C Cattin / OT Val Thorens
Val Thorens is a well-known and well-loved resort in the French Alps - and for good reason. Awarded the Best European Ski Resort for the last three years and winner of France’s Best Ski Resort for the last four years at the World Ski Awards, there is no doubt that Val Thorens has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a wobbly first timer or an experienced mountain goat, the range of pistes and terrain for skiing offer something for everyone, and there’s a variety of restaurants and activities to suite every palate and budget. We love Val Thorens and we’d like to share a few of our secrets with you about where to ski and what to do in the resort.
Come early and beat the crowds
Due to the resort’s high altitude (the highest in the Alps to be exact), Val Thorens opens on Saturday the 26th of November. Come out early to enjoy the snow (it started falling on September 15th!) and beat the crowds. The first few weeks are quite quiet on the slopes, but there are plenty of activities in the resort to kick off the new season. The launch weekend will bring the ‘Grande Premiere’ event, with the chance to try out the latest equipment from key snow sports brands free of charge. And no launch event would be complete without a few parties!
Have dinner in a yurt
If you’re interested in a unique evening adventure, snowshoe up to Chalet de la Marine for dinner in a yurt. At 2,500m you can spend an evening with a group of up to 16 people in a traditional Mongolian yurt and enjoy a delicious meal in a cozy environment. Afterwards you can snowshoe or ski down and take part in a torchlight descent.
© OT Val Thorens
Dive into some ice
No, seriously. Jumping into freezing water is probably not something you would associate with a ski holiday, but for those wishing to give it a go, the lake can be accessed from Val Thorens in around 40 minutes, either on snow shoes or cross country skis. Swap your ski gear for diving gear and partake in a supervised 20 minute session of glacial exploration beneath the surface of the ice! Afterwards it’s back on to snowshoes or skis to head back to the resort, where you can relax with a vin chaud or two.
© andyparant.com / OT Val Thorens
Our favourite spots to ski
There is a superb beginners’ area in Val Thorens, giving newbies the chance to explore the whole area. At the top of the Musaraigne magic carpet (protected from the elements in a shelter tunnel) are four magic carpets which are free of charge to use. Once beginners have built up confidence they can venture further afield. Plus, the Chalet de Caron provides a great hot dog and hot chocolate stop, and is located a gentle ski down the Cairn blue piste from the New Generation meeting point.
We would recommend avoiding the main nursery area in the morning if your ski ability allows - it gets quite busy. On the contrary, the Orelle Valley is a super area in the morning and there is hardly anyone there.
Due to the north facing slopes some of the best afternoon skiing is in the area situated around the Moraine and Portette chairlifts. Take the Les Cascades chairlift then the Les Dalles blue run or take the Péclet Funitel and Tête Ronde blue run. Other notable intermediate runs include the blue Chord and Fond.
For intermediates seeking a quiet area to practice, try the runs near the Boismint lift. Chalet des 2 Ours is a good place to stop on the way down – make sure to try their delicious paninis.
© C Cattin / OT Val Thorens
Advanced explorers will enjoy the runs from the summit of Cime Caron at 3200m. Feel like James Bond (or Miss Moneypenny) on the cable car ride, then warm up with a coffee at the Caron Freeride Café. Once you have taken in the panoramic views, which are regarded by many as the most beautiful in the area, challenge yourself to spot and name some of the 100+ summits you can see from here! The Combe de Caron black piste is a legendary run and will show up any less than desirable techniques pretty quickly – it’s one to do when you have stoked up your energy levels.
© C Cattin / OT Val Thorens
Get off the beaten path
Looking to try something different than the usual routes? If you want to explore some lesser known areas or venture off-piste for the first time, or the 50th, hire a New Generation guide. Their instructors know Val Thorens inside and out and they’ll show you where they spend their days off. With expert knowledge and a smile, they’ll ensure your day on the mountain is one to be remembered.
Whether you’ve been to Val Thorens before or not and whether you’ve been on 30 ski holidays or this is your first, you can definitely find the right terrain and activities to suit your needs in Val Thorens.
What's your favourite ski run or activity in Val Thorens? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Posted on Wednesday 02 Nov 2016