Here is a collection of general resort knowledge compiled from our many years of living and working in the resort, of responding to your email enquiries, getting ourselves lost, finding ourselves, late-night bar conversations, listening to your feedback, plus translations of official resort literature. We have put this resource together to help you out when you are planning a trip to Val Thorens. Updating these Val Thorens FAQs is a never-ending task so if we have missed anything out, or you spot that we are out of date or just plain wrong, please do let us know!
FAQs for Val Thorens
Questions & Answers
How do I get to and from Val Thorens?
There are many options, from driving to flying to catching a train. To help you decide which is best for you please read our How to Get Here section.
Which are the nearest airports?
If you aren't arriving by private plane or helicopter the four main airports for the French Alps are: Geneva (Switzerland), Chambery, Lyon St-Exupery Airport, and Grenoble. You can find out more about the closest airport and the onward travel in our How to get Here section.
Where can I book flights from the UK?
The easiest way to find a flight to the Alps is to use our Flight Finder. With our search engine, you can search for flights to all the airports closest to your ski resort. You'll find a choice of airlines, and of course, the best prices.
How do I get from the airport to Val Thorens?
Good transfer services exist at all the main airports for the Alps. A whole host of private companies offer minibus transfers (shared and private), or hiring a car is probably the quickest way to get to resort. Public transport using buses and trains are also available but can take a great deal longer to get to your destination. For more information on all these services, take a look at our Transfers from the Airport section.
Can I get to Val Thorens by train from the UK?
Yes, you can..... but it is not likely to be the best or cheapest option, as in every case you will need to change at least once. Your best bet is Eurostar from London (Waterloo) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and then changing to an SNCF TGV train from the other side of Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Geneva or Annecy. Read more in...How to Get Here
How do you go about arranging a 'DIY' holiday?
This is a question that many of us ponder. A DIY holiday offers a fully flexible package to suit your needs. But a Tour Operator package is quick and easy, and often cheaper. You can read more about the pros and cons of each kind of holiday in our where to stay in Val Thorens section.
How should I pack my skis and/or snowboard?
If you like your skis and are travelling by air, it is imperative that you pack them in a ski or board bag for protection. Most airlines will still take your skis if they are not in a ski bag; just don’t be surprised at the condition they arrive in at the other end of your flight. A ski or snowboard bag can also be packed with soft items (ski trousers, jumpers etc) around your skis or board to give them added protection. Just be careful if the equipment is covered in storage wax. If driving to resort, the most convenient alternative is a roof "coffin" style box that will carry several pairs of skis/boards, boots and poles. A roof rack is also a handy alternative and can be retned from many ski shops. If using a roof rack, try to cover the bindings over to prevent them getting covered in grit and salt. Roof boxes and roof racks should be lockable and therefore fairly secure from thiefs.
Where is the nearest station?
Where is the nearest station?
Saturday or Sunday travel?
If you are coming out at the weekend which day should you travel? Traditionally Saturday-Saturday travel to France has been the main option. However, Sunday-Sunday is becoming ever more viable an alternative to the near total saturation of Saturdays. Typically Sunday travel has been the preserve of smaller, more exclusive operators but now more companies have added these products into their brochures via their committed bedstocks. Choice of day will of course be determined firstly by your commitments back home and then availability.
However, thinking that with Sundays you won't have a 'day at home to recover' should not be a reason not to seek out this alternative. The significant advantages being:
- An extra day to prepare/shop before you come out
- Ease of travel - less congestion with less chance of delays
- Ease of access to equipment and lift-passes after the rush
- Empty pistes on the final day (Saturday when everyone else is travelling)
- A much more tranquil return home meaning less time needed to recover from the journey
- Potentially lower prices as demand is lower
These factors should definitely feature in your considerations.
How long does it take to drive to Val Thorens from the UK?
From Calais the journey takes from 7 to 10 hours depending on your speed. There is motorway or dual carriageway from Calais all the way to the foot of the Alps. The better route is via Reims and not via Paris; and then on past Troyes, Dijon and passing close to Geneva. Try using ViaMichelin to plan your route. Remember that it is a legal requirement in France to carry a warning triangle and spare bulbs, and that the Motorway speed limit depends on the weather. On Autoroutes the speed limit is 130km/hr (81mph) except during rain when it reduces to 110km/hr (68mph). Speeding fines are expensive and must be paid immediately to the traffic police. The roads around Lyon, Albertville and Moûtiers are often slow moving or at a standstill during the busy French holiday weekends. For more information, please look at our Driving to Resort pages.
