Each year, British skiers flock to the French resort of Val d’Isère, booking up some 40% of the beds in town. So what makes this eminent destination so popular?
Val d’Isere as seen from the traversee du laisinant
For keen skiers, the allure of Val d’Isère is first and foremost its high, snow-sure slopes. With the village at 1,850m and lifts up to roughly 3,400m, the snow stays in good condition throughout the resort’s long season, which can stretch from the end of November to the first week of May. Whether you want to enjoy Christmas in a winter wonderland or sun-soaked spring skiing, you’ll have corduroy pistes to carve up.
Extent is also a major factor: Val charms everyone from wary beginners to seasoned pros with its extensive, varied pistes. Combined with the linked neighbouring resort of Tignes, the whole Espace Killy domain comprises some 300km of terrain and 1,900m of vertical drop, all served by highly-efficient, modern lifts. This includes two glaciers, two snowparks and generous off-piste to hit when the fresh powder falls.
On that note, the resort is particularly appealing to advanced skiers and boarders. Intermediates will find plenty of thrilling blues to rack up the miles and reds to push them further – try the Ok and Orange pistes off the top of the Marmottes chair and the rollercoaster-like runs over in le Fornet. Experts, meanwhile, have their pick of exhilarating black pistes: must-attempts include the rambling Sache run and the steep descents of the infamous la Face.
All that said, beginners and families with kids consistently pick Val d’Isère for the famously high-quality ski schools and the choice of gentle slopes. The central nursery slope, served by a free lift, is a brilliant place for first turns and the high, cruisy piste off the Madeleine Express is fantastic for progressing beginners.
Last but in no way least, Val d’Isère draws fun-loving skiers from all over Britain for its vibrant après-ski scene, which ranks among the absolute best in the Alps. Establishments like the Folie Douce (top of the Daille cable car), Petit Danois and Cocorico (in town) have well-deserved reputations for energetic beats and lively antics – table dancing, anyone?
Of course, all of the above is bundled up in a resort that charms simply by virtue of its design. Walking through town, you’ll find historic stone buildings, quaint traditional restaurants, warmly lit shopping arcades and a range of beautiful chalets for pretty much any budget – from modest lodging to lavish luxury properties.
For holidaymakers in search of serious skiing, a lively atmosphere, picturesque surroundings and great value, Val d’Isère is hard to beat. If you want to see what all the fuss is about yourself, or if you’re one of the many skiers looking to return to Val d’Isère, start your property search here.