Val Thorens Ski Resort

Val Thorens is Europe's highest ski resort village at 2300m elevation
Val Thorens is lift, piste & ticket linked to Orelle in the Maurienne Valley via a soon to be replaced gondola
The entire Belleville valley is skiable/rideable from Val Thorens to Les Menuires & St Martin in the distance
val Thorens resort village offers all the comforts & exceptional snow experiences of the best in the world
Deserted ski slopes in pristine condition are the norm for Val Thorens in January
Exceptional learn to ski areas for novices & children at Val Thorens ......... when the weather is good!
Val Thorens ski resort has one of the most modern & efficient lift networks in France
Ah the possibilites - looking across from Val Thorens to Les Menuires' Ponte de la Masse
The ski lifts in the Orelle sector of Val Thorens lead to the highest point in the resort - 3230m
Plan Bouchet (2350m) is the main base for the Orelle sector & is surrounded by high alpine splendour
Numerous lifts & conveyors surround the Val Thorens ski resort village to get everyone 'back up the hill'
The Getiane slope leading to the best day parking (P4) & the Cairn gondola base below Val Thorens village
Val Thorens snow park is good without being too 'yeeher'
Val Thorens ski lifts & terrain
Awesome Val Thorens off-piste terrain accessed via Cime Caron or Boismint lifts
Steep Val Thorens ski resort off- piste freeride terrain
Cold dry wind blown powder at Val Thorens ski resort France
Val Thorens village is ski-in ski-out at its best
Experience the heights of the French Alps at Val Thorens
Ski & snowboard Val Thorens, part of the 3 Vallees in France

Val Thorens Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Val Thorens

Val Thorens4.5/52
Val Thorens4.5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
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Wagner Custome Skis

3 Vallèes Ski Resorts

3 Valleys
Courchevel
Les-Menuires
Meribel
St Martin de Belleville

    Val Thorens Piste Map
  • Val Thorens Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,800 – 3,230m (1,430m)

    3 Vallèes: 1,100m – 3,230m (2,130m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    6 - 8m+
  • Lifts (30)
    7 Gondolas/cable cars
    16 Chairlifts

    3 Valleys - 166 lifts
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Val Thorens Orelle: late Nov to May
    9:00am - 5:00pm
    3 Vallees: early Dec to late April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 150km
    Longest run – 12km
    Advanced - 13%
    Intermediate - 33%
    Beginner - 54%

    3 Valleys
    Runs – 600km + ski routes
    Off-piste - 10,500ha
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 19/20
    Val Thorens - Orelle
    Adult - €44.80 to 56
    Child - €35.80 to 44.80
    Child u/5yr - Free

    Vallèe des Belleville
    Incl. Les Menuires & St Martin
    Adult - €60
    Child - €48
    Child u/5yr - Free

    3 Vallèes ski area
    Adult - €50.40 to 63
    Child - €40.30 to 50.40
    Child u/5yr - Free
    3 Vallees Ski Trail Map
  • 3 Vallèes Ski Trail Map

Val Thorens Ski Resort France

Val Thorens is Europe's highest ski resort village & part of the world's largest interconnected ski area, the 3 Vallèes. Situated at the head of the Vallée des Belleville above Les-Menuires, Val Thorens shares a local lift pass with adjacent Orelle (the fourth valley!) & has 99% of its terrain over 2000m elevation. Two glaciers are counted amongst its massive skiing & snowboarding acreage, making it one of the most snow-sure ski resorts in France (& Europe!).

Pros & Cons for Val Thorens Ski Resort

Pros

  • High elevation ski area is one of the most snow-sure in the Alps.
  • Snow quality on the predominantly north-aspect terrain is amazing.
  • Ultra-modern, wind tolerant & efficient lift system – the best in the 3 Vallees & it is still improving.
  • No major lift lines once away from the village.
  • On-piste trails are fabulous for all levels (but less for advanced on piste);
  • Off-piste freeride & backcountry terrain gets better & better the more you look!
  • Wide variety of lively après ski options in & around the village.
  • Village is just about all ski-in ski-out accommodation.
  • Good value lift pass price comparative to other major world-class ski resorts.
  • Several exceptional non-ski activities like the ‘AARRGH’ worthy La TyrOlienne flying fox (zip-line) & a super-long toboggan slope that would make even the Swiss smile.
  • Ample free car parking for day trippers right near the ski lifts.
  • Accessible by public transport via train to Moutiers & then bus all the way into the village.

