Why Val d'Isère Ski Resort?
- Pedestrian-friendly resort
- The Val d’Isère and Tignes ski areas combine to make the huge Tignes Val d’Isère (formerly Espace Killy) ski area
- 'Famille Plus' resort - good children’s facilities and great for families
- A lively resort with plenty of activities and amenities
- Pretty original village
Val d’Isère Information
The process of developing Val d'Isère into a world-class ski resort, which started in the 1930s, gathered momentum during the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, when it almost re-invented itself, with numerous new buildings built attractively of wood and stone.
Val d'Isère and its linked neighbour Tignes, which together form the vast and exciting Tignes Val d’Isère ski area, each sits in two deep valleys. Both are reached from Bourg St Maurice via the Route des Grand Alpes, with an intersection cutting across to Tignes shortly before reaching Val d'Isère. Until 1952, the village of Tignes was to be found just above Brévières but it was "drowned" by a huge artificial lake, the Lac de Chevril, installed to provide hydroelectric power.
So while the main resort village of Tignes today is a much more modern counterpart, “Val”, complete with its ancient 16th century, dates back to the 13th century. Historic remnants of the old village are still to be seen amongst the chalet-style buildings in the resort. Today, this pedestrian-friendly resort is made up of several hamlets all connected by a very efficient free bus service. So once you’re here, you won’t really need a car. The resort is quite long (5km) with accommodation spread along it. There are 7 different start zones for skiing (on the southern side of the valley only), from La Daille at one end (as you enter the resort) to Le Fornet at the far end at the foot of the Col d'Iseran.
VAL D'ISERE SKI AREA
The two ski resorts of Tignes and Val d'Isère make up the Tignes-Val d’Isère (formally Espace Killy) ski area, located in the Tarentaise area of the Savoie department in the Northern French Alps. There are multiple villages in Tignes including:
- Tignes Val Claret
- Tignes Le Lac
- Tignes 1800
- Tignes les Brevieres
- Tignes Lavachet
- and then Val d’Isère on the other side
It provides a large well-linked and high-altitude ski area with a very reliable snow record (Tignes is open 11 months of the year!), thanks to the La Grande Motte Glacier and the fact that it backs onto the peaks of the Italian border. According to 'Where to Ski and Snowboard' Tignes is listed as "Good snow guaranteed for a long season - about the best Alpine bet". You can also ski the glacier in the summer months with our sister company Peak Retreats.
As a whole, the Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area has become one of Europe’s premier ski resorts. With its varied ski terrain, easy ski access and excellent lift system, it offers something for everyone – from complete beginners to thrill-seeking off-pisters!
Areas of Val d’Isère:
- La Daille (entrance to the resort) - home to the funival underground funicular and the gondola to Folie Douce
- Rond Point des Pistes - an open area for ski school meeting points and lifts rising into the mountains
- Solaise - gondola to the summit at 2560m
- Bellevarde - it's 2827m summit is reached by the Olympique gondola (or funival from La Daille)
- Le Laisinant - take the chairlift to connect with runs of Solaise and Le Fornet
- Le Fornet - cablecar/chairlift up to the Pissaillas Glacier and Val's highest lift beneath the Ponite du Montet
Neighbouring Tignes has a lot to offer including the Grande Motte glacier served by a modern funicular railway which takes experts as well as intermediates to the panoramic platform at 3030m within just 7 minutes! The Perce-Neige funicular, which took 4 years to construct, departs from Tignes Val Claret. It carried its first passengers in April 1993, and can transport 3000 people per hour travelling at a speed of 12 metres per second! At the top, you will find a beautifully located panoramic restaurant with the most stunning views, brilliant ski slope options and the cable car to conquer the Grande Motte glacier!
The cable car will take you to new heights at 3456m. It can transport 3000 people per hour thanks to its two cabins and all at a speed of 10m per second! From the top you can enjoy a thrilling ski down to Tignes Les Brévières, have a mountain guide take you to the very summit of the Grande Motte glacier or as a pedestrian simply marvel at the glorious surrounding mountains from the various viewpoints.
