The Best Ski Time in Val d'Isère
What more could you ask for than fresh snow, a blue sunny sky and hardly anyone on the slopes?!
Last week I went skiing in the French Alps and had the best time ever. I've never gone skiing this early in the year as we usually save it for the Christmas holidays or after. But now, as I'm living in Paris, it's quite easy to reach the Alps meaning that you can book a trip to the mountains on short notice (we booked our flights the same week before leaving and it was only 130€ return from Paris to Geneva).
We particularly choose Val d'Isère because it's very high up in the mountains (over 3000m) and a lot of ski resorts are either partially open or even closed due to lack of snow. The best thing is that where it's not high season yet, most things are reduced such as hotels, ski passes, ski rentals, etc.
🚗 Getting there
You can reach Val d'Isère by car, by train, or by plane. If you have the means, you can even reach the slopes by helicopter from several destinations- now that's definitely the ultimate luxury!
The closest airport is Chambéry, but you can also fly to Geneva, Lyon, or to Grenoble depending on what flight connections suit you best. If you're taking the train (SNCF) then get off at Bourg St Maurice. From all of these places you can either rent a car to drive up or arrange a shuttle service directly with your hotel. It took us just over 2 hours and a half to drive up from Geneva airport. There are also buses that take you there which you can book here.
There's even a cool app called BlaBlaCar in France whereby you can share a ride with someone who's going in the same direction as you. It's not expensive and is a great way to meet people and maybe even make friends with the people you're travelling with. Find out more here.
🏨 Where to stay
We had initially booked a room at the hotel Victors as it was very reasonable and close to the slopes. But when we went to check-in after skiing all afternoon they told us that they couldn't find our reservation (which was made via Booking) so they put us up in another hotel called La Forêt (same owners). It actually turned out to be a win-win situation for us as the second hotel was a lot better and they even offered us a complimentary breakfast which was really good. The rooms are very basic but you're in the centre of the village which makes life a lot easier.
🍴 Where to eat
When you go skiing in France, all you can think of at the end of the day is eating a good Fondue or Raclette. One of my best friends, who has been going to Val d'Isère since she was little, recommended these three restaurants: Le Lodge, Le 1789 and Sur la Montagne. Some of them were closed when we went so we ended up going to La Casserole and had a delicious Raclette and Croziflette. The atmosphere is very cosy and the staff is extremely friendly. Most of all, the food was delicious (just remember that the smell of cheese will follow you throughout the following day...)
Up on the slopes you have several restaurants to have a bite to eat whilst you're skiing. We had a lovely hot chocolate at the Bellevarde (as pictured above) whilst enjoying the sunset.
🎿 The skiing
The most important part of course is the skiing (or snowboarding for some). Val d'Isère is connected with Tignes and together that makes 300km of ski runs offering a huge area to ski around. A daily adult pass costs 55.50€ and it's 278€ for a 6-day adult pass. Find out everything you need to know here.
We rented our ski material at Skimium AB SKISHOP and the guys working there were very friendly and all the skis and boots were of good quality. As it was the start of the season, I was lucky to have a brand new pair of boots and skis. There are lots of different places to rent your ski material so I would recommend, out of convenience, to go to the one closest to where you're staying.
Here are some photos of my ski days to get you in the mood... (click image to view in full screen)
Have you ever been to Val d'Isere?