Julie’s Insider’s Guide to Val d’Isère

Julie May 27th, 2015

After a very busy and exciting first season here at Ski Independence five friends and I decided it was time for us to hit the slopes in Val d’Isère

Spring sunshine in Val d’Isère

Spring sunshine in Val d’Isère

With so many ski resorts to choose from, it was a very tricky decision, but Val d’Isère clinched it for a few reasons: it’s snow sure, there’s an enormous amount of on and off-piste terrain and of course a huge number of very lively après-ski options – something for everyone!

Blue skies for day one on the mountain

Perfect blue skies for day one on the mountain

We stayed at the Balcons de Bellevarde apartments in La Daille situated about a short shuttle bus away from the main resort but with its own lifts accessing the main Val d’Isere slopes and Tignes. It was a perfect location! The aforementioned shuttle buses into town run every 10 minutes or so and keep on going till the early hours when après ski turns into très après ski!

Our apartment had 2 bedrooms which worked for our party of 6 girls and we found it to be very comfortable, well equipped and exactly what we needed. Two of us slept on sofa beds in the living room and as we were all up bright and early every morning it worked well.

Residence Les Balcons de Bellevarde

Residence Les Balcons de Bellevarde

Our Skiset rental shop was conveniently located by the residence so getting out on the slopes on the first day was really straightforward. And whether you decide to ski from the Folie Douce or opt for a lift down at the end of the day, you arrive right opposite the residence. Super-convenient!

At Ski Independence my role is Ski Product Support so a big part of my job is organising ski lessons on behalf of our clients. This meant I was very keen to see what Val d’Isère had to offer in terms of ski school. We opted for lessons with British run ski school New Generation, who we work with across many resorts in both France and Switzerland.

Our group was made up of skiers of varying abilities with anything from one week to a full seasons worth of experience, New Generation was able to offer something for everyone.

Megan, who had skied for one week previously opted for a full week of morning lessons which really helped her hone those basics and move away from the snowplough into parallel turns. Missy, Alex and Eleanor had each done a fair amount of skiing but all felt they would benefit from a wee refresher course so they chose to try out the Ski Clinic. They run two afternoons a week, normally Tuesday and Thursday and give you a chance to get some feedback, pointers and move away from the dreaded plateau. The girls really enjoyed this and felt it gave them things to think about and work on throughout the week.

Feeling accomplished after a great lesson

Feeling accomplished after a great lesson

I went for an off-piste private lesson with Xavier from New Generation. I’ve been skiing since I was 3 and recently did a season but I am firmly of the belief that no matter how many times you have strapped some planks to your feet and headed down a mountain there is always room for improvement and always lots to learn!

We started off down a very mogully black designed, I think, just to test me. It was horrible! The moguls towered over my head and although I didn’t love it, I made it down. Having verified I could at least stay on my feet we headed for the Couloir du Lavancher. There hadn’t been loads of fresh snow so I was really excited that Xavier knew where to find some of the remaining powder, even if it was a little crunchy.

I’m fairly new to off-piste skiing but Xavier was careful to explain everything clearly, point out any tricky spots and show where I needed to aim for. As a side note I’d always recommend taking a guide if you’re planning to head off-piste. Not least because they know all the best routes, and of course be fully equipped with and understand how to use your transceiver, probe and shovel! Safety lecture over, it felt great to make my way down the mountain which was so peaceful and picturesque.

Once I got into the swing of things my confidence really soared. The lesson gave me some great things to aim for and I’ll definitely be booking in for another next time I’m out in the Alps. It is almost a given that beginners or intermediates should opt for a lesson but for our more advanced clients, I can’t express how valuable a lesson can be. Everyone needs a little refresher course or to try out something new like off-piste as it can really help to iron out those little niggles and make you the envy of onlookers from the chairlift.

At the bottom of Couloir du Lavancher

At the bottom of Couloir du Lavancher

Ski lessons aside a few other highlights from our holiday included dancing on the tables at Cocorico – this is quite a new après bar at the bottom of the main slopes in Val d’Isère. The live music always draws a crowd and there is an amazing buzz about the place. We also enjoyed eating ourselves into a cheese coma at Le Lodge, a traditional Savoyard style restaurant just off the main square. We opted for a cheese fondue and a meat fondue to share between the 6 of us which was delicious and a great way to spend our final night. The service was attentive and efficient and all at quite a reasonable price too – highly recommended!

Great après at Cocorico

Great après at Cocorico

The holiday was a super way to end a brilliant season and remind me why I love the mountains and the mountain lifestyle. Val d’Isère is a resort that ticks a lot of boxes and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I’m already dreaming of next year and I’m almost ready to eat cheese again!

New Generation are now taking bookings for next seasons peak weeks, they tend to be very popular so my advice would be to get in there quick. If you are interested in discussing lesson options or making a reservation with New Generation please give us a call on 0131 243 8097 and we will be happy to give you some more information.

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