The Residential Areas of Val d'Isere
Given the size of the resort and the huge choice of chalets it is important to understand the geography of Val d'Isere and how the separate residential areas relate to one another. The main town is spread out along the main road which follows the valley floor of the Isere river, with La Daille (1,800m) at the entrance and Le Fornet (1,940m) at the far end. In the summer this main road carries on through Le Fornet and over the mountain pass but in the winter months Le Fornet is literally the end of the road. The distance from La Daille to Le Fornet is 4.5kms so Val d'Isere is larger than most people realise and depending where you stay within the resort you will give a totally different perspective to your holiday.
La Daille area of Val d'Isere
La Daille is the first area one comes to when entering Val d'Isere and it's fair to say that one's initial impression can be nothing but disappointment. On your right there are several low grade high-rise apartment buildings, one of which contains The Champs Avalins chalet hotel - a property that historically offers the cheapest catered accommodation in the entire resort. On your left is the old village of La Daille which is actually prettier than the drive past on the main road would suggest. One of our favourite chalets in this area is Chalet Angelique. Although a bit of an eyesore La Daille offers the best access point to the skiing of the Espace Killy (thanks to the high speed and uber efficient Funival funicular) and is also the easiest place to ski down to at the end of the day, especially after an afternoon session at the Folie Douce! So for keen skiers who are not bothered by the lack of local bars or nightclubs this is a great value location for a chalet in Val d'Isere. Chalet des Pistes, as the name suggest, is a ski in and ski out chalet in La Daille and comes highly recommended by Alpine Answers.
Leaving the rather drab La Daille behind you there are 900 metres of straight road before you get to Val d'Isere proper. Owing to avalanche risk from the Aiguille du Dome Mountain on your left there are no buildings permitted along this stretch of road - hence the seemingly odd separation between La Daille and Le Cret, the first district of main Val d'Isere. Although some distance away from both the lifts of Val d'Isere centre and La Daille this is a smart residential area of the resort with quite a few luxury chalets. Chalet Vieux Cret is a typical chalet of Le Cret and is a modern conversion of a traditional old building. The other new build luxury chalets in the area have been developed in the same architectural style and blend in perfectly. Le Cret is not within walking distance of the lifts so one can either take the public bus to La Daille, or in the other direction to the main Val d'Isere lifts - either journey takes no more than a few minutes and the bus service runs constantly.
Val d'Isere Centre
This really needs little introduction. The main hotels of Val d'Isere line either side of the main street but there is a pocket of smaller less glitzy hotels and charming chalets in the cobbled old streets around the church. Although you are rather hemmed in by other buildings with little chance of a good view this is a desirable place to be located. The centre of the village is obviously close at hand as are the nursery slopes, the ski school meeting point and also the main lifts. The only negative aspect of being here is the noise from the church bells which chime on regular intervals.
As you leave Val d'Isere and head towards Le Fornet there is the area of Le Laisinant which you will find on your right. Until about 5 years ago this was a little 'back water' area of the resort. Being quite a distance from the main lifts and also the centre of the resort it was considered as a relatively poor choice of chalet location. However, the modern high-speed Laisinant chairlift and the new Piste L that returns to the chairlift changed all that.
Right at the far end of the resort and 1.5km beyond Le Laisinant you will find the charming and ancient hamlet of Le Fornet. There is a growing number of Val d'Isere luxury chalets that are either being built here from scratch, or which are being developed from old traditional properties. Chalet Grand Sarire and Chalet Grand Torsai are both good examples of the type of chalet you can find in Le Fornet. Access to and from the ski area is easy enough via the Le Fornet cable car, and the returning piste and on bad weather days the tree skiing (experts only) above Le Fornet is really very good.
In Le Fornet and above on the mountain are two of our favourite restaurants in Val d'Isere. L'Atelier D'Edmond (with its 2 Michelin stars) is quiet but very refined and serves delicious fare; and the L'Edelweiss situated above Le Fornet and on the slopes is one of the best on-mountain dining venues in the entire Espace Killy region. Some think that Le Fornet is too far from Val d'Isere centre to be seriously considered as good location for a chalet but this is a short sighted view. The free bus service runs until 02.00hrs which means that all but the hardcore party goer can get back after a night out. We rate Le Fornet for its charm, peace, decent restaurants and easy access to some of the best skiing (on and off piste) in the resort.
Le Joseray, Chatelard and La Legettaz
From the centre of the resort you can take the bus through the tunnel under the piste and up the Calabourdane Valley, a tributory to the main River Isere. The buses turn around at Rond Point des Piste and this is the location of the excellent Snowberry 'Streetside' ski hire shop and also the Aquila building where we have quite a few comfortable apartment chalets. Just beyond here and over the little bridge is Le Joseray where YSE and Ski Total have some very well priced chalets. Further up this side of the valley is Le Chatelard.
If you carry on up the hill rather than crossing the bridge you come to La Legettaz and the excellent Bellevarde Lodges, a collection of six 12 guest chalets and a 24 guest chalet hotel and past these you will find the Club Med. Beyond Club Med and right at the top of the hill you will find several luxury chalets including the four luxurious Chardon Mountain Lodges. Apart from being supremely comfortable and serving lovely food these properties have stupendous views up the picturesque Manchet valley.
Nearly all the chalets of La Legettaz have access to the easy green piste that descends down to the main lift hub and ski school meeting points. So although these chalets are some distance away from the centre of the resort accessing the skiing in the morning is actually very easy, even for young children. At the end of the day it's possible to ski back very close to the chalets of La Legettaz from the Solaise Mountain and the whole area is served by the 'Train Bleu' free bus service.
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