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I have just come back from a week in Val Thorens at the begininning of April. We chose the resort in search of late season snow, being the highest resort in Europe. We stayed in self catering apartments and had a fantastic week.
We spent the extra money for a 3 valleys lift pass which gave us access to Val Thorens, Meribel and Courcheval. However the snow in the other two resorts was poor so we stuck mainly to Val Thorens. The skiing area is vast, it is ideally suited for intermediate skiers who want plenty of blues and red runs to challenge themselves. Challenging black runs are slightly limited, but I myself am an experienced skier and had a great time. The snow became slushy come the afternoons but this was to be expected so late in the season and with the temperature at over 25 degrees even in the mountains.
The actual resort is typical French - the arcitecture leaves something to be desired but the general atmosphere is great. The one major downside is that the place is pricey. I was resentful at paying 6 euros for a bottle of coke, and over 45 euros for a small lunch for 2 on the piste! However I would still recommend this resort to anyone - although catered maybe the way to go to save cash.
I have just got back from Val Thorens and I think the skiing conditions for January were very good. I went with the university and there were other universities in the resort as well so this is not somewhere I would recommend actually staying as a family because there are a lot of bars and clubs and as a result noise at all hours. Also, when I went the restaurants were pumping out very loud music - probably because of all the university students there.
However, this aside, Val Thorens is a very good ski resort with good conditions and well posted runs. The visibility was usually better than in neighbouring Meribel although at times it could be quite poor. Beware the conditions can change quickly. The slopes were generally well marked out and marked according to ability which I think they got perfect. By this I mean the green runs (easiest) were indeed easy. In some resorts they can be quite steep. All the runs were well graded in terms of difficulty which makes Val Thorens very skier/boarder friendly. Probably the most impressive aspect to with Val Thorens though is the fact that it is part of the Three Valleys (French Alps), which means it links to other great resorts like Chourcheval and Meribel. A pass can be bought from fifteen euros a day to ski between the three valleys and it is slightly less if you buy a weekly Three Valleys pass. These other resorts, although more expensive, are where I would recommend staying if you are a family, or if you just want a good sleep. The high altitude of Val Thorens (2300m) means that it is a safe bet for getting snow throughout the whole season which is reassuring.
Val Thorens also features a terrain park and a decent amount of off piste. The other resorts have these features to though. The lifts are comfortable (very important I know).
Sadly I will end on a slightly unfortunate note. As Val Thorens is so high up there are no trees or anything in the resort which makes it look very bare. However, the other resorts are lower down and do have trees. This does make them prettier places to be.
I visited Val Thorens two years ago on my first ever ski holiday. The resort is located in the Three Valleys in the French Alps, not far from the Swiss border. I have been told it's a couple of hours from the nearest ariport, however, we drove from the UK, so I can only go on what I've been told.
My first impression of the resort was how pretty is was. It is nestled in the middle of the mountains, with the ski slopes right in the resort, no need to get cable cars up mountains or anything, you can walk straight out your hotel and onto the slopes.
The slopes in the resort were for a mixture of ski abilities. There is one main slope that you need to ski down into the valley in order to access all of the other lifts and slopes. This is fairly steep, and was quite intimidating for me as a complete beginner. However, around the rest of the resort there were plenty of slopes rated green and blue, which are best for beginners. The slopes are ranked in order for difficulty. Green is the easiest, then blue, then red, and black is the most difficult.
There is a nice route around the slopes in Val Thorens which uses only blue and green slopes, so it is a nice place for a beginner to gain some confidence. There are also red and black slopes for those who want to challenge themselves, and following these slopes can take you into neighbouring resorts such as Meribel.
In the resort itself, away from the slopes, there are mainly hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops and bars. The resort is fairly small, you could walk around it all in about half an hour, but it is filled with choices of places to eat and drink. These are a little expensive, given that you are up a mountain and have little choice but to eat in the resort, but this is true of most ski resorts. There are also a few small supermarkets for those who have self catering facilities.
There are also quite a few bars and nightclubs. I went to Val Thorens on a university trip with a couple of hundred students, so these were busy every night we were there! I wouldn't know how busy they are the rest of the time. Some of these were really good, such as Malaysia, which is all underground and had live music most nights. Like the restaurants, they were a little expensive.
There are also a few small shopping centres in the resort. These sell mostly ski related clothing and products, which is very useful if you forget anything!
