Where to stay
Major companies offering hotels, apartments and chalets include Crystal (www.crystalski.co.uk),
Le Ski (www.leski.com),
Scott Dunn (020 8682 5050; www.scottdunn.com),
and VIP (0844 557 3119; www.vip-chalets.com).
There are discounts in December and January. The latest snow report is
published at www.telegraph.co.uk/valsnow.
Val d’Isère hotels
Here are two suggestions for ideal skiing itineraries in Val d’Isère – whether
you are an expert, or intermediate skiier.
Ride the Olympique gondola to Bellevarde, head down Fontaine Froide and take
the lift up to Grand Pré. This area is a wonderful blue winter playground.
The parallel Borsat Express lift gives access to gentle cruising. Then cut
left for a soft descent to the Tommeuses chair (last on the left), the major
gateway to Tignes.
From the 2,704 m summit of Tovière, take piste H down to the funicular station
at Val Claret. The train is the fastest route up to the Grande Motte
glacier, but if the weather is reasonable, I far prefer to take the
two-stage Les Lanches chair beside it. Nothing on the glacier is too steep
and the views are spectacular. Take the main Double M route back down or,
for a gentle alternative, the blue Genepi. Back at Val Claret, cross over to
the Tichot lift and explore the easy skiing beneath the Col du Palet and
L’Aiguille Percée, working to skier’s left and finally descending to Tignes
L’Arbina is a three-star hotel a few paces from the Aeroski gondola. The
brasserie is good, but the gourmet restaurant on the first floor is superb –
with a modestly priced skier menu.
Descend to the low-lying hamlet of Tignes Les Brevières. Make your way back
through the system to Le Lac and take the Aeroski gondola up to Tovière.
Bear right on Edelweiss and from the snow park a gentle cruise brings you to
La Folie Douce, where there’s a DJ or live music most afternoons. At the end
of the day, you can either ski off the front and join the bottom of the OK
downhill course, or take Verte down to La Daille. If you’ve had enough
skiing, ride down on the gondola before taking the train rouge bus back into
I recommend Sur La Montagne (0033 479 40 06 12) for Savoie specialities, and
Le 1789 (0033 479 06 17 89) for meat grilled on an open fire.
Val d’Isère: piste guide
I like to start my day with a ride up the Olympique jumbo gondola to the top
of Bellevarde. This is the starting point for two FIS men’s downhill
courses. The more recreational of these is the OK, named after local
sporting heroes Henri Oreiller and Jean-Claude Killy. It’s an exhilarating
run. Catch it early in the day when it’s just been groomed and there’s no
better warm-up run. Cut right near the bottom across a meadow and you arrive
at the Funival funicular station at La Daille.
The train brings you back up to the top of Bellevarde. You can now tackle La
Face, the Olympic downhill, which brings you back down into Val. It’s not
for the faint-hearted, especially when icy. The alternative is Santons, a
natural half-pipe which arrives at the same place. Take the Solaise Express
and Madeleine chairs to the top of Arcelle, a run that brings you down into
the beautiful Manchet Valley. Ride the chair back up and filter right
through interlinking pistes until you hit what is a mountain road in summer
at the bottom of the Datcha chair. L, if it open, is a wonderful undulating
pistel; Germain Mattis is much more demanding. Both bring you to the
Le Signal (0033 479 06 03 38), at the top of the Fornet cable car, has a
reasonable self-service, but I recommend the waiter-service restaurant run
by the incomparable Brigitte: good local French cooking in pleasant
surroundings. Be sure to book.
Take the gondola and subsequent chairs to the top of the Glacier Pissaillas.
Cruise down to the Leissières up-and-over lift and return to Solaises. Piste
A, which brings you home at the end of the day, promises to remove any
remaining energy in your legs.
Head for Bananas at the foot of the pistes for a drink. Après-ski is muted in
Val when the lifts close, but Dick’s Tea Bar, the most famous disco in the
Alps, plans to open after skiing this winter – as it did in the 1980s. Head
for La Grande Ourse (0033 479 06 00 19) for some of the best cuisine in the
Val d’Isère: restaurants and entertainment