About Winter Activities in Val Thorens & The Belleville Valley
Whatever you choose to do on your winter holiday you are sure to find a huge range of activities across the Val Thorens area. From relaxing to full on adrenaline there is something for everyone, every ability and every age in Val Thorens. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration!
Val Thorens is a winter walker's paradise, with lifts giving access to the higher ground and a network of groomed trails in the winter, it's very easy to discover the resort on foot. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you set out as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. You do not need any particular equipment, just a pair of sturdy boots and layers of warm clothing that you can take off or put on as necessary. A pair of walking poles will come in handy for extra balance on icy patches and for checking snow depth before you go striding forth. Top tip: buy ‘grippers’ for your walking boots to prevent slipping which you can buy from most local Sport Shops.
Once the pistes are closed, the mountain empty and the sun setting you would think the only thing happening would be piste grooming.... Well not in Val Thorens!! Now you can race down the empty slopes on a mountain bike. Grab the lift up and race, bump, slide and enjoy your descent down the 6km of snowy mountain on two wheels. The activity costs around 50 euros, which may seem steep but can definitely be worth it with the beautiful view, the sun setting and the thrill of the experience. Plus it includes the rental of the bike, safety gear and a state qualified guide to take you down, teaching you as you go. At the bottom of your run you get offered a cheeky little glass of mulled wine - making the run down just that much better! Tickets and information for this experience can be purchased at the Chalet Toboggan at the Rond Point des Pistes.
Fly through the air on the longest zip wire for miles around! Possibly the best, and certainly one of the most fun, ways to get from A to B with your ski's or snowboard! If you are in the resort of Val Thorens this winter then this is one experience not to miss out on. The world's highest zip wire goes from a starting point 3230 metres up, and is only accessible by skiers and boarders. It takes 105 seconds to descend the 1.3km wire to the 3000 metres finishing point. Reaching speeds of up to 100km/h and at the highest point "fly" 250m above the snow and ice below. It costs 50 euros and can only be paid for on site.
Why not try something really different on your winter holiday? A tandem flight with a paramotor give you the chance to take off and land with your skis or snowboard on...and to enjoy a birds-eye view above the resort of Val Thorens. This motorised paraglider will allow you to enjoy an unforgettable trip. Contact Ski Cool directly for more information.
You can play badminton at one of the sports centres, either in Val Thorens or down in Les Menuires.
The bowling alley in Val Thorens has 8 lanes, all of which can be equipped with bumpers for children. The lanes come to life at night when they are lit up in neon! There is also a games room with billiard, pool and snooker tables as well as video games, table football and airhockey.
Catch the latest films and releases in Val Thorens on your winter or summer holiday. Some cinemas open their doors early on a bad weather day, otherwise you'll find most screenings in the evenings. Look out for VOST for English speaking films.
Get back to nature and explore the lovely tranquil cross-country ski trails. There are two different techniques – classic and skating. Classic is the easiest for beginners; you simply place your skis in two parallel grooves, push off and glide around the trails. Skating is more energetic and a slightly harder skill to grasp; you push your feet out to either side as though you are ice skating and use your poles simultaneously to gain momentum. You can hire the comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops and book a group or private lesson to learn the basics from most ski schools or private instructors. A number of adventure companies also offer cross-country skiing guiding, tours and lessons too. Find your way around with the cross country skiing maps.
Also see: Cross-country Skiing in Val Thorens
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Val Thorens! It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. And that’s exactly what Geocaching is…you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but nevertheless it’s quite exciting!
Gym / Fitness centres
There are facilities both in Val Thorens & Les Menuires if you want to keep fit while you're here.
Handiski / sit-ski
Enjoying the thrill of being on the pistes need not escape you if you're less mobile or have special physical needs. Resorts all over the Alps offer equipment and fully qualified guides to help you get the most out of your experience. Sit-ski, taxi ski, Vertiski, Handiski.. whichever method you're used to, or would like to try there will be at least one ski school or activity company in Val Thorens that offers this service.
Also see: Disabled Skiing in Val Thorens
Unfortunately, heli-skiing is not permitted in France, however some of the ski schools, adventure companies, local flight companies and mountain guide companies will offer a pick-up/drop-off heli skiing service for you where you will be taken over the border into Italy or Switzerland. It is expensive, but definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
Sit back and admire the mountains from even higher up. Daily panoramic helicopter flights are available (weather permitting) with a number of local flight companies. Relax and enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers and alpine forests of the Alps.
Hot air ballooning looks serene, but there are moments of excitement. Once the creaking wicker basket rises off the ground you are uncomfortably reminded that you are suspended hundreds of metres above the ground in a small twig structure! The views are stunning, and as you glide over the forests you may see deer and other animals that are normally hidden from view. The pilot controls the height but the wind determines which direction you take, so the flight can take anything from one to two hours, depending on when a suitable landing site comes into view. Remember to wear warm clothing and bring your binoculars.
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths in winter. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, you set off following the guide’s team. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt for a less physical outing where you sit in the sled and the guide does all the hard work! It's a very popular winter activity, so booking at least 48 hours in advance is a must. They run from early December to the end of April (snow-permitting).
If you want to try something different, other than hitting the slopes, then why not try Ice Climbing. Whether you are an experienced climber or a beginner you can have a go at ice climbing on Val Thorens's frozen waterfalls. If you are a beginner and have never climbed before then a mountain guide will teach how to climb the slightly scary but incredibly beautiful looking ice waterfalls. With a professional mountain guide on hand to help you learn how to ice climb you will be making your way up the icy waterfalls in no time. You can also tackle the ice waterfall as an experienced climber as there are many different falls with varying levels of difficulty.
Ice-karting / Ice-driving
Learn how to control a car and whizz & skid on the ice. Have you ever fancied whizzing around on the ice in a car? Well now you can in Val Thorens. Ice driving is a specialised activity that will test your driving skills and push you and the car to your driving limit. The cars all have specialised studded tyres and during an ice driving session you can learn how to control and have fun with a car sliding around on ice. It is an exciting adrenaline pumping activity, but with special techniques and skills demonstrated and learned you come away having greater knowledge and experience on how to control a car in snow and ice. You can take part in a group or as an individual although we recommend you head down with some friends and enjoy the icy fun together.
Paragliding / Parapenting
If you’ve never tried paragliding before then Val Thorens is a great place to learn how to fly. Known as “parapenting” in France & Switzerland, there are a great number of clubs and organisations in the area whose sole purpose is give you the experience of flying. From the heights of the mountain tops you can glide down to the bottom of the valley on a tandem paraglider controlled by the instructor. He manoeuvres the parachute while the passenger enjoys the ride and fantastic views. Top tip: go on a sunny, warm day when the thermals will keep your airborne for longer.
Many people would not automatically think of Val Thorens as a place to shop, however, the town boasts some great stores. As you would expect from an outdoor sports resort, there are plenty sports stores where you can get your hands on some of the top mountaineering, ski and snowboard brands but there are also some fashionable clothing stores, and plenty of shops selling traditional mountain goods.
Val Thorens is popular for ski touring, whether it's going up the pistes that most people normally ski down, or tackling more of a back country route. A number of ski schools, private instructors and companies can show you around, or if you've got all the necessary equipment you can head out in your own group.
This year Val Thorens have also created a marked 1.5km route for those who want to give it a go in a safe environment. After gaining 280m in elevation you can ski back down the Plein Sud blue run.
Skiing & snowboarding
The main draw for people coming to Val Thorens in winter is of course the skiing and snowboarding. With the whole of the pisted ski area as well as a wealth of off-piste areas, Val Thorens has something for every level of experience.
Also see: Ski Areas in Val Thorens
Sledging / Tobogganing
Tobogganing in Val Thorens is something you do not want to miss out on. It provides a day or evening of fun for everyone, ranging from the youngest member of your family or group to the oldest! Enjoy this adrenaline filled experience on the 6km long run which is accessible from the Funitel Peclet and starts at the bottom of the Glacier de Peclet. The run is open everyday from 10:00 to 15:00 and on every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, adding the extra thrill of that night time brings. With turns, slopes and hills the run is fun, fast and safe as it is patrolled and groomed everyday. You can grab your tickets at the Chalet Toboggan above the Cascades chairlift. Check at the chalet for this years prices.
Raquette à Neige or Snow-shoeing in and around Val Thorens is a perfect activity for bad weather conditions or for non-skiers. Don't forget to wear comfortable and waterproof boots. Either set out on your own, or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the ski area. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, or you can hire snowshoes from most Sports Shops or Ski Hire Shops, grab a trail map from the Tourist Office and head off on your own adventure. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
Snowmobile / Skidooing
Those who enjoy speed will love riding a powerful snowmobile (like a motorbike with caterpillar tracks) around Val Thorens. Discover the different dimensions of driving; carving turns, accelerating in a straight line, ascents and descents. Snowmobiles are a great way to explore Val Thorens especially as you get to ride them when the resort is at its quietest. Disappear into the woods and blast around empty snow fields on your scooter with your own guide. Remember to wrap up warmly especially if you go after dark, and bring goggles if there is powder.
Challenge your friends & family to a boarder cross race in the snowpark. With linked turns, hills and over 1.4km of the course to race down you can enjoy challenging your friends and family to a race down the boardercross. The giant air cushion is the perfect solution if you want to learn or improve your freestyle skiing or snowboard technique. If you don’t ski but still want to make some moves through the air, the AIR TUBBY is for you! Settle yourself into a rubber ring, slide down the run and land gently on the airbag.
Also see: Snowparks in Val Thorens
Spas & massages
If it is calm and relaxation you are after then head to a luxury day spa or book in for massage therapies and beauty treatments. A day spa is also the perfect activity when the weather turns. You can keep warm and revive aching muscles in saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis or take a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Unwind, relax and indulge.
Speed-riding / Speed-flying
The idea behind speed riding is to combine the sensations of skiing and paragliding into one activity, and then descend off-piste sections of the mountain using a mini-wing to enable you to access areas that you might not normally go. Learning and having fun with speed riding comes very fast as long as you are a competent skier; you need to be able to ski red pistes with confidence in any type of snow. Speak to one of the companies offering this activity who can show you the ropes (literally).
You can play squash in one of the sports centres in Les Menuires or Val Thorens.
Whether you like to take a dip indoors or outdoors, you'll be able to find somewhere to go for a swim in Val Thorens. Most hotels, lots of chalets and apartments have their own swimming facilities, however there are also municipal swimming baths that you can visit, which often come free with your lift pass purchase. In summer and winter you should be able to find somewhere to take a dip, so don't forget your towel and your swimming costume or shorts.
Telemarking is a form of downhill skiing where you are only attached into the binding at the toe, so to turn, you have to lunge and bring your heel upwards. Talk to one of the ski schools or private instructors who can teach you how to telemark and take you out on excursions using this technique.
Tours & excursions
Enjoy a traditional meal with friends in a mountain yurt. Situated at the top of the Cascades chairlift when the lifts have closed and the pistes are quiet you can enjoy an evening in a yurt. Part of the Chalet de la Marine, you can enjoy a meal with friends and family in this traditionally built yurt. A fun experience for everyone the yurt can hold up to 16 people maximum. The evening is open for pedestrians as well as skiers, access is via the cascade chairlift , via snow shoes or you can contact the restaurant for alternative modes of transport.
Location: Val Thorens Valley / Belleville Region