The Espace Killy may be one of the most celebrated ski areas in the world, but is more than just skiing. Here’s our comprehensive roundup of what to do in Val d’Isere if you don’t hit the slopes.
Après (without the ski)
It is hard not to think of the party atmosphere when you think of Val d’Isere. But you don’t necessarily have to be arriving on skis to get a taste of the aprés ski experience. La Folie Douce is Val is legendary, the original alpine party bar is notorious for it’s table dancing, cabaret shows and live music. It may be on the side of the piste, but is easily accessed from the gondola in La Daille.
Cocorico is the new kid on the block comparatively, but is rapidly growing a reputation as the place to go. With happy hour, live music and a DJ every afternoon from 2-8pm, going for a dance and a drink in Cocorico is a must-do for anyone on a trip to Val. Only a short walk from the town centre, it is definitely not essential to be on skis or a with a snowboard and makes an ideal location for skiers and non-skiers to meet up at the end of the day.
Don’t forget the other legendary Val d’Isere bars and nightlife. Petit Danois is good place to go for a burger and a game of pool, Blue Note for a relaxing Jazz vibe, Saloon and many more. It’s undoubtedly a vibrant place to be.
Sliding round an icy course in a rear-wheel drive BMW… yes please! The BMW sponsored ice driving circuit in La Daille is a must do for any petrol-heads or anyone who wants to test their mettle in some pretty tough driving conditions. 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. It's a great thing to do with a group of friends who don’t ski or fancy a break from smashing the pistes.
Flying above the snowy mountains strapped into a parachute is perhaps one of the most exhilarating things you can do in a ski resort. Val d’Isere is no different, as a variety of companies such as Evolution 2 and Oxygene offer tandem (strapped in with a highly trained instructor) paragliding flights.
Taking to the skies from a wide range of take off points, there’s ample choice when it comes to picking your scenic descent from the peaks of the Espace Killy. The best locations for non-skiers are the top of the Olympique gondola or from the Solaise Telepherique at the Tete de Solaise. Oxygene ski offer a long flight from the Solaise starting at €80.
It may be near the end of the Tarantaise Valley, but Val d’Isere still 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, wildlife and much more. Walking for about 7km gets you to an amazing frozen waterfall. It is best to go on a blue sky day. To make the most of the sunshine, heading out around 11am, so the sun is on the valley for the majority of the walk.
Alternatively, you can hire snow shoes and poles and go for a wander up the mountain. Grab some trail maps from the tourist office and adventure across some of the spectacular scenery of the Espace Killy.
One of the more adventurous activities you can undertake in the Espace Killy area. Evolution 2 in Val d’Isere, will take you to the lake in Tignes where you can dive up to 80m under the ice. The lake, which is frozen six months of the year, is a fascinating world of colour, lights and an atmosphere that will give you the chills (not just because the water is a bit nippy!)
With the option to dive during the day €90 or €120 at night, there’s opportunity to brave the cold waters in the dead of night and have a completely different experience. Even if you have never dived before, the instructor will be able to guide you through the mystical world under the ice.
Ever wanted to shout “Mush” and be whisked away by your own pack of sled dogs? Either sit in the sled and relax as the dog handler shows you some of the sights and sounds of the Espace Killy or take the reins and control the friendly dogs on your own. Whichever you choose, you will undoubtedly be marvelling the pure strength and endurance of these amazing animals.
Whatever your taste, you won’t go hungry if you aren’t skiing in Val d’Isere. There are plenty of places not to miss out on, starting with Chevallot. The boulangerie and patisserie is an institution in Val and for good reason. The pastries and bread is absolutely to die for. The kind of food that words cannot do justice.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a sit down meal, L’Atelier d’Edmond at Le Fornet is a Michelin Star restaurant, serving an assortment of food that will delight the tastebuds of fine diners the world over. Also, Victors, La Baraque and the Hotel Barmes de l’Ours in town provide a delicious array of dining opportunities. La Fruitiere at La Folie Douce and La Tete de Solaise are great mountain restaurants that are easy to access as a pedestrian.
Here’s your opportunity to unleash your inner Torvill and Dean! The outdoor ice rink in the centre of Val d’Isere is just a short walk from the front de neige, near all the major hotels in resort. Open 7 days a week throughout the day, a skate and rental of the boots costs €8 for adults and €7 for children.
Visit the Aquasportif centre
The Aquasportif is home to swimming pools, spas, indoor football centres and a whole host more. If the weather comes in and you're looking for a hideout, the Aquasportif is guaranteed to have something to keep you entertained while the storms pass by. 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?
Scale a frozen waterfall down by the dam… why not? Get your ice picks out and get climbing. Available to complete beginners or export climbers, you can tackle the 40m wide and 200m high frozen waterfall on the road up to Val d’Isere. Sink your ice axe into the side of the waterfall and go and climb up usually inaccessible terrain. With the help of your guide, who knows how high you can climb?
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