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Val D'Isere - first visit tips

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all

I make my first trip to Val D next week and will have three full days to ski.

This is a trip I've wanted to make for many years and would like to maximise the experience. Any tips, observations, recommendations etc.?

Thanks in advance

D
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great Ski area! Get the Espace Killy pass. Once up on Bellevarde you'll see masses of snow fields in front, lots of green and blues. Get over to Tignes on right and the vernicular in Val Claret up to the Glacier. Far right of Tignes amazing wind blown rock formations, there is a hole in the middle of the cliff called the 'Eye of the Needle'. You'll have fab time!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
lunch at Edelweiss or Triffolette, apres at Roses in La Daile, then bus to Cocorico (optional continue at Chez Jules or Alex Bar), eat at Corniche (or Grande Ourse if you're feeling flush), party at Bar XV and late at Baraque (if you're a lady beware the wandering French hands towards the end of the night),
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Beware the run down from Solaise to base at the end of the day. It has bottlenecks that are often icy.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
TQA wrote:
Beware the run down from Solaise to base at the end of the day. It has bottlenecks that are often icy.


100% agree - it is called Santons and is he worst blue run I have ever skiied.

Love Cocorico for apres too.

Restaurant 1789 for dinner for carnivores - might need to book.
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@Dof, hi, great choice! What level of skier are you and what types of terrain and conditions do you like and dislike?
Espace Killy has something for everyone but useful to understand your preferences. Very Happy
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London_Falcon wrote:
TQA wrote:
Beware the run down from Solaise to base at the end of the day. It has bottlenecks that are often icy.


100% agree - it is called Santons and is he worst blue run I have ever skiied.


Except that Santons comes from the Bellevarde area, not the Solaise.

Dof, hard to make recommendations without knowing what kind of skiing you are looking for.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
London_Falcon wrote:
TQA wrote:
Beware the run down from Solaise to base at the end of the day. It has bottlenecks that are often icy.


100% agree - it is called Santons and is he worst blue run I have ever skiied.

Love Cocorico for apres too.

Restaurant 1789 for dinner for carnivores - might need to book.

Santons is on the Belvarde Side
Plan/Piste M is the Solaise side

Both can be difficult.
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First thing in the morning, take the Olympic cable car from Val 1850 - or the Funival from La Daille - they both end up at the top of Bellevarde.

I've always liked the Fontaine Froide red run directly in frontish... there's a blue thst goes off to the right of it, but the red is great and by Val standards relatively short.

then up the chair to the Grand Pre area - even the green run here is a laugh, or the blue Club des sports.

Do NOT go past the Fontaine Froid chairlift as this way lies Santons... or Epaule du charvet ( the blue santons could be nice... but is usually a nightmare of semi out of control peeps careering off the big shoulders either side and generally people with a "what the... this is blue?" appearance to them).

Take the Fontaine Froide chairlift up - and then you can either go on the well known black run 'Face' or go to ther left as you get off and enjoy the splendid Ok/Orange Reds or the blue or the green...

these ok/orange etc will take you past the Triffolet restaurant - which you should visit at least once for lunch... so maybe stop for a beer and see if you can book the balcony if it's sunny... and for lunch later since you're only there for 3 days you may as well make it an easy selection and just go for the Tartiflette and wine/beer. Very Happy

down at the bottom, you can take the Funival back up again - or take the 'train rouge' which is an excellent free bendy bus along the valley... back to Bellevarde and up to Solaise or further up to le Fornet....


That'll do for a start.....

and if you want an outstanding guide/instructor then ask around for Neil 'Woody' Woodward - any old shop hand there will know where to get hold of him.
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TQA wrote:
Beware the run down from Solaise to base at the end of the day. It has bottlenecks that are often icy.


