Linked to Tignes, Val d'Isere is probably one of the most recognisable names in European ski destinations. With a pedestrianised town centre boasting stunning views over the Alps it is not difficult to understand the worldwide draw Val d'Isere has for skiers and snowboarders alike.
The resort is renowned for the range of off-piste skiing. It's possible to access them via ski lifts and it is particularly well suited for expert and intermediate levels. The lift system itself has seen quite extensive upgrading in recent years and a six day pass which also includes access to slopes in neighbouring Tignes. As well as this there is a regular free bus service running in the village at five minute intervals throughout the winter season (this is reduced to every half hour during the summer months).
The resort has over 150km of pistes and as the Val d'Isere is situated in a steep valley this provides numerous steep challenging runs and has done since its opening in the 1930's. This means that skiers benefit from a lot of downhill skiing for a relatively short trip to the top of the piste.
A completely free bus services runs in the village to transport skiers and residents around. In the winter season buses run every 5 minutes between 8AM-PM; in the summer they run every half an hour. The village centre is pedestrian only.
There are plenty of fun events held throughout the year in Val d'Isere and the Espace Killy, ranging from small and quirky local festivals to world renowned sporting events. Music festivals are also hugely popular during the summer months and provide a great excuse to make a quick trip out to the Alps.
There is plenty for non-skiers to do in the valley. Activities include walking on specially prepared trails, snow shoe walks, husky-sledding, ice-climbing, paragliding and light-aircraft flights, sledging, swimming, ice-skating, indoor climbing and fitness classes. Less active entertainment includes the cinema which show a lot of English films all week, visiting the beauty centres, the casino, taking the cable-cars to mountain restaurants and view points, visiting the local Alpine history museum, or some serious shopping in the boutiques. Perhaps try your hand at tennis, or even have a quiet evening relaxing at the cinema or a soothing swim. For the health conscious there are a selection of gyms and fitness centres to help the health-centric visitor keep on top of their regime.
The town centre has some beautiful architecture, a lot of which has been improved or restored over recent years and the town itself gets quite lively après-ski thanks to the large numbers the resort attracts. Thanks to this there is a vast array of restaurants, bars and late night entertainment available. Like most alpine cuisine meat and cheese feature highly and a gentle stroll around the town centre should be more than enough to give diners more than a few options to choose from.
In the evenings visitors should visit one of the town's many bars. Grand Marnier is an interesting theme joint. For example, it serves almost any drink imaginable and most of which is complemented with a generous splash of Grand Marnier, as the name suggests! It's very popular with the British contingent. There are bars available to cater to sports enthusiasts so do a little research if you're in need of something close to home. And ensure a check up on happy hours!
With all this on offer it is not hard to see why Val d'Isere is recognisable around the world even outside of ski and snowboarding enthusiasts.