Val d'Isere, France
Val d'Isere is widely acclaimed as one of the best ski resorts of the world. When one considers that it is blessed with one of the best snow records, has fantastic nightlife and a vibrant apres ski, and the finest collection of luxury chalets and hotels it is certainly hard to argue against this claim.
Linked with neighbouring Tignes, there are over 300km of pistes, vast areas of off piste and skiing as high as 3,000m. However, don't be misled into thinking Val d'Isere is just for experts. There are an enormous number of wide, gentle pistes, and for novices the excellent nursery slopes in the centre of town are free.
Skiing begins in November and ends in May and the ski area boasts one of the most efficient lift systems in Europe so that even at the busiest times of the year, queuing is hardly ever a cause for concern. Apres ski ranges from a quiet drink in the Hotel Blizzard to a 4am finish at Dicks, with everything else in between!
Pros & Cons
- Huge ski area linked with Tignes with lots of runs for all abilities
- High altitude slopes means snow is more or less guaranteed including early and late season
- It's one of the great resorts for off-piste terrain
- Attractive town with lively nightlife and a good range of restaurants
- Very good and efficient lift network keeping queues to the minimum
- Some green and blue runs are tricky especially those coming into resort
- Main off-piste slopes get tracked out very quickly
- Often need to get the bus to and from the slopes
- Very British with a huge variety of chalet operators
Whether you're staying in a hotel or a chalet, Val d'Isere's 70 odd restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisine. At the top end of the scale is the 2* Michelin restaurant l'Atelier d'Edmond in le Fornet, which has a fantastic and inventive menu with first class dining experience. L'Arolay also in le Fornet is an excellent restaurant for sampling Savoyard dishes. The Grand Ourse, by the nursery slopes comes highly recommended with superb food and ambience. Another is Les Clochetons a little way down the valley is in a beautiful mountain setting (they have a free minibus pick-up and drop-off for clients). For something in the mid-range try the Taverne d'Alsace which is atmospheric and vibrant; Tufs on the snow in La Daille for good pizza and Shuss restaurant in the Grand Paradis hotel for an Austrian influenced menu. For those on a tighter budget then try Chez Nano (next to Dick's Tea Bar) and the Lodge. Chez Paolo is for pizza and pasta, a good choice for families with young children; Corniche for French ambience and Casa Scara and Grand Cocor for good food. Whatever you are looking for, Val d'Isere has plenty of restaurants that come highly recommended.
For such an upmarket resort, Val d'Isere has a great range of reasonably priced mountain restaurants. There are lots of big self-service places with vast terraces at the top of the major lifts which are good value for money. On Bellevarde, the Fruitiere at the top of the La Daille gondola is a table service restaurant, part of the Folie Douce. It never fails to impress, with a great menu and great outdoor terrace where they provide fluffy all-in-ones and blankets to put on if you get chilly. They additionally have a self service with good food options next door. If you like tartiflette then the Triffolet is a must, located half-way down the OK run to La Daille. The Bar de L'Ouillette, at the base of the Madeleine chair, is a must to visit with a large sun terrace it has a very cool vibe styled with bright coloured deck chairs, artificial palm trees and BBQ style food freshly cooked. However this place is busy at peak times so make sure you book to get in early. The Marmottes, near the base of the Marmottes chair lift, has a large sunny terrace and great self-service eatery - definitely one of the cheapest places to eat. A little rustic gem called the Edelweiss can be found above Le Fornet. It has a great ambience and sophisticated menu - duck burger with foie grais a popular option - but is worth pre-booking a table here. Up at le Fornet, the Signal at the top of the cable car has both self and table service available as well as a take away snack bar, all with excellent food and reasonably priced. There is also a great choice of lower altitude restaurants where skiers and non skiers can eat together: Val d'Isere's Brussel's Hotel terrace buffet, Tufs in La Daille, the Sun Bar and L'Arolay in Le Fornet are all great lunch spots.
The Val d'Isere après ski scene kicks off mid afternoon at Folie Douce which is found at the top of La Daille gondola. The famous Folie Douce has become an institution with blaring music, live DJs and is always packed with ski boot stomping dancers. Luckily for those who've had one too many you can ride down to safety in the gondola rather than attempt the ski back to resort (which is usually ill advised after a full-on session at the Folie). Cocorico is the new Val d'Isere après ski bar, located above the DouDoune Club. This has been an instant hit and carries on the electric atmosphere from the Folie with live bands and DJs, cheap drinks and of course more dancing on tables in ski boots. Bananas at the foot of the slopes and its famous green Kamikazi drinks are popular for the ski hard, play hard young. Cafe Face is also extremely popular with super cheap drinks. For more of a low key drink, Blue Note, just off snow square has a great friendly atmosphere and free après ski nibbles. The Fall Line is also a nice bar just off the main street to sample some of Val d'Isere finest toffee vodka. La Rosee Blanche is a beautiful, rustic bar at the bottom of La Daille cable car, positioned in a sun trap to enjoy a glass of wine after a hard day's skiing. The first floor bar of the Blizzard Hotel has a very sophisticated setting, perfect for aperitifs or after dinner drinks. The Moris Pub, Saloon and Petit Danois are all lively bars that will see you through to the early hours.
The nightlife in Val d'Isere for the Brits is all about the famous Dicks T - Bar. DouDoune is the new nightclub just off the Rond Point des Piste area of Val. It's absolutely huge attracting well known DJs and artists often putting on big events till 6am. The Petit Danois is a good alternative with excellent lively music and pitchers of Red Erik. Cafe Face is also great often with live music and singers from the Folie Douce. Moris Pub has a great Open Mic night on a Monday well worth popping down to. The club called Le Graal, just off the main high street is predominantly a French hang out. For a quieter evening away from your chalet, Val d'Isere's Lodge is cosy and there are a variety of other sophisticated hotel bars, piano bars and cocktail lounges.
- Cable Car
- Chair lift
- Drag lift