Battle of the ski resorts: Val d’Isère

Can Val d’Isère win our Battle of the Ski Resorts?

Nominated by Nicola

Ease of access 6/10

Chambery is the closest airport (two hours), but flights aren’t as regular as into Geneva (three hours). Transfers can be pricey so we usually hire a car, or there is a bus. The nearest train station is Bourg St Maurice (you can get the overnight train from London), about 45 minutes drive away.

Sense of scale and epicness 8/10

The mountains here are high and steep – the village is situated at 1850m and the skiing goes up 3400m in Val and 3456m at the top of the Grande Motte in Tignes. Situated within the Vanoise National Park, there are many times when you have the sense there is nothing but wilderness and mountainscape for miles around. The glacier and seracs are pretty cool, too.

Variety and quality of the pistes 9/10

The Espace Killy is enormous: 300km of pistes of every shape and size and 10,000 hectares of off-piste. The lift system is constantly being upgraded. It does lose a point for bottlenecks.

Off-piste potential 9/10

If you consider that the guides who have lived here all their lives haven’t yet skied everything, you get the idea of how much there is to do. The potential is vast and varied: long itineraries, quick-access chutes (some sneaky options up on Solaise), tree-skiing (Fornet’s Foret and White Rabbit), multi-day tours (Bonneval), long and steep couloirs (like Couloirs 1, 2 and 3 in Tignes) and big open surfy powder bowls (Grand Vallon in Fornet).


Lapability 9/10

The pistes are generally long and well-linked, making lapping lifts a joy. If you find a line with good exposure then you can repeat over and over because there’s so much space and so much to go around.

On-hill grub 6/10

Not cheap. Not particularly traditional. But generally the standard is high. Some are easy to ski past but are well worth stopping for, such as Le Trifollet in La Daille, or Le Signal in Fornet.

Après scene 8/10

Most of the on-hill partying happens at the famous Folie Douce: think saxophonists jamming with house DJs to a hip crowd. It’s worth checking out the classics like Bananas near the bottom of Solaise, and La Face in town.

Base suitability 7/10

Good long tours from Fornet. Long descents. Then over the back of Grand Pre – you can even get across to Tignes from this side. Nice and high so the snow stays good for a long time. Not to mention options in neighbouring valleys such as La Rosière to La Thuile in Italy.

Family friendly? 8/10

Wide nursery slopes with free lifts and a huge choice of excellent ski schools – there are 18 of them and several are staffed by British instructors. Plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodation – though it’ll cost you. In-resort activities have improved in recent years with the opening of the Centre Aquasportif.

RANK: 2/29