Val Thorens is high up, REALLY high up. As Europe's highest rest in Europe and situated in the Trois Vallées (3 Valleys) region of the French Alps, this mountain has the distinction of getting quality powder and consistent snow cover all through November to May.
At 2,300 meters high in elevation, the panoramic views from the resort are spectacular with its multiple horseshoe shaped peaks. While impressively high up, one of the challenges that the mountain faces is that it can get very cold. This is because the tree line is below the resort which leaves the whole area exposed to Arctic cold climates. On the flip side, this means that you can actually ski and snowboard all the way until August.
Take a moment to take it all in when you step out of your hotel and the expansive terrain smacks you in the face. It's hard to describe but the number of runs laid out in front of you is downright overwhelming and daunting. Take a look at the trail map for Val Thorens and then you chuckle when you see that what's in front of your eyes is only 25% of the whole mountain. This is when you say to yourself, “this is going EPPPIC!”
To explore the entire mountain would take months but for most intermediates like myself, Val Thorens offers the best of powder, length, and challenge. Areas like Les Menuires and St-Martin-de-Belleville should not be missed for its long, cruising, and demanding runs.
For the pros, there's a whole other world of ridiculous off trail runs that vein down from the Cime de Caron which reaches 3,200 meters. A cable car services this area and has one red (this exists?!) and 3 black runs.
Snowboarders will also rejoice here with Val Thorens' 4 separate courses that make up its world renowned snowpark. There's even a World Cup boardercross and skicross course if you're feeling adventurous.
The great part about Val Thorens is that there are a ton of options for cheap ski holidays for everyone. If you're feeling a little red carpet, Altapura and Koh-i Nor will no doubt be to your liking. Koh-i Nor is the highest rated 5-star hotel in the French Alps so that is saying quite a lot considering how posh other resorts are.
If you're a 19-28 year old and strapped for cash, there are options for you. UCPA is a state-funded center that provides incredible packages like £534 for a full week's board, equipment rental, lift tickets, and lessons. You'd also be surprised to hear that this holiday center is still more hotel than hostel.
There are a plentiful number of restaurants found scattered throughout the entire resort. Everything from high end to mid range and budget are available to cater any tastes. For something cheap, check out El Gringo's to get the job done or for something classier, there's Jean Sulpice.
Simply put, there isn't much to do in the village beyond eat, sleep and drink. This isn't going to be like Zermatt in Switzerland where locals call it home. It's a man-made purpose-built resort and as such, you'll encounter a ton of tourists here.
For a fun time, bars like Underground, the Frog, and the Malaysia will get the job done and you'll probably meet a ton of Dutch après skiers.
It's time to start thinking about what you want to do this winter. If you've never been to this side of the alps, and you're wanting fun, relaxation and a challenge, think about Val Thorens for your next winter vacation.
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