Valmorel Ski Holiday Resort
Valmorel sits in the French Tarantaise and still remains in the shadows of its famous and noisy neighbours such as Courchevel, Val d'Isere, and Meribel. Snowfinders feel this is a real shame as the resort has a lot to offer British skiers if only they weren't fixated on the big name resorts.
The resort is purpose built, but this is one instance of the French showing some alpine architectural success, which was very forward thinking considering it was constructed in the 1970s. Low rise and smaller builds compliment the scenery and woodland setting. The village does expand up the hillside so access to the skiing is by various lifts with a pedestrian "lobster pot" lift acting as a means of travel between the upper and lower villages. The beautiful 4 trident Club Med construction in the upper village has resulted in a fantastic new gondola which has made ski convenience a byword for this resort.
The village is very pretty with the pedestrianised high street offering the look and feel of an old traditional alpine hamlet. Along this high street are a series of apartments,hotels, boutiques, sport shops, restaurants, take aways, and supermarkets.
Valmorel village is not the highest at 1400m (about the same height as Meribel) but the skiing does extend to 2550m and incorporates the neighbouring villages of Doucy Combelouviere and St Francois Longchamp. Overall the season is perfectly reliable from mid December to Easter. The ski area, The Grand Domaine, covers over 150km of piste and some surprisingly good off-piste.
Beginners and families will be in heaven in Valmorel with excellent nursery facilities and ski school plus a superb terrain to advance towards. A novice skier will, in a matter of days, be able to explore further afield and get across the system of pistes owing to the gentle nature of many of the runs. Pretty much wherever you are, you will be able to ski an easy run to get yourself out of any difficulties.
Intermediates should have plenty to keep them busy within this ski area. Sure, you won't be winning any bragging rights when you get home by saying you have skied here but in truth most 1 to 2 week a year skiers will be more than happy here. Yes, there are a lot of cruisy blues and reds but there is also some more testing terrain off the top of the Col du Mottet and Col du Gollet.
Experts in truth may wish to look elsewhere if they are not intending to ski off-piste. The black Creve Tete and the red Gollet are decent runs in their own right, and the off-piste adjacent to these two runs is also very good. The black Noire du Mottet is another challenging piste and again the off-piste is excellent in this region. The black Riondet is a long challenge that drops into the St Francois sector. Off-piste adventures are more than possible with the snow not getting as tracked out anywhere near so quickly as it does in the "premier league" resorts.
Non skiers have the usual mountain activities on hand, namely dog sledding, horse sleigh rides, tobogganing, and winter walking. There is even a fitness centre, cinema, and superb spa/treatment facility at the Hotel du Bourg which is available for non-residents. In additional the 4 star Club Med has amazing facilities and a programme of events if you are lucky enough to be staying there.
The apres ski is surprisingly good with the bars and cafes at the foot of the slopes being very busy with a lively and fun atmosphere. From 8pm onwards the apres ski moves to the bars on the pedestrianised high street. There are also 2 nightclubs for those wanting to party into the small hours.
In general, you will find Valmorel a very friendly resort with a great mix of locals and holiday makers. You really do get the feel that your presence is warmly welcomed.
An ideal destination for beginners and intermediates, and even advanced skiers will find good off-piste here. Families with children are particularly well catered for with the ski school being highly praised.