Val d'Isere | Ski Resort Review

26 Jun 20238 min
By Arjen Hartman
an image of The Serpent and the Dragon statue in Val d'Isere, France

Val d'Isere, located in the Upper Tarentaise Valley of France, stands out as a globally recognized ski resort, famous for its vast ski terrain, demanding off-piste landscape, superb lodging options, and vibrant après ski scene. This destination is ideal for proficient intermediate and advanced-level skiers and snowboarders seeking an unforgettable experience.

Val d'Isere – Overview

Situated in the picturesque Tarentaise Valley in France's Savoie region, Val d'Isere is one of the most reputable and historic ski resorts in France and worldwide. It caters to a diverse range of skiing abilities, from expert skiers and snowboarders seeking a challenge to beginners just starting on their journey. With its extensive ski terrain, high-quality accommodations, and well-established services, Val d'Isere stands out as a world-class destination.

Val d'Isere is an integral part of the Tignes-Val d’Isere ski area, which is one of the largest linked ski domains globally and was previously known as the Espace Killy, named after local World Cup and triple Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy. The resort's location at a snow-sure altitude of 1,850m guarantees an average of six meters of snowfall every winter season, making it an ideal choice for early and late-season ski trips.

Apart from the stunning ski terrain, Val d'Isere is also renowned for its lively upmarket apres-ski scene, chic boutiques, deluxe chalets, and top-class hotels. However, a holiday in Val d'Isere can be expensive, but visitors on more limited budgets can still find value for their money. Overall, this destination is a must-visit for anyone looking for an exceptional winter-sports experience.

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Val d'Isere – Ski Map & Pistes:

Val d'Isere is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders seeking lift-accessible off-piste terrain, with its vast, high-altitude glacial zones, super-steep couloirs, and powder-filled bowls. The resort's pisted ski area is divided into three distinct sectors, each with its own unique features.

The Pissaillas Glacier/Le Fornet sector, located at the highest and easternmost perimeters of the ski area, boasts the most reliably snow-sure and quietest slopes. Skiers can cruise through the upper Iseran Valley on some excellent runs.

The Solaise sector, Val d'Isere's original local ski hill, is located in the center of the resort. It offers a range of blue and red pistes that sweep through a high snowbowl and descend to the village edge. However, skiers must navigate challenging wooded slopes above the central base area.

The Bellevarde sector, which covers an expansive snowbowl above Val d'Isere and La Daille, features the resort's two famous downhill courses: La Face black run, which challenged the world's elite ski athletes during the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics and the 2009 World Alpine Ski Championships; and the OK red piste, which is used for the Criterium de la Premiere Neige races. This sector also has Val d'Isere's spacious snowpark and interlinks with two sectors of the Tignes ski area.

2023 Skimap Val d'Isere & TignesSkimap Val d'Isere & Tignes. Click on image for large version.

Val d'Isere – Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:

Val d'Isere and Tignes are renowned for their world-class ski areas, but what many visitors may not know is that they also offer incredible off-piste, backcountry, and ski touring opportunities. With lift-accessible off-piste terrain that includes high-altitude glacial zones, super-steep couloirs, and powder-filled bowls, there's no shortage of challenges for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

For those who are looking to venture off the beaten path, there are plenty of options for backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the area. Experienced guides can take you on tours through the untracked snow in the surrounding mountains, where you'll experience the ultimate in freedom and solitude. Ski touring is also popular, with many trails and routes available to explore.

One of the most popular backcountry areas in Val d'Isere and Tignes is the Col du Palet, which offers breathtaking views and challenging terrain. The Grande Motte glacier is another popular destination for backcountry skiers and snowboarders, with its wide-open spaces and steep descents. The Tour de Tarentaise is a multi-day ski touring route that takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the region, including the Vanoise National Park.

It's important to note that off-piste skiing, backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be dangerous, especially if you're not experienced or don't have the proper equipment. Always hire a qualified guide, wear appropriate safety gear, and check the avalanche conditions before heading out. With proper precautions, however, Val d'Isere and Tignes offer some of the most thrilling and rewarding backcountry and ski touring experiences in the world.

