There’s no argument over the fact that Val d’Isère is one of the best places on the planet for skiing. Not only is its vast ski area one of the world’s biggest with 300km of slopes, the 2,000m+ of skiable vertical is also one of the planet’s greatest, and there’s every type of terrain imaginable on offer too.
The village itself is an authentic high-altitude mountain village and one of the highest-altitude traditional resorts in the Alps and with the lifts climbing to high glaciers above, it means it’s one of the most snow sure in the Alps with a long ski season, this winter from December 2nd to May 5th, 2024.
But it’s less well known that the famous French resort is also one of the best places for family ski holidays too, with great beginner areas and gentle slopes in the ski area as well as great facilities and activities off the slopes. There are even free lift passes for children aged under 8.
Val d’Isère also has a deserved reputation as one of the livelier French destinations, with a great après ski scene including lively bars, fantastic restaurants and lots of additional entertainment laid on.
People have been skiing at Val d’Isère for more than 80 years and it’s a land of champions from the greats of the past like Jean-Claud Killy and Henri Oreiller to modern-day ski racing heroes like Clément Noël et Victor Muffat Jeandet.
At the beginning of each winter season in December, the Criterium de la Première Neige takes place in Val d’Isère, some of the biggest and most exciting World Cup ski races of the season, and an essential event on the Alpine ski racing calendar.
But skiing here is for everyone, not just the world’s elite. The high-altitude village is internationally renowned internationally for the quality and extent of its slopes as well as its fantastic freeride terrain and off-piste opportunities.
While experts can challenge themselves on the famed Winter Olympic and World Cup slope on the Face de Bellevarde, children can learn their skills on top of Solaise in the dedicated and fun-filled Val Kids area. A little bit higher on the slopes, beginners can ski on a dedicated “slow ski” slope, separated from other pistes in the area. There are plenty of green slopes in the Bellevarde area and it is always possible for beginners or anyone tired at the end of the day to go down using a gondola from each ski area.
For beginners to intermediate skiers, there is a ski pass called “Solaise” which gives access to a specific part of the Solaise area with mainly green and blue runs and new for 23-24 it’s also possible to get a four-hour pass for the full area which can be used at any time of the day, thanks to an increase in the latest electronic ticket gates on the slopes, so you can spend half your day on the slopes, half enjoying any of the many other activities available.
There are plenty of these off-slope activities to suit all tastes and all ages. You can enjoy everything from ice floating in a mountain lake to fat biking or e-biking over snow. You could also enjoy the thrill of dog sledding, tree top adventures, electric snowmobiling or ice climbing.
For something more laid back there are guided tours of the village or you can just wander around and peruse the wide choice of bars, shops and restaurants, the latter ranging from affordable but high-quality fast food right up to the finest Michelin-starred gourmet dining.
Families are particularly well looked after in Val d’Isère and the resort is the proud owner of the Family Plus Label from the French government, certifying how well it performs for families. Besides the on-slope facilities and free passes for children aged up to eight on the ski slopes, there are loads more in and around the village including free entertainment organised each week by the tourist office, and great facilities including the Aquasportif Center with its swimming pools, cinema, ice rink, and the library and museum with children’s areas. There is also a local farm that families can visit (free of charge or on a guided tour) and buy some local products from the farms.
Thanks to its reliable snow and long ski season right into May, much later than most ski areas, Val d’Isère is a particularly good choice for a late-season spring ski trip. This winter the 27th edition of the International Adventure and Discovery Film Festival will take place between April 15th and 18th, with 11 films to see and adding an extra dimension to everything else the village offers. At the same time, the festival brings a very nice party atmosphere to the village in spring to celebrate spring skiing. As an added bonus this is also a great time to visit for great deals on accommodation and ski passes are discounted too.