I have just come back from a trip to Val D’Isere with some friends and wanted to pass on some hints and tips. In this blog I will cover the top places to ski, eat and of course Apres ski!
Val D’Isere should be a 3hr journey from Geneva and Lyon airport or 2hrs from Chambery. Unfortunately for us it was a painful 10hr coach journey from Lyon, due to a couple of road accidents on the one road servicing the Espace Killy, Paradiski and 3 Valleys ski regions. On reflection the best option would have been the Snowtrain from St Pancreas running straight to Bourg St Maurice, about 30mins from Val D’Isere.
The 12 of us traveled with Ski Val, a tour operator based in Val D for over 40yrs. They sit in the mid-price range, we paid around £800 for flights, transfers, accommodation and half board meals. I would describe the chalet as ‘functional’. The 12 of us shared 6 twin rooms with en suites. The rooms were small and some of the bathrooms were difficult to navigate if you were a normal sized human. Luckily for us, we were all good pals and by the end of the week, we didn’t want to rip each others heads off in the tight living areas!
The chalet hosts were knowledgeable and food was some of the best I have had with tour operators at that price range. The chalet does the job for those wanting to ski hard, apres ski harder and need a place to recharge for the next day.
Areas to ski
The resort sits at 1800m and its altitude reaches 3,600m in the glacier, as such snow is guaranteed most of the season. Val D is connected with Tignes, creating the Espace Killy region with over 300km of pistes. Tignes and Val D’Isere both boast glaciers with amazing views and should be on the hit list for any visitor.
If you want to test how much the legs can take La Face is for you! The black run is the course for the Woman’s Downhill World Cup tour and 1992 Winter Olympics. The run is nearly 3km long and covers 960m vertical descent. It is best to tackle first thing in the morning when it is well groomed and generally has less traffic.
In Tignes, a trip to the ‘eye of the needle‘ is well worth the visit. The amazing rock formation is accessible via the Aiguille Perceé lift. It is a challenging unpisted run down so make sure the legs are warm after getting the selfies in!
If you are up for a challenge, take a trip to the Parallel Slalom course in Val D. It is next to the Val D’isere park and the pisters charge a couple of Euros for 3 runs. The courses are identical and have full timing gear set up.
On Wednesday evening we took a trip to La Casserole restaurant. It is a stalwart for fondues, raclette, and all the other Savoyard cheese dishes. Great for a one off visit but hangs heavy on the digestive system for any long period!
There are a number of spots for lunch on the mountain. My favourites were the Tete De Solaise in Val D’Isere. Located at the top of the Solaise Express, they serve great pizzas in their bar. If you want to splash the cash their restaurant boats great wines and top notch food. If in Tignes my pick of the bunch is L’escale Blanche. I normally opt for a carb-fest on a ski day, but I would highly recommend their local Savoyard salads as a lunch option.
Val D is renowned for it’s Apres Ski scene. The most popular on piste Apres bar is The Follie Douce, located on a run heading down to La Daille. The bar is at its peak from 2-4pm and hosts pumping house music from a live DJ coupled with singers, musicians, dancers and acrobats. The VIP lounge is often populated with Russian oligarchs, celebs and the odd Royal.
My preference for apres beers is the newly formed Cocoricos. Cocoricos is based in resort and hosts bands mosts days playing more pop music than their Follie counterparts. Dancing on the tables is encouraged.
At the top of my wish list for a perfect ski destination is great skiing and great places to booze; for these reasons I will be back here. Although Val D’Isere is not the cheapest place to ski, it is still one of my favourite resorts.