Cons

  • Seriously cold & exposed in bad* weather (*bad being a relative term as it is likely snowing & blowing hard, which is good!).
  • On-piste terrain for advanced & expert skiers & snowboarders is limited.
  • Masses of people exit their village accommodation at the same time in the morning – a sight to behold, but also one to avoid on the slopes (start early ……. or late!)
  • On-piste trails near the village can become a tad skied off & bumped by the end of the day (just go elsewhere).
  • Can be challenging driving up to the village in icy conditions & poor visibility.
  • By virtue of its relatively remote high alpine location, Val Thorens is not the cheapest ski resort in the world!

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective!)

  • Cold, high altitude village that despite its excellent design & integration, may not be to everyone’s taste.
  • Accommodation can be relatively expensive & books out quickly throughout the season.

Skiing & Snowboarding Terrain

Given its elevation [lowest lift base 1800m (the excellent Plan de l’Eau); village at 2300m; highest point at 3230m], Val Thorens is rightfully popular due in large part to its snow reliability & long season. Cold, squeaky quality snow drapes its mainly north-aspect terrain longer than most other resorts in the French Alps.

Another reason for its popularity is that the high alpine on-piste groomers are a beginner & intermediates delight, with 87% of the 150km of trails rated as such. Powderhounds would rate them 5 out of 5 for each ability category, but without some trees to provide vision and shelter on the worst days, a perfect score is impossible. However, the combination of quality snow, lifts, grooming, pitch & length is outstanding. Several runs are one helluva lot longer than the trail map would indicate too (i.e. Lory into Orelle); fun for more advanced riders, maybe not so fun for a beginner or someone on a snowboard down the flat bottom end.

Despite the incredible number of skiers observed in the morning leaving the village, we never noted any congestion on the ski trails. Everyone seemed to either disperse rapidly to points unknown, or simply hung around the few village lifts in one of the many lesson groups. Advanced riders have a handful of steeper trails emanating for the 3200m Cime Caron, but little else to inspire them on the groomers. It is possible to ski almost the entire 1400m skiable vertical from the Cime Caron as well.

See the Val Thorens ski trail map here.

The potential off-piste terrain throughout Val Thorens & Orelle is huge, but not as easily accessed or diverse (inbounds that is!) as neighbouring Meribel. The wind can play an important role in off-piste snow-quality. It is possible to find wind-blown powder ON the piste, plus in more sheltered aspects OFF the piste when it has not even snowed! The top of the Boismint lift accesses some lusty freeride terrain including chutes & a huge bowl immediately to the left as one exits the chair at the top station (mind the entry, it is technical!). Further along, the Cime Caron cable car provides the most consistent fall line skiing into both Val Thorens & Orelle. Elsewhere around the valley toward the boundary with Meribel are increasingly mellow glacial & post-glacial off-piste terrain interspersed between the easier piste trails. In favourable weather, exploration further up numerous ridges & bowls by skin or boot can provide more freeride adventure. Beyond the resort boundaries, a vast selection of glaciers (like the Gébroulaz Glacier) allow for a lifetime of exploration when conditions allow.

Lift infrastructure in Val Thorens area is first class & it needs to be. Thoroughly modern infrastructure, all able to keep turning in high winds & copes brilliantly with the high numbers of skiers that stay in the village all through the season. Lift lines are only noticeable around the village during the morning rush at about 9am, when the village occupants depart en masse, but dissipate rapidly soon after. The construction of a new 2-stage top to bottom gondola from Orelle & plans for other chairlift replacements closer to Val Thorens will continue to keep the resort at the top of its game. The extraordinary level of investment pays dividends in keeping lift queues comparatively non-existent.

As far as integration with the rest of the 3 Vallees, some tasty Meribel terrain is readily reachable from lifts out of Val Thorens village via the 2850m Col de la Chambre. Similarly, one can connect with Les Menuires via pistes from the same location, or lower down in the valley from the Plan de l’Eau chairlift base. Mind what time you start heading back to avoid getting trapped in the wrong valley.

See the 3 Vallèes ski trail map here.

