Val d’Isere

Close to the Italian border Val d’Isere is always the first of the Rhone Alp resorts to open. The excitement as the ski season begins gives this French resort an exclusive feel with a party atmosphere that then continues long into the season. The region is breathtakingly beautiful with the small village resort becoming a haven for those that are serious about their skiing, a chalet culture has ensured that the resort has not become over run with modern buildings that compromise the skyline (although some 70’s monstrosities do exist these oddly add to the charm).

If you want tradition and beauty coupled with a long reliable ski season then Val d’Isere has to be a serious contender, the mix of culture and the welcoming villagers making it a place to return to year after year.

As part of the linked Espace Killy region there is ample terrain to suit any skier irrespective of ability, and with over 300kms of piste there is plenty of slopes to choose from, although the majority of the runs are either easy or intermediate the 25 advanced runs are some of the most challenging in Europe and along with the excellent off piste make the terrain appealing to skiers of all abilities. The longest run is La Sache at 10kms and for those that enjoy their cross country there is over 40kms of excellent trails; accessing all this terrain is no problem with 96 lifts that can transport a staggering 149,000 skiers per hour.

For the first time skier the nursery slopes and the lifts are absolutely free, these quickly instil the confidence needed to move onto the intermediate slopes – of which there are plenty; red and blue slopes dominate the region and with enough choice so that everyday can be a new skiing experience. Well known for its steep black runs Val d’Isere also gives access to some of Europe’s most challenging terrain – the powder bowls of the Tour de Charvet are particularly recommended for those with advanced ability.

Val d’Isere has much more to offer than just excellent skiing, for a real thrill the glacier walking experience is a hike with a difference, stunning scenery can really be appreciated along with the heady heights of the Espace Killy region. How about ice driving, dog sledding or even a helicopter tour of the peaks – this region offers the full winter activity package which only compliments the excellent skiing of the region.

Not just for the thrill seeker though Val d’Isere also has a great range of spa facilities that will soothe away the stresses of the day and a thriving ápres ski culture that will wake you back up, head to one of the many excellent restaurants before partying the night away at one of the numerous bars and nightclubs.

Traditional chalets are everywhere in Val d’Isere and the surrounding area, these are often luxurious with excellent facilities and are rented fully staffed, however there are many larger chalets that have been split into smaller apartments that offer great views and facilities but with a much smaller price tag.

For a relaxing hotel stay the Avenue Lodge Hotel is amongst the best in Val d’Isere, centrally located the traditional building has large modern rooms and excellent relaxation facilities including an indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam rooms and a good choice of spa treatments  – this hotel is a real treat to return to after a strenuous day on the slopes.

The season in Val d’Isere is the longest of those in the Rhone Alps region running from the end of November until the beginning of May, the snow is predictable throughout the season making it a reliable resort.

The pricing is fairly consistent throughout the ski season however there are often reduced ski pass rates during the first two weeks of December – although this should always be checked prior to travel.

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