a great job on this one, since the altitude is easy to remember). As a result of that, pistes are snow-sure.

Only few resorts can boast with the fact that they were host to Olympic men’s Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom races. World Championships took place there in 2009 and Val d’Isère is a regular annual stop on FIS World Cup tour. Tignes was host to European Winter X Games. Do you need better recommendation if you are a true skiing enthusiast? 

There is plenty to choose from for skiers of all levels and abilities. As I mentioned earlier, in the summary of this Val d’Isère Review, things are not ideal for beginners. Although blue runs are dominant (57%) and there are some free lifts for novices, return to the village is gnarly. If you want to ski down the slopes you will have to choose between 2 runs: the first one is an icy, steep black piste (Olympic downhill competition took place there) and the second one is a narrow, icy, crowded red run.

Snow grooming is excellent but big crowds during peak season can turn perfectly prepared slopes into a fields of moguls.

Cascades Val d'Isere panorama

Val d’Isère Snow Parks and Freeride

The domain is ideal for off-piste skiing. It is huge and you will be able to find great slopes easily. Area around Montet and Cascade lifts is just perfect. There is plenty of room and it is not too steep. You can go right or left; it doesn’t matter. Even if you wander too much to the left there is the Pays Desert drag lift to get you back to the resort. Tignes has an area around Col des Ves lift reserved for off piste skiing, so slopes are not groomed. Be ready to get up early on powder days in order to get your piece of heavenly powder before it is criss-crossed by other freeriders.

Val d’Isère snow park is situated near Stade Slalom lift. It is impeccably maintained by its staff. You will find several difficulty lines for all levels there. Jumps, rails, boxes, just name it and it is there. Tignes has a park between Col du Palet and Grattalu lifts. As I mentioned earlier in this Val d’Isère Review, it was host to Winter X Games and it is needless to say that those boys know how to make a top-level playground for freestylers. There are several ski/snowboard cross runs around the domain.

How to Get to Val d’Isère

The closest airport is in Chambrey, 144 km away. The transfer is going to take you around 2 hours. Although Chambrey is also the closest, connection to other airports is not good and it is improbable that you would use it. Lyon is a possible option since it is 217 km away. It will take you around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get from the airport to the resort. Even though Geneva is the furthest of the 3, it is a common choice among the people who visit Val d’Isère. Distance between the airport and the resort is around 220 km, and transfer by car lasts 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The closest train station is in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. It is 30 km away. Car transfer is going to take you around 40 minutes. Local roads around the resort are prone to congestions due to accidents and bad weather. This problem is highlighted on changeover days. Take that into consideration when you are organising a trip to a train station or an airport. TIP: use navigation which has live traffic information, it can help you avoid traffic jams and save time.

val disere panorama drone picture

Where to Stay in Val d’Isère

Along with Courchevel and Chamonix, Val d’Isère is the most luxurious resort in France. Top notch chalets and hotels dominate the village. Having said that, you can imagine that accommodation in Val d’Isère doesn’t come cheap. Another problem is the fact that the number of ski in/out places where you can stay is limited. Chalets in eastern part of the village have instant access to the pistes. Don’t despair, as free and frequent public transport will get you to the slopes and back.

You can save some money if you find accommodation in the neighbouring Daille but don’t expect the same experience. Tignes might be an affordable alternative. Check out “Tignes vs Val d’Isère” article here.

La Folie Deuce Val dIsere

What to Do After A Day On Snow (apres-ski) in Val d’Isère

Have a break at Les Marmottes Sarl near Borsat Express lift botom. They have good value for money food and a beautiful sun deck. Replenish your energy with an international menu: goulash soup, lasagnas, burgers…

End your day on the slopes in the world-famous La Folie Deuce, second name for apres-ski in the French Alps. It is situated on top of the La Daile ski lift. Live performers (djs, singers, dancers…) will heat up the atmosphere. Party is not over until all the guests end up dancing on tables. You can’t say that you have been to Val d’Isère if you don’t visit La Folie Deuce only once, even if it is not your cup of tea. They also have 2 nice restaurants where you can grab something to eat. One of them is self-service and the other is a posh, a la carte establishment designed to remind of Leonardo Da Vinci’s atelier with a view.Val d’Isère has a vibrant apres-ski scene, and sometime it is hard to decide which bar or club to hit.

In the evening you will have a fine selection of restaurants to choose from. Seven of them are in the Michelin Guide. Le Peau de Vache and Avancher Hotel Restaurant have amazing food. and Or you can sty simple and just grab a pizza in Flash Pizza.

Lovers of night life won’t be disappointed either. There are several clubs around the village working until the early hours. Dick’s Tea Bar is well worth visiting, they have great resident and visiting DJs. Doudone night club might be a good option. It is place where the greatest names of electronic music performed. As everywhere else in Val d’Isère be careful not to brake the bank.

If you liked this Val d’Isère Review and you think that it should be your next destination, you can find your accommodation here.


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