Val d’Isere is renowned by many as the best place in Europe to work a winter ski season. This winter was my 5th winter season but my first, highly anticipated I might add, season in Val d’Isere and I was lucky enough to spend six months working, living and playing in one the most beautiful ski resorts in the world. The town may have somewhat smugly self-awarded themselves this title but I’m certainly not going to disagree.
So what is it about Val d’Isere that makes it so appealing? Quite frankly, an outstanding reputation! The town is tasteful and modern with all of the bars, shops and restaurants you would expect from a world-class resort, yet it has retained a distinctively alpine charm centring around the beautiful old town and the interesting quirks of a former farming village. Giant ice sculptures dotting the streets and regular night-time pedestrianisation thoughout the winter give the resort a truly festive, alpine feel – though don’t worry, you’ll have hopped on the free bus long before that comes in to play. There’s certainly no arduous trekking to the slopes!
Unsurprisingly though, very few of us work a season purely to explore the town. What really sold Val d’Isere to me were the amazing stories I had heard of the off piste. If you haven’t see Leo Tallifer’s winning GOpro footage ‘Line’ from Val d’Isere this season, it is definitely worth a watch!
There are 300km of piste, 2 glaciers and 2 snowparks over the Espace Killy ski area which reaches across to neighbouring Tignes. With 90 ski lifts to boot, it’s a huge area whether you’re skiing for a few days, a few weeks or all season long. If you’re planning on travelling there this season, it’s always useful to ask for someone to point you in the right direction!
With that in mind, these are my top 5 ski runs:
- Diebold (Blue) This is a gentle blue that is great to warm your legs up as a first run of the day. It is lovely wide, natural rolling run.
- Combe Follie (Blue) Again this is a lovely run that is relatively quiet and peaceful allowing you to gain some good speed and get a little playful on the sides.
- Cugnal (red) If you don’t have the time to get over to Fornet, but you want that feeling of being on top of the world, the Cugnal chair is perfect. Follow the cugnal run down or you can nip off the side and venture in to some off piste.
- Cascade (red) A glacial run, this is usually fairly quiet and stays in great condition whatever the weather.
- Les Champions (blue) A personal favourite.
For the more intense skiers amongst us, Val snow park is hard to beat and there are some great places to off piste amongst the trees in the Du Fornet area of town. If you’re more of a speed demon though, you can follow the route of the Val d’Isere mens downhill race throughout the season exempting of course, when the race is actually on in January. This runs from the top of the FuniVal lift down to La Daille at the far end of Val d’Isere with over a km of vertical descent; certainly not for the fainthearted! Or me, for that matter…
Obviously it’s hard to see a down side in the vast choice of après and non-ski activities around Val d’Isere too. If you really want to go out and party you can start at 11am and finish at 6am the following day. I probably wouldn’t endorse that but nevertheless my top places to visit would definitely be:
- La Follie Douce Open from 3-5pm LFD is the place to be in Val d’Isere! Only a quick ski back to resort, LFD brings people of all ages together. Dancing on table is not enforce but highly recommended – what more could you want to end your day skiing?! There are live DJs, singers and dancers which change each day should you fancy a second, third, fourth or fifth visit. If you go early, the food in La Fruitiere alongside is also pretty phenomenal with fairly competitive prices.
- Cafe Face- Here you’ll find the best drinks deals in Val d’Isere. Opening at 4pm with the performers from La Folie Douce, drinks start very cheap and go up every hour so it pays to get here early!
- Cocorico- With a new Après terrace last year cocorico was a popular stop for days off. With live bands most days and a short walk to the centre of town, it was a great new addition to Val d’Isere.
- Dicks Tea Bar If you fancy a little something after your après, head to Dicks at 11pm to dance on through to 6am!
Wherever you head to, Val d’Isere will not disappoint. It’s an amazing resort with so much to offer and after 6 amazing months, I still can’t wait to head back.
Words by Laura Henderson.
This year Inghams have launched a brand new chalet package exclusively for solo skiiers (and boarders!). Head to the Chalet Dolomites for just £599pp including flights, transfers, a room to yourself and of course, our famous chalet catering.