Yup Piste M I remember it now. OK if you have sharp edges and boilerplate ice does not scare you.
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Thanks all

Great tips

Dog watch - I am intermediate, very comfortable on all reds and skied 3 Valleys previously. My girlfriend is less confident, straightforward blues are her preference
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Dof, with mostly sunny conditions and warm temperatures forecast for next week, timing for different areas and pistes will be key. Will post some thoughts towards end of week, when weather forecast a bit more reliable.
See also daily updates from Steve Angus on his 'View from Val D'Isere' thread...a mine of valuable information.
Very Happy
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Forecast already changed since yesterday. Snow next weekend and early next week. Which 3 days are you there?
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You know it makes sense.
@intermediate - Thanks, we will arrive on 30 March and leave 3 April
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
On a sunny day, the Ouiette restaurant on Solaise is good. Assuming you will get an Espace Killy pass, then lunch in Brevieres at the bottom of Tignes would make a good day out (just keep an eye on lift closing times). The Pissalas glacier (apologies for spelling) above Le Fornet is good too. Also the terrain accessable from the Lasinet chair.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Dof,
See if you can book Steve to show you around:- http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=82612&start=4320

You may find the EK piste grading a bit more severe than what you are used to in the 3Vs. snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Having recently come back from EK, I would agree with Kenzie that the grading is more severe that 3V's!
For someone less confident, do not be afraid to download in gondolas at the end of the day!
On our final day, we got the bus to Le Fornet and took the (ancient!) lifts all the way up to the top - we were there for lift opening and it was so quiet! I think that the blues and even the reds (which are barely red!) off the Cascades lift could be nice confident givers for your girlfriend- although, we were blessed with lovely conditions and good snow. I imagine its pretty bleak up there in bad conditions!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Dof wrote:
Dog watch - I am intermediate, very comfortable on all reds and skied 3 Valleys previously. My girlfriend is less confident, straightforward blues are her preference


The Bellevarde area has a good selection of greens, blues and one or two reds to work up on. Ditto the Solaise.

There are no easy pistes back to village level and that includes the blues and the "Verte". Downloading is well worth considering, especially when tired. If you choose to ignore that, the various runs to La Daille come in all colours except black but actually are much of a muchness. I'd tend to avoid the runs back to Centre Ville. Santons is OK when quiet but it usually isn't and gets increasingly steep, narrow and full of scared skiers as you descend. Personally I'd only consider the Face when the snow is nicely grippy but the Face on a good day is easier than Santons on an average one.

The resort bus is a good and frequent service during the day, make use of it to get around. (The village dogs do and they know their way around. If you happen to see this you will know what I mean.)

The Laisant chair is little-used but gives good access to the Fornet and Solaise areas, especially if you are staying up-valley of Centre Ville. The Glacier de Pissaillas is well worth the trek on a good weather day and often quite quiet. The "up and over" lift between the Solaise and Fornet areas has to be done. The Arcelle can be lovely but also can be nasty if the bottom is icy and is longer than the piste map suggests.

A favourite for me is to head down to Val Claret (crowds) and then work clockwise around Tignes to Les Brevieres. This takes in the Aigulle Percee which is spectacular. Several good restaurants in Les Brevieres.

Enjoy.
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SLB79 wrote:
On our final day, we got the bus to Le Fornet and took the (ancient!) lifts all the way up to the top - we were there for lift opening and it was so quiet! I think that the blues and even the reds (which are barely red!) off the Cascades lift could be nice confident givers for your girlfriend- although, we were blessed with lovely conditions and good snow. I imagine its pretty bleak up there in bad conditions!


Yes I've been up there in visibility of around a metre and once you've gone up there's no option except to ski down. It cleared a little a couple of hundred metres further down. Lesson learned, just because the lift is running, that doesn't mean anyone sane wants to go up there.

I've also been up there when the whole resort was clagged in except the glacier, which was in glorious sunshine.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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@Dof, some good advice already given (especially about downloading). Santons' full name is Satan's A*se Crack. You'll see what I mean if you look at it from the Solaise gondola. It's a narrowing funnel of bodies that opens out into a very flat (and long) path back into Val which inevitably involves a lot of poling or walking/skating unless you are comfortable enough to schuss out of the funnel (and the snow is good enough and it's not too busy). At the time of year that you are going I would be very much surprised if it will be open anyway; when it's too warm they shut it (especially in the afternoons) as it is prone to avalanches (and is a terrain trap). You can bypass it by taking the Epaule Du Charvet which is black, unpisted bumps... there's an escape route about halfway down on skier's left which takes you on to the last 100m or so of the Santons funnel, but you still have the long path out whichever route you take.

