About Val Thorens & its Surroundings
Val Thorens is a compact, purpose built resort and, at 2300m, the highest ski resort in Europe. Situated at the top of the Three Valleys its high altitude makes it snow sure and easy access to the rest of the region means that you have a huge terrain on your doorstep! The Three Valleys consists of Méribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens, as well as lots of little villages and hamlets.
Despite being purpose built, Val Thorens is not the 1960’s concrete eyesore that you might expect. It has developed sympathetically to its surroundings and has benefitted from plenty of investment during the last 10 years. Those few drab monoliths that were thrown up during the 60’s are being replaced by more attractive buildings and with 40 million euros earmarked for the resort before 2010 there is going to be plenty of improvement taking place in the near future; some of which will go towards state of the art lifts and snow making machinery.
The complete ski area of the Three Valleys is the largest in the world and is well linked by lifts and runs, allowing you to explore to your heart’s content. The ski area in Val Thorens alone is extensive and varied; from the gentle nursery slopes of St Martin to the more challenging runs of Cime de Caron, there is something to suit everyone. The region is surrounded by no less than 6 glaciers, which provide summer skiing from the beginning of July to the end of August. To read more about the skiing and boarding in Val Thorens and the rest of the Three Valleys please see our Insider’s Guide for suggested itineraries, our favourite runs and a few ideas of where to go for lunch on the mountain! You can keep an eye on the weather and snow conditions with our regularly updated Snow Report.
The highest après ski in Europe is also one of the liveliest! Live bands, DJs and karaoke nights are all popular and there are plenty of places to grab a beer and something to refuel the system after a day on the slopes. Val Thorens has a plethora of French, Irish, English and Dutch bars to choose from, Le Saloon and the Frog and Roastbeef being two of the most lively venues. If partying in Les Menuires you should head to the Croisette for bars and nightlife, whereas St Martin has the Dahlia and the Pourquoi-Pas to name but two.
For a more dignified approach to eating out Val Thorens has a number of wonderful restaurants including L’Oxalys, the Fitzroy Hotel and the Bergerie.
Val Thorens is quite biased towards the ski and snowboard clientele, so if mountain sports aren’t your thing you should definitely schedule in a trip to nearby St Martin de Belleville. This charming village has developed much more attractively than the main resort and there are some beautiful buildings, including 17th century Baroque churches. Free concerts are often held in Notre Dame de la Vie.
Having said that, there are other options available in Val Thorens if the weather is bad or you fancy having a day off. There is a large sports centre, complete with fitness suite, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and children’s fun park. There are plenty of non-ski activities such as snow shoe walking, mountain biking, ice skating and so on. One of Val Thorens most popular attractions is the Ice Circuit, where each year the famous Andros Trophy takes place. Other ‘must-do’ experiences include hurtling down the 6km toboggan run and enjoying an atmospheric night-time sledge ride followed by vin chaud and cheese.
Val Thorens is also building a reputation as a popular summer destination: with the endless choice of walking trails and the option of taking your mountain bike up on the lifts it is certainly worth checking out what the area has to offer once the snow has melted. The Alps in summer are breathtakingly beautiful and the little villages and mountain pastures of Val Thorens are perfect for rambling round on a sunny day. For those who can't resist the allure of the cold stuff the Péclet glacier remains open for summer skiing and ice hiking. Our summer guide to Val Thorens should give you some ideas of what to expect.