A legendary winter destination (and a legendary Tour de France cycling climb come summer), Val d’Isère offers numerous winter activities to meet the needs of any visitor. Here’s a quick guide to help you get the most from your winter holiday.
Val d’Isère is one of the world’s most popular ski resorts, and not without reason. Together with Tignes, it forms the Espace Killy ski area, providing 86 lifts and 156 runs – with a strong enough blend of green, blue, and black to occupy skiers of all levels.
The winter season stretches from the end of November to the start of May, meaning both Christmas and Easter visitors will enjoy plenty of powder.
Cross-country skiing can be more relaxing and invigorating than downhill skiing, and allows you the opportunity to appreciate the incredible natural beauty of the surrounding area. Val d’Isère has plenty of options, with a total 21 km of cross-country trail. These are all free to use, and are graded in the same manner as typical runs.
There’s a 1.5 km beginner’s trail that runs just past La Daille, with longer, more advanced options to be found in the Manchet Valley, around Ouillette lake, and on the border of the Vanoise National Park.
Skiing Val d’Isère allows you to feel on top of the world, but even that sensation can’t compare to the thrill of taking a helicopter tour through the stunning alpine peaks. Forests, glaciers, and snow-peaked mountains will sprawl out beneath you, making it a ride to remember.
Heli-skiing is banned in France. However, ardent adventurers can find companies to fly them across the border to Italy or Switzerland, allow them to carve up some pristine backcountry, and then fly them back to their resort.
Winter in Val d’Isère isn’t just about skiing. If you fancy something a little different, a highly experienced guide will help you scale a sparkling frozen waterfall. At 40 meters wide and 200 meters high, be prepared for both a stunning view and a heart-pumping climb.
This is a challenge that even beginners can tackle, so don’t let any lack of experience stand in your way. However, there are plenty of other opportunities available for the eager and experienced adrenaline junkie, too.
Regular go-karting can be fun, but it can’t beat ice karting. Ever a popular activity in Val d’Isère, this is something you’ll need to book early, and it’s well worth it.
Whether with friends or family, flying around the track driving karts fitted with studded tires, adjustable bucket seats, roll bars, and a specialized safety system makes for an exhilarating experience.
Travel the old-fashioned way, and enjoy a day out with the dogs, by taking command of your own team of huskies. A guide will let you know the basics, and then you’re off amongst the snowy forest paths.
Hang on tight as you speed downhill and zip around corners, or opt for the less draining option of sitting in the sled while your guide takes care of everything for you.
Visit a spa
When your enthusiasm for adventure finally catches up with you, consider taking a day off to soothe your tired body. Val d’Isère attracts the rich and famous from across the globe, and therefore boasts a number of stunning spa hotels in which to pamper yourself.
Massages, skin treatments, saunas, and steam rooms are all available, creating a perfect complement to the thrill of the great outdoors.
Few resorts offer the range of après-ski activities found at Val d’Isère.
For the alpine party-person, the après fun can start before you even leave the slopes. Situated close to the La Daille gondola, the infamous La Folie Douce provides plenty of fun, with a wild crowd and plenty of music. Skiing back can be fun too!
If you want to make some friends before you head out, try booking into a ski school.
For those after something a little more sophisticated, plenty of upscale bars and restaurants can be found in the village itself.
Thanks to Becky Coates, an editor at SkiBonjour.com, for preparing this post. Val d’Isere is another resort that goes straight to my list…winter and summer.
This post is sponsored by SkiBonjour.com.
© 2015, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.