Val d'Isère is one of the most famous and popular ski resorts in the world, and many British skiers return year after year to enjoy its ski area. The village sits at an altitude of 1,850m, so snow conditions on even the beginner/nursery slopes will be perfect for learning on - no ice or slush to contend with! It is also a very attractive resort, mainly featuring traditional wood and stone buildings.
Val d'Isère has invested time and money into being a family friendly resort. It has created dedicated ski and play areas for children, and provides free lifts for beginners to use on the nursery slopes. Top-notch children's ski schools, modern ski lift infra-structure and a wide choice of pretty Alpine accommodation attracts an international clientele. It is a fairly upmarket resort so be prepared to pay a little more for your holiday.
There is a good selection of private childcare companies offering nannies and equipment rental, able to look after babies and upwards. Added to that are family entertainments organised by the tourist office during school holidays, both on and off the slopes. Various family ski passes are available - essentially, you get 10% off the public price. There are also special beginner passes and pedestrian passes available - children under five ski for free but you still need to get them a lift pass (with proof of age). Please see our Ski Lift Pass Prices page for further information.
Val d'Isère forms part of the Espace Killy ski area. The resort is spread out over several areas on a hillside, and for most of the accommodation, there is direct access to a ski slope even if you are not specifically ski-in/ski-out. This is important if you don't want to be carrying two or more sets of skis and all the paraphernalia that goes with skiing with children! There is also a free and frequent bus service that runs throughout the resort. Have a look at a Map of Val d'Isère to see how it's all connected. For a wider selection of ski-in/ski-out accommodation, try the hamlets just outside Val d'Isère - Le Joseray, Le Chatelard, Le Laisinant and Le Fornet.
In addition to the top-notch skiing, Val d'Isère can offer families plenty of activities in the sports centre, with it's swimming pool and climbing wall, and there is an outdoor ice rink in the centre of the village. Many of the excellent restaurants are family-friendly and there are several independent childcare companies that can help you with looking after the kids.
Accommodation for families
Taking the family on a ski holiday can be hard work, so finding good family-friendly accommodation is essential to making life that little bit easier. Many families tend to come here because of Val d'Isère's extensive choice of catered and self-catered chalets, allowing them to enjoy that traditional Alpine ski holiday. Much of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out which can be a big help at the start and end of each day. There is also a big range of apartment rentals to suit all budgets, and the hotel selection is extensive if you prefer a full service holiday.
The centre is the liveliest place to be, and the main meet up area for the ski schools is here.
Has better value accommodation and is just five minutes on the free bus from the main resort.
A quieter, more charming village further up the valley, and still has direct access to the ski area.
If you plan on enrolling in ski school, find out where your meeting point will be so you can make sure you have good access to get there is the morning. The main meet up area is at the bottom of the Solaise lift, where you will find the main nursery slopes. You are likely to find better value accommodation further out of town, and as there is a good free bus service in Val d'Isère, you can still access the lifts fairly easily without having to walk too far. It runs all day and through the night until around 02:00.
Lift passes for families
Family discounts are available on the Tignes-Val d'Isère pass only, with a purchase of a minimum of four lift passes up to a maximum of seven. They need to be of the same duration and validity dates. There is also a 'Tribu' deal, where the group needs one adult/senior and at least three children/teens OR two adults/seniors and at least two children/teens in order to benefit from the discount. Proof of age and student status will be requested.
Children under five ski for free with passes available from one to 15 days.
You can also buy reduced price ski passes for the nursery/beginner areas, please see the Beginners Ski Pass section on our Lift Pass Prices page for all the details.
Ski schools for families
If you have designs on raising the next Shaun White or Chemmy Alcott, then getting your kids into ski school as soon as possible is going to be a priority! Ski schools will not take children under two and a half, so if you think your child is ready earlier, then you will need to teach them yourself or hire a private instructor. If you want to teach them yourself, you can find out more about the nursery and beginner ski areas in Val d'Isère in our guide. All ski equipment (and sometimes ski clothing - look out for the 'Famille Plus' signs) can be rented at the ski hire shops in Val d'Isère when you arrive or you can book everything online in advance. They will need a helmet, mittens and goggles in addition to skis (poles are not initially needed for kids), and make sure they have enough layers on to stay warm. Remember to apply sun cream to their faces before they start and place a snack and your phone number in their pocket, just in case.
There are plenty of ski schools in the area offering ski lessons for children, many of them are British-run and are English-speaking. Check at what age the ski school will start to take children, as the age varies from two and a half to seven years old. For three and four year olds, the focus is on having fun in the snow and games are used as part of the teaching process. They learn to ski in their own specially designed snow gardens where they can play in a fun and safe environment. Their ski pass is free of charge. For children aged five and above, you can enrol them in courses according to their level, from beginners to good skiers who are nearing competition level.
