For centuries Val d’Isère was a long-forgotten hunting hamlet for French royals, trapped in a dead-end valley, fringing the tree-line, surrounded by steep mountains. Snow-filled forever-winters forced subsistence-level living on the poor, local farmers. Then in 1929 Jacques Mouflier came to town; their first skier. He suggested developing tourism and the rest is skiing history. The sprawling town was re-designed for the ’92 Olympics. An investment, completed a few years ago to the tune of 200MM Euros, expanded the village so the pedestrian area connects to the town’s major lift complex. The result: Val d’Isère is an ever-more appealing, harmonious and better organized resort. So good reason it’s a Brit favorite, and always in the top ten of the world’s ski resorts.
Val d’Isère’s natives nurture their babies into champions: Henri Oreiller, the Goitschel sisters, and, of course, Jean-Claude Killy. Their Olympic golds came from extensive training on the pistes in that dead-end valley. In 1938 the first Solaise lift was installed. In 2017, a subsequent Solaise high-speed, 7-minute gondola with heated seats, increased capacity by 40%. Then engineers literally flattened that mountain, building a restaurant, lodge, picnic area, and children’s playground at the top, all with great views of the famous ‘Face de Bellevarde’ downhill run. Today Val d’Isère, combined with Tignes, has 75 up-to-the-minute lifts linking 159 runs totaling 190 piste miles. The area, six times the size of Vail, covers more than 25,000 acres and averages over 40′ of snow a year. Terrain and facilities are impressive enough that besides the Olympics, they hosted the ’09 World Championships. From 18/19, a new high-speed gondola whisks dancing queens directly from La Daille up to the ever-popular Folie Deuce!