On the Piste – Best Val d’Isere Ski & Apres-Ski Hotspots


Val d’Isere needs no introduction as one of the world’s top ski resorts with 300 kilometers of ski runs. We recently enjoyed a long weekend discovering its many charms, some which we’d heard about and others which came as a pleasant surprise. We’re sharing some of the best Val d’Isere ski and apres-ski hotspots that you’re sure to enjoy!

First Impressions of Val d’Isere

There’s no denying that Val d’Isere is a picturesque place, that has retained its village charm yet managed to modernize its facilities. I’d been here several years ago so knew that the skiing was top notch but was keen to see how it had changed since then.

val-d-isere-old-village
Skiing in Val d’Isere

Before tackling the slopes, we needed to get kitted out with skis and all the trimmings. We headed to Snowberry, one of the best Val d’Isere ski shops. They have brand new equipment and who fitted us out with skis as well as comfy boots – no mean feet as I seem to have sensitive calf muscles! They advised us to take insurance for our skis or to keep them within our sights whenever we stopped for lunch. The new 10 person Solaise gondola has heated seats and free WiFi, reaching the top in 7 minutes. It’s opened up a whole new high-altitude area for beginners with 3 magic carpet lifts. I’ve been on a few of these “conveyor belt” type lifts in my time but never on a covered one before!

Pim Pam Val
We came across this superb crocodile sculpture created by Richard Orlinski at the top of the Solaise ski lift. Richard is the highest selling contemporary French artist and his works have been snapped up by Paul McCartney, Sharon Stone and Richard Branson. So taken was I with this beast, that I was on a mission to spot his other sculptures dotted around the resort…

Val d'Isere crocodile sculpture
My favourite was this magnificent bear that we finally found at the Fornet glacier – doesn’t he look fierce!

Val d'Isere bear
The snow quality was excellent wherever we went. In fact it was so good that the International Ski Federation chose to reschedule the Beaver Creek World Cup ski races from Colorado where there was very little snow to Val d’Isere. You can actually ski until the first week in May on one of the glaciers. On one of the days we were treated to a ski lesson by New Generation, who know the area like the back of their hand.

Val d'Isere ski areaEvents in Val d’Isere

The Criterium de la Première Neige, or Men’s Downhill Slalom was taking place during our stay. It seemed that all the village had turned out to watch the contestants race down the slope at record speed. There are quite a few festivals taking place throughout the year, such as the Winter Golf Cup, the Adventure & Discovery Film Festival and the Yoga Festival in April.

Criterium race 2016Dining in Val d’Isere

For the best Val d’Isere dining on the slopes, head to Le Signal, which has won several awards for its gourmet cuisine. We admired another Richard Orlinski work, the red DJ Headphones, before tucking into a traditional pot au feu casserole. There’s also a more casual self-service restaurant on the ground floor.

Le Signal Val d'Isere Another good place for a relaxed lunch is Bar de l’Ouillette, with its beach area – yes really! OK so there’s no sand but there were some nifty sun umbrellas…

Ouillette Plage Val d'IsereParked just outside there was this nifty snowmobile which was just crying out for a photo – I was soon joined by these crazy characters ;-). Back in the village, don’t miss Fondue Factory which has a display of vintage skis as well as delicious fondues in a stylish decor.

Val d'Isere skiingApres-ski in Val d’Isere

I knew that Val d’Isere was famous for its nightlife but what I didn’t realize is that many of those places are outdoors, so remember to dress up well! Cocorico is a fun place with live music and people dancing on the tables – a good way to keep warm!

Coco Rico Val d'Isere apres-ski
Perhaps the most famous or should I say infamous of the bars is La Folie Douce, meaning Sweet Madness. It’s reached via a rather steep slope but we weren’t going to let that stop us.

La Folie Douce Val d'Isere
As we got closer, I saw more people dancing on tables but I’m told that the party atmosphere gets into full swing a bit later.

La Folie Douce apres-ski
If you’re seeking a change from skiing during the day, check out the Aquasports Centre. Located in the heart of Val d’Isere, it houses a pool, hammam, gym, climbing wall, driving and golf simulators. There’s also an ice driving circuit in the village, as well as a natural ice rink.

Getting to Val d’Isere

Chambery is the closest international airport, with Geneva also being convenient. From Chambery it was a scenic 3 hour drive to Val d’Isere with SnowDrone, a luxury transfer service with complimentary WiFi.

Val d'Isere luxury ski transferWhere to stay in Val d’Isere

We had a really fantastic stay at Kilco Penthouse, one of the best Val d’Isere luxury chalets, being located a few minutes from the main ski lift. It’s actually owned by the Killy family, relatives of famous world record holder Jean-Claude Killy. Managed by Hip Hideouts, it’s a beautiful building with floor to ceiling windows and a very cosy interior. There’s a plunge pool, steam room, large garage and kit room as well as a chauffeur to collect your ski kit. The food here is truly high end, with a different chef cooking each evening and afternoon tea being available every day.

Val d'Isere luxury ski chaletBest Val d’Isere Highlights

We had some fantastic experiences but were particularly impressed by:

  • Cool temporary artworks on display
  • Virtually year-round snow and great new facilities
  • Amazing après-ski

Val d'Isere ski trip

  • The sculptures on the snow are really cool! What a beautiful place, Mr S loves Val D’Isere.

    • I really loved the sculptures, it was a great surprise to come across the first one!