Ski schools cater mainly for weekly courses, so if you are here for only a few days then you will need to enquire at reception when you arrive to see if there is any space for your kids on the days you are in resort. The alternative is to hire a private instructor for your dates.
Ski areas for families
The main nursery ski area for children and beginners is at the bottom of the Solaise lift. Here you will find several free ski lifts; it's also where most of the ski schools meet up. Another beginner area can be found at the top of the Solaise lift, with several nice green runs to enjoy at high altitude. Over to the top of Bellvarde ski area you'll find long green runs on wide rolling pistes. You may well want to take the cable cars back down at the end of the day as the home runs can be tricky for beginners. Find out more about the Beginners Ski Areas.
There is also a nursery area with free lift in the village of La Daille.
For more advanced skiers, you have the whole of the Espace Killy ski area to explore. With 300km of pistes and several snow parks there is terrain suitable for everyone. Val d'Isère is connected to Tignes with a modern, interconnected ski lift system, and it is quick and easy to explore the whole area.
There is one snow park in Val d'Isère and a further park in Tignes. The Val Park has something for everyone, no matter what your ability. From small whoops for beginners to boxes and rails for more advanced riders. A boarder cross run can be found at the top of the Bellevarde. Over in Tignes, the park has an air bag in addition to the usual features, and an excellent half pipe. There's no way your experienced teenagers will get bored here!
Activities for families
During the winter if the kids are only skiing for half a day, there are plenty of other activities available in resort to keep them happy.
Staying on the slopes, there is a dedicated sledging zone at the bottom of the Solaise lifts by the Savonnette lift. During the week (except Thursdays) from late afternoon you can try out Snake Gliss (like a big communal sledge) and Airboarding at the same place. A playground for kids has been developed just below the Sunny Ride slope (top of TC10 Solaise), which mimics a ski resort at a child's level - snow workshops, visits to a machine room for a gondola, piste patrol sledging and plenty more activities specifically for children.
The outdoor ice skating rink in right in the centre of town too, hot drinks and entertainments are available. There is a charge for both rink entry and for skate hire.
Within the centre of Val d'Isère, there is the Sports Centre which is home to an indoor swimming pool, climbing wall, gym and a sports hall. Other winter activities include cinema (look out for VOST for films in English) and husky dog sledding. You can find out more about Non-Skiing Activities in Val d'Isere in our guide.
For adults that aren't quite so sure of the skiing, there are a number of spas you can try for some indulgence, as well as fitness classes, or perhaps some snow shoeing. Pedestrian ski passes are available at a reduced rate so you can join the rest of your group up in the high mountains for lunch and spectacular views. Shopping in Val d'Isère is also surprisingly good. If you head to the La Daille gondola you can enjoy afternoon parties and cabaret at the Folie Douce bar right on the slopes.
During school holidays, the tourist office organises plenty of events designed for children such as torch-lit descents, fireworks and shows. Over Christmas you can expect street parades, lantern processions, carol concerts, and Santa Claus. Check our Events Calendar for details.
Summer holidays in Val d'Isère are all about being active and there are a wealth of activities on offer here for all ages and members of the family. Our dedicated guide to activities in Val d'Isère includes a section specifically on kids' activities with information on horse riding, short family hikes, high ropes courses, where to go swimming, nature parks, and numerous other fun things that will help make your family holiday as unique and memorable as possible!
It is possible to hire baby equipment in Val d'Isère - items such as high chairs, pushchairs, cots and playpens can be rented in resort. Check with your accommodation provider if they provide high chairs and cots especially. Look out for the 'Famille Plus' sign in the sports shops for 4x4 buggies, sledges and snow shoes. Some shops offer a kids ski pack rental as well, with skis starting at a length of 67cm and boot size 23EU.
There are plenty of specialist tour operators and chalet companies who cater for families and have in-house nannies to help with the childcare. Children under three are generally too little to try skiing, so some help with childcare is essential if you plan on skiing yourself. Independent nanny agencies are also available, and should be booked well in advance of your holiday. Have a look at our childcare listings page for more information or you can contact the local tourist offices for a list of available babysitters and French nurseries.
You may find that the main sports centre of each town host a kids club during the summer holidays, normally from 1st July to 30th August, with activities such as swimming, climbing, tennis, basketball, ice-skating, etc. and organised hikes and picnics.
School holiday dates
France divides its school holidays into a regional timetable to ensure that the entire country doesn't go on holiday at once - however, this staggered system can mean that some months (particularly February) can be busy from beginning to end as one region after another arrives in resort! Chamonix is in Zone A.
- Zone A - Ain (01), Isère (38), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74) Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse
- Zone B - Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg
- Zone C - Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris and Versailles
Why Val d’Isère is great for beginner skiers
Coming to a ski resort for the first time as a beginner skier or snowboarder can be a bit daunting. With a little locals know-how, our tips and tricks will help you make the most of your time here and hopefully leave you desperate for more.