There is a doctors surgery in the resort, which we were unfortunate enough to need to visit. However, everyone there is very pleasant, and the doctors spoke perfect English, so if you are unlucky enough to need a doctor on holiday, you will have no problem in Val Thorens.
This is a great resort for a ski holiday, it's small and friendly, but has plenty to keep you entertained. There is a good variety of slopes for every ability. I felt able to try lots of slopes and explore the resort as a beginner, but the people I went with who were more experienced skiiers also enjoyed challenging themselves on harder slopes.
Whether you're an experiences skiier or want to try it for the first time, I would highly recommend a holiday in Val Thorens
In the past winter, january 2009 me and my 6 friends flew from Edinburgh to Geneva and then took a 3 hour bus journey to the highest skiing resort in Europe, Val Thorens.
We stayed in the Temps D'Soleil, which was Self Catering and situated in the lower part of Val Thorens.
We were unsure about how the £ to euro conversion was going to hurt our pockets and we soon worked out if we did it expensive it would hurt alot. However we decided to try and do it on the cheap and it worked fine.
We shopped most days in "8 a huit" a small shop in our hotel where we could pick up fresh baguettes and pasteries for taking on the hill to eat for our lunch. This meant our lunch was costing around 4Euro instead of 10 Euro and up.
These shops and bakeries can be found easily around VT.
The village was very friendly and clean and had everything it needed including a superb nightclub for Apre-Ski, called Malaysia, has to be experienced at least once if you go.
Drinks are 5Euros up which is expensive, but with a bit of pre-drinking you are fine.
Going out to eat gives you many options including many traditonal French places, or Italian and The Tex Mex, which we tried and it was very nice, but rather pricey.8Euros for a SoCo lemonade and lime.
The highest pub in Europe is situated here as well and is called The Frog and Roast beef. Which you have to attend just to say you have been to it.
The skiing in Val Thorens was absolutely superb with routes for all ability levels, including beginners and experts. The Snow Park is amazing, and gives you the chance to hit the big air. Also with an airbag you can try tricks for 2Euros knowing you won't hurt yourself.
I do recommened you pay the little extra for the Les3vallees pass which gives you the chance to use all lifts in Val Thorens, MaryBell and Courchavel. These are all brilliant resorts and offers you huge amounts of skiing for the week or however long you intend to stay.
The best skiing resort i have ever attended and I most certainly intend to return in the very near future. Superb.
My partner and I, both decent intermediate skiers, spent a week over New Year 2006-07 at Val Thorens, and got very lucky with the snow. While much of the Alps struggled, we had lots of glorious fresh snow to play in, with some excellent piste conditions.
VT is the highest resort in Europe, so while you are likely to get the best of the snow, there are drawbacks. There aren't a lot of trees that high (you can get a pass covering the whole Three Valleys, although the snow lower down was mostly poor while we were there) so in bad weather it can be bleak and at times the visibility was appalling. It's also very cold. But on a clear day with new snow it's a wonderful place to ski. Many many runs to test the intermediate skier with enough to keep advanced skiers happy also. The runs into the resort can get very crowded at times, though, beware, and for complete beginners there are probably better places to go. Snowboarders looked like they were having fun, and there is a choice of snowparks (although one was inaccessible when we were there).
It's a fairly big resort, and as such there are extensive facilities for ski school, eating out, drinking and entertainment. In addition there is lots of choice over where to stay, and due to some clever use of lifts, the resort doesn't feel that huge. Several mountain restaurants on offer also, none fantastic, but all made decent stops for a timely vin chaud.
This is somewhere I would certainly ski again, and with a Three Valleys pass there is so much ground to cover that there's no excuse for getting bored with the same runs again and again.
