Resort Guide - Val d'Isère

About

Val d'Isère is a commune of the Tarentaise Valley, in southeastern France, 5 km from the Italian boarder. During the 1992 Winter Olympics, the legendary Face de Bellevarde was the site of the men's downhill race. Val d'Isère regularly hosts World Cup alpine events, usually for the men in early December, and hosted the World Championships in 2009. It is located in the Savoie région with good transport links in and out of Lyon, Geneva and Chambery.Human habitation of the valley dates back to before Roman times. The town received parish rights in 1637 and the parish church, which is still a landmark in the town centre, was built in 1664.Skiing in Val d'Isère has its roots in the 1930s when a drag lift was built on the slopes of the Solaise.Val d'Isère was made well known as the vacation spot of characters Edina and Patsy in the British sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous. Although the movie Les Bronzés font du ski (French Fried Vacation 2) has been a great success in France, only a few people are aware that it was shot in Val d'Isère.In 1994, a video game named after the resort, Val d'Isere Championship was released for the Super Nintendo. Another game called Val d'Isère Skiing and Snowboarding was released for the Atari Jaguar.In addition to great skiing, Val d'Isère is equally well-known for its nightlife culture, made possible by the town's centralized layout.

Piste Map

The ski area of Val d'Isère and Tignes forms the world-renowned Espace Killy, named after the triple olympic champion Jean-Claude Killy who grew up in Val d'Isère. It is an incredible wintersport recreation playground where skiers and boarders love to leave their tracks. In addition to the nearly endless off-piste options, the ski area includes 154 runs stretched over 300 Kilometres at altitudes ranging between 1,550 metres and 3,450 metres. This includes:

  • 20 green runs
  • 67 blue runs
  • 41 red runs
  • 26 black runs
  • 9 slalom courses
  • 1 mogul field
  • 2 snowparks 
  • 2 glaciers

Check out this link (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/france/val-disere/10985649/...) for some suggested itineraries for every level of skier.

Resort Map

Val d'Isere is a world-class destination not only because of its legendary ski area but also because of the amazing atmosphere in the Village. Strict laws mean that 'chalet' style architecture dominates the landscape, making Val much easier on the eyes than some other purpose-built ski resorts. However, Val d'Isère is by no means old fashioned! The main area of the resort is very lively and filled with bars, restaurants and shops. You're equally likely to see someone walking out of a shop with a €20,000 fur coat as you are to see a shirtless student waiting outside a kebab shop at 4 in the morning. This surreal juxtaposition is one of the reasons we love it here so much.There are a lot of little subdivisions in Val d'Isere, namely: Le Cret, Le Joseray, Le Chatelard, La Legettaz, Le Laisinant, Le Daille and Le Fornet but, (with the exception of Le Cret) if you like going out at night, you're much better off staying in the centre of town.

Ski Passes

The easiest way to buy your pass and skip the lines is to order online at www.valdiserepass.com and have the passes sent directly to your home free of charge. If you prefer to buy a pass in resort you'll find a lift pass sales point in every part of the Village:Val Village8.30 am to 4.00 pm from Monday to Friday8.30 am to 7.00 pm on Saturdays8.30 am to 6.00 pm on SundaysSolaise Express 8.45 am to 4.00 pm From Sunday to Saturdays8.45 am to 6.00 pm on Saturdays from 13/12/2014 to 18/04/2015Funival8.45 am to 16.00 pm from Sunday to Saturdays8.45 am to 7.00 pm on Saturdays from 13/12/2014 to 18/04/2015**from Thursday to Saturday between 11:00 am to 12 :00 am ski pass machine only.Information desk : Fornet8.45 to 11.30 a.m. and midday to 3.00 p.m. from Sunday to Friday8.45 to 11.30 a.m. and midday to 3.45 p.m. on Saturdays8.45 am to 16.30 pm from Monday to SundayNew : ski pass machine, available 7/7

Ski Schools

In addition to being more affordable, group lessons are a great way for beginner to intermediate skiers and boarders to learn and improve in a fun and sociable setting.However, the ultimate way to improve your skiing, snowboarding, or telemarking is a private lesson with your own coach. As technical and focused or as casual and guided as you want.Here in Val d'Isere we recommend Progression and New Generation Ski Schools.

Ski Hire

For the best selection of equipment, the best service (in English) and the best prices, go to Snowberry, located just of the rond-point des pistes. It's pretty much a no-brainer.

Travel

If you really hate your back but love your wallet you can get a bus from the UK straight to resort. Check out www.snowexpress.co.uk .A train from London is a pretty cheap and easy way to get to Bourg St Maurice (see http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/eurostar-deals/eurostar-train-deals/trains-france/ski-train-the-alps) but you need to make sure you get there before the last bus goes up the hill, or have a taxi booked to take you the last 20 kilometers.Obviously, not everyone lives in London or likes trains (after all they are notoriously full of hobos). Luckily, Easy Jet, Ryan Air and British Airways have flights leaving from all over the UK landing in the nearby airports of Lyon, Chambery, Grenoble and Geneva.You'll probably want to sort a private or shared transfer to get you to resort once you land. We highly recommend Europe Transfer and Snow Drone.

Accommodation

For a self-catered apartment for a week, a month, or the whole season get in touch with Piers – he's been here for 25 years and he knows what's up. 06.80.47.11.70, www.skipierdor.co.ukFor a cheap and cheerful hotel in the centre of town we suggest Hotel La Galise http://lagalise.com/For something a little quieter and more refined try the hotel Avancher. The owner Fred and his team are amazing. http://www.hotel-lavancher.com/

Restaurants

Check out our guide to the local restaurants here

Bars

Check out our guide to the local bars here

Shops

Our two favourite shops in town are Planks and Surefoot.Planks ClothingPlanks Clothing is Val d'Isere's homegrown ski brand, started by an ex-pro seasonnaire selling beanies and t-shirts out of the back of his van. Now being sold on 5 continents with a range that has grown to include items like top-quality goggles and outerwear it's safe to say that the boys and girls behind Planks are on to a winner. Most days you can still find the founder Jim (and his dog Biggie) behind the counter in their shop in Val Village. Alternatively you can check out www.planksclothing.comSurefootAsk any skier with Surefoot Ski Boots--the fit, comfort, and performance of a Surefoot perfect-fit boot is unlike anything you have ever experienced. With their high-tech fitting system that looks like something out of Star Trek, Wilkie and his team guarantee that you will be completely satisfied with your new boots. From their legendary Surefoot Insoles to the next-generation liners and their ability-specific ski boot shell, Surefoot offers you a ski boot with unsurpassed comfort, performance and style.  

Emergency

Check out our directory page for emergency contact details

Other Activities

Check out this article in our features section on what to do when you're not on the slopes.