The only other direct Val resort run is the Face which is a black run. Downloading in the Olympique gondola is an oft-favoured return route for the less confident.

As mentioned, the bus service is very good. The new Solaise gondola works well and the queues are shorter than for the old chair.

There are several good, fun blues up on the Solaise area, especially off the Glacier chair, but beware that a very careful schuss is required past the Datcha restaurant to get back to the chair without walking (it's like a 5 or 6 way junction with people schussing in from all directions).

Avoid, at all costs, the Traversee de Laisinant, unless you like cross-country skiing. If you find yourself heading that way, carry on to the Laisinant chairlift and get the bus or the chair back up.

You might find it too warm to head to Les Brevieres as it's only 1550m. If you do find yourself over that side, avoid the Marais chairlift unless you really need a long rest and are not in a hurry to get back.

Generally I think the Val glacier (top of Le Fornet) gets less busy than the Grande Motte; that was certainly the case last week. The Vallon bubble takes ages and is prone to wind closures but can easily be bypassed (see below).

If you're anything like me then you try to avoid gondolas and funiculars when the weather is very warm; luckily there are (almost) always alternatives in the open air. From La Daille you can get the Etroits chairlift instead of the Daille gondola, and instead of the Funival you can take Etroits plus Mont Blanc or Tommeuses followed by Marmottes (all chairs); from Val you can get the Bellevarde Express then Loyes Express to avoid using the Olympique and instead of going up the Le Fornet cable car and Vallon bubble you can get the bus to Le Laisinant, up the chair, down to the Pyramides chair then the Col double draglift up to the glacier. In Tignes, the Funicular can by bypassed using the Lanches chair followed by the Vanoise chair. You can't bypass the Grande Motte cable car wink

HTH.
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I am not sure if you would want the full EK pass for three days skiing. Plenty to do in Val esp. when you consider the Le Fornet area.
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I would agree with TQA - if you are staying in VDI for only 3 days, I would suggest just the Val lift pass. I was there last week - the snow in VDI seems to be holding up much better than in Tignes. Especially the higher areas of Solaise and the Pissailles. Normally I ski around Tignes just as much as VDI but not this time.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I think it would be a pity to miss out on all the Tignes area has to offer, if the weather is favourable. Excellent selection of wide blues for the more cautious girlfriend. Wide range of reds and blacks for the more confident OP.
Worth it if only for the Grand Motte to Val Claret run, ending with the Double M. But so much more than that.
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@TQA, @Vasta, completely disagree. The price difference is minimal, the ski area difference is enormous. One wrong turn and you're facing a long and awkward bus back. Meet some people to ski with and they want to go go to Tignes? See you later. It's jus another thing to worry about, unnecessarily given the price difference will be around a pint of lager.
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@Dof, based on latest weather forecast, you could be in for a treat from 30 Mar! A metre of fresh snow predicted during the next week, with temperatures well below freezing throughout. Temperatures no higher than 4c, even at resort level. Best pistes to suit your different abilities very dependent on conditions. Very Happy
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Thanks all

Some great advice and it will definitely enhance the trip. I'm hoping to ski some of the Tignes slopes so will get the full EK pass (would like to cram in as much as possible but quality is more important than quantity)

Final question - any tips for mid-range evening meals? Have been looking at La Baraque and Grande Ourse for one of the nights
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We ate out a few times in Jan, none of them were bad and I'd eat at all of them again.
Chez Paulo and Chez Nano for pizza. Both v good. Saw no evidence of the negative reviews for Chez Nano and will be going again in April
Taverne D'Alsace in the Kandahar. Good steak.
Peau Du Vache, an experience, v good burger and cow pat. Lunchtime only and need to book.
Morris, for a traditional dirty burger.

Sure there are many more.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I'm in Val at the moment and am coming back next weekend, because of the forecast.

Expect an epic weekend!
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