I went to Val Thorens skiing two years ago and was extremely impressed by both the resort and the condition of the pistes, so I returned again this year to try my hand at boarding. Although the snow conditions in the alps is the worst this season for donkeys years, Val Thorens still had a good covering and it even got an extra foot when I was there. Being the highest resort in the French Alps, the snow is virtually guaranteed but they have a large number of snow cannons around to keep the lower slopes covered if mother nature fails us. Being in the Three Valleys, the number of runs is enormous with a large number of reds and blacks for the more advanced in all three of the valleys. The skiing is good over into Meribel and Courcheval, although it can get a bit slushy over in Courcheval later on in the afternoon, it being the lowest of the resorts. The off-piste skiing is extensive and good and can keep even the most adventurous skier/boarder busy. A tip for the beginner: don't buy your ski pass from the tour operator, you won't need it for the first day because you'll be on the nursery slopes, so it would be a waste of money. Also on the ski pass front, if you're one of the keen ones who buys passes in advance, be warned that there is more than one type of pass. You can get a Val Thorens pass which is only valid in the Val T valley (I'd recommend this for beginners and intermediates), or you can get a Three Valley pass which as the name suggests is valid in all three valleys, meaning you need never do the same run twice. There is plenty to ski in the Val Thorens region to keep most people busy though. The lift system in the area is world class, there a very few drag lifts (hurrah I hear you say) with most of the lifts being either chairs or gondolas, probably about equal split between the two. There's also a few monster funitel's too. The number of lifts means you never have to queue long, wi
th waiting times generally under five minutes. The resort itself is well laid out with most of the accomodation being ski in/out. There are plenty of bars and a couple of clubs, as usual drinks are expensive but what's new there. Most restaurants do the usual melted cheese and cook your own meat dishes, also known as fondues. These are over-rated in my opinion and normal food is much better. I've stayed in 'Le Silveralp' and the Pierre et Vacances 'Temples du Soleil', which are both self-catering. Both are typical accomodation of a ski resort, a bit cramped and basic, but at the end of the day all you need is a bed and a bath. Temples du Soleil probably has the edge, because you can ski in and out, but that's all that separates the two really. I'd recommend the resort to anyone, and will probably go back there myself in a few years because there are still plenty of runs I haven't done and the skiing is the best I've experienced.
Val Thorens is an exellent ski resort with just fabulous mountains for skiing on. I went there as a learner and came back a good skier. It provides a great ski school for all ages. They teach you the basics of skiing and then take you down some of the easier runs.The ski instruckters are very friendly and re never horrible to any learners. Soon they got my convidence up and i was skiing down some of the harder mountains. So if your a learner don't be worried about going because they take good care of you. I reccommend this resort purely because its got great skiing mountains.
I went to Val Thorens the week before Christmas 2000 and I had a brilliant time, despite some unfortunately poor snow conditions. The resort itself is the highest in Europe, being at 2,300m, and it claims to have 7 summits or skiable areas above 3,000m. It is a part of the 3 Valleys ski area, and if you buy the 3 Valleys lift pass you have an enormous 600km of pistes to choose from. The resort is served by an impressive array of lifts, which rarely had a queue while we were there. The quality of snow at the resort is generally good. There had been very little new snow-fall before we went, yet the snow that was there ensured we had a good time. This is due to 99% of the resort being over 2,000m, which helps keep the snow they do have in good condition. If lack of snow does become a problem, there is always the Péclet glacier to ski on. This offers skiing for about 8 months out of the year. The pistes in Val Thorens are varied allowing people of all skiing abilities to enjoy the resort. There is some good off-piste skiing for the more advanced skier, although this was tainted for us due to the lack of snow. I enjoy freestyle skiing in fun parks and half-pipe and I was dismayed with the facilities for this type of skiing. There was a half-pipe built but it was very shabby, and one side of it was very weak. There was a fun park marked on the map as being next to this half-pipe, but no matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find it. On the plus side, however, they had just had an international skier-X competition the week before we arrived and so they had a very challenging skier-X course. The problem of the poor fun park facilities was solved on our last day when we skied over to Courcheval. They had a huge and wonderful fun park laid out with an array of different jumps to suit almost anyone’s appetite. If you do want to do this, however, it takes a day to ski all the way over there, spend any decent time in the par
k, and then ski all the way back. I would recommend doing this as it is great fun and you can try out the famous 3 couloirs in Courcheval. The ski hire in Val Thorens is quite reasonable. I hired a pair of Salomon 1080s for the week (and a pair of poles) and this cost me just over £60. The skis were in very good condition and had been serviced just before I got them, so both the edges and bases were great. This is rather rare from my experience of hiring skis. The nightlife in the resort is absolutely buzzing. The highest bar in Europe is called “The Frog and Roast Beef” and it is English-owned. There is always a great atmosphere in here as it always manages to capture a huge English audience. The food is good and quite reasonably priced, and the “pint-of-ale” entertainment certainly made me laugh. The Malaysia club is also worth a try. This is a huge underground club, which must break about a million fire regulations. The music is cheesy in one room and house/dance in the other. We spent many an amusing night in here. Be warned, however, the drinks are not cheap (just like the rest of French ski resorts). As I have said before in some of my other ski resort opinions, any ski holiday will be great if you have the right attitude and some good mates, but Val Thorens is as good a place as any to have that good time.