Val Thorens resort guide - a general overview
Val Thorens is the highest resort in the Alps and one of the most snow sure, with North facing slopes guaranteeing good snow for a long season. It is a classic purpose built resort - compact with lots of convenient slope-side accommodation. (Apartments, hotels and chalets) Val Thorens is quite compact so it doesn't really matter where you stay (there is also a very good free bus service around the resort). Located close to the accommodation are the extensive local slopes to suit all abilities, convenient, gentle nursery slopes and good access to the rest of the vast Three Valleys.
There are quite extensive covered shopping arcades with a fair choice of bars and restaurants. There is also a good sports centre. At the heart of the resort is the snow covered Place de Caron where beginner skiers and boarders mix with pedestrians. There are lots of bars and restaurants that look out over this area - many with large terraces making for some good viewing in late February, March and April when the weather is warmer and sitting outside is pleasant.
Despite its purpose built nature and ugly appearance (from a distance) Val Thorens is actually a pleasant place to stay. Much of the village is given over to pedestrian only walkways and roads and when actually amongst it the brutalism architecture is barely noticeable.
The accommodation tends to be of a higher standard than most purpose built resorts although the catered chalets in Val Thorens are aimed at those on a bit of a budget. The hotels, however, are of a good standard, comfortable and stylish and two in particular stand out from the rest - The Alta Pura and the Koh-I Nor. If you are looking for a catered chalet there are many available - most of which offer ski in ski out convenience. Despite their compact nature guests staying in these often have access to an indoor swimming pool or spa.
2,300m - 3,200m
Level of skiing
- Snow sure
- Ski area
- Charm factor
- Resort layout
- Fine dining
- Short transfer
- Resort value
- Arguably the highest resort in Europe - therefore as snow-sure as you can find
- Easily accessed and very good beginners' slopes right in the heart of the village
- Part of the enormous Three Valleys ski system offering a huge ski domain for all standards
- Although a purpose built resort it is more pleasant than you might imagine
- Val Thorens accommodation is mostly is ski-in, ski-out or both
- When the weather is bad it can be a bit bleak. There is not a tree in sight
- Some of the village is still unattractive to walk through
- The pistes can get very crowded during peak weeks
- Very little to do when off the slopes
Val Thorens Resort Restaurants
A top tip for getting to grips with restaurants around Val Thorens is the helpful resort 'Holiday Guide' for ideas of cuisine and prices. A sure win for a top blow out gourmet lunch or dinner is the Oxalys with two Michelin stars. It has first class service and atmosphere with an amazing inventive menu. The Fitz Roy Hotel (Relais & Chateau) and many other Val Thorens hotels have fantastic restaurants serving traditional quality French cuisine. Epicurien has great gastro ambitions too. There are plenty of modest places such as the Chamois d'Or with a great varied menu, as well as Petite Ferme with reasonable food prices. To experience true Savoyard, the Fondu is a great friendly and intimate restaurant. If you're craving a good, quality steak, the steak club has excellent reviews. Blanchot is a wine bar with a simple carte menu for a more relaxed dining option. Other good choices include the Vieux Chalet, Cabane, the Ferme de Rosalie, the Montana, El Gringo's (Tex Mex), Auberge de Balcon, Le Toit au Monde, the Joyeuse Fondue and the Galoubet.
Val Thorens Mountain Restaurants
Unlike other resorts, the piste map names all the mountain restaurants making it easy and accessible to view the good choice for lunch options. Chalet de le Marine on the Dalles piste has raving reviews with rustic table service, and a self service section with great choices of delicious food. Its large terrace with funky music is highly popular for après afternoons. The Folie Douce over in the Meribel region has a great self service section as well as table service in their Fruitiere restaurant. Modelled on the famous Val d'Isere original this venue will not disappoint. The Chalet des 2 Lacs is a favourite with a warm and welcoming atmosphere a great place to stop for a coffee and pastry or a more substantial lunch with reasonable priced food. Accessed via the Boismint or Plan de l'Eau chairlifts, the Chalet des 2 Ours is repeatedly recommended for its food and service, especially their homemade pasta. The Chalet Plan Bouchet refuge in the Maurienne Valley is very popular. For food and value the Deux Ours (half way down the Blanchot run) gets good reports - large portions and reasonably priced.
Val Thorens Apres Ski
Val Thorens has quite a lively après scene, now enhanced by the new Folie Douce accessible in the Meribel region. In Val Thorens village, most of the bars are easily accessible from the slopes making the temptation to have a few drinks on the short walk home hard to resist. Mid afternoon, things start to liven up on the terrace of Club Med where you can warm your voices up before heading to the Red Fox for some Karaoke. The Frog and Roast Beef at the top of the village is a long established bar which is hugely popular with half price beer at happy hour and live music. At the lower end of the resort the Sherlock in the Temple de Soleil building is the place to go. For a quieter place to enjoy a drink the Rhum Box Cafe is a great spot. As Val Thorens is a relatively small resort it means it is never far to stumble back to your chalet, or to another bar!
Val Thorens Nightlife
The British 'hang outs' of the Frog and Roast Beef, Red Fox and the Sherlock are the busiest bars. However, Downunder bar and Saloon are pretty lively places too. The subterranean nightclub at the Place de Peclet has a good 'happy hour' but does tend to slip into Euro pop disaster when the disco gets going later in the evening. The Malaysia cellar bar is good for live bands and the Blanchot is a stylish wine bar. There is a lively disco in Dicks Tea Bar at the Place de Peclet. Also recommended are O'Connells and the cosy Rhum Box both of which are quieter and more relaxing yet still atmospheric. After dancing the night away, it will be a short stroll back to your Val Thorens hotels, ready for another day on the mountain.