Val d’Isere needs no introduction as one of the world’s top ski resorts with 300 kilometers of ski runs. Here are 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. The skiing is top notch and the apres-ski is just as good.
Val d’Isere Skiing
Before tackling the slopes, you’ll need to get kitted out with skis and all the trimmings. We recommend heading 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 we 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.
We’ve been on a few of these “conveyor belt” type lifts in our time but never on a covered one before. Pim Pam is an innovative covered ski lift on the beginner’s slope.
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 were we with this beast, that we were on a mission to spot his other sculptures dotted around the resort.
Our favorite was this magnificent bear that we finally found at the Fornet glacier – doesn’t he look fierce!
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 Events
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.
Val d’Isere Restaurants
For the best Val d’Isere restaurants on the slopes, head to Le Signal, which has won several awards for its gourmet cuisine. Admire 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.
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…
Parked just outside there was this nifty snowmobile which was just crying out for a photo. 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 Apres-Ski
We knew that Val d’Isere was famous for its nightlife but what we didn’t realize is that many of those places are outdoors, so remember to dress up well! Cocorico is one of the most popular Val d’Isere bars with live music and people dancing on the tables – a good way to keep warm!
Perhaps the most famous or should we say infamous of the Val d’Isere apres-ski 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.
As we got closer, we saw people dancing on tables but we’re told that the party atmosphere gets into full swing a bit later.
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.
How to Get 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 Accommodation
Whilst there are some great Val d’Isere hotels, why not try a ski chalet for the ultimate relaxing break. You can have 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 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
You might also enjoy:
- Skiing in Kitzbuehel, Austria
- The Best Alpine Villages to Visit
- The World’s Most Luxurious Ski Resorts
- Verbier Ski Guide
Read all our France tips here.
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