All images courtesy of Val d’Isere Tourisme
300 Km (linked with Tignes)
1,785 M – 3,456 M
Grand Motte Cable Car – 3,456 M
Green 21%, Blue 38%, Red 30%, Black 11%
Chambery 2hrs 45 mins
Geneva 3.5 hrs
Val d’Isère has both excellent nursery slope areas and is a good choice for beginners. In main Val d’Isère centre – there is an excellent nursery slope area with its own chairlift and Poma. There is also a magic carpet with play area for younger children.
Val d’Isère has everything from babysitters, private nannies, village nurseries, children’s ski schools and even academic holiday tutors available, providing day and evening cover as well as one of the biggest and best children’s learning and fun areas on the ski slopes that you’ll find anywhere.
Located in the French Alps, near the Italian border, Val d’Isere is widely acclaimed to be one of the best ski resorts in the world, with one of the best snow records in Europe, thanks to its high altitude and local micro-climate. Situated in the vast Espace Killy, the ski area offers 300km of runs shared with neighbouring Tignes.
Most famous for its steep slopes, off piste and lively apres ski scene; this charming village is also easy to get around and has plenty of activities for non-skiers and family groups. Part of Val d’Isère’s appeal is that despite its cosmopolitan atmosphere, it is has a lovely peaceful town centre and wonderful nursery slope area, perfect for watching young children learn to ski.
Val d’Isère spreads along the valley floor for about 10km with lifts rising up from the heart of the resort as well as the satellite villages and hamlets on either side of La Daille and La Fornet. Up above the ski areas interconnect and down at village level too, huge investments over the past 20 years have led to great improvements and inter-connectivity between the mountain bases, with more upgrades currently underway.
The village is absolutely charming and is centred around a traditional Tarentaise church that sits proudly in the heart of the village ‘Old town’. The chalets and hotels have grown up around the church and the flat main high street that runs all the way from the entrance of La Daille along to the peaceful La Fornet hamlet at the other end of the valley. Sympathetically designed in local materials the growing number of luxury chalets around Val d’Isere village are all highly sought after due to their proximity to both the slopes, wonderful range of shops and lively village centre.
Val d’Isère has a strong ski racing heritage and is included as one of the major stops on the World Cup circuit each December, along with many other fantastic events throughout the year including the famous New Years Eve Fireworks party.
Most famous for its challenging terrain, the extent of the skiing shared between Tignes and Val d’Isère – together offering one of the biggest ski areas in France and indeed all of Europe and the wider world; as well as one of the worlds biggest lift-served verticals, means that in reality there’s something for everyone. There’s also a world-class fast, comfortable lift network to whisk you back up the slopes. Beginners are well catered for with extensive nursery areas and intermediates will find endless long, cruisy greens, blues and reds to whip around the vast ski area on.
For those looking for a challenge, the 10km long La Sache black run on the Tignes side is the region’s longest. It’s true that more experienced skiers will be particularly excited by Val d’Isère endless snowy riches. These include one of the world’s most famous black runs, La Face, the men’s World Cup run. The off piste terrain is amongst the best in the world, so skiing or boarding with a fully qualified local guide is essential.
Whilst some resorts famed for their challenging skiing don’t have much to offer first timers, Val d’Isère, by contrast, has excellent nursery slopes and a great choice of ski schools in both La Daille and Solaise as well as right by the heart of the resort. Beginners progressing on to green and blue runs have easy access back to resort centre, as they can easily taking one of the fast comfortable lifts back into the village.
We think that Val d’Isère may just have more choice of childcare than any other ski resort we know of. Along with private nannying or nursery care services that may be provided in your chalet, there are about around a dozen private nanny agencies operating in the resort. There is also a choice of non-ski village nurseries.
In addition, there are several companies that offer academic tuition and coursework coaching to children on holiday in the village. On the slopes there are half-a-dozen different ski schools offering snow kindergarten and ski school classes from age three up, and a vast array of special classes right through childhood and teenage depending on taste and ability.
