Val d’Isère, in the French Alps, is renowned as one of Europe’s most popular ski destination. However, not everyone realises that it’s a resort of two seasons: visitors who gather here each winter can have just as much fun during the summer. And, just because the sun’s shining, it doesn’t mean there’s no skiing to be enjoyed…
The average temperature in July and August is 25°C; perfect for sunbathing and not too hot for hiking, biking, and the many other sporting activities on offer.
Tempted? Here’s what’s on offer:
Val d’Isère is home to the Pissaillas glacier, which at 3,000 metres offers skiing until 16 July. The Cascades chair lift and the Montets T bar run from 7 am to 12 pm each day, subject to weather conditions. In winter, skiers and snowboarders leave the hamlet of Le Fornet and board the cable car and then the gondola to reach to the glacier with a total journey time of more than 30 minutes. However, during the summer, it’s possible to drive or take the bus to the foot of the glacier, before clicking into your skis or snowboards and carving down the slopes.
Ski and bus: €37 per adult and €27.50 per child / senior for the day.
Ski only: €29 per adult and €23.50 per child / senior for the day.
(Tickets can only be bought at the lift office at the foot of the glacier.)
HIKING AND BIKING
Whether it’s time to walk or pedal, the lifts are open free of charge from 1 July to 27 August. Head to Le Lac de L’Ouillette, which offers an ideal day out for couples, groups of friends and families. Situated above Val d’Isère at 2,500 m, the Alpine lake is the perfect place for a relaxed picnic, where visitors can drink in the spectacular mountain views. Alternatively, dine at Bar d’Altitude L’Ouillette, which has a spacious terrace with comfy seating for the sunny days. And why not take your fishing rod? The sparkling lake is stocked with trout. This summer there’s also a new children’s play area.
How to get there
Jump on one of the free buses.
Take the Solaise gondola, followed by a short walk downhill.
Drive or cycle 13 km uphill along the road towards the Col de l’Iseran.
Hike the 13 km trail, climbing 662 metres vertical, taking circa two-and-a-half hours.
15 August: trout-fishing competition, open to all.
20 August: the annual L’Ouillette Festival takes place.
ROAD OR MOUNTAIN?
Val d’isère is one of the best locations in the French Alps for road cycling and mountain biking – especially on the Col de l’Iseran – and has established itself as a popular centre for e-biking too.
At 2,770m, the Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved road in Europe and is surrounded by the glaciers of Val d’Isère and the Vanoise National Park. It also features as an epic climb in the famous Tour de France.
On 1-2 July, the road becomes the setting for the second Chamois Reborn motorcycle festival. Last summer, circa 500 bikers with vintage models from all over the world, gathered in Val d’Isère to replicate a mass climb to the top of the pass first staged in 1965. The festival includes stunts, demonstrations, a rock concert and even a giant tartiflette.
For more information visit: www.chamois-reborn.com
Bike Park in Val d’Isère-Tignes
For mountain bikers, Val d’Isère, and its neighbouring resort, Tignes, provide 150 km of marked trails and five lifts to access them, free of charge. 2017 sees the opening of the new Fast Wood red trail down from the top of Bellevarde, plunging 760 metres vertical in 5.8 km.
In total, the area offers a multitude of runs: three green, nine blue, five red, four black and one double black. There are also 12 blue and black all-terrain trails, plus four cross-country circuits.
Of course, all of these rides, including the Col de l’Iseran, are possible on e-bikes, which are available to rent through Val E-Bike.
For more information visit: www.valdisere.com/en/activites/e-bike-rental/
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
The Electric and hybrid vehicle show returns to Val d’Isère
When? 13-16 July
The leading show in the Alps, exploring alternative energy in transport, is back this summer, with circa 100 brands showcasing remarkable innovations. Val d’Isère is a major supporter of environmentally-friendly transport and the show, with a full programme of family entertainment, is expected to attract some 15,000 visitors. It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore the potential of driverless cars by seeing them in action. The show is by no means confined to the four-wheel revolution with the latest in e-bikes and e-motorbikes on display as well as all kinds of offbeat innovations; many of which can be tested by the visitors.
For more information visit: www.salon-vehicule-electrique.com
High Trail Vanoise® by Odlo in Val d’Isère
When? 7-8 July
Lace up your running shoes and get ready for one of the biggest events in the trail-running calendar. From 7-8 July, keen trail runners can take part in six races including The Vertical Kilometre, High Trail Vanoise and Le Trail de 6 Cols.
This year, the High Trail Vanoise race (8 July) has been newly designed: it winds through the Haute Tarentaise and Maurienne Valley, touching the renowned Col de Iseran at 2,764 m and summiting the Grande Motte glacier at 3,653 m. It is 67 km long, with a gruelling 5,400 metre vertical climb. This year, the tough course forms part of the renowned European Skyrunning Championships. The International Skyrunning Federation represents the governing authority of skyrunning – defined as mountain running above 2,000 m over extremely technical trails. Four disciplines define the sport, which are not just based on distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty. They are Sky, Ultra, Vertical and Extreme.
Price: race entry costs from €15 pp, the High Trail Vanoise costs from €70 pp to enter.
For more information visit: www.high-trail-vanoise.com/en/
Accommodation: A three-night stay, from 7-10 July, costs from £98 pp (£196 total) for two people sharing a studio apartment with Ski France: www.skifrance.co.uk. Flights (London to Geneva) cost from £118 pp. Transfers and food extra.
L’Avaline Savoyard Fair
When? 5-6 August
Held for the 13th consecutive year, this traditional Savoyard fair sees more than 100 exhibitors from every corner of the Savoie plus the adjacent region of Piedmont (across the Italian frontier) gather to offer a host of culinary delights. Sample regional goodies such as cheese, jam, charcuterie, honey, and wine plus admire local artworks too. In years gone by, trade between Savoie and Piedmont was important, and L’Avaline Savoyard Fair brings this tradition back to life. It’s also ideal for families, with lots of entertainment (including donkey rides, face painting and farm animals) for children and adults.
For more information visit: www.valdisere.com/en/agenda/12th-savoyard-fair-lavaline/
And don’t forget about…
Vanoise National Park
Discover the wide variety of flora and fauna in this giant nature reserve on the edge of Val d’Isère. Look out for marmots and mountain goats, with eagles and herds of chamois.
Make the most of the natural park with a guide, or get away from it all and spend a night in a cosy hut.
For more information and to book a guide visit:www.valdisere.com/en/mountain/vanoise-national-park/
Val d’Isère’s swimming pool complex also houses an aquagym and wellness area, complete with sauna, hammam, hot tubs and treatment rooms. There’s also a fully-equipped gym and a squash court, plus golf and driving simulators and a 200sq m climbing wall.
For more information visit: www.centre-aquasportif.com/en_index.php
A number of sports parks in the village centre and in the Vallée du Manchet offer a range of activities for all ages, including tennis, trampolining, archery, laser biathlon, golf, football, riding, and orienteering.
For more information visit: www.valdinet.com/fitness/
The village crèche cares for children from 18 months to three years (open from 9 July to 1 September), while the Leisure Centre looks after older children from three to 16 years, with a full programme of activities suitable for varying age groups.
For more information about the crèche visit:www.valdisere.com/en/item/creche-du-village-des-enfants-2/
For more information about Val d’Isère please visit:www.valdisere.com/en/
A week’s stay at the four-star Alpina Lodge this summer costs from £72.50 (£145 total) for two people sharing a studio apartment with Ski France (0203 475 4756, www.skifrance.co.uk). Flights (London to Geneva) cost from £65 pp with easyJet. Transfers and food extra.