Val d'Isere is part of the Espace Killy ski area in the French Alps, with ski terrain ranging from 1550m at its lowest point to just under 3500m at the top of the glaciers. This altitude makes it very snow sure and with 300 kilometres of pistes, there's a lot of ski area to enjoy.
The 300km of pistes in the Espace Killy are accessed by 90 ski lifts and funicular railways to reach the glaciers (see the piste maps). There are 20 green pistes, 67 blues, 41 reds and 26 blacks, and 2 snowparks, making it popular with skiers of every level of ability.
Val d'Isère is located in a steep valley and it is these steep slopes that have attracted the hardcore skiers since the resort opened for downhill skiing in the mid-1930's. There is a vast choice of slopes in the high Alps where intermediate skiers and boarders can sample the stunning views and learn from those on the steeper pitches, on the bumps and in the snowpark. With various different beginner areas and the challenging steep & deep runs there is something for every level of skiing ability.
The ski area in Val d'Isere can be broken up into three areas, namely Le Solaise, Bellevarde and Le Fornet, all varying in style and complexity.
This is the resort's central skiing area and it is very popular meaning at times it can be the busiest. Overall, it is the best area for beginner and intermediate skiers and it can be divided into 3 smaller sections. The “Glaciers’ bowl, “L” and “Mattis” areas offer easy skiing on sunny wide slopes. The Madeleine, Arcelle and Manchet pistes are comprised of beginner and intermediate level slopes and often busy with groups under instruction. The Tete de Solaise/Plan - this is generally the run down to the village but it is recommended for intermediate to good skiers so beginners or tired skiers would be wise to take the Solaise cable car or chairlift down to the village.
The Solaise is easily accessible from the town centre by the Solaise cable car or the Solaise Express high-speed 4-man chair and most of the ski schools meet at the bottom of this area. It is possible to cross over from Le Fornet to the Solaise on the Leissières chairlift.
This area offers a wide range of skiing because it has slopes facing three different directions in a triangular shape bowl. The East facing slopes face Val d’Isere itself and include Epaule du Charvet and the ex-Olympic Face which are steep pistes reserved for good skiers only. Santons is classified as a blue run for intermediates but be careful on this slope as it runs through a narrow valley and can get extremely busy and full of moguls by the end of the day.
The South/ South West facing slopes (Grand Prè) which are at the top of the Bellevarde area are fairly shallow but increase in steepness as they get lower down. Finally, the West/North West facing slopes offer an excellent view of the Grande Motte, Grande Casse and the Mont Blanc. This area includes many long and gentle slopes which lead down to La Daille (Diebold and Verte) as well as more difficult options for intermediate skiers (Ok, Orange).
Bellevarde is accessible via the Olympique cable car or the high-speed Bellevarde Express 4-man chairlift from the town centre. From La Daille, the Funival, La Daille bubble or the Etroits chairlift will take you there. It is also linked to Tignes by the Tommeuses and Borsat chairlifts.
The Le Fornet area is a quiet part of Val d'Isere and has some easy long, open and often empty pistes and is guaranteed some good snow since it offers glacier skiing up to 3,456m. The area offers 1,500m of vertical descent along blue runs all the way from the top of the glacier to the bottom of the resort at 1,930m.
Le Fornet also offers some of the most easily accessible and best off-piste in the Espace Killy, with runs like Point Pers and Col Pers offering nearly an hours off-piste skiing for less than a twenty-minute walk. Off the side of the piste under the Cascades Chairlift, there is a gentle wide open powder pitch that due to the altitude and quiet nature of Le Fornet stays fresh longer than most other areas in Val. Connections to this area are via the Fornet cable car from the Le Fornet village, or on the Leissières chairlift from the Solaise area.
More Val d'Isere Insights...
- Val d'Isere Dump Alert - 6th December 2020
- When is Val d'Isere opening for the ski season 2020/21?
- Safety measures in Val d'Isere winter 2020/21
- Travellers welcome to Val d'Isere from June 15th 2020
- Flights to Geneva restart in June 2020
- A farewell to the 2019/20 ski season in Val d'Isere