VAL D'ISERE SKI AREA - getting the lay of the land
Val d'Isere ski area is snowsure - with a village at 1850m, 60% of pistes above 2000m and amazing snowmaking facilities when conditions require. It is also enormous - linked to Tignes the two resorts boast 71 lifts, 300km of pistes and 25,000 acres of off piste. Such a wealth of skiing options can appear quite daunting each morning for those that don't know the resort. So let's break it down...
The Val d'Isere ski area is divided into 3 main sectors Le Fornet, which includes the Pisaillas Glacier area, Solaise, Bellevarde. From the Bellevarde side you can ski into the neighbouring resort of Tignes.
There are 4 access points to the ski area from the valley floor - the centre (front de neige), le Fornet, la Daille et le Laisinant. Most ski schools meet in the centre so if you are not having lessons and it is a peak week then I would suggest jumping on the free bus (see link here for details) to one of the other areas to avoid longer queues at the start of the day.
So how do you get around and make the most of this fantastic ski area?
Can be accessed directly from the hamlet of le Fornet via the Fornet cablecar, which leads to a gondola to take you towards the glacier or a chairlift to take you to other slopes in the Fornet sector. You could also choose to head up the Laisinant Express chairlift to get to the Fornet slopes. Or you can access the sector from the Solaise side of the mountain via the Leissieres Express chairlift (also known as the Up & Over or the Scare Chair!). The Leissieres Express chairlift can be travelled on in both directions so can be used to get from the Fornet sector to the Solaise.
Can be accessed directly from the central snow front via the Solaise telecabine.
From here you have direct access to the magic carpet areas, a green run and a number of lovely blues. You can also ski down into the Manchet valley on the Arcelle red piste (and back up again as this doesn't actually take you anywhere!) or back down to where you came from on red and black pistes. Or you could take Piste L down into Laisinant and take the Laisinant Express chairlift over towards the Fornet side. Or you could choose to ski over to the Fornet side via the Leissieres Express chairlift.
You can also access the Solaise sector from the Fornet side of the mountain via the Leissieres Express chairlift.
Can be accessed directly from the central snow front via the Olympique telecabine, or by taking two chairlifts - first the Bellevarde Express and then the Loyes. It can also be accessed from La Daille via the Funival funiculaire train, or by taking the La Daille telecabine and meandering on a few lifts to take you a bit higher. The Bellevarde side boasts a wonderful open bowl of skiing, which is well linked together as well as links to Tignes via the Tommeuse chairlift or the Borsat Express chairlift.
For more info on the ski are in Val d'Isere, including my favourite runs, check out my blog post here
There are also a number of buses that run around town all day every day and link the various sectors at the valley floor level. This makes it easy to ski around and not get lost! There will always be a bus at the bottom ready to take you to where you need to go, whether in ski boots or for apres!