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Val d'Isère Skiing France

Ski Stats

Green Runs: 15

Blue Runs: 42

Red Runs: 26

Black Runs: 17

Artificial: 692 guns

Cross Country: couple of loops

A massive queue-free lift system with some of the best lift-accessed off-piste terrain in the world makes Val a perfect family ski destination.

Val dIsere lies on the valley floor at an altitude of 1850 metres, which means that natural snow is virtually guaranteed from late November to early May, an important quality when choosing where to ski. Additionally, almost all of the main pistes are now equipped with snow-making machinery and there are two glacial ski areas, the Pissaillas and the Grande Motte, above Tignes. There is a huge amount of off-piste terrain that can easily be accessed via existing lifts, without the need for exhausting climbs or helicopter uplift.

In summer Le Fornet is the start of the Col de lIseran pass which is used by drivers heading to Italy. In winter it is a dead end for cars, but a gateway to some spectacular areas for those looking where to ski off-piste, including runs like the Grand Vallon and the Col Pers. (The dispute with the National Park authorities over where to ski has thankfully been resolved- thus removing restrictions on lift access in the glacier area.) After a new high-speed six-seater Cascade chairlift came into service here it immediately became the second most-used lift in the Val d'Isere ski region. The above-mentioned six-seater, two-way Lessieres chairlift links the Fornet skiing with the Solaise sector, which has plenty of family ski-friendly cruising pistes as well as more taxing terrain and the famous Solaise bumps. This area became more user-friendly with the replacement of the old, slow Glaciers chairlift with a high-speed six-seater model.

The lift system is impeccably designed and is operated by the most friendly and charming lift attendants in Europe. Wherever you are staying in Val dIsere there is a huge range of options to decide from when choosing where to ski. Skiers staying near the centre of the resort can proceed directly to the Front de Neige area, from where there is a choice of high-speed chairlifts, a cable car or a jumbo gondola to take you up either the Solaise or Bellevarde mountains. Skiers staying elsewhere can take the splendidly efficient and free ski Train Rouge buses to the centre of town or to either of the two other main access points, Le Fornet or La Daille, from where the high-speed Funival funicular whisks skiers directly up to the Bellevarde summit. (The Funival had new, more user-friendly carriages with re-designed interiors for 2003/2004. These make the ride more comfortable and less of a sloping sardine-can experience.) Val d'Isere still has some old, slow chairlifts, especially on the Solaise sector, but a new programme of investment has ensured that most of these are now being upgraded. The ancient two-seater up-and-over chairlift that connects the Solaise and Fornet sectors was also replaced by a new high-speed six-seater lift that cuts the journey time in half. On the front face of Solaise the old Plan two-seater chairlift was removed to make possible extensive remodelling of the runs in this area. The M piste, while being still technically classified as a red run, is now much wider, less steep and easier to ski.< br> The steep Face de Bellevarde was the scene of the Mens Downhill event in the 1992 Winter Olympics and was also the key piste for the World Championships in 2009, making it a key place to go for those looking for a challenge when choosing where to ski. The traditional World Cup course is the OK run from the back of Bellevarde down to the bottom of La Daille, and offers excellent steep cruising in the right snow conditions. From the La Daille sector, skiers can access the Tignes ski area either via the high-speed eight-seater Tommeuses chairlift up to Toviere, or by using the Borsat Express and skiing down via the Col de Fresse. The most snow-sure option when choosing where to ski in the whole of the Espace Killy is to be found on the Grande Motte (3656m) and the long cruising runs from here to Val Claret (2100m) are truly splendid. Those looking for steep walls and plenty of moguls should be sure to check out the black Trolles piste from Toviere right down to Tignes Le Lac. There is lots more good skiing on the Palafour side of Tignes and from the summit of the Aiguille Percee (2765m), a striking rock eye-of-the-needle formation, you take a variety of on- and off-piste routes all the way down to Tignes Les Brevieres which, at 1550m, is the lowest part of the Espace Killy. Returning from Tignes Val Claret to the Val d'Isere sector was made much easier by the installation of a high-speed six-seater chairlift which runs directly from Val Claret to the top of Col de Fresse. For more detailed information on where to ski in the Tignes ski area see the Ski Solutions Tignes Info page.

2005/2006 saw a new high-speed chairlift running from the hamlet of Le Laisinant (between Val centre and Le Fornet) at the bottom of the Mattis and L pistes to the Table dOrientation of the Fornet ridge, from where you can ski down to either the Fornet or Solaise sectors. Val dIsere has a hands free lift pass system, cutting down queues and making it a lot easier for larger family ski groups.

Snowboarding

Val dIsere is a good boarding destination and experienced boarders will adore the off piste. There are few drag lifts which makes it a good learners resort and there are two fun parks with half pipes. There are however a few flat areas where skiing might be a little better, as they usually result in a boarder having to walk.

Mountain Restaurants

Limited choice, but the best are very good.

Considering the vast options available when choosing where to ski in the Espace Killy area, really good mountain restaurants are few and far between. The most exciting place is La Fruitiere at the mid-station of La Daille. Luc Reversade bought the contents of the old cooperative dairy down the valley lock, stock and milk churn and has imaginatively re-erected them up here. He serves fine Savoyard food and wine, not to mention especially good local cheeses. In spring the terrace here gets very animated with everyone from family ski groups to locals, so its a good idea to reserve.

