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Val Thorens

Val d'Isere

One of the biggest names in skiing, with slopes to please everyone

With its sublime slopes and a lively, attractive village, Val d’Isere is one of the world's great ski resorts.

The mere mention of the name sends a tingle down the spine of skiers and boarders - the village lives and breathes skiing. The huge extent of lift-served off-piste attracts experts, but there are plenty of friendly slopes to keep intermediates more than happy and good beginners' areas too.

Val is packed with famous runs. La Face, one of the most consistently steep FIS courses, was used for the 1992 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, while the opening World Cup downhill race is run on the OK piste every December. Both are on Bellevarde, immediately above the village.

Its huge area, including the satellite villages of La Daille and Le Fornet, links with the wide-open high-altitude slopes of Tignes, which has all-year glacier skiing.

The resort is remotely located in the Tarentaise Valley in France’s Savoie department, fringing the Vanoise national park.

The village looks magical under its covering of snow, the nightlife is seductive and varied and there's a huge range of high-quality accommodation.

There are renowned bars, both on and off the mountain - Folie Douce, on the slopes, and Dick's Tea Bar, in the village, to name just two. If you have the stamina, some, such as Bunker, are open until 6am! Many bars have live music - but it's easy to find quieter, sophisticated watering holes too. There's no shortage of Michelin-starred restaurants - and lots of options for those who love local specialities such as fondue and raclette. This is the place for your cheese fix!

Many hotels have fabulous spas for those who just want to pamper tired muscles. There’s also a cinema, with some films in English.

There are some unusual off-slope activities. Anyone who fancies themselves as Lewis Hamilton on snow can take a course on the ice-driving circuit at La Daille – a great adrenaline rush. Try 4WD cars, quad bikes or go-karts. Or be in charge of your own sled and team of huskies, driving them, with a guide, along forest paths.

La Grande Ourse

La Grande Ourse

Fast-approaching it’s 80th year overlooking the Val d’Isere’s nursery slope, Le Grande Ourse is widely considered to be one of the resorts finest restaurants for lunch and dinner alike. Sitting in seductive surroundings, the restaurant has hardly changed in it’s time and remains as a unique white chalet, decorated with stunning word carvings.

With a menu that incorporates a fine choice of fabulous French cuisine made with the freshest and finest ingredients you’ll quickly see why La Grande Ourse has remained so popular for so long. Fish and meat dishes are the stand-out choices and among the best of these is the lip-smacking duck fois gras served with sautéed apples. To enhance your dining experience, the restaurant has its own rock wine cellar, ready to provide the perfect accompaniment to your meal.

Incorporating its surroundings to enhance the gastronomic experience is something that La Grande Ourse does effortlessly and effectively. From the ever-burning fireplace indoors, to the wind-protected terrace outside, comfort comes easily to those dining here. On snowy days, choose to dine in the heated marquee to watch the snow fall while you lunch for a truly memorable experience.

Dick’s Tea Bar

Dick’s Tea Bar

Ideally located next to the Solaise slopes near the centre of town, Dick’s Tea Bar is a versatile venue equally suitable for a few mid-afternoon drinks as it is for your big night out. Incorporating a sleek, spacious interior and a plethora of comfy seating, Dick’s is well kitted out with a modern decor as well as advanced lighting and sound systems.

Open everyday from 4pm for apres-ski with live music provided by bands and DJs. A specialised shuttle bus runs from the bottom of La Daille straight to the bar every day, where you can choose to warm up with mulled wine, fresh fruit cocktails, homemade hot chocolate as well as bacon butties for the peckish. For those aching from the ski boots, Dick’s will supply furry slippers to help you recover in time for the party to start.

Bored of the same old music blaring out late in the night? You’ll want to join The After Dinner Club then! From 11pm onwards talented live musicians will accompany DJs to create unique twists on both new and classic tunes. Violins, saxophones, bongos and more take the entertainment to a new level completely.