In the depths of winter, there can be few experiences better than getting out and about in snow-covered landscapes and taking in the peace and solitude. Granted your choices of resorts are wide, but when the snowshoes are packed and the deep snow beckons, one of the more popular is Val d’isère in the French Alps.
This haven for winter sports is just three miles from the Italian border, and since the 1930s has played host to countless guests. And what a welcome awaits. You can spend, spend, spend with a wide variety of shops catering for all needs in name-brand outdoor clothing and hardware. For equipment rental, Snowberry is hard to beat. There’s no need to walk for miles either as a free bus service runs through the resort till 8 p.m. and from every half hour onwards.
Dining out in Val d’isère can be costly, but this may be more a reflection on the quality of the cuisine. With reasonable prices and local speciality dishes, Sur La Montagne on Avenue Olympique is well worth trying. If you’re more of a party animal, The Fall Line is ideal for live music, après-snowshoe experiences and mixing with the masses.
Accommodation in resort will suit most budgets. It ranges from hotels and chalets offering catering and self-catering to B&B. One to consider is Mountain Rooms and Chalets. They offer short breaks or longer stays at competitive prices. Check them out at www.mountainrooms.com.
The resort offers plenty of choices for snowshoe hikes in the unspoilt scenery. Among the best is Raquettes Val d’isère run by Michel Gavet a fully qualified winter mountain leader. By specializing in hikes for smaller groups with similar skill levels, each can progress at their own pace. He offers Discovery Hikes for beginners as well as full day, half day and night-time hikes. Prices per person range from 25 to 60 €. For more details go to www.raquettesvaldisere.com.
With around 24 kms of snowshoe trails, Val d’isère offers plenty of choices. Why not try a “Diner Raquettes” evening hike through the forest to a typical alpine restaurant. If you’re new to the sport, the Ecole Du Ski Français will provide lessons. Ranging from one to five in the afternoons, their prices start from 32 €–though your own snowshoes and equipment are needed. For information go to www.skischoolvaldisere.com.
Getting to Val d’isère couldn’t be simpler. Flying from six international airports in the UK, award-winning Monarch Airlines are at the top table when it comes to letting the plane take the strain as you head for your winter getaway. With an extensive fleet of spacious and comfortable aircraft and an average flight time of an hour and 45 minutes from London to Grenoble, you are guaranteed to arrive fresh and relaxed thanks to their superb customer care. The way any holiday should start. www.monarch.co.uk has all the details.
During the winter months direct bus services run from Val d’isère’s serving airports: Geneva, Chambery, Grenoble and Lyon. Journey times range from 90 minutes to three hours. At an altitude of around 1,800 meters, Val d’isère, with its wide variety of activities and terrain, is the place to be seen for all the right reasons. Visit www.valdisere.com for more information.