Hotel Fitz Roy
- Rating: 5 Star
- Location: Centre
- Room Type: 1-5+ Bedrooms
Val Thorens is the western valley of the Three Valleys ski area and is the highest resort in Europe. These 2 facts tell you a lot about the resort – it is part of the largest linked ski area in the world giving you 600 kms of pisted runs and with a resort level of 2,300m and slopes at 3,230m, you will find excellent snow conditions and the nearest thing to a guarantee of snow cover that you can be offered.
As the resort and all the skiing is above the tree line, it can feel bleak and it used to be said that the resort lacked character but that has changed dramatically in recent years. Val Thorens is now a vibrant resort with more ski-in/out accommodation that most places in the Alps and it has a range of properties from 5 Star hotels with Michelin star restaurants to more basic self-catered apartments.
The centre of the resort is Place de Caron where you will find a collection of shops, restaurants and the leisure centre. The village is then essentially divided in two by a fairly gentle slope that runs the length of the resort and is served by a drag lift. The upper part of the village centres around Place de Peclet and the Plein Soleil area and the lower part of the resort centres around Rue de Soleil
There is a free resort shuttle bus running from 8am-8pm daily and there are X5 services per day (not Saturday) running between Val Thorens, Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville.
Val Thorens at 2.300m is the highest resort in the Alps and one of the most snow sure, with north facing slopes guaranteeing good snow for a long season. It is a purpose built resort so as a result it is fairly compact with lots of car free area and convenient slope-side accommodation so wherever you stay you’re close to the slopes. There is a good free shuttle bus service so all sectors of the resort are easily accessible by bus, foot or on skis.
The resort is divided into 4 areas with a piste dividing the east/west sections and road the north/south area. In the centre is Place de Caron with its covered shopping mall and selection of shops, bars and restaurants.
As you enter the resort from the valley you have the Hameau du Kashmir complex on your left and the Montana complex on your right. Les Balcons sector is above on the hill overlooking the resort. Above the Place de Caron to the east is the Koh-i-Nor complex
Val Thorens offers world class skiing and boarding but is still very accessible for beginners as the nursery slopes are centrally located in the village with lots of moving walkways to help move skiers around.
The Boismint sector has slopes facing the resort and catches the early sun so is ideally for the first runs of the day on the cruisy blue and red runs. The Cime de Caron is the highest point and gives access to some challenging black runs and is the starting point for several off-piste itineraries. It is also the access point for Rosael and the slopes of Orelle, the 4th Valley. From the view point at the top of the Cime de Caron you can see 1,000 peaks so it is worth the trip up for the view alone ! For wide, cruisy blue runs head for the Moraine sector and for challenging reds take the Peclet lift which rises to 700m to the glacier. Ski the sunny slopes of the Plein Soleil area in the afternoon where you’ll find some lovely blue and red runs and fantastic après ski at the Folie Douce on the way back down to resort.
The off-piste skiing is fantastic and the high altitude allows the snow to stay in great condition making it a good choice for those with less experience. The Pierre Lory Pass run has gentle slopes and can be access from the top of the Col chairlift. For the more experienced there is the Lac du Loup with its 1,400m vertical and stunning views. For those happy to hike-up there is the wonderful long runs over the Gebroulaz glacier down in the Meribel-Mottaret valley. There are a number of ski schools who offer great introductory off-piste courses for the uninitiated and guides for the more experienced.
Ski down the valley to Les Menuires where good skiers will love the red and black runs on La Masse and don’t miss the opportunity of going to St Martin de Belleville to see a beautiful, authentic Savoyard village. It also has some great lunch stop restaurants.
Snowboarders and freestylers are well served in the area and lifts are mostly chairs and gondolas making life easier for boarders. There are specialist schools for those looking to learn or improve technique. The Snowpark in the Plateau sector, has 90 000 m² area divided in four zones: beginners, intermediate, expert and a Jump’Air (shock absorbing stunt man’s mattress). There are different modules: whoops, wall ride, tables, handrails. There is also a Boardercross in the 2 Lacs sector, which offers skiers and snowboarders the complete range thrills and spills.
Access to Meribel-Mottaret is straightforward and it is easy with a little route planning to ski in all 3 valleys in a day – just keep an eye on the weather and lift closing times for the return as a taxi back ( the only option when the lifts are shut) can be expensive.
|Skiable Terrain||600 km of piste|
|Vertical||2,130 m (6,988 ft)|
|Top Elevation||3,230 m (10,597 ft)|
|Base Elevation||1,100 m (3,608 ft)|
|Average Snowfall||600 cm (19.6 ft)|
|Winter lifts Total||183|
|Longest Run||3.2 km|
|Snowmaking||2,100 + cannons / 40% runs covered|
Geneva – 3 hrs
Grenoble – 2 hrs 45 mins
Chambery – 2 hrs
Lyon – 3 hrs
Minibus transfers to the resort operate from the airport, bus or train station.
From Moutiers Salins Brides Les Bain it takes around 50 minutes to Val Thorens
International trains connect Moutiers to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport or from Paris-Gare-de-Lyon on the TGV service, which takes around 4.5 hours.
