Val Thorens ski resort
About Val Thorens
Perfectly poised at the highest tip of the Trois Vallées ski area, the largest ski area in the world, Val Thorens’ snowsure slopes draw guests from across the globe year after year.
Surrounded by six mountain peaks above 3,000m (9,840ft), including the ski-able Pointe du Bouchet (3220m/10,560ft) and Cime de Caron (3200m/10,500ft), Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe and almost guarantees white powder through the majority of its long six-month season.
However Val Thorens high altitude wasn’t always considered a blessing, initially the remote location drew only serious skiers willing to make the, then difficult, pilgrimage.
Subsequently, as both the resort and the threat of dry slopes has grown, Val Thoren pulls in regular skiers and newbies alike each season. Run-down bars and cheap hostels now reside in the shadow of luxury hotels and Michelin starred restaurants, offering après-ski variety that rivals the most famous resorts in the world.
Downsides do remain, namely the aged look of the original, concrete based, structures and occasional poor visibility, but these are minor issues that fail to detract from the resort’s obvious attractions of snowsure slopes and its location within one of the world’s biggest ski areas.
Val Thorens is in the French Savoie region and forms part of the massive Trois Vallées ski area, the largest ski area in the world. Its dominant summit is the 3,562m (11,686ft) Aiguille de Péclet.
On the slopes
The ski season runs from late November to mid- May in Val Thorens, which is one of the world’s most snowsure destinations due to 90% of its terrain being above 2,000m (6,562ft).
The Trois Vallées (Three Valleys) is the world’s biggest winter sports area, with pistes suitable for every type of skier. These range from easy runs and leisurely cruisers to challenging and extensive off-piste skiing available with guides.
Beginner skiers and boarders use the gentle nursery area along the foot of the slopes near the village before progressing onto easy blue runs slightly higher up. For complete beginners, there are four separate ski schools to choose from, with classes for all ages. For intermediates needing to build confidence, there are miles of wide and relatively undemanding pistes connected by a lift network that dwarfs all others.
Advanced skiers will be tested by the Combe de Caron, a long and difficult black run from the top of the Cime de Caron cable car, which is also the starting point of the off-piste Lac du Lou run.
Skiers have the choice of three lift passes: Val Thorens-Orelle (150km/93 miles of pistes), Belleville Valley (300km/186 miles) or Trois Vallées (600km/373 miles). But take care not to miss the last connecting lifts, as taxi rides from linked resorts can be very expensive.