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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Skiing in "Les Trois Vallées", French Alps

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

The view over the French Alps

There is something special about a skiing holiday...I find this in the contrast between breathing in the ice-fresh mountain air and the coziness of a hot chocolate by the fire, or between the exhilarating descent on the slopes and the comfort of sharing a hearty meal with loved ones. Skiing is an exciting holiday, and this year, we were looking forward to being back in the snow after a four-year interlude.

With two weeks to play with and a large group of people with different interests, we needed to go somewhere that had a lot on offer. After some extensive research, we finally settled on Val Thorens, which is located in the French Alps. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, with its village standing at 2,300 metres, and is part of the "Three Valleys" area which is also considered one of the biggest skiable areas in the world. With 600km of slopes, and over 300 ski runs, the "Three Valleys" is formed of three resorts: Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel.

The terrain is varied, with 50% being blue and green runs (beginner-friendly), and the other half red and black runs (for the more experienced skiers). There are also seven snow parks and 36 fun zones, as well as many opportunities to go off-piste skiing. Not to mention the incredible views, from the peaks and off any run, the craggy mountain tops stand tall over a pillowy bed of pristine white snow. The best part is that 85% of the runs are above 1,800 metres, which means that the "Three Valleys" pretty much guarantees snow for about 5 months of the year!

The après-ski scene is as exciting, with many bars, pubs and restaurants to choose from. Whether you are craving a warm crèpe in a cosy café, a colourful cocktail in a trendy spot or a fancy three-course dinner at a Michelin star restaurant, Val Thorens provides. The cute wooden village also takes wellness and relaxation very seriously with many spas and the brand new "Le Board" centre which has a pool, a wellness/fitness area and group sports on offer. And for something different or to escape the busy slopes, there are also a multitude of fun mountain activities to choose from such as dog sledding, snowshoeing, or paragliding.

Needless to say, the "Three Valleys" is an excellent choice and we had an incredible time. We were very fortunate to stay in a beautiful ski-in ski-out accommodation called "Cocoon Chalets" which I highly recommend! Their chalets can cater for large groups of up to 14 people and are very well laid out; considering we were 10 people, everyone had their own private space and we all felt very comfortable. Our chalet had 5 bedrooms, each with its ensuite bathroom, a very well-equipped kitchen, a large lounge/dining area, a private sauna and a large terrace with a jacuzzi.

The chalet was serviced regularly (about twice per week) and was impeccable. We also had our ski lockers at ground level which meant skiing in and out of the chalet was super convenient!

Highlights of Val Thorens

1. Views from the summits

The Alps are known for their dramatic craggy peaks, and honestly, I just loved looking around and taking in these views. Some of the best spots to enjoy uninterrupted views were:

  • Cime Caron: it felt like soaring above the skies. At 3.200 metres, the views are simply breathtaking, especially on a bluebird day. I recommend getting there as soon as the gondola opens to make the most of the long red & black runs!

  • Mont-Vallon: for awesome views of the valley below, this is the spot! Looking over the tiny village, I felt a sense of freedom and exhilaration. This summit lies at 2,952 metres and offers some awesome red wall runs to ski down the mountain.

  • Saulire: Oversees the Courchevel Valley, this is yet another great spot to admire the surrounding peaks. We stopped here for a picnic lunch, as we had skied across from Val Thorens to Courchevel, and back. Many runs are coming down the mountains into either Courchevel or Méribel, with either red or blue options.

2. Hot chocolates at the Igloo

What I love most about Alps skiing is the many cosy chalets that pepper the ski slopes, inviting you for a warm mug of hot cocoa and a tasty treat. The Three Valleys was no exception, offering plenty of great options to stop mid-slope for a break.

My favourite one was the igloo, or igloos, as there are two. It's a super cute spot to stop at, as you can visit the two igloos while enjoying your drink. The igloos feature impressive snow and ice carvings: including a penguin and a huge bear. The decor is "ice age" inspired by sculptures of a mammoth and a Neanderthal, as well as paintings on the walls and a little fire pit.

It's cool to explore. One can choose to relax inside the igloo or outside on the deck chairs, taking in the sun. In the afternoons, there is also a DJ playing music, and of course, one can take advantage of happy hour, which comes at different times depending on the igloo one stops at.

3. Cosmojet

Cosmojet is a fun-filled luge experience. It starts from the summit of the Peclet Glacier, which is perched at 3,000 metres, and the track snakes down the mountain offering 45 minutes of exciting fast descent. This is the longest toboggan in France and is worth trying out.

I would highly recommend doing this after a snow dump though, as it can be easy to lose control of one's luge and stack (I stacked many times but don't fear as I laughed the whole way down, and it was the case for our whole group!).

This was probably the funniest experience we had. We could not stop laughing and it was hilarious following each other at top speed and witnessing group members hitting the powder.

4. Dinner at "La Cabane"

I was keen to eat in a charming cosy little cabin that served Savoy specialties, and I was very impressed with the quality of the food and service at "La Cabane" in Val Thorens. The restaurant looks like a wooden hut, complete with tree-inspired decor and a fireplace. Once you enter, it feels like you are in your private little hut.

The food menu is extensive, with plenty of traditional options such as fondue, raclette and hot stone. The drinks menu is equally well stocked, with French wines aplenty and some delicious cocktail options. The service is also top-notch. Even though the restaurant was busy, the waiters were always attentive to our table's needs - glasses were topped up efficiently, wait times were quite short and the waiters kept checking in to make sure we were having a good time.

An excellent experience which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Val Thorens!

5. Après-ski relaxation

Not much can beat relaxing in a jacuzzi after a long day of skiing. We were super fortunate to have jacuzzi and sauna facilities in our chalet, and honestly, it was heaven. Lying amongst the bubbles and enjoying the mountain views, glass in hand is my favourite way to end a day on the slopes.

If these facilities are not on offer in some accommodation options, don't worry! Val Thorens has got a brand new wellness and fitness centre called "Le Board" which includes a leisure pool, balneotherapy pools, saunas and a hammam. It's open to everyone and is accessible at reasonable prices.

In summary, I could not recommend skiing in the French Alps and Val Thorens highly enough. The resort has it all, for everyone; from breathtaking views to ski runs suitable to any level, and from adrenaline experiences to wellness and relaxation, not forgetting the excellent food & drink scene!

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