Everything about Val d’Isere, is over the top; the excitement of skiing on so many World Cup pistes, the snow, the lift system, the extensive possibilities from Le Fornet to Tignes, the restaurants, the traffic to and from Geneva Airport, the prices, the number of skiers on the pistes with you, and the skiing atmosphere in the village.

The Village

In early in March 2023, we skied for a week in  Val d’Isere, the home of Jean Claude Killy.  The village is situated at 1,850 meters and the skiing goes up to 2,850 meters, and 3,456 meters on the Grand Motte glacier in Tignes.  What makes skiing in Val d’Isere great is that many of the best pistes are easily accessible from the village center. 

Take the Olympic Gondola from the village center to the top of Bellevarde, turn left and you are on the formidable Men’s Downhill World Cup, The Face. The top half is a joy to ski.  Arriving a bit above the middle of the run it turns steep and straight-down until the finish line at the entrance to the gondola station. If you have the nerve and the legs, go back up for another breathtaking run.

Exit Olympic Gondola – lots of skiers!

Ski straight as you come out of the Olympic Gondola and you get to the OK piste which is the start of the former Men’s World Cup Downhill course before they opened The Face of the Bellevarde for the 1992 Olympic games.  This course is a blast to ski. 

From the top there is a series of short, moderately steep sections with some flats between them.  This takes you down to the Folie Douce Restraunt, where there is a DJ every afternoon on the restaurant roof complete with scantily clad dancing girls, loud music, lots of beer and dancing on the tables.

Fly past the restaurant on your left,  go into dog-leg turn right turn and come out cruising your way down to La Daille. Hop on the gondola at the bottom to get back to the DJ and the dancing girls, or ski across to the funicular which takes you back up to the top of Bellevarde.

La Folie Douce

You still have the legs for it?  Get back to the village center and take the Solaise Gondola up to the start of the Woman’s World Cup Downhill course. Start out on a big open slope, mix it up with short turns on the side of the piste and big GS turns on the wide-open slope. 

Somewhere near the mid-point prudence should send you to the left on a long enjoyable run back to the village center.  Still have legs?  Take the Solaise Gondola back up and head for the Manchet lift, which is, believe it or not my favorite run in Val D’Isere, 1,921 meters long with a 691-meter vertical, pure pleasure. If you can, ski it non-stop.

But it’s really not all pure pleasure.  Saturdays at the Geneva Airport is chaos:  people, suitcases, ski bags. You get your stuff, your rental car and you think you’re home free, think about bumper-to-bumper traffic from Annecy to Moutier.  If you get to Val d’Isere in less than 4 ½ hours consider yourself lucky. 

Oh, you didn’t stop along the way to eat something? Val d’Isere has many great restaurants; just make sure you have arranged off-street parking in advance.  The skiing is great, it’s worth all the hassle, and seniors over 75 ski for free.  


  1. Andre lacouture says:

    I agree the best skiing in Europe , but Don t go during the holidays , schools are off one week in feb, I was there in April and Val Thorens in may and it was a blast, next week mammoth with 700 inches of snow . Will be open until 4 th of July

  2. Mira feldman says:

    A wonderful information on skiing in Val d’lsere. Described with true love and passion for skiing.

  3. Steve Ambler says:

    Thanks Stanley – nice piece! And as someone who has skied Val for 40+ years and spent the last 20 winters here I can confirm that you pretty much nailed it – and you could have gone on for another dozen pages just on the skiing, on and off-piste. I would however just make a couple of comments on the transportation situation. Pretty much all of the accommodation in the French ski resorts is organised on a Saturday to Saturday basis – meaning that Saturdays are impossible, especially if there’s been a collision or an avalanche onto the road. I suggest anyone coming should travel on friday and perhaps stay overnight down the valley, or try and get a sunday to sunday deal. Weekdays the self drive from Geneva is no more than two and a half hours. (By contrast by the way, if you’re in the resort on a Saturday it’s heaven with uncrowded slopes!). And regarding driving in Val, just don’t bother – park in one of the underground carparks and use the free shuttle bus services – they go everywhere and all through the night. And if anyone’s interested in keeping up with what’s happening in Val, my partner with our SkiTips Apps and eBooks, Marty Heckleman, posts a weekly “Postcard from Val” on Facebook and you can find all of our teaching videos (all filmed in Val) on the YouTube channel SkiTipsApps.
    Happy Skiing
    Steve Ambler

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