For those with their own car, yet more skiing is available fairly nearby in the following ski areas: Sainte Foy is a 30-minute drive from Tignes Val Claret; Les Arcs is 45-60 minutes; whilst La Rosière and La Plagne are about 60 minutes away. And don’t forget you have Val d'Isère just 25 minutes by car (or ski across from Tignes) plus the other Tignes villages. A day of skiing at most of these resorts is possible at no additional cost with lift passes valid for six days or more.
VAL D'ISERE SKIING
VAL D'ISERE BEGINNERS
There are nursery areas in the resort centre and in La Daille plus you will find the gentle skiing areas to progress on on the pistes of the Verte, in the Bellevarde area, and the Madeleine in the Solaise area.
3 free ski lifts on the lower slopes help you master those snow plough turns.
Solaise area: Savonnette Draglift , Village chairlift
Daille area: Lanches Draglift
There are also 12 green pistes further up on the mountain tops and in the region of 24 blue pistes for those who are ready to progress.
You can also access the beginner pistes at Le Fornet - take the free shuttle bus out of Val d’Isère centre to Le Fornet, then Le Fornet cable car followed by the Vallon de l’Iseran bubble lift to the base of the glacier. From here you have a selection of long, rolling blue runs in and around the Vallon bubble and back down to resort. The pistes should be very quiet, as they tend to be less popular than the Solaise and Bellevarde area but just as good!
VAL D'ISERE INTERMEDIATES
A good way to get started in Val d’Isère is to take the Funival funicular from La Daille to Bellevarde. Although this sector is famous for its 1992 Olympic downhill, it’s also a wide plateau with a network of enjoyable blue and green runs.
From Bellevarde you can also access the slopes of neighbouring Tignes. Solaise, another major area, is the gateway to some gentle slopes off the Madeleine, Datcha and Glacier lifts. The Vallon de L'Iseran, dominated by long, wide-open intermediate terrain.
For more advanced intermediates to can easily work your way from the furthest corner of Tignes to the furthest corner of Val d'Isere in a day.
VAL D'ISERE EXPERTS
The mountains here are pretty high and steep for the most part. The village is situated at 1850m and the skiing goes up to 3400m in Val d’Isère and 3456m at the top of the Grande Motte in Tignes. These are the setting for some thrilling descents for those serious ski enthusiasts amongst you. Although beginners and intermediates have enough to keep them occupied in Val d'Isere, it's a renowned resort for the more advanced skier.
VAL D'ISERE OFF-PISTE
If you keep going down the Vallon de L'Iseran, you will encounter some excellent off-piste opportunities, particularly around the Grand Vallon, before you finally end up at Le Fornet, the furthest lift-served point of Val d’Isère’s skiing along the valley floor. A shortish climb from the glacier takes you up to a ridge from where you can descend off-piste all the way down a giant powder bowl to the old village of Bonneval at the head of the Maurienne Valley. It’s good fun but unless you fancy a 3 hour taxi ride, the best way home is to get a helicopter.
Apart from its famous bump run – which will test the knees of the fittest skiers! - Solaise is also the departure point for some interesting tree skiing, much of it with off-piste variants, down to Le Laisinant.
VAL D'ISERE SNOWBOARDING
A large snowpark can be found in Val d’Isère and is known as the ‘DC Val Park’. Located at 2500m on the La Daille/Bellevarde sector, access from Tignes Val Claret is via the Bollin Express, from Tignes le Lac via the Toviere gondola or from Val d’Isère via the Daille funicular or Bellevarde cable car. This park has been approved by The French Snowboard Federation, proving its high standard. This snowpark is equipped with 1 x 3 seated chairlift, 2 draglifts, 1 rope tow, 1 quarter pipe, 1 boardercross for all levels, different jumps and hips for all levels, several low/high, single/double rails plus 1 Rainbow and 1 Fun Box. There is also a hut for refreshments and a deck chair area where you can sit back and relax, whilst listening to some music and taking in all the slope action. Not to be missed: Late March is Valpark Week, where the pros arrive for a helicopter photo-shoot!
VAL D'ISERE CROSS-COUNTRY
Tignes-Val d'Isere has 52km (33 miles) of cross-country trails dedicated to Nordic skiing. There is a good selection of trails in each of the three sectors, either high up around the Ouillette lake (Solaise area), or in the Manchet valley, Laisinant or La Daille in Val d'Isere.