It’s also worth mentioning that Val d’Isère has great facilities for children and families off the slopes too including a brilliant public sports and swimming pool complex next to the slopes and an ice-rink.
One of the big draws of Val d’Isère is its famous night life. It’s one of the very few resorts where its best known apres ski venues are known independently of the resort.
No trip to Val d’Isere is complete without a trip to La Folie Douce, the ultimate apres ski experience and now a world renowned brand. This spectacular apres ski venue serves up a daily on-mountain cabaret show and pumping Dj until the lifts close, what’s more those with weary legs can simply hop in the cable car down to La Daille instead of skiing down.
In town, just at the base of the Solaise lift, Cocoricos offers legendary apres ski sessions with a huge outside bar area and terrace. We also recommend trying out the brand new Saloon Bar, housed in what used to be Cafe Face. Saloon Bar features two sleek, fast flowing bars with a host of international DJ’s playing everyday during apres ski.
After dark La Baraque offers live music and a fantastic selection of local wine. Victors is also a must try and is popular with locals and ski instructors who all enjoy the lively atmosphere, good food and good music, not to mention the famous cocktails, and daily 2-4-1 Happy Hours.
Those looking to stay out and dance into the small hours must visit Dick’s Tea Bar (+33 6 51 39 99 81; www.dicksteabar.com), a resort stalwart for four decades and where The Club opens from 1.30am – 5am. A huge highlight and a must try is Doudoune Club, which hosts the biggest and best club nights in Val d’Isere. Located under the nursery slopes it can be tricky to find. It has also hosted household names such as David Guetta, Pete Tong and Roger Sanchez and boasts the best sound system in the Alps.
There are, however, dozens of other options of course, from loud and lively pubs to suave and sophisticated cocktail lounge bars and you can expect a wide range of live acts from the latest, greatest DJs to outrageous cabaret performances. Once the lifts close for the evening Val d’Isère has it all.
A ‘must visit’ – La Fruitière at Folie Douce (lafoliedouce.com) is a spectacular apres ski venue and on-mountain cabaret show. Located in the top station of the La Daille gondola, private dining rooms are available. The concept has been franchised out to other resorts but none beat this, the original.
La Peau de Vache (+33 4 79 06 11 29) located in the Piste de Bellevarde is unusually not just one of the best mountain restaurants on the village, but popularly regarded as one of the best in Val d’Isère full stop. Great food, service and even value.
La Grande Ourse (1 Rue des Leissieres; +33 4 79 06 00 19; grande-ourse.com) is a charming and perfectly located little restaurant located at the foot of the slopes. A wide ranging menu and the owner also produces his own wine.
L’Atelier d’Edmond (+33 4 79 00 00 82; atelier-edmond.com/en/) in Le Fornet is generally regarded as the best restaurant in the Valley. Run since 2011 by two Michelin star chef Benoît Vidal you dine in a traditional mountain home surrounded by decades of Savoyard history.
La Baraque is without a doubt the most popular restaurant in Val among the locals. It remains open for much of the year and provides consistently good food at reasonable prices. It’s also a resort rendezvous for those wanting a quiet drink in convivial surroundings.
Le Casserole is an excellent choice for fondues, raclette, and all of the other Savoyard cheese dishes which are essential during a one-week French Mountain holiday.
Now established for more than 25 years, Oxygene (www.oxygene-ski.com) is one of the largest independent schools in Val d’Isère with a strong reputation and all English-speaking teachers.
Progression Ski (www.progressionski.com) – run by a Scottish national, instructors are mostly British. They offer a comprehensive selection of lessons, clinics and private instruction. Their team is made up of ex-national champions and trained instructors, all extremely friendly and passionate about teaching.
British run New Generation (skinewgen.com) have more than 20 years experience operating the full range of ski instruction options including private lessons and off piste guiding.