Jake Morris - Ski Expert"The highest ski resort in Europe offers a vast array of options. Whether you are taking the kids down some cruisy blues or clocking up the miles on the slopes, Val Thorens has it all. Home to La Folie Douce, if it’s apres ski you’re after, you’ve come to the right place!"
At 2,300m Val Thorens is Europe’s highest ski resort, so it is often home to some of the best snow in the Alps and the season here usually continues well into May. The high altitude and being above the tree line means the pistes may not be as pretty as other areas but you can always ski lower down the valley and enjoy the tree-lined skiing towards Les Menuires and St. Martin.
Although purpose-built with much accommodation in high rise apartment buildings many of the new buildings have been built in a style that is much more sympathetic to its surroundings. The resort is virtually car-free and it is possible to walk almost anywhere within a matter of minutes. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and with bars like La Folie Douce and 360, the après-ski here is livelier than in much of the 3 Valleys, Val Thorens even boasts the biggest nightclub in the Alps (Le Malaysia).
SKI AREA OVERVIEW
The ski area is excellent for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The modern lift system can get up the mountain quickly and efficiently and the height of the resort means the snow is generally fantastic all season. The Cîme de Caron is a 150 person lift that rises over 900m and serves the furthest edge of the 3 Valleys leading to some excellent skiing. The Boismint and Pointe de Thorens areas have red runs perfect for intermediates and can be quieter than other areas. Most of the lifts from the resort are fast chairs or gondolas and several of these lead to the Col de la Chambre which takes you over to Méribel. This opens up the whole of the 3 Valleys but if you are going to head to Courchevel for the day it is best to go early and leave plenty of time to get back.
The resort is good for beginners with a large nursery slope with four moving walkways which run alongside the town. Once you have progressed from this area it is possible to move quickly on to the wide and forgiving blue runs that surround the town. For intermediate skiers Val Thorens offers a wide choice of red runs and there are a few black runs for experts and some excellent off-piste skiing available. Val Thorens is popular with snowboarders with its own terrain park and some excellent steep runs good for boarding.
- The world-famous La Folie Douce is just above Val Thorens. Known for its daily DJs and very lively après-ski this is the place to go for après with a great atmosphere, especially when the sun is shining.
- If it is fine-dining you are after or want to celebrate a special occasion (it’s not cheap), Val Thorens has its very own two Michelin-starred restaurant – Jean Sulpice formerly known as l’Oxylays.
- If rum is your drink of choice, The Rhum Box is the place to head for. Offering more than 30 different flavoured rums, this bar is one of the more sophisticated bars in the resort.
- The Orelle ski area is often known as the 4th valley and is a great place to ski if you want to get away from the masses, it tends to be quieter than the rest of the three valleys.