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Non-skier things to do in Val d'Isère

Can't ski, won't ski? It's not all downhill you know

featured in News & reviews Author Tracy Wise, Destination Editor Updated

When your family and friends want to go skiing, but it really isn't your cup of tea, don't panic.

You don't have to ski or snowboard to enjoy a memorable holiday in a ski resort.

Whilst Val d'Isère is a great place to come skiing, there are many activities here to suit a non-skier of all ages and tastes.

Here are some great ideas for you:

  1. Buy a pedestrian pass and jump on a lift
  2. Go to après-ski along with everyone else
  3. Ride a skidoo, horse drawn sleigh or huskies
  4. Book a tandem flight
  5. Go snowshoeing or ski-touring
  6. Go to the sports centre
  7. Visit a spa for some relaxation
  8. Book a restaurant for lunch
  9. Visit a museum or see a film
  10. Learn nordic skiing - you might just like it!
A ski lift is flying over a snowy mountain

Snow fun without the skis

Buy a pedestrian pass
Enjoy the mountains as a non-skier by buying a pedestrian lift pass. It provides access to many activities, and many mountain restaurants. Over half of the mountain restaurants can be reached on foot by ski lift, so it's entirely possible to meet up with your family and friends for some fine dining.

It may be near the end of the Tarantaise Valley, but Val d’Isère has plenty of walking trails to take you further up the valley. A particular highlight is the glorious Manchet Valley walk. Walking out of town past the Rond Point between the Solaise and Bellevarde mountains provides a spectacular walk with gorgeous scenery (including an amazing frozen waterfall), wildlife and much more. We recommend going on a blue sky day, and heading out around 11:00 so the sun is on the valley for the majority of the walk.

Always dress for the weather - layers are the key, sunglasses and sun cream are vital even on a cloudy day. Stick to the trails, respect the environment and be aware of changing conditions.

Après-ski with everyone else
You don't have to ski to enjoy "après-ski".

Meet up with the rest of your group in a local bar and share stories from your day over a beer. La Folie Douce in Val is legendary. The original alpine party bar is notorious for its table dancing, cabaret shows and live music that can be heard across the mountains. It may be located on the side of the piste, but is easily accessed from the gondola in La Daille.

Or head to the local outdoor ice rink for a fun evening set beneath the snow-clad Alps, in the centre of town near all the major hotels in resort. Alternatively, grab a sled and head to the nursery slope on the left of the Savonette lift, sledging access is free.

Drive a dog sled or skidoo
Whether on a sedate sledge drawn by horses, a faster one pulled by huskies, or riding your own skidoo, there is an excursion choice to suit all levels of adrenaline.

Horse-drawn sledge rides depart from the Igloo du Loup, the huskies are based in town and booking in advance is recommended as this is a very popular activity. Skidoo trips run from the bottom of the Tommeuse chairlift.

Still too tranquil for you? How about sliding round an icy course in a rear-wheel drive BMW? The BMW sponsored ice driving circuit in La Daille is a must-do for any petrol-heads. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, right next door the ice karting circuit lets you and your friends race around an ice track on go-karts.

Book a tandem flight
Take to the skies for a bird's eye view of the mountains with a helicopter tour, or book yourself a tandem paragliding flight. The best locations are from the top of the Olympique gondola or from the Solaise Télépherique at the Tête de Solaise.

Snowshoeing and ski-touring
You can really get away from it all and disappear into nature on some snowshoes (raquettes). Book a snowshoe excursion with an activity company to see a side of the mountains that most skiers will never see.

Full-day, half-day and night-time options are available to take you into the heart of the mountains, from the highest peaks to the wildest valleys. Equipment and transport are usually included, check when you book.

If you've decided the days of skiing up the mountain all-day, every-day, are well behind you, those with previous skiing / snowboarding experience could try ski touring. There are marked ski touring routes in resort, and it's a great way to work up a sweat, earning your burger whilst the rest of the world takes the lifts. Hire a guide and pull on some skins for an adventure away from the madding crowd.

Centre Aquasportif Val d'Isere

Not just a ski resort

Val d'Isère is so much more than a ski resort. In fact, you can really have a great time here without setting foot on a lift.

Go for a swim
The Aquasportif is home to swimming pools, spas, indoor sports halls and a whole host more. Guaranteed to have something to keep you entertained if swimming doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps a quick work out in the gym will help you feel better about over-indulging at Chevallot pastries? So don't forget to pack your gym kit and a swimsuit (speedo-style only boys).

Book a treatment at the spa
Or if all of that sounds far too active and you really just want to pamper yourself and read your book, or stare at the view, there are numerous spas and treatment rooms you can enjoy.

Many hotels have luxury spas which are open to non-guests, and mobile massage companies will arrange to visit you at your chalet or apartment.

Book a table
And when you feel hungry, enjoy some slap up French cuisine with a glass of fine local wine - you deserve it. Many local restaurants have well priced lunchtime set menus offering the same cuisine as their main menus, but often with considerable discounts. Some offer wine tasting sessions also.

Visit a museum or go see a film
If you want to know more about the region head to the Musée Val d'histoire.

Or drop into the local cinema, grab a box of popcorn and catch up on the latest releases - look for VOST or VO (version originale) for English language films.

Family cross country skiers in Chamonix ski de fond

Skiing, but not skiing

Nordic skiing
Still looking for something to occupy your time? There's always cross-country skiing to try. An extremely popular mountain sport, known as 'ski de fond' in France, there are cross-country tracks available in Val d'Isère.

The best areas for cross-country skiing are the Manchet Valley, La Daille, near Le Fornet and by the Ouillette lake. Access is free and you can hire equipment and arrange lessons locally, and the views are to die for!

More inspiration...

As you can see there is more than enough to keep you occupied here during a no-ski skiing holiday. So unpack all those books you planned on reading, you simply won't have time.