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val d'isere resort guide, french alps

Val d'Isere remains one of the best loved French skiing destinations for both the British & the French – some even say that it is the best place in the world for skiing. There is over 300km of marked pistes on offer & endless off piste skiing for those who are more experienced.  However, the resort can accommodate skiers of all abilities & non-skiers also have plenty of activities on offer & that’s without mentioning the legendary nightlife, shopping, cinema, swimming pools & spas. 
Originally a small, rural village, Val d’Isere has grown into a large, modern resort yet still maintains its charm & atmosphere as opposed to some of the soulless resorts.  In the centre of the old town you will find stone & wood clad chalets but there are the odd 1970s apartment blocks dotted around.  Fortunately with new planning legislation there is now a greater emphasis on traditional style chalets which are making a comeback. 
Val d'Isere is made up of a number of small charming little 'hamlets' namely :Le Cret, Le Joseray, Le Chatelard, La Legettaz, Le Laisinant, Le Daille and Le Fornet. More recently the area of Les Carats (millionaire's row as it's locally known!) has developed its own character and charm with luxury chalet companies chosing to select properties there. The hamlets of La Daille and Le Fornet are the largest of these areas, and essentially 'villages' in their own right.
The height of the resort makes it pretty much snow sure for the whole of the season from before Christmas well into the Spring. In the main season, every week the centre of town becomes a wonder of street entertainment including ice & snow sculpting, parades & live music.
Many people drive down to Val d’Isere & it’s a steady 10 hours from the Channel ports & Eurotunnel.  However, the nearest airport is Chambery which is 2 hours away or alternatively Geneva & Lyon St Exupery are 3 hours away – all are served by the low cost airlines although Geneva is probably the most convenient for transfers as there is a daily bus service.  Travelling via train to the French Alps resorts is becoming increasingly popular as it is just so easy & in season, there is a direct service from St Pancras to Bourg St Maurice, 40 minutes away on the EuroStar.

Winter in Val d'Isere

Val d’Isere shares its ski area with Tignes making a vast ski area called the Espace Killy.  The nursery slopes are in the middle of the resort & there are a few free nursery lifts available. It’s actually an expert skiers playground with challenging, steep, moguls & off piste areas.  For those who wish to ski the whole Espace Killy area, the weekly lift pass also includes one day’s skiing in La Plagne, the 3 Valleys & Les Arcs.  Alternatively, you can buy a 6 day pass that just covers the Val d’Isere area.  Snowfall is exceptional being so close to the peaks of the Italian border so if you are looking for the best snow in the Alps then here might just be your answer.
There are numerous ski schools on offer in Val d’Isere including the following:
  • Oxygene Ski School is a family run company with over 20 years experience & 80 instructors. They offer adult & children’s group lessons at every level
  • New Generation Ski School – offering award winning instruction for adults & children in small groups with English guaranteed.
  • The Development Centre – British ski & snowboarding school offering either group lessons or private lessons.

Après ski in Val d’Isere is like its skiing; world famous, exciting, buzzing and lives up to the hype. The partying starts whilst you are still on the slopes with live music on offer before heading back into resort to see what else is on offer.  Whatever your scene, I can guarantee there will be something to suit you!  The choice of restaurants matches the choice of nightlife so whatever you fancy you won’t be disappointed.

Summer in Val d'Isere

Actually Val d’Isere has become popular all year round with skiing replaced in May by numerous extreme sports, cycling & hiking opportunities.  For example, why not try one of the following:
  • Canoe rafing & white water rafting
  • Canyoning
  • Donkey trekking
  • Glacier walking
  • Mountain biking
  • Hydro-speeding
  • Helicopter tours
  • Paragliding
  • Climbing
  • Tennis
  • Spa days

As you can see, there is plenty on offer!

Accommodation in Val d'Isere

Chalet Hotel Moris from Mark Warner Holidays – an adult only fully catered ski hotel (except in school holidays) with just a 5 minute walk to the Solaise and Bellevarde lift stations and the ski school. There are just 32 rooms singles, twins, doubles and a quad room. Most rooms are en-suite but some are not. A lively atmosphere with stunning mountain views. Mark Warner offer full package holidays including flights & transfers.
Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isere from Mark Warner Holidays – it’s the location that makes this one exceptional, right in the heart of the town with the lifts & ski school a stone’s throw away.  Plus there is an outdoor heated pool right next door.  Offered on a fully catered basis i.e. breakfast, tea & dinner with wine.  Ideal for families with a crèche & evening childcare with qualified British nannies.  A choice of bedrooms from singles to a mini apartment all of which are en-suite.
Inghams in Val d'Isere offer an excellent choice of accommodation in Val d’Isere including half board hotels, self catering apartments,  catered chalets & chalet hotels.  They offer an accommodation only service or a full package including flights & transfers.
Crystal Ski in Val d'Isere also offers a range of accommodation plus a nanny service for children from 6 months to 8 years old for groups or families booking a whole chalet. Catered chalets, self catered apartments & hotels are all available for all budgets.  An excellent choice.
Pierre et Vacances in Val d'Isere offers accommodation in the increasingly popular Residences i.e. self contained apartments within a larger building with good location on the slopes for ski in/ ski out and some have good communal facilities including swimming pool & spa. 
PS. The latest holiday blog posting looks at Family skiing holidays with Pierre et Vacances - ski holidays with the kids are fraught with potential problems - accommodation, childcare, non-skiers in the group, catering, ski equipment, kids activities after skiing - let Pierre et Vacances, part of the Center Parcs group help you. Read on..... by clicking here to view the blog posting & see how they can help you. Published 27 December 2014
Article By Lucilla Paull

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