Val d’Isere is one of the world’s most iconic ski resorts. The lovely villages are packed full of 5-star hotels, designer bars, and rich kids borrowing daddies Amex card for the week. Located in the Savoie region, Val d’Isère and Tignes form one ski area, the Espace Killy. Seamlessly linked by lifts covering a huge 24,000 acres, the area beats the pants off North America’s largest resort Whistler, with its paltry 8,000 acres. The majority of the area sits above 2000m, giving it a very long and snow-sure season. The Pissaillas glacier is open in the summer but it’s such a tiny area and a trek to get to that it’s best to get your summer shred on in Tignes.
- Highest Point: 3,450m
- Descent: 1,665m
- No. lifts: 49
The resort consists of the main town (where the nightlife is) plus two satellite villages, La Daille and Le Fornet, which are linked by regular free buses. La Daille is a good base to access the ski area, and offers more affordable accommodation. The buses to the centre run well into the evening, but if you do stumble out of Dick’s Tea Bar at 4am, it’s about a 20 minute walk – depending on the snow and number of Jagerbombs consumed! On down days there’s an aquatic centre with 2 swimming pools, Jacuzzi and sauna, and affordable massages to combat midweek jelly legs.
The Parks – 3/5
For a long time, the thought of having a terrain park in Val d’Isère was enough to set off a load of expletives from the locals. But thankfully attitudes have moved on. The Oakley Valpark is located under the Mont Blanc chairlift, and is expanding every season. Last season they bought eight new snow-machines just for the park, and there are plans afoot to replace the draglift with a chair to increase those lap times and provide some much-needed rest for the overworked thighs. The park is divided into four ability zones, so you’ll not have any difficulty finding something for your level and shouldn’t accidentally find yourself launching off the 18m pro kicker. There’s also a boardercross course in the same vicinity and plenty of small jibs and boxes for beginners.
“There are 150km of pistes in Val d’Isère and another 150km over in Tignes. The lift system is also fast and well connected“