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Val Thorens Review

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Val Thorens Review

Rating:★★★★ 9,8 out of 10

“Val Thorens is a part of the 3 Valleys (3Vallées in French) ski area in France (the largest ski area in the world with more than 600 km of linked pistes). Val Thorens is the highest altitude ski resort in Europe so you won’t have to worry about snow. Architecture isn’t great, in the beginning builders have used lot of concrete so you won’t get that real alpine feel. It is best suited for younger people but it is also very versatile, you can find accommodation in a cheap mountain refuge or in 5 star hotels, also you can just eat kebab or you can find restaurants graded with Michelin stars. Two things are certain: the quality of skiing is unparalleled and night life is the best in the Alps. Visitors are mainly foreigners (British).”

Val Thorens and 3 valleys Map

click to enlarge

PROS: Part of the biggest domain in the world, diverse, great snow reliability, the best night life in all of the Alps.

CONS: You will need a substantial amount of time to get to other parts of the domain, lots of people who go off piste, architecture.

SLOPES

Easy 312 km (52 %)
Intermediate 216 km (32 %)
Difficult 72 km (12 %)
 TOTAL 600 km 

It was really hard for me to write the Val Thorens review. What could one say about one of the best resorts in the world? I will start from the most important thing, an overview of the slopes.

The whole 3 Valleys area has 169 ski lifts with more than 600 km of pistes. Val Thorens (140 km of runs) belongs to the Belleville valley. Its slopes are wide, there is no tree in sight (due to the altitude), runs are groomed well, but don’t expect perfection like in some Italian or Austrian resorts. Red runs are dominant. If you are a good skier a week will be enough to visit all corners of the whole domain.

Highest skiable peeks are Pointe du Bouchet (3220 m) and Cime de Caron (3200 m). The Cime de Caron Gondola is one of the biggest in the world and you should check out the view from its last station. You will have to climb a small hill, and from there, on a sunny day, you will see the spectacular view of the surrounding mountains including Mont Blanc. Even the fittest are going to lose their breath, due to the great panorama and lack of oxygen. If you want to experience the view, you should be a medium good skier at least, since slopes which go from the top are black and red. Black pistes are really hard, full of ice and moguls (almost not groomed at all like in rest of France). Even if you are a beginner you will find plenty of great slopes which will suit your knowledge.

If you want to visit other parts of the domain (Courchevel and Meribel) Val Thorens is not ideal, because it is off to the side and the whole domain is huge. You will need almost a whole day to reach Courchevel. You will change an endless number of lifts. Be aware of the time, because if you miss the last ride on your way home you could end up far away from your accommodation. It will result in a high taxi bill (some people I knew even rented a room for the night since it was cheaper than a taxi ride home).

 

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FREE RIDE AND TERRAIN PARKS IN VAL THORENS

You will find literally a million different spots for free ride in this endless space, but there is a catch. People who visit 3 Valleys would sell their moms for a powder day, because even after heavy snowfall your precious maiden powder will be criss-crossed in several hours. You should try out areas around Cime Caron and Funitel Peclet. The area around Boismint lift is also interesting. Check out slopes behind Chalet de la Marine (accessible with Cascades lift). Be prepared to rise early and catch the first lift ride in order to get the most out of a powder day. You can always hire a mountain guide, or get a ski package which includes them. TIP: check specifics before you select one, because I have seen a number of big groups which just go several meters off the groomed run and they consider that to be a big off-piste experience.

Every valley has its own big snow park. In Val Thorens it is situated in Plateau area. It has different difficulty lines (from beginner to pro level), and you can film your run and watch it on screen. Several seasons ago they made a small park in the Le Roc area (almost city centre) and now there is a huge airbag there, so you can practice new moves without fear that you might get hurt. There is also a nice snow cross run just by 2 Lacs lift. Meribel’s park is called Area 43 (sponsored by DC Shoes). It also has a big number of elements including the small half pipe, which is really fun to ride. You can’t miss it since it is on the way to Meribel.

HOW TO GET TO VAL THORENS

Val Thorens is situated in the Savoie province (France), close to 4 major airports. Chambery Airport is the closest and it is 120 km away (it will take you 1h 37 min to get there by car). Geneva is 160 km away and you will need to drive for around 3 hours. Lyon is around 200 km away (2h and 30 min by car). Grenoble airport is 200 km and you will need 2h and 30 min by car. All airports have public transport connections, and you can check availability and book tickets online. You can also arrange transport with accommodation providers. Before you choose an airport, see how much transfer is going to cost you, because it can be several times more expensive than a low-cost airplane ticket.

If you take the train, the closest station is in Moutiers. It is only 35-40 km away, but you will need around 50 min by car. During the winter there are regular trains. Also there are regular shuttles which will take you from the station to your hotel.

If you are arriving there by car, reserve your parking spot online (at least 7 days before arrival) because you will save money that way. There is no free parking and you will have to pay around 60 EUR per week.

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WHERE TO STAY IN VAL THORENS

Good news is that almost all places where you can stay are ski in/ski out meaning that you will have to walk to/from the closest slope 30 m at the most. The Place de Caron area is perhaps the best location since everything would be near you (shops, fast food places, restaurants, clubs, lifts, etc.). You can choose among huge apartment blocks, and hotels which have a ski-lift view from their outdoor pool. It is up to you and your budget. Generally, accommodation in Val Thorens is cheaper than in Meribel or Courchevel.

WHAT TO DO AFTER DAY ON SNOW (APRES-SKI) IN VAL THORENS

Val Thorens is the Alpine capital of fun. Party starts around noon at La Folie Douce, a place which combines club atmosphere with top notch cuisine. Here you will find DJs backed by live instruments and singers/MCs. You will be able to eat kebab for just a few Euros, and on the other hand, you can visit Michelin stars-graded restaurants called L’Épicurien and Jean Sulpice. There is a bowling alley, cinema, a substantial number of shops (selling mainly gear for snow sports), and an ice driving track (the famous Top Gear show made one episode here). You can have drinks with your friends at the Saloon Bar (there are several more bars and pubs in the neighborhood, pick one). Finish your evening at a posh club called Le Malaysia (which boasts a 700m2 dance floor).

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