Skiing in Val d’Isere

Skiing in Val d’Isere

Winter sports enthusiasts flock to Val d’Isere for its variety of trails and reliable snow. For beginners, the resort offers two nursery slopes, in Val’s centre and in La Daille, both with gentle slopes, free lift passes and a plethora of ski schools. Novices soon feel confident enough to attempt the slower, steadier runs on Bellevarde and Solais. Beginners occasionally find Val d’Isere less than novice-friendly, but several ski schools are taking this into account with their programmes. Beginner trails are coded green, but the Verte trail on La Daille tends to be icy and is best avoided.

Intermediates adore Val for its great choice of runs and the chance to improve their skills at specialist ski schools. Set high above the valley, the trails are a dream, especially on Bellevarde, above Le Fornet and below the glacier lift on Solaise. Best avoided are the tricky icy descents from Rocher de Bellevarde and Solaise. If you’re here at the end of the day, take the lift down rather than risking an uncomfortable experience. There’s only one major problem for the intermediate skier – peak-week overcrowding on the slopes, which is best avoided by choosing shoulder dates or organising your daily schedule, leaving the popular trails before they’re packed and heading to less crowded runs.

On or off-piste, Val D’Isere is heaven for the advanced skier. The resort’s most famed piste – Le Face – featured in the Olympics and World Championships. Steep, long and falling though 1,000m, this classic is a great technique test, and Solais pistes A and M are ‘go-for-it’ runs. More tempting still for advanced skiers are the 10,000 hectares of off-piste freeriding, from easy in the Familliale sector and the north-facing slope in Solaise under the Cugnai chairlift to the deserted, challenging slopes in avalanche-prone areas that are best attempted with a knowledgeable local guide. For the true expert, skiing the entire Espace Killy area is also best with a guide, especially on the heights above Tignes at the far edges of the resort area, known for their amazing freeriding. Closer to home, the run off the northeastern face of Rocher de Bellevarde to the village below is an adrenaline fix for the most expert of skiers.

Val d’Isere is almost as popular with snowboarders as it is with skiers, especially the more experienced riders, who reap the benefit of Val’s lively nightlife as well. Beginners at this sport might prefer the gentler slopes above Tignes, but will end up in Val eventually! Compared with other French resorts, snow conditions in Val are as good as they get, with an overall yearly average of five metres. The crowded high-season slopes at Val are also a deterrent, but tiny Ste Foy Tarantaise a few kilometres away is a dream destination. If you’re a newbie to the sport, plenty of snowboarding schools can help you on your way at Val’s nursery slopes. Intermediates have almost all of the linked groomed trails along the Espace Killy area and the quieter lower Le Fornet slopes.