Folie Douce is an open-air bar with live musicians, champagne pulley systems, DJs and singers, with some of the finest alpine views, as it is situated 2400 meters high. If Val is our top choice when choosing where to ski in Europe, Folie Douce is our top choice on where to drink in Val! This year it brings together a selection of music acts from around the world making everyday an exhilarating experience. Performers like Kely StarLight will perform alongside a brass and percussion band. In addition, MC Big Ali will be performing at their opening party, B4 winter. He is sure to get the crowd entertained with his infamous single Hit the Floor. Each day at Folie Douce is a memorable moment and the place to be for all apres-ski lovers.

The VIP room is furnished with cushions and FAT BOYS creating the most exclusive atmosphere. The cushions provide ample space for rest and relaxation to guests before ascending down the sloped to visit the many bars that Val dIsere has to offer, especially the sister of La Folie Douce, Cafe Face. At Folie Douce one can have their skis and snowboards guarded by Folie personnel to add to the VIP experience.

La Folie Douce has two restaurants, La Fruitiere and self service Nuvo Self. La Fruitiere combines authenticity and modernity, working directly with artisans and local producers. Its cuisine is orchestrated by head chef Franck Mischler, Master Chef of France who retains a simple cooking style, creating hearty and delicious meals. Self-service restaurant, Nuvo Self, offers a special area for those who wish to eat at the bar. Although the service is fast-food all meals are homemade with traditional recipes. The decoration is second to none combining traditional, modern and chic furnishing creating an exceptional atmosphere.

The wine and cheese cellar In a long vaulted room a beautiful guest table flanked by a wine cellar and a cheese maturing cellar was opened in 2007 making it a unique and prestigious area. Aissa Abella, the sommelier and winner of the 2011 La bouteille blanche (Best Sommelier of the Alps) offers an extensive variety of wines, many from the renowned regions of France. Moreover, some bottles have been specifically designed for the owner Luke Reversade and Folie Douce. The all encompassing local cheeses are laid on wooden shelves in their cellar to ensure they mature in the perfect conditions. Some of these include Tamies, Reblochon, Tomme de Bonneval.

Le Triffolet, also on La Daille, is worth a visit.

At Le Fornet, LArolay in the village, does excellent table-top charcoal-grill brasserades (order in advance), while Le Signal at the top of the cable car has a two-level service restaurant upstairs as well as a self-service department downstairs. Both have terraces and upstairs has Out in the snow nearby here is a Yurt tent which serves as an Oyster Bar. Theres a cosy atmosphere inside and amusing decor, but mind your head on the door as you go in/out. On the Fornet sector the Edelweiss, located on the run down to the bottom of the cable car, has good food and, especially in springtime, a sunny terrace with views towards Bellevarde.

There are several lunchtime dining options around the Front de Neige, including the Christiania and Blizzard hotels and the Grand Ourse. More modest alternatives include the Bar des Sports and Bananas, which is something of a British stronghold these days and very popular with children.

Ski Schools

An abundance of choice makes this an ideal family ski destination

Val dIsere currently has about 15 different schools catering for family ski groups, with new ones seeming to open every season. However the evidence is that competition is producing a good service for the skier. New Generation now have a significant presence in Val d Isere, offering lessons for all ability levels and continually impressing with the quality of their instruction.

Snow Fun is the leading independent ski school and provides a model service. Its Teddy Bear Club for children aged three to six is highly regarded but must be booked well in advance.

Max Leclerc, a Top Ski instructor for 18 years, now offers private instruction. He is a firm favourite with Ski Solutions and has taught many of us over the years! Max specialises in teaching adult intermediate skiers, private groups and family ski groups.

Ski Kindergartens

New: The Children's Village , run by the ESF, now takes children from 18 months.

Le Petit Poucet is the most popular and is a non-ski kindergarten catering for 3-10 year olds, situated on the road leading to Le Fornet. They offer a pick up and drop off service from your chalet or hotel and will also work in conjunction with Snowfun to collect your children from ski school.

t4 Private Nanny Service will look after children from 4 months old in your own chalet or accommodation. It is staffed by qualified British nannies. It will also offer a pick up/drop off service in conjunction with the ski schools.

It is vital that you prebook any childcare well in advance, especially for peak school holiday dates - and they have an excellent website for pre-registration which also explains their services.

Lift Passes are free for children up to 5 years of age.

Ski Passes

Making it easier for everyone to enjoy their family ski trip

New: The Childrens Village, run by the ESF, now takes children from 18 months. Le Petit Poucet is the most popular service for family ski groups with younger children, providing a non-ski kindergarten catering for 3-10 year olds, situated on the road leading to Le Fornet. They offer a pick up and drop off service from your chalet or hotel and will also work in conjunction with Snowfun to collect your children from ski school.

t4 Private Nanny Service will look after children from 4 months old in your own chalet or accommodation. It is staffed by qualified British nannies. It will also offer a pick up/drop off service in conjunction with the ski schools. It is vital when planning your family ski trip that you prebook any childcare well in advance, especially for peak school holiday dates and they have an excellent website for pre-registration which also explains their services.

Lift Passes are free for children up to 5 years of age, another indicator of why Val has a reputation as a welcoming family ski destination.

These passes cover all the places we have recommended when choosing where to ski in Tignes and Val dIsere; half-day and pedestrian passes; family ski discounts; 5 day plus passes valid for one day in Three Valleys, one day in Paradiski (La Plagne-Les Arcs).

Ski Pass Prices

6 day lift passes:

-Under 14 ?175

-14 to 64 ?218

-Over 65 ?175

-Free over 75 years old

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