Lift Passes

Ski lift pass options are many & varied when skiing Val Thorens-Orelle. The local pass is for the 150km of trails in the Val Thorens-Orelle domain. It is around €7/day cheaper than the full 3 Vallees lift pass which includes Meribel, Courchevel, Les Menuires & St Martin de Belleville. In between is the Vallee des Bellevilles lift pass. At €3/day cheaper than a 3 Valleys pass, it includes all the Les Menuires-St Martin de Belleville lifts & terrain down valley from Val Thorens. Choose wisely!

Where is Val Thorens France?

Val Thorens ski resort is situated at the top of the Vallèe des Bellevilles, Savoy (Savoie – pronounced Sav-wa) region of the French Alps. By car, it is 217km (2½hr) east of Lyon, 147km (2¼hr) south of Geneva and 35km (45min) drive south of the nearest major town, Moûtiers.

Lyon St Exupery (LYS) and Geneva (GVA) are the main gateway airports, with most using the busy GVA. Both are connected to Moûtiers by train. From Paris (Gare de Lyon) the direct TGV train connection to nearby Bourg St Maurice & stops at Moutiers on the way. Taxis, shuttles or public bus transport are available from the airports & Moûtiers train station. Buses to Val Thorens from Moutiers train station are on the T3 line. They run at least once in the morning, around lunchtime & in the afternoon. Travel time is around 1hr 10min. Buy train tickets to Moutiers via the link below, purchase bus tickets from the driver. A free shuttle bus for runs 5 times a day between St Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires & Val Thorens for skiers & snowboarders.

Search rail transport options to Val Thorens & book train tickets from Geneva, Paris, or Lyon to Moûtiers here.

Alternatively, anyone adverse or contagious to trains & buses can organise a private transfer direct from a hotel or airport. Search & book all transfers to Val Thorens here.

Another access to Val Thorens is via the Orelle gondola which emanates from the Maurienne valley to the south. Orelle is only 117km west of Turin, Italy via Bardonecchia & the (expensive) Frejus Tunnel. With one’s own car or a rental, Milan Malpensa (MXP) airport or Turin (TRN) can easily be used to ski the region, but we recommend using a French or Swiss airport to access the region.

For day visitors arriving by car, stop at the P4 car park. Despite the gated entry, it is free. Anything further up the hill will cost in time, nerves (on the icy road) & money. A host of lifts including 2 gondolas (one direct to the village called Cairn) plus two chairs get you on your way from P4 toot sweet. At the end of the day, ski trails from the village & wider resort all converge on the car park & an après bar is nearby for a quick libation.

Val Thorens Accommodation

Having travelled this far, why wouldn’t you stay in the highest alpine resort village in France. Val Thorens sits reasonably prettily in the high alpine at 2300m elevation, but to call it a village is a bit of misnomer. The ‘classically’ French high- rise buildings are reminiscent of Tignes Val Claret juxtaposed against the white peaks, but Val Thoren’s version is better integrated plus far more ‘livable & user user-friendly’. Whilst not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, one cannot deny its ‘location, location, location’! And to be fair, the more recent additions to the village are classy establishments that would satisfy the most discerning guests. One look at the Hotel Koh-l Nor Val Thorens will confirm it.

Search & book all Val Thorens ski accommodation here.

Whilst the village at Val Thorens might dominate the upper Vallée des Belleville, further down there are a procession of villages all connected to Val Thorens by ski lifts. The stark, modernist high-rises of some Les Menuires village sectors are softened by other more traditional alpine style accommodations. Most lodgings are well integrated with the ski trails & lifts, providing generally ski-in ski-out convenience throughout the 5 village districts. Les Menuires is followed further down the valley by the traditional village of St Martin de Belleville (& Saint Marcel). St Martin has wonderful lift connections to the rest of the valley by virtue of a new gondola emanating from the centre of town. Whether you stay low in the warm embrace of an authentic village or high amongst purpose-built apartment towers is entirely up to you! The ski distance between them all is quite vast and needs to be a consideration when choosing between locations.

Way back down in the lowlands, Moûtiers & Bride Les Bains can make a good value base from which to make forays to each of the 3 Vallees ski resorts, particularly if one has their own car.

In the opposite direction in the Maurienne valley, the other access to Val Thorens by gondola is tiny Orelle. Numerous apartments & chalets are available throughout the valley in the vicinity the village. Staying near Orelle avoids all the excesses of the 3 Vallees plus is close to a whole lot of other lