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Val d’Isère, France

On- and off-piste playground with reliable snow.

Val d’Isère is one of the world’s best resorts for experts – attracted by the extent of lift-served off-slope – and for confident, mileage-hungry intermediates. But you don’t have to be particularly adventurous to enjoy the resort, and the village ambience has improved greatly in recent years.

The list of drawbacks below looks long, but they are mainly petty complaints, whereas the plus-points are mainly things that weigh heavily in the balance, for us and for those who send us reports. The last of them – the clear recent improvements in slope grooming and lift staff attitudes – is as welcome as it is surprising. If the lift company would make a serious attempt to classify its runs sensibly, Val would make more friends than it does at present among nervous intermediates who panic on bump fields.

What’s Great

  • Huge area linked with Tignes, with runs for all standards
  • Some of the best lift-served off-slope runs in the world
  • High altitude means snow is more or less guaranteed
  • Wide choice of schools, especially for off-slope lessons and guiding
  • Wide range of package holidays and accommodation
  • For a high resort, the town is attractive, very lively at night, and offers a good range of restaurants
  • Slope grooming and staff attitudes have improved noticeably

What’s Not-So-Great

  • Slope grading understates the difficulty of many runs, though bumps on greens now uncommon
  • You’re quite likely to need the bus at the start or end of the day
  • Most lifts and slopes are liable to close when the weather is bad
  • Runs to valley level often tricky
  • High season crowds on some runs
  • Still some lifts in need of upgrading
  • Main off-trail slopes get tracked out very quickly
  • Not the most distinctively French of French resorts
  • Disappointing mountain restaurants
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Val d'Isere

Mountain stats
Acres of ski 2,471
Pistes 124
Snowmaking 15%
Halfpipes 1
Terrain Parks 1
X-Country 27.3ml
Slope Stats
Top Lifts 11,646ft
Vertical Drop 5,577ft
Bottom Lift 6,070ft
Slope Difficulty
Beginner 60%
Intermediate 30%
Advanced 10%