A guide to Val Thorens
Val Thorens is a compact, purpose built resort at an altitude of 2300m, the highest ski resort in Europe. It offers an extended season when compared to most other resorts, opening nearly two months longer, from the last week in November until the first week in May. Situated at the top of the Three Valleys, its high altitude makes it snow sure and the modern ski lift system makes it easy to access the linked resorts of Meribel and Courchevel.
Despite being purpose built, Val Thorens is not the 1960’s concrete eyesore that you might expect. It has been 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 there are now state of the art lifts and snow making equipment. Val Thorens is well known as a lively resort, popular with everyone from student trips to families and couples. There are fewer catered chalets in Val Thorens than in neighbouring Meribel and the majority of accommodation is in hotels or self-catered apartments.
The Val Thorens valley is made of three separate villages, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Saint Martin De Belleville. With its own glacier and a peak elevation of 3,200m, one thing you’re guaranteed is amazing snow conditions throughout the season and into late spring. With several beginner areas, some more advanced skiing on the glacier and a great snowpark, this is a resort that suits all ages and abilities.
Skiing in Val Thorens
The ski slopes cover a massive area, ranging from an altitude of 3230m to 1450m. As 99% of Val Thorens’ runs are found above 2000m, great snow conditions are pretty much guaranteed. Val Thorens, Les Menuires & St Martin combined (known as the Belleville Valley) have in the region of 66 lifts, giving access to 300km of pistes. The pistes are made up of 14% green, 27% blue, 38% red and 11% black runs (see the piste maps). The snowparks in Val Thorens are so good that world events are often held here.
Val Thorens is ideal for beginners and is quite simply one of the best places to learn and improve. In Val Thorens alone there are 11 green runs and 29 blues. If you extend that to the whole of the Belleville Valley, learners have access to 20 green runs and 60 blues. The best thing about this resort is that unlike the majority of others, it has gentle pistes that connect the various different areas of the valley, completely opening up the ski domaine for those who are still building up their confidence. It means that learners get as much variety as advanced skiers and spend less time, if any, doing the same slopes over and over again.
The region is surrounded by no less than six glaciers, which provide summer skiing from the beginning of July to the end of August.
Also see: Ski Areas in Val Thorens
Things to Do in Val Thorens
Away from the slopes you can relax in the sports centre with swimming pool and spa or if you are feeling energetic there is a fitness area. You also have 15 other spas to choose from in Val Thorens. Back on the snow there are numerous activities including snowmobile outings, paragliding and if you are brave enough you can take part in ice diving. Val Thorens has many claims to fame and boasts the longest toboggan run in the world at 6km with a 700m vertical drop from an altitude of 3,00m. It also claims the highest zip wire in the world, taking in a descent from 3200m; and the highest ice racing track in Europe. Once the snow melts, in the summer months the pistes turn into walking trails with the lifts open for walking and mountain biking, and graded routes for both in July and August. You can also play squash, badminton, tennis, basketball and table tennis, and there is a varied weekly events programme for both adults and children.
Also see: Sports & Activities in Val Thorens
Events in Val Thorens
A number of events take place over the winter and summer months in Val Thorens and the Belleville valley in which it sits. From Ski cross championships to a mountain bike race that takes place across the whole of the 3 valleys, you'll find something to keep you entertained during your stay.
Also see: Main Events in Val Thorens
Where to Stay in Val Thorens
You can choose to stay in the main part of Val Thorens at the very top of the valley, or Les Menuires (about one third of the way down) or all the way at the bottom in St Martin de Belleville. All parts are connected by lifts in summer and winter, so it's easy to make your way around and into the neighbouring resorts of the 3 valleys. If you are looking for French charm, quaint hotels and luxury chalets then St Martin de Belleville may be for you. Les Menuires offers some great ski in/ski out accommodation in a high altitude, family friendly resort without breaking the bank. Val Thorens is the liveliest of the resorts and offers snow-sure skiing and a varied choice of accommodation, from a youth hostel to ski in/ski out self-catered apartments and luxury hotels.
Also see: Where to Stay in Val Thorens
Restaurants in Val Thorens
Val Thorens has a great selection of restaurants to choose from, with everything from Michelin star restaurants along with traditional local cuisine to pizza or take away. You can also opt for eating at a mountain restaurant in the evening, you just have to walk there first!
Also see: Where to Eat in Val Thorens
Nightlife in Val Thorens
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.
Also see: Nightlife in Val Thorens
Travelling to Val Thorens
The most convenient airport for the Three Valleys is Chambery, situated 109 kms (1 1/4hrs) away. From here, you have a number of different methods of transport to choose from to get you up to resort. If you can’t get a flight to Chambéry, the next best options are Grenoble (2 hours), Lyon (2 hours) or Geneva (3 hours) - all of these airports are serviced by a number of the major airlines.
Also see: How to Get to Val Thorens