You hear the name Val d’Isere, and if you are a fan of downhill skiing or snowboarding, you might already know about it. As the Culture Trip explains, it is one of the “biggest and most exciting ski resorts in France…[and] has a lot going for it.” There are the amazing hotels and private chalets, the nightlife and apres ski fun, the gourmet dining, and so much more. Whether visiting in the winter or the summer, you will find a great deal to love about Val d’Isere, and a great deal to see and do.
Let’s, however, take some time to figure out the best things for visitors to do in Val d’Isere if booking their winter holiday or ski vacation at the resort.
The Skiing and Snowboarding
Naturally, you don’t head to what The Telegraph described as a site for those seeking “high quality, snow-sure slopes for everyone from complete beginner to veteran powderhound,” and skip a bit of time on the slopes. For those who want to enjoy the very best skiing that Val d’Isere makes available, it is to Bellevarde they must travel. This is one of the area’s most famous slopes, and it has a lot of variety on its 2,807 meters. It has been part of many events and competitions, including the 1992 Olympics.
If a bit of alternative skiing is desired, Le Fornet, just outside of Val d’Isere is the ideal choice. It has intermediate slopes and offers stunning scenery of both Pointe du Montet and Pissaillas glacier.
Snowboarders flock to the Val d’Isere Snowpark with its freestyle snowboarding facilities that include jumps and rails suited to any level of skill. It is in the valley of Mont Blanc and can be reached by using the Olympique cable car.
What if you are eager to do some cross country skiing? The Prariond Valley is east of Vanoise Massif and is a popular area for cross-country skiing during the winter months. It takes visitors up 2000 meters and is one of the few spots where hikers and skiers can encounter the Pyrenean ibex, an endangered animal in France.
Val d’Isere is linked to the neighboring mountain of Tignes and offers more than 300km of pistes equipped with 78 lifts. It is at the far end of the Tarentaise Valley and has slopes as high as 3400m along the Pointe du Montet, meaning whether you love cross country, downhill or snowboarding, there is something for everyone.
For the Non-Skiers in the Crowd
Of course, many people who pay a visit to Val d’Isere are not even that interested in skiing and come for everything from the scenery and the nightlife to the gourmet dining. And while it is entirely possible to spend days enjoying the luxuries of a private chalet with a pool, spa services, home theater, and more, the area is also home to lots of non-skiing activities.
Some of the most exciting and popular include:
· Winter walking – One expert said that “Val d’Isere is a winter walker’s paradise, with lifts giving access to the higher ground and a network of groomed trails in the winter, it’s very easy to discover the resort on foot.” There is no equipment needed, just good clothing and boots. Walking poles can be handy on any ice, and an eye on the weather is a must.
· Ice diving – Tignes 2100 is home to a frozen lake and the ice on the surface can be up to two meters thick. Visitors can work with qualified diving instructors to go beneath the ice and explore the unique world that exists in plain sight
· Ice driving and biking – This is something not for the faint of heart, but it can be an exciting way to truly master wintertime driving for good. There are actual ice driving centers with courses and circuits on which visitors will be able to work with instructors who teach them to drive a car, a go-kart or a motorcycle on a sheet of ice! It can be a remarkable achievement and one might dedicate days to mastering the skills needed to keep a vehicle on track and under control in the worst conditions
You can also try such daring activities as micro flights in the area, days spent in the spas, paragliding, and even dog sledding. Ice skating is always an option at the outdoor ice rink in the heart of the village, and the Aquasportif center is home to an array of pools and spas. Ice climbing is also a possibility, and with the help of a guide, travelers can really grow their skills.
Ski or Don’t…There’s Always Apres-Ski
Apres ski is the time that comes at the end of a day spent on the slopes, and usually means a gathering of family or friends enjoying good food, music, and socializing. For it to be an ideal scenario, though, it should have a party atmosphere with music, locals participating in the fun, good cocktails or beer, an outdoor or fresh air setting, and a laid back atmosphere.
There are many popular choices, but among the most frequently recommended are Dick’s Tea Bar with its distinctly café culture, its amazing mulled wine and hot chocolate options, pub food, and its great music. There is also famous Cocorico located right at the foot of Solaise and the Face de Bellevarde, and offering amazing views of the ideal apres ski experience. It has a distinct party reputation, but can be a fun way to end the day.
Of course, many travelers book a chalet with apres ski services included, and if you have a chance to have a chef whip up some nibbles and drinks waiting for you upon arrival after a day on the slopes, there may be little that can compare. The key is to make the transition between the time skiing and the evening of fun, and apres ski has been designed just for that purpose.
You now know a handful of great things to do in Val d’Isere, and should be certain to include them in your planning for your upcoming holiday.