There is a 38 km winding road from Moutiers to Val Thorens – snow tyres and/or snow chains are required
<h2>Val Thorens Lift Pass Options</h2>
In Val Thorens there are three main types of lift pass – the 3 Valleys Pass (which covers the full 3 Valleys area), the Belleville Valley Pass (which covers Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville giving you 300 kms of runs) and the Val Thorens-Orelle pas which gives you the resort area and access to the small ski area of the 4<sup>th</sup> valley of Orelle. The 3 Valleys Pass is most comprehensive and is recommended for all but beginner skiers.
Children under 5 years and adults over 75 year are free but you will need to show proof of age to get these passes. These passes need a photo (though this can be taken at the lift office counter) and there is a 3 euro charge for the ‘hands free card’.
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There are discounts for families based on 2 adults and a minimum of 2 children and for 2 or more passes bought for 6 days+ for the same ski area. You can also buy a daily beginner mini-pass for drag lifts on the nursery slopes and pedestrian pass for anyone who prefers walking to skiing or who wants to join for a skiers’ lunch up the mountain. And there are free lifts for beginners in the Cascades and 2 Lacs area.
There aren’t any cross-country ski tracks in Val Thorens but there are 28 kms of marked trails between Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville.
You can add ski insurance to your lift pass to cover you in case of accidents but you do need to check against your holiday insurance to see if you need this additional cover.
There are a number of ski schools in the resort offering everything from group lessons to private tuition and guiding. Group lessons typically start on Sunday or Monday and run for 5 or 6 mornings.
Val Thorens is also a renowned centre for adaptive skiing.
The ESF (French Ski School) run a nursery for children from 3 months and offer a ski club and ski lessons from age 4 upwards.
Val Thorens offers a whole range of activities both on and off the slopes as well as a programme of weekly entertainment and events.
Sport Centre – The sports centre offers a wide range of activities in a 7,500 sq. m covered space and is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm. There is a swimming pool with slides, fun pool and waterfalls as well as gym, spa, tennis, squash & badminton courts and a trampoline centre for children.
Ice Diving – Snow shoe or cross-country ski to Lac du Lou and then have an accompanied 20-30 min dive under the ice before the walk back to the resort.
Ice Driving & Karting – Try your hand at speeding on the ice on the specially prepared track
Zip Line & Tyrolienne – Val Thorens offers 2 opportunities to have a bird’s eye view of the slopes . The double zip line of 1,800m in length goes from the top of the Moutiere chair and the Tyrolienne gives a glide of 1,300m at speeds of up to 105 kmh from the top of the Bouchet chair.
Dog Sledding – This takes place every weekday morning with 2 or 3 sledges pulled by a team of dogs. Book 30 min sessions.
Toboggan Run – Said to be the longest in Europe taking up to 45mins for the descent on the specially prepared track on the Peclet sector going from an altitude of 3,000m
There is also a cinema (with some films in English), bowling alley and numerous hotel spas if you want to relax off the slopes.
Although heliskiing is not permitted in France, due to Val Thorens’ proximity to Italy it is possible to arrange a day’s heliskiing over the border.
There is an enormous range of off-piste and back-country skiing in Val Thorens and 3 Valleys. Spend a day with a guide exploring the areas inaccessible by lift. Most of the ski hire shops have touring skis and off-piste equipment available for hire.
Val Thorens boasts an impressive number of restaurants and cafes – 60 at the last count and there truly is something for all tastes and budgets. Unlike many resorts, due to its height (2,300m) it is easy to go back to the resort for a ski-in/out lunch on the piste and to get back on the slopes for the afternoon.
There are 2 restaurants with Michelin stars in the valley – the Oxalys which is in the main resort and has 2 stars or the 3 star La Bouitte which is located further down the valley towards St Martin de Belleville. At the other end of the spectrum is the wonderful Chalets de Val Thorens located on the piste, which serves excellent takeaway noodles, burgers and street food and is a popular après ski venue with DJs and live music.
If you’re looking to try some local specialities then head for Chez Pepe Nicolas – this renovated mountain refuge is still used when the sheep and goats move up to the summer pastures but in the winter, it is a delightful restaurant serving some of the best Tartflette in the area. It is located on the piste de la Chasse between Val Thorens and Les Menuires. For a special occasion head for lunch to Chalet de la Marine on Péclet sector – a wonderful gourmet treat at 2,500m with panoramic views of the resort.
There is a lively après ski scene in the resort with several mountain restaurants including the famous Folie Douce providing DJs and live music from around 15h.
Val Thorens is very much a skiers’ resort and while there are some shops selling après ski and casual wear, it does not have clothes shopping on a par with Courchevel or Val d’Isere. However, if you’re looking for new ski kit, you’ll find an abundance of choice.
The resort has a number of supermarkets and you will also find specialist shops selling local produce and craft souvenirs.
Val Thorens has a bi-weekly market which is in La Grand Rue (near the church) every Tuesday and Thursday. There are stalls with local cheeses and meats, locally produced honey, fleeces and other clothes, craft items, and more.