  • Val d’sere looks absolutely gorgeous!! I’m big into skiing and I’d love to check out these trails at some point in my life. I also love those sculptures of the crocodile and the bear!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

    • There are some great trails in Val d’Isere and it’s worth visiting in Summertime too. The artworks were amazing

  • Hayley Rubery

    Val d’Sere has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time now! Since visiting Verbier I’ve become obsessed with the dreamy snowy backdrops – the beauty is unreal! Your pictures look stunning as always Suze!

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • Thanks very much Hayley, we were blessed with good weather and of course it’s a very picturesque place to photograph!

  • Lucy

    It’s the perfect place to ski, eat and enjoy outdoor pursuits. I love the art sculptures beautiful Lucy x

  • What a fantastic combination of fun and luxury Suze!

  • I tend to overlook france for skiing because it can be so crowded but have to admit Val does look incredible. Love places that have apres ski and also such great slopes. That bear is fabulous too

    • It wasn’t too crowded when we were there as there was good snow everywhere so people were spread out thankfully. The apres-ski is definitely rocking there!

  • that looks amazing! never been skiing before but would love to try it one day..

    THE FASHION MATTERS- Travel & Fashion blog | INSTAGRAM: TheFashionMatters

    • It’s such a great place for skiing, I’d say it’s particularly suited to intermediates but they do have a new beginner’s area that’s pretty good

  • I don’t think I’ve ever before had such a massive desire to jump on a plane and visit a place! This is incredible! The blue artworks are great – and I can imagine those seats were a welcome break from skiing your way down the slope 😉

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • I was really impressed by the sculptures, in fact a nearby ski resort has a competition to win one! The heated seats were lovely when it was snowing

  • I went to Tignes last year and we were going to try to go to La Folie Douce but never made it! Heard wild things though… love those sculptures btw – so unique in a snowy environment! x

    • Well we didn’t party the night away in La Folie Douce, I’d have been scared to ski back down again afterwards ;-). We did get a few photos at least. Aren’t the sculptures cool!

      • Ha ha probably wise not to ski after a few drinks! I’d be a disaster even before…!

  • Believe it or not, I live 45 minutes away from the mountain and a great skiing place but I have yet to visit it! LOL! Definitely need to change that next winter.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  • Skiing seems to be a much sought after sport there. Staying in tropical land I have enjoyed skiing only in pics. 😛 🙂
    Those sculptures are amazing! what are they made of? Blue against the white snow makes them more attractive.

    • They’re made from a kind of resin, the sculptor developed a new material as far as I understand – the end result is certainly impressive. Hope you get to try skiing one day

  • Gotta a love a good day skiing the mountains. Everything at val d’isere looks just perfect! Even those sculptures look pretty cool!

  • Drew Seaman

    What a beautiful setting. The Alps are such a beautiful place to visit, and Val d’Isere is not exception. I’m not much of a skier (I’ve done snowboarding a handful of times), but I’m all about apres ski! I wouldn’t mind hanging out in the mountain top bars and having a few drinks in a hot tub! That’s how I like to spend ski vacations!

    • I’ve never tried snowboarding, I imagined that it was harder than skiing. I agree that it’s all about the apres-ski, whether you’ve skied in the day or not!

  • Val D’Isere really is a beautiful part of the alps. I love the blue bear sculpture – and i’ve been to La Foliie Deuce’s sister venue in Val Thoren – the party atmosphere is great once it gets in full swing, but getting back down the mountain can be a little hairy by the end of the afternoon!

    • Ooh I didn’t know they had a sister venue but I can imagine that getting down the slopes afterwards is a challenge!

  • Coco Cami

    Beautiful post, these snowy scenes are amazing. I would love to go skiing one day, thanks for sharing your recommendations 🙂

    Camille xo

    http://www.cococami.blogspot.co.uk

  • Oh wow I’m loving the sculptures Suze – very unique! It’s also been a long time since I’ve been snow mobiling! Val d’Isere looks like a very glam ski spot and one that I’m definitely adding to the list!

    • I haven’t tried snowmobiling yet but I’d love to – guess you wrap up very warm!

  • Tom Stevenson

    It really does look great here! Compared to the skiing fields that I went to in NZ, this beats them hands down! There was certainly no heated seats or free wifi on the skilifts there! The food also looks amazing, I could devour both od those dishes!

    • It’s amazing how ski resorts have improved since I used to go too! I just wish someone could invent lighter skis and boots ;-). The food was delicious

  • Nina

    Amazing photos. I can imagine how great time you could have there.
    Nina
    Nina’s Style Blog

  • I’ve never been skiing or even visited a resort but this is a little of what I expected. Those art sculptures are such a bonus in my opinion. So random but beautiful.

    Sxx
    http://www.daringcoco.com

  • Elisa Subirats

    It seems that you had a fantastic time! My last time skiing was years and years ago but if I decide to go back you have convinced me to do it in Val d’Isère

  • Looks like so much fun! And the food looks so yummy :p

  • megan_claire

    Love that there’s virtually year round snow in Val d’Isere – one of the top classic ski resorts in Europe for sure! We actually published an article on top ski resorts in Europe a couple of days ago and mentioned Val d’Isere, so I’ll link to your post for those looking for an insightful review 🙂

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    Looks like you had an incredible ski getaway at Val d’Isere! We love the French Alps and it’s good to know the snow quality was good. The Alps have really been suffering the last few years with the warmer and drier winters.

  • I haven’t been skiing for a couple of years, but I’d love to go to Val d’Isere one day!

    C x | Lux Life – Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Blog