Val d’Isère ski resort is located in the French Alps and is part of the Espace Killy ski area which offers more than 300 km of slopes.
How to get there?
We left Belgium in the direction of Reims, Dion, Lyon and finally Albertville. The last part is very sensitive for traffic jams as all visitors of plenty of famous ski resorts need to pass here. Make sure to pass Albertville either before 13:00 or go later in the evening. Be aware that péage (toll) will add up and one way you’ll get close to 100 euro. Also the gas stations might be very very crowded and you might need to queue quite some time to get fuel.
During our visit in 2023 we stayed in La Daille which is the best option in our opinion. You are in the middle of the Espace Killy which makes it very convenient to start your day. Plenty of people staying in Tignes move in the direction of the Pisaillas glacier and people from Val d’Isère move in the opposite direction. When starting your day in La Daille it means you can easily beat the crowds and also returning in the evening means less time stress.
Val d’Isère ski resort has quite some awesome slopes. Here are a few listed which are worth checking out.
Face de Bellevarde – Stade Olympique: This black slope starts gently before you have a very steep part after which you can either go to the red Joseray or continue on the steep Olympique which is famous from world cup races.
Santons: This slope is not the steepest but it’s rather narrow. When you go down and it’s crowded you need to make sure to keep your speed under control. In the morning the conditions were great but seems it might not be the case by then end of the day.
Table d’orientation: A red slope starting from Laisinant chair lift but it has one very steep part. Luckily it’s properly indicated that you need to slow down. It’s directly followed by a run-out strip so don’t worry too much.
Plan Milet: Starting from the top of the Glacier lift this is an awesome blue slope which was never crowded. It’s a thrill to ski down this wide slope back to the Glacier lift or Datcha lift. You can also keep on going down via the red Germain Mattis. During our visit the blue Piste L was closed.
The lifts in the Val d’Isère are a little outdated. We only spotted one chair lift with a plastic bubble and many lifts don’t slow down when on and offboarding. So brace yourself to get on to the lift and make sure to jump off on time. Don’t worry to much, it might sound worse than it actually is. The older lifts don’t reach high speeds which means you will spend quite some time to get on top of the slope. As long as the weather is great it’s all fine, but when the wind blows or snow is falling down, it might get very cold.
In the Espace Killy you also find 2 funiculars. One located in Val d’Isère and one located in Tignes. It was the first time we actually rode a funicular. The one in Val d’Isère (La Daille) is called Funival and quickly brings you from the village to Bellevarde on 2827 meter. Towards the end of the day the lift attracts more and more dressed up party people going to La Folie Douce. During our visit the Gendarmerie (police) was even doing passport checks before allowing young people to go up.
The Lessières Express connects Val d’Isère with the villages Le Fornet and Le Laisinant. The chair lift is used in 2 directions, which is not very common for a chair lift. The lift is famous for the “OMG!” and “Sh*t” shouts. Once the lift reaches the top, you are exposed to a steep drown but also to magical views. On clear days it’s really magnificient. A new ski world opens up when crossing the top. Check out the video below.
A bottle neck is often the old Vallon gondola which brings skiers towards the Pisaillas glacier area. People are queueing from the outside, but whenever the Téléphérique du Fornet arrives a bunch of people start to queue from the other side.
The tow lift Montet is one you can skip if you don’t have much time. It brings you just a little higher on the glacier than the Cascade lift, but the effort is not really worth the few extra meters of slope.
To go back to La Daille or Tignes you have to take the S3 lift Olympique where the queueing time might add up at peak moments. There is an alternative to take the combination of the Bellevarde Express and Loyes chair lifts, but those are slow and you need to transfer between the two lifts. My advise would be to just queue at the Olympique, which is more convenient.
The chair lift Tommeuses is where the area of Val d’Isère stops. If you want to take this lift, make sure you have bought the extension of Tignes.
Apres ski: La Folie Douce & Cocorico
La Folie Douce is located directly at the top of the Daille gondola lift. As of 14:30 people start to arrive and it really gets crowded by 16:00 and then there might be a queue to enter the place. The party goes on outside where a DJ plays dance music and the crowd dances on the tables. Personally we prefer the après ski we know from Austria and La Folie Douce can maybe be seen as a mini-Tomorrowland winter.
Another very big difference is that where in Austria people go straight from the slopes to the après ski here plenty of young people arrive with the Daille gondola and are fully dressed up. It’s really about being seen. It’s even strengthened as you have the Veranda where limited people can take place who order their drinks by the entire bottle.
The Cocorico is located in Val d’Isère itself close to the Solaise gondola. We don’t know at what time the party starts, but the place was already loaded when we arrived around 17:00. A band is playing songs till 18:00 before the DJ takes over. The audience is again plenty of dressed up people who transfer from La Folie Douce when the place closes at 17:00. If you don’t arrive in your ski outfit, make sure to be dressed for the cold, as most of the party is outside. 2023 drink prices are 8€ for 50cl of beer and 5€ for a cola or shot (3 cl)
Restaurant Gigi is located at the top of the Solaise gondola lift. It’s only open a couple of days per week and it’s strongly advised to make a reservation. Around 19:00 the Solaise gondola lift will start again and few minutes later a responsible of the restaurant will check your name and allow you to board in a gondola. Once you reach the top you can go via the funbelt Poum to the restaurant. We were lucky to have a clear sky and the restaurant it’s location is awesome when it’s dark. The picture below shows a more blue sky but that’s through an automatic filter on my smartphone.
We strongly advise to go early and explicilty request a table at the window. (Not possible to request during reservation) The views over the town of Val d’Isère are magnificient and in the beginning of the evening you can also watch some pistenbully’s groom the slopes. It was impossible to take a proper image due to reflection of the lights on the windows. You’ll just have to take my worth for it or go check it out yourself.
There are several win cabinets with exclusive wines and champagnes. The cheapest bottles of wine start around 45 euro but you most are a couple of hundres to thousands of euros. If you stick to a wine of the Savoie region it’s still affordable. The interior is very beautiful and classy. The only minor point we could note was that the music was a bit too loud in our opinion.
The food was good but quite expensive to our (Belgian) standards. Obviously the setting and environment adds to the cost as well. At our table we all selected different dishes and each of us was satisfied. As dessert we can recommend the Tiramisu which is to share. You can easily share with 3 or 4 people. I strongly discourage to do it alone or with 2 people.
We did not have an overnight stay in Tignes during our skitrip in 2023 but we did ski a couple of days in Tignes and Val Claret.
You get access to the Tignes area via the Tommeuse chair lift. From their you can either go down to Val Claret via blue slopes, but an interesting short cut is via the black slopes sequence of Cretes / Comes folle / Johan Clarey. Although they are black slopes they are not the most challenging to our experience. They bring you straight to Tignes 2100 and you can save quite some time.