What else should I know about driving in France?
When driving in France, it is important that you are aware of any road laws and restrictions that may differ from home. For starters, UK licence holders must be 18 years or older in order to drive a temporarily imported car on French roads. For everything you need to know about driving in France, take a look at our page on Driving to Resort
Do I need to carry chains in the car (often a paying optional extra in car-hire)?
Yes! During snowy weather, resorts restrict access to vehicles with snow-tyres or chains, and sometimes traffic police will not allow any vehicle on to the resort access road without chains being fitted. Chains can be bought at any of the garages in the area or can be requested as part of a car hire package (if you are taking a car locally). The colour-coded 'quick-fit' variety are usually the best option and make sure you buy the right dimensions for you tyres - one size does NOT fit all. Read more about Driving in the Alps.
Where can I park in Val Thorens and how much does it cost?
As Val Thorens is a traffic-free resort there is plenty of open-air and covered parking. You are allowed to drive to your accommodation to transport luggage at the beginning and end of your stay, but in the meantime the car must stay put. Please see our Transport and Parking section for details of how to book your parking space.
Can I Picnic at Any of the Mountain Restaurants?
Picnicking is forbidden, or ‘interdit’, in most mountain restaurants. You may get away with eating your own sandwich if you buy some chips and a drink to go with it – but don’t be surprised if it is frowned upon. However, there are plenty of great places to eat al fresco in the mountains - as long as you don't mind nestling down into the snow or perching on a slab of rock! For our recommendations, please read our page on Lunch Spots on the Mountain.
Which Mountain Restaurants Should I Try?
Lunch is a well-earned meal when you’re up the mountain all day! There are a range of restaurants to try from self-service snack bars to wooden chalets with roaring fires and waiter service. Please read our Val Thorens lunch Spots guide to find out which are our favourites.
When are the French School Holidays this year?
French and British school holidays often coincide, making ski resorts extremely busy for certain weeks of the year. If there is a period when you can take a holiday and avoid the school break you should hopefully find lift queues, restaurants and other attractions much more tranquil. French school holiday dates can be found in our Families & Kids section.
What Are the Different Ski Areas in the Three Valleys Like?
The Three Valleys are split up into, surprisingly, three main ski areas: Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens. Please go to Ski Areas in Val Thorens to read more about what you will find there.
What's Val Thorens Like for Skiers/Snowboarders?
There really is something for everyone – you can find out all about ski areas, snow parks, cross-country skiing, handiski and more in our Skiing and Snowboarding in Val Thorens section. You will also find some information on avalanches and mountain safety, aswell as links to ski schools and ski rental shops.
Where can I get a copy of the Val Thorens piste maps?
Right here! Please click on Val Thorens Maps for all Val Thorensand Les Menuires maps, including piste maps. You can also pick up paper copies in resort at the Tourist Office, lift stations, hotel receptions and elsewhere.
Where Do I Go in Val Thorens For...Beginners/Bad Weather/Bumps/Off-Piste/etc?
It’s all very well having a piste map but without a bit of local knowledge you’ll never find the hidden gems that we all head straight for! If you’re looking for a quiet slope to practise your parallel turns, somewhere to escape from the bad weather, a great off-piste powder stash, or even just a nice spot for lunch be sure to check out our guide to Val Thorens Skiing.
Should I Hire or Buy My Skis/Snowboard?
For a beginner it is probably best to hire equipment; if you buy equipment straightaway you quickly outgrow it as your skiing level improves. The cost of hiring skis and boots for 6 days (adults) varies from around €90 - 110 for beginners, to around €110 - 150 for experts/top of the range equipment. Wait until you have done a few weeks’ skiing or boarding and make sure that this is a sport you will practice regularly, and then consider buying - for more advice see our pages on Buying your Skis/Snowboards & Boots. The cost of purchase will pay for itself over 4 or 5 weeks, so if you are doing a season or visit the mountains a few times a year then it is a good investment to have your own kit that you know you are comfortable with. There are a wide range of Ski Rental/Sports Shops in Val Thorens where you can hire and buy the latest kit.
Can I Cross-Country Ski in Val Thorens?
Cross-country skiing is a great alternative to regular alpine skiing if you fancy taking things a bit slower and enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings. It is still a great form of exercise though, as it is more energetic than it looks! You can find out all about the cross-country trails in Val Thorens on our Cross Country Skiing page.