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Resort Report : Val d'Isere (8-15th Jan, 2005)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Val D'Isere

Country: France

Domain: Espace Killy

Author: nbt

Dates: 8th-15th January 2005

Website : http://www.valdisere.com/ is the official site

Basics : 2 to 3 hours southbound transfer from Geneva, in the Haute Tarentaise region of the Fench Alps. Shorter transfer from Chambery, assuming it's open - it was fogbound on arrival day and as a result we diverted to Lyon where we spent two and a half hours on the tarmac before flying back, ruining our plans for an afternoon on the slopes - apparently fog at Chambery is quite a common occurrence, so be warned!


Lift system : Lots and lots and lots. Val d'Isere is linked to Tignes to form the Espace Killy and there are more lift than you can shake a stick at. There are a few drag lifts arond - some pomas, some T-bars - and a few older chairlifts, but little by little the older lifts appear to be being replaced by bigger, newer, faster lifts. We didn't really queue at all, but then the place wasn't crowded. I was annoyed that the only time we did queue (on the new 8-seater Tommeuses lift over to Tignes) we did see a few chairs which weren't full, including one with a single rider - once I can deal with, but in a busy week I'd have been much less happy.


The terrain : Again, lots and lots and lots. I really wouldn't rate this as a resort for beginners or timid intermediates, the grading seems rather high in comparison to other resorts (mainly in other countries) and many of the main routes down the mountain were very icy and *very* busy at the end of the day. For once, the grading seems fairly accurate, with red runs being fairly challenging and the few black runs we tried even more so - although that was in a large part due to snow conditions.


The snow : Very little of it when we arrived, it hadn't snowed for almodst a fortnight, but the pisteurs were doing an excellent job of managing the pistes that were open to keep them in good condition. Usually known for good snow, the high altitude of the lowest lifts means it's a fairly safe bet.


Off-piste : When the snow is there, Val D'Isere is an off-piste paradise, with well-known routes from almost any lift you care to mention. They've also taken the step of re-classifying some of the "in-bounds" routes so that while signed, patrolled and avalanche cleared, they are never pisted, so as to provide a more exciting experience while still providing a modicum of safety


The resort : most runs lead down to one of the main areas of the village. Le Fornet is at the head of the valley, and the road stops here (in summer it continues over the Col de l'Iseran, and over to Val Cenis). From Le Fornet, you can get cable cars up to the Fornet ski area. At the foot of the Valley is La Daille, with a funicular up to Bellvarde, and various other lifts and cable cars heading up the mountain. In the middle of the valley is the main village, offering access to both Bellevarde and Solaise (from where on can reach the Fornet area). If you like shopping, stay in Val village - if you like quick access, don't stay in Le Fornet! There are regular free buses running fromthe village centre to each of the outlying areas, although the buses up to Le manchet and Le legettaz stop rnning at 8pm (and didn't run on theone morning we needed to get them!)

We were pleasantly surprised. It would seem that the French are finally beginning to understand that they are losing custom to North America due to the excellent customer service, and as a result are beginning to make an effort. Finally, I've found a truly French resort that's made it onto the list of "places to return" (the only other "french" resorts on the lift are Serre Chevalier and Montgenevre, both very close to Italy).

There's plenty of shopping, and we'd recommend the excellent Précision shops for both renting and demo-ing ski equipment.



The food :

Daytime : We're of the "cheap and cheerful" mentality, eat quickly and get back out. Nowhere stood out as really good in particular, other than the place above Chaudannes over in Tignes. The Folie Douce atthe top of the cable car from La Daille was not too hot, with cold chips and lukewarm soup, even though we ate indoors!

Best toilets on the mountain (and the only one where you didn't have to pay!) are in the "La Taniere" restauarant, halfway down the "Face" black run from Bellvarde to Val village, or alternatively at the top of the Bellvarde chairlift. This is another of the things that really annoy me about french resorts. I've just spent the better part of 20 quid for lukewarm soup and cold chips, why the hell should I have to pay for a pee?

Evening : We only ate out once, but I can whole-heartedly and without reservation recommend a visit to the Perdrix Blanche. The food was simply the best I've found in a ski resort, very tasty and reasonable prices.


Accommodation : bags and bags. Our "chalet" was actually composed of two apartment in the "Jardin Alpin" complex, located in the "La Legettaz" area, between piste "M" coming down from Solaise and "Santons" coming down from Bellvarde. It was basic, but then we didn't pay a great deal. Two bathrooms but only one toilet per chalet seems a bit odd, to me!


Costs : Not a cheap place to go out for apres - 3? a pint was the cheapest we found (Dick's Tea Bar in happy hour - the place was dead!) and prices were more often around the 5? mark, rising above 7? later in the evening. Also not a cheap place to go skiing, at 187? for a six day lift pass.

Tour operator : Ski Val. I didn't book the trip, but they seemed nice and efficient when I rang to check some things. The "chalet girls" (Dave and Ben Shock)) were top chaps, keen to help and very pleasant. Food started "ok" and got better as the week went on.

Pics of the trip available here: http://nbt.valdiseretrip.fotopic.net/

edited to correct my geographical error

Val D'Isere Resort Report Feedback Thread


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Fri 4-02-05 13:11; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
A nice report, nbt, its gone on my little list snowHead
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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?
Great report nbt Very Happy
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
I love the photo album!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yep, good report. I've been twice before, but it's a few years ago now, and your report brings back memories snowHead

Didn't U get over to Tignes at all?
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You'll need to Register first of course.
we did tignes, yes - one day we went up to the grande motte, then down to val claret and back, one day we did the circuit of tignes - Chaudannes goes up from tignes le lac towards the runs coming down from aiguile percee. it wasn't worth going towards les boisses or les brevieres as the snow was poor.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
nbt, Nice pictures. You either have some good skiers in your party or you get better action shots than I do!
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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!
the latter, I can assure you ! wink
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Just bumping this up as we've had more photos posted

http://philiphope.fotopic.net/c406129.html

You can see from those that it's definitely not good skiers in the party Smile
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I leant to ski in Val, and I would rate it for beginners. Excellent english speaking ESF instructor, tons of runs, opportunity to get off the nursery slopes quickly and onto proper terrain.
The resort started my passion for skiing, ever since that trip I've been 3 x a year, including going back to Val virtually every year since.
Would also agree re Perdrix Blanche, it is the best restaurant in the village although a friend has just told me about a new excellent one that's opened further down the hill, I will find out the name and post it. Also, the restaurant in the Brussels hotel (literally the closest hotel to the lifts, great rum au chocolat on deckchairs) is great, and you don't have to stay there to eat there.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.


more pics!

http://nbt.valdiseretrip.fotopic.net/c410783.html
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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.
Likewise, I think Val D'Isere is an excellent begineers resort, as long as you accept that you wont ski back at night, but take the gondolas down..
The greens at the top of Solaise and on the other side are massive, easy, and give you a real sense of being in the mountains.. Smile

I had my first trip there 5 years ago and have been back every year since, as well as 2 trips per year to other resorts.. Its still my favourite and the one I most look forward to Smile
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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
Toby, you and I are of like minds. Even now, I still enjoy a spin down Madeleine first thing to warm up, reminds me of my first lessons. Smile
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