British favourite: Val d’Isère

Posted on 18 December 2017

It’s a familiar tale of a once rustic, isolated farming community high in the French Alps that has transformed into an unrecognisable ski resort over the decades. But Val d’Isère’s story is slightly unique in that it has evolved into one of the world’s most famous ski resorts and bastion of the British skiing set.

“Val” as it is affectionately known to its army of loyal visitors opened its first ski lift 81 years ago. But it was following the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, during which it hosted the blue-riband men’s downhill, that it truly came of age. The Games injected much needed financial investment into the area, and perhaps most importantly the vision to go with it. This resulted in a more traditional alpine approach to development. Something Val is benefiting from today, as snow-sports enthusiasts’ travel from far and wide to sample its mix of tradition and sophistication.

Val d’Isere (ventdusud /

Ski area

  • The Espace Killy ski area has 78 lifts
  • 300 kilometres of groomed slopes
  • 153 pistes providing a varied mix for all abilities
  • 60% of the runs are above 2, 200 meters
  • Its snow-making facility – the biggest of its kind in Europe – can pump out 2,500 cubic meters of snow in an hour

New development

A 200 million euro (£170 million) project to redevelop the resorts centre over the next five years is underway. Known as Le Coin de ValAimed, it aims to keep Val competitive with rival resorts like Courchevel and Verbier, and will include 100 new homes, a piste with an underground moving walkway to improve access from town to the lifts and a 50 room hotel.

Getting there

Chambéry airport is 145 kilometres away, Geneva is about 220kilometres and Lyon 240 kilometres. Bourg-St-Maurice railway station is a 40-minute drive down the valley. Alternatively, Val is a 705 kilometre drive from Paris.

If you want to buy a home in the French Alps, download a guide from France Property Guide. It’s packed with advice on the buying process and property tips.

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