Situated at the top of Les 3 Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, in the heart of a natural rock and ice circus, Val Thorens offers a complete range of skiing. At 2300 metres, Val Thorens, the highest resort in Europe, is situated in the heart of a 360° Alpine Circus, orientated in all four directions, with a grandiose countryside, optimal sun throughout the day and nearly guaranteed snow from the end of November through to the beginning of May. There’s easy skiing around the resort, medium and difficult on the summits.
It’s the highest ski resort in Europe, it’s part of the largest ski region in the world, and that altitude means Val Thorens can open for snow sports from November to May.
Since it was first established in 1971, one of the newest as well as the highest of the French purpose-built resorts, each new development at Val Thorens has been carefully planned and thought out. Over the past 45 years the resort has reinvented itself many times and moved with the times, extending the choice it offers to respond to holidaymakers needs.
So besides those 600km of skiing and boarding in the 3 Valleys, Val Thorens also now offers a big choice of outdoor activities for everybody, wherever you are skier or not.
1 – Sleep in an igloo
What about staying in an igloo? I know, it’s quite an unusual place to stay but don’t worry, we’re not talking about a real icy igloo but a cosy igloo! It’s the perfect place for a romantic night with a difference. Your igloo has its own bathroom and is heated by a wood stove and there’s even a view on the slopes from your bed for the outdoorsy feel. It’s so popular it’s best to book in advance.
2 – Snowshoeing
It’s known for its high adrenaline sports including mountain biking on snow and Europe’s highest zip wire, as well as all those fast ski runs but you can experience Val Thorens at a gentler pace by exploring the valley on snowshoeing trails.
This activity is a good combination of sport and exploring nature and you can join a guided group to learn about local fauna and flora more thoroughly as you walk. The great thing is you need no technical skill or previous experience to enjoy this activity! Plus, snowshoeing gives access to landscapes and spectacular scenery that go way beyond the limits of the on-piste skier.
There’s something magical about walking through untouched snow and leaving first tracks whilst enjoying the tranquility and calm. A ski outfit and hiking boots is all you need to discover the valley.
On the way back on one popular route you can stop at Chalet Pepe Nicolas restaurant where they cook French mountain specialties with locally grown products. It’s the ideal place to stop and fuel up to get some energy before keeping going !
3 – Spa experience
With low temperatures and the aches and strains of skiing winter can be tough on your body. After skiing hard all day it’s time to treat yourself to a treatment in The Spa Occitane in Val Thorens. Enjoy a massage to gain relief for your tired muscles and your body will feel totally fresh the next day.
4 – Yoga in mountain
Recently introduced at the resort, yoga classes at altitude, whilst facing the glacier, is a great way to recharge your batteries. Yoga practice has multiple benefits, including improving posture and toning muscles, to stretch your body. It also helps you to gain energy resources and relieve tension either mentally or physically – all of which puts you in a good place to be ready for skiing.
You can practice yoga in Val Thorens before hitting the slopes or after skiing to recover after the effort and stretch your body to avoid sore muscles, helping you maintaining good physical and spiritual health.
For a complete experience you can sign up for a guided snowshoe hike with some stretching sessions too, one a sun salutation and the other seated meditation.
5 – Cime Carron viewpoint
The most beautiful view of Val Thorens is found at the very top of the ski lifts 3200m. From here a great landscape of unending mountains makes you feel like an explorer standing on the top of the world with a 360° view of the 3 Valleys and more than 100 Alpine summits (French, Swiss and Italian), including Mont-Blanc and the Matterhorn. You can also see Lake Geneva down below.
Pedestrians can reach this point by cable car by skiers and boarders will want to head down from Cime Caron on red and black runs with descents of up to 10km possible.
6 – Michelin star restaurant
You don’t need to miss out on gourmet cuisine just because you’re up at 2,100m. Jérémy Gillon is one of the best chefs in France and his L’Epcurien restaurant received a Michelin star in February 2015.
Here he offers culinary diversity, each course is an unexpected combination of textures and flavours, a skilful blend of colours, with an explosion of tastes. It is quite a different form of mountain cuisine, embracing delicateness. This major chef showcases regional produce where local provenance and authenticity the determining factors and he himself picks the herbs for his dishes during the summer.
7 – La Folie Douce
Famous for its après-ski ambience which includes DJ sets, cabaret shows and a full-on party atmosphere, the Folie Douce chain has spread across the leading resorts ion the French Alps over the past few winters. In Val Thorens’ this altitude bar is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset drink with stunning views over the area. If you’re up for a party then you must stop in !
8 – World Cup Ski Cross Slope
If you’re looking for extra thrills this spring, try the spectacular Ski Cross World Cup slope with its rollers and turns. Adrenalin guaranteed! Yopu can take on the challenge with friends and step into the real starting gate then at the bottom check your results at the finish with the timer and camera towards the finish line.
This venue is used by some of the world’s best riders training for the Ski Cross circuit, including Britain’s Emily Sarsfield.
Finally, don’t forget the skiing and boarding!
With 150km of runs in its own valley shared with Orelle and of course 600km in the 3 Valleys, of which it’s the highest point, Val Thorens offers a huge choice of terrain for all tastes and abilities.
In the largest ski area in the world, you’ll never need to ski the same run twice, unless you want to!
Although winter arrived late this year, conditions have been good, and with most of its slopes situated above 2000 metres, Val Thorens offers very snow-sure conditions with another two months of the ski season still remaining here!
Three Valleys / Trois Vallees