Val d’Isère skiing is split into 3 main areas and between them they hold runs that will challenge, slopes that can terrify and areas that are just such good fun you’ll come back again and again.
Here is our overview of the different areas with some of their most famous runs detailed.
Bellevarde is the most famous due to its downhill courses: the OK piste and Face piste. The OK piste is used for the World Cup Championships every December and the Face piste was used for the 1992 Winter Olympics & 2009 World Championships. You can reach Bellevarde via the powerful Olympique Gondola from near the centre of town, but also by underground funicular from La Daille.
The “Face” is one of the best known Black runs on Bellevarde and depending on how you like your Blacks, this could be the slope for you. If you like an easier black try out Face before midday when it is beautifully pisted. By lunchtime it has started to form some serious moguls and it just gets more and more difficult as the day progresses.
If you really enjoy a challenge come back down Face around closing time when it is full of moguls, icy and crowded with skiers who feel they cannot, for whatever reason, use the lifts!
Solaise is the other mountain which is easily accessible from the town centre. The Solaise fast quad chair takes you just past the parallel cable car. Once up there, a short drag or rope tow will carry you over a plateau and down to the variety of chairs that serve this area.
If you are in Val d’Isere to do a bit of leisure skiing, perfect your morning lesson techniques or are skiing in a large group of mixed ability skier / children, then the Solaise basin is definitely the place to come.
As an area of “Quiet Skiing”, you can have some serious fun on these sunny, wide open slopes. The greens and blues up here are steep enough to challenge yet wide and flat enough to offer a safety net if you get into trouble.
And, the beauty of this area is that you can stay up here until late afternoon and then catch the Olympic Gondola down from the top of the Bellevarde to the centre of Val d’isere (if you don’t fancy tackling Face).
The third main area running up the Col de l’Iseran can be reached by the fast chair from Le Laisinant or by cable car from Le Fornet. This area is distinguished by having the Glacier de Pissaillas at its peak which can stay open for summer skiing..
Once at the Glacier you have reached an altitude of almost 3500 metres.
The “Fornet” is a popular run late in the day and from the Rocher de Bellevarde you can go down into La Daille or do the Santons/Epaulle du Charvet to ski back down into the village.
Epaulle du Charvet
This is a black run and for some reason never pisted as far as we can tell. It is also incredibly steep and probably the most challenging Black in Val. Even after a good dump of snow Epaulle du Charvet will have moguls under and sometimes on its surface. By the end of the day, well, we leave it up to you. Tired legs and thirsty throats may not have the patience but it is great fun.
Santons is a Blue run in this same area. Opinion can be split over Santons as it’s a very narrow valley that follows on from under the path of Epaule de Charvet and will close if there is any avalanche warnings in the area.
On the one hand it is thought of as a horrible run in all but the best sunlight and soft snow conditions as it gets very crowded and combined with ice and shade, is not always so enjoyable.
However to others, Santons is a marvellous run where you can do GS turns and some DH tuck practice from just above the last turn. Make sure you look out for the net that they sometimes put out to spoil the fun of making it to Club med without skating!
For guests staying in our chalets, Santons is a great way to ski to the chalets, just keep your speed up for the long straight run home or you will find yourself indulging in a little cross country skiing.
We couldn’t leave out La Daille. Ski here using Diebold and Vert or take the Olympic Gondola down. You will often find that you will end up at the bottom of La Daille at the end of the day as it is a great place to catch one of the free buses back to the centre of Val d’Isere.
The bus queue can get a bit long at about 1700 hours when the Folie Douce Bar (on the slope above La Daille) closes and empties out its young, partying collective. Just have a vin chaud in the Rose Blanche Bar (Wooden chalet building) by the La Daille bus stop and wait for the bus queue to dissipate or if staying in one of our chalets, call and a driver will be there to pick you up just as your glass empties.
We have only covered a few of our favourite runs here, but if you are planning to come to Val, let us know which area and run you enjoyed most.
Here is a piste map of Val d’Isere to help identify the runs discussed above.