VAL THORENS is set in the world-renowned ‘Les 3 Vallées’ ski area of France. It is Europe’s highest altitude ski resort and the area boasts over 600km of pistes across the Three Valleys – 150km of runs between VT and Orelle alone. With snowsure slopes, a long season, varied runs, breathtaking scenery and lively apres ski for those who want it; it’s a great resort whether you are an experienced snow sport enthusiast or indulging in your first ski holiday.
Having just returned from a briliant week of sunshine, skiing and snow in Val Thorens, I wanted to draw up a rough resort guide with a few tips and tricks for anybody who is thinking of visiting VT for the first time and/or looking to get the most out of their stay.
We flew from Manchester airport into Chambery which is VT’s closest international airport. It is a straightforward route and the transfer should only take around an hour and 40 minutes depending on traffic. We have previously flown to Geneva which can take in excess of three hours to reach the resorts in the Savoie region; but with a plethora of different flights and airlines servicing Geneva, it is definitely still a good option.
Most conventional ski holidays come as a package with flights and transfers included but we have known friends and family members who have organised ski trips independently and driven to the Alps from the UK. This is a long drive and will require an overnight stop depending on where you are starting your journey. The Telegraph published a piece a couple of years ago about driving to Val Thorens. If this is something you are consdering, click here to read more about it.
The third option is, of course, the Snow Train from London St Pancras to Moutiers (with changes inbetween) and from there, onwards to VT which will take roughly 40 minutes.
A six day area lift pass for the 2016/2017 winter season cost us around 280 EUR per adult whereas the local pass, covering Val Thorens and Orelle costs 238 EUR per adult – check with your tour operator to see if they have any special offers available as we have previously purchased ‘2 for 1’ or discounted passes, albeit for different resorts.
- A few easy greens + extensive beginners area with carpet lifts
- Abundance of cruising blues
- Varying reds
- Challenging blacks
- Glacier skiing, snowpark and off piste
Our two favourite runs were the Tete Ronde – a long, undulating blue coming down from the top of the Funitel Peclet gondola, leading into the bowl where all the main runs meet; and also Moraine which is long, wide and straight – great for zooming down and working on carving technique.
If you like more of a challenge then you can go to the top of Col, the red run inbetween the Glacier Chaviere and Glacier de Thorens which leads nicely onto Moraine and another similar blue called Genepi. All are fantastic and come with spectacular views – 10/10 would highly recommend!
Apres ski is incredible fun. What could be more satisfying than sipping (chugging?) an ice cold beer with a spectacular mountain backdrop while your favourite tunes resonate over the sound system? VT has an exuberant apres scene with plenty of bars to choose from.
- La Folie Douce – The ultimate mountainside apres scene, famous for loud music and dancing on tables. Stop by for a tipple before attempting to ski back down to the village via the busy Plein Sud at the end of the day.
- Bar 360 – Bottom of the main bowl where most runs meet. A short ski from the village, lively atmosphere, deck chairs and we also got to watch a freestyle competition hosted from the outside seating area. Great sunbathing spot, weather permitting.
- La Face – A more relaxed apres venue. Eclectic mix of music, a place to sip a slopeside Aperol spritz, watching passing skiers, toboganning and to enjoy a crepe at the end of the day. Located near the main strip at the top of the carpet lift near the snowmobile rental place.
Ski Equipment Hire
A couple of years ago we decided to buy our own ski equipment and, in my opinion, it has been a worthy investment – the main reason being that our boots are custom moulded to our feet which has vastly improved our confidence and ability to ski, plus our skis are ours and only ours (mine are super pretty too which is always a bonus!). However, it can be a nuisance transporting the gear and it is undoubtedly more costly. Whilst I think having your own ski boots is priceless, I’m not sure I will invest in skis again once mine eventually conk out.
If you are in need of ski or board rental, you should be able to book this via your tour operator. If not then there are no shortage of in-resort ski shops dotted around where you are able to hire your boots, boards, skis and poles etc. It might be worth shopping around to get the best price – here is a list of sports shops on the Val Thorens website.
Where to Stay
We chose to stay in a catered chalet – Chalet Curling which is a part of the Chalet des Neiges Hermine complex. It was unbeatable value for money with a wellness centre, swimming pool, meals included and unlimited chalet wine. We booked through Crystal Ski our package costing around £750 each which included flights and transfers.
If you are looking for a high-end luxury ski holiday then Val Thorens certainly has plenty to offer in the way of 4* and 5* hotels. Both times we have been, we oggled at Le Fitz Roy which has a ski-in/ski-out location. Sleek and modern with open fires, a fine-dining menu, full spa and a slopeside terrace. We have often stopped here for an apres drink but as we have never stayed (though we would very much like to) I cannot give you an in-depth review, however I wanted to highlight a couple of accommodation options for different budgets.
Where To Eat
Val Thorens has a good choice of restaurants to suit all tastes. Whether you are looking for a light lunch, quick pitstop or a hearty French feast, I have outlined a few recommendations below:
- La Fondue – Le Val Thorens Hotel restaurant, simple menu serving up traditional Savoyard mountain fare including Raclette and, you guessed it, fondue.
- The Frog and Roast Beef – Europe’s highest pub serving up standard pub grub with tasty specials such as BBQ ribs with sweet potato fries. Excellent for a post-ski refuel.
- Chalet de Marine – For a gourmet mountain lunch. Adjacent to the Dalle and Tete Ronde pistes offering an extensive menu with a choice of pizzas, pasta dishes, salad and mountain staples stuch as tartiflette. Nautical themed with live music, a great atmosphere and awesome views.
Hot Tip: Book dinner in advance as Wednesday night tends to be the chalet hosts’ night off and places can fill up fast.
This was our second trip to VT and although there is so much that the Three Valleys have to offer I want to focus solely on Val Thorens as a resort, based on our own experiences.
Have you been to Val Thorens? I would love to hear all about your trip in the comment section below!