1. La Tyrolienne Zipline
If you are in any doubt over what to do once you’ve had your fill of skiing or riding for the day then forget heading off the mountain, head over to one of the après bars, I promise you won’t regret it! The two you want to look out for are La Folie Douce (you’ll have spotted it if you have ridden up the Plein Sud chairlift any time after 3pm!) and Bar 360.
So lets start with Folie; it’s a Val Thorens institution. If you’ve ridden the Plein Sud chairlift in the afternoon you’ll have heard it, the music is blaring from about 3pm and lunch is a distant memory as the crowds who were earlier enjoying some food on the deck are now dancing on the tables!
We love Folie but the drinks are expensive and the crowd can get a little rowdy, not to mention once you are damp, cold and sticky, getting sprayed by countless bottles of fizz gets a little old! If you want to make the whole experience a little more relaxed and a little cheaper, then pack a rucksack with something warm to sit on, some sun screen and few beverages and join the masses on what we like to call ‘Henman Hill’… similar to its tennis counterpart, the hill just to the side of La Folie Douce gives an opportunity to enjoy the exact same atmosphere, hear the music and join in the fun but whilst enjoying space to sit down and some affordable drinks.
If Folie Douce doesn’t après your ski, then try heading over to Bar 360 at Chalet du Thorens, at the bottom of the Portette chairlift. A massive deck with plenty of deck chairs gives this place a bit more of a chilled vibe. The advantage of being attached to Chalet du Thorens is that there are plenty of food options here too and the downstairs self service area is some of the best value food we have found in Val Thorens. Don’t be fooled though, the party can still really kick off here, so get yourself right up to the 360 bar to get in on the action from about 3.30pm.
3. Mountain Biking on Snow
Want to find a unique way of getting down the piste? Try mountian biking! You can enjoy some thrills and spills on the way down under the supervision of an instructor. Groups head up Peclet at 5pm when the pistes close on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and ita costs €40 for anyone who has a liftpass and €50 if you dont have a liftpass.
As Europe’s highest resort Val Thorens lays claim to the highest nightclub in Europe, this honour goes to Klub Summit. It’s a popular haunt located on Rue de Gebroulaz which is the main bar street in Val Thorens and also home to Le Monde, a characterful Dutch bar with a pretty rowdy clientele. Malaysia is the real name on the club scene in Val Thorens though, it appears at first to be a small wooden hut but soon you will descend the staircase to an underground (literally!) world which is the height of the Val Thorens party scene.
5. Best Tartiflette/ Fondue in town
This one was surprisingly easy to decide upon! It’s no secret that we like a little bit of cheese at Powderbeds, so naturally we are well acquainted with the places to get fondues, raclettes and tartiflettes in Val Thorens and when poised with the question of which is best there is a clear winner… Au Mazot is a small and very friendly traditional Savoyard restaurant right next to Place de Caron. The prices are reasonable and the service is extremely friendly – the one thing we would warn you of is that it’s not the biggest restaurant and its gets jam packed, so make sure you book ahead!
6. Enjoy a Michelin Star Restaurant
In recent years, Val Thorens has become quite the gastronmic destination! Nothing has put it on the culinary map more than the arrival of Jean Sulpice who has not one, but two Michelin stars to his name. He is cooking up a storm at L'Oxalys, handy if you are staying at the Residence L'Oxalys apartments above, or even at Le Hameau du Kashmir which is just opposite!
7. Sports Centre
The sports centre in Val Thorens is located at at Place de Caron, right in the centre of the resort. There is a massive selection of activites availble including; tennis, table tennis, squash, basketball, football and a great swimming pool. It makes a perfect spot to keep big and little kids alike entertained, or alternatively a lovely place to relax in the evening after a big day on the slopes!
Sledging in Val Thorens is quite an experience – the track is the longest in Europe (6kms!) and runs alongside the piste. If you book onto one of the evening sessions then you can stop for a delicious Vin Chaud and warm up in the yurt on the piste when you get to the bottom!
9. Ice Driving
If the slopes aren’t thrilling enough for you then get your adrenalin fix on the ice driving track! You can either take out a go-kart or get behind the wheel of one of the world’s fastest rally cars on Val Thorens’ fantastic ice driving track.
10. Ski all the way to Courchevel
If you want to get some serious mileage under your belt then invest in the full three valleys lift pass and enjoy taking a day trip all the way to Courchevel. It’s a big day out but definitely manageable, even for little legs, as long as your whole party are intermediate skiers. Choose your route depending on your pace, its possible to get from Val Thorens to Courchevel taking just 3 lifts which can be done in just under an hour if you are going at a good pace and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours even if you are taking your time.
To get there; take either the 3 Vallées 1 or Plein Sud chairlift and then join onto the 3 Vallées 2 chairlift and follow signs to Meribel Mottaret, head all the way down to Mottaret and then jump on the Pas du Lac 2 gondola which will take you all the way up to the top of the Courchevel valley. From here you can ski right down to Courchevel, bear in mind if you go to Courchevel Moriond (1650), Courchevel Village (1550) or Courchevel Le Praz (1330) then you will have much further to come back! This route is mainly on blue runs and can be quite slow and flat heading down to Mottaret, if you are a snowboarder we would highly recommend jumping on the Plan des Mains chair halfway down to Mottaret which gives you enough height to avoid the long flat sections on the way to Mottaret, it’s not a long chair and will definitely save you a walk, so it shouldn’t even add much time on to your trip across! If you would like a slightly more exciting route and are confident you have time then head down to Les Menuires form Val Thorens and head down to use Meribel as your crossing point, this route has more reds to take and there are some shorter lifts you can add in to get some extra runs on your way down.
If you flew across to Courchevel in time to have a good explore then enjoy, but bear in mind it only takes 3 lifts to go Val Thorens to Courchevel but it is a minimum of 5 lifts to go the other direction so it takes a little longer. From Courchevel (1850) take the Verdons gondola and then get straight onto the Vizelle gondola which follows on up to the top of the valley, from here you can ski right down to Mottaret. From Mottaret take the Plattieres gondola up and then take a short ski down to Plattieres 3. From here, if you want a blue route then head over towards Les Menuires, stick left and head down to the Bruyeres gondola which will take you up to the top of Val Thorens from where you can ski home. The quickest route from the top of Plattieres 3 is to take the red run, alouette down to the Cote Brune chairlift which will take you high enough to ski back down to Val Thorens.
If you are thinking of making the trip then have look at our top tips:
1. Make sure you have the right liftpass – for this you’ll need a full 3 Vallées pass.
2. Take a 3 Vallées lift map so you can see all the crossing points on one page.
3. Check all the lift closing times on the way across, time vary throughout the season and they start to close as early as 3.30pm!
4. Make sure you have a back up route in case you lose your way or a piste is closed.
5. If you want to squeeze in a few extra runs at the end of the day, at least get back as far as Les Menuires – there is at least a bus that can take you back to Val Thorens from there if you miss the last lift!
Posted on Thursday 01 May 2014