Getting the most out of Val Thorens

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Make the most of Europe’s highest ski resort.

With plenty of facilities to keep everyone entertained, a trip to Val Thorens is as good as it gets! When plans were announced during the 1970s for a ski resort to be built at the top of the Belleville valley in France, many thought it was a crazy idea. Locals expressed their concerns that the area was too high, too cold and too avalanche-prone to expect tourists to visit.

Yet in defiance of the nay-sayers, 40 years on, Val Thorens has become the busiest and most well-rounded ski resort in the Alps. It continues to adapt and evolve to this day, maintaining its popularity with skiers from all over the world.

There’s lots to ski in Val Thorens / Val Thorens is home to over 600 km of pistes
Val Thorens is home to over 600 km of pistes

The perfect skiing conditions

Val Thorens is in fact the highest ski resort in Europe at an altitude of 2300m above sea level. It stands today a mix of man-made and natural slopes, an ideal combo for skiers as they can enjoy both rugged, natural terrain and sculpted tracks designed to provide optimum fun.

The altitude helps by maintaining thinner and colder air, creating the perfect atmosphere for snow to be made both naturally and artificially. This abundance in snow is why Val Thorens’ mountains are regarded as some of the most reliable in the French Alps.

Val Thorens boasts over 600km of skiable pistes and 180 lifts that take skiers to whichever peaks they choose, the highest of which sits at a jaw-dropping 3,230m. The lifts also span across the three valleys and give Val Thorens a huge advantage over other resorts.

A cable car reaches the peak of Cime de Caron
A cable car reaches the peak of Cime de Caron

What ski pass do I need?

Purchasing the correct ski pass is important. Those looking to tackle as much of the landscape as possible will want the pass that grants access to all 600km of Les Trois Vallées region. There are also more localised ski passes available, which cover the 150km Val Thorens-Orelle area, or the wider 300km area of the Vallée des Belleville.

To be able to hit the slopes as quickly as possible it’s best to book a ski pass online, which can either be delivered to a home address beforehand or can be collected on arrival. For last-minute bookers, acquiring a ski pass after arriving is also very easy. For further information on ski passes, visit the Val Thorens site.

A snowboarder carves up the slopes at Val Thorens
A snowboarder carves up the slopes at Val Thorens

Après Ski

Après Ski (after ski) is essentially all the fun available whilst not on the slopes, and as it turns out, there’s an awful lot to do in Val Thorens when not clipped into a pair of skis.

After a full day of skiing, the region’s bounty of bars and clubs come in handy. For younger party-goers, clubs like La Folie Douce, 360 and Europe’s highest bar, The Frog and Roast Beef, are all Val Thorens institutions. But for those looking to put their feet up and enjoy a peaceful tipple, Bar-Au Perchoir in the Hôtel Le Portillo is perfect. It’s a rustic, wooden haven where visitors can curl up with a drink in front of a roaring fire.

Other facilities within the resort include a large sports centre, ideal for those with an exercise routine they’d like to keep up, as well as a spa that is a godsend for sore, post-ski muscles.

There’s also plenty of fun to be had on the snow without a pair of skis. Val Thorens grants visitors the opportunity to take a ride on a skidoo (snowmobile), with sessions running throughout the ski season. It’s great fun and allows visitors a new and exciting way to tackle the mountains.

 

Paragliding is another unmissable activity in Val Thorens, perfect for daredevils. “You can see the mountains in a completely different way”, is what Saunders Says remarks in his video, which features spectacular footage of him enjoying the airborne experience. Those keen on taking to the skies can find out more and make a booking here.

For those who intend on keeping their feet firmly on the ground, why not try snowshoeing? Guided tour groups gain a new perspective on the region as they ramble off-piste through the snow-capped mountains.

Val Thorens even has its very own cinema, where two movies are shown every day at 18:00 and 21:00, with an extra 14:30 slot added in the event of weather conditions that put the slopes out of action. There’s also a bowling alley in the region, allowing some healthy, sportsmanlike competition between friends and family!

The hotels, restaurants and bars come to life at night
The hotels, restaurants and bars come to life at night

Where to stay

When deciding on where to stay in Val Thorens, visitors must consider what type of accommodation is best for their party and their budget. There are plenty of self-catering, bed and breakfast and all-inclusive hotels to choose from in the region.

Self-catering accommodation is the best option for those looking to not spend too much as it allows guests to shop in the local supermarkets and whip up their own meals. The accommodation featured in Saunders Says’ video is a self-catered chalet that boasts a rather spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, and a balcony to enjoy it from.

Those looking for luxurious hot tubs, saunas and all sorts of mod cons will enjoy any of the region’s 5-star hotels. These high end all-inclusive hotels are ideal for honeymoons, special occasions or for those that like to enjoy the finer things in life.

The resort boasts a variety of indoor, outdoor and underground carparks, meaning your vehicle is never too far away. More parking information, as well as things to consider when preparing for winter driving can be found on the See Val Thorens website.

Chalets and hotels in Val Thorens
Chalets and hotels in Val Thorens

Where to eat

Val Thorens has plenty of options when it comes to cuisine. As previously mentioned, there are lots of supermarkets within the resort that are perfect for those who want to fill up the boot of their car and feed themselves for the duration of their stay. Although, most will want to head out to a restaurant at least once in celebration of a trip to France’s most beloved ski resort. The resort takes its dining seriously, with a variety of restaurants serving up different types of cuisine.

Les Enfants Terribles is a sophisticated restaurant named after the 1929 novel by Jean Cocteau, where seafood is their speciality. La Maison Val Thorens is a bar, restaurant and pizzeria that has an open air seating area, allowing diners to enjoy the scenery and the sunshine as they eat.

To dine as the locals do, try La Pause in Hôtel Le Portillo in the middle of town or for occasions worth celebrating, try the Michelin star-awarded Les Explorateurs in the Hotel Pashmina.

With Val Thorens offering so much, why not book a Eurotunnel ticket and have an exciting adventure to look forward to? Be sure to book as far in advance as possible to take advantage of the best possible fares.