Val d'Isere – Restaurants, Bars & The Town:

Val d'Isere is a bustling village with an array of accommodation options, restaurants, bars, shops and facilities, catering to a year-round community. During the winter season, the resort attracts a diverse international crowd, leading to a vibrant and cosmopolitan apres-ski scene. The famous Folie Douce terrace bar at the top of the gondola is a popular starting point for the party, with many other lively venues located around the central base area of Val d'Isere, such as the Saloon Bar and the Moris Pub. Live music is a common feature in many of the bars, which stay lively until late, with the nightclubs Doudoune and Dick's Tea Bar continuing the party late into the night.

Val d'Isere boasts a variety of dining options, ranging from simple snack bars to high-end Michelin-starred restaurants, with plenty of quality choices in between. Some recommended restaurants include Bar Jacques and 1789 in central Val d'Isere and Le Barillon in the satellite base station of La Daille.

There is a good range of off-slope activities to keep visitors entertained, including the Aquaspora Centre with its two swimming pools, saunas, steam room, fitness suite and climbing walls. Other attractions include an outdoor ice rink, adventure activities such as ice circuit driving, ice climbing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling. Visitors can also opt for more relaxed activities such as scenic walks, spas, and a cinema.

Val d'Isere – Ski Hire:

Val d'Isere offers a wide range of ski hire options to suit all levels and preferences, with many top-quality shops located in the village and at the base of the ski slopes. Some of the most popular and reliable ski hire companies in Val d'Isere include Skiset, Intersport, and Precision Ski.

Skiset offers a convenient online booking service, allowing you to reserve your skis, boots, and poles in advance and collect them from one of their many shops in the resort. They also offer a range of packages to suit different budgets and levels, with discounts available for online bookings.

Intersport is another reputable ski hire company in Val d'Isere, with several branches across the resort. They offer a wide range of equipment for hire, from beginner to expert level, including skis, snowboards, and helmets. Intersport also offers a free cancellation policy up to 48 hours before the rental start date.

Precision Ski is another popular option for ski hire in Val d'Isere, with several locations throughout the resort. They offer a wide range of equipment for hire, including skis, snowboards, and boots, as well as accessories such as helmets and goggles. Precision Ski also offers a convenient online booking service, with discounts available for early bookings.

Here are some of the top ski rental companies in Val d’Isere and their website URLs:


No matter which ski hire company you choose in Val d'Isere, it's important to make sure you get the right equipment for your ability level and preferences. Consider renting your equipment in advance to save time and money, and be sure to check the company's cancellation policy in case your plans change.

Val d'Isere – Ski Schools:

Val d'Isere is a world-renowned ski resort, and one of the best places in the world to learn or improve your skiing or snowboarding skills. The resort has a number of top-rated ski schools, offering lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.

One of the most popular ski schools in Val d'Isere is Oxygène Ski and Snowboard School. Oxygène has been operating in the resort for over 20 years and has built up a reputation for providing high-quality tuition in a friendly and relaxed environment. The school offers private and group lessons, as well as off-piste guiding and freeride sessions. You can find out more about Oxygène and book lessons on their website.

Another highly-rated ski school in Val d'Isere is ESF Val d'Isere. ESF is the largest ski school in France and has been operating in Val d'Isere for over 70 years. The school offers group and private lessons for adults and children, as well as off-piste and freeride sessions, race training, and more. You can find out more about ESF Val d'Isere and book lessons on their website.

For those looking for a more personalized ski or snowboard experience, New Generation Ski and Snowboard School might be the right choice. New Generation specializes in private lessons, and their experienced instructors tailor each lesson to the individual needs and goals of the student. They also offer group lessons and off-piste guiding sessions. You can find out more about New Generation and book lessons on their website.

Here are some of the top ski schools in Val d’Isere and their website URLs:


There are many other ski schools in Val d'Isere, each with their own strengths and specialties. Whichever school you choose, you can be sure that you'll receive top-quality tuition from experienced instructors in one of the world's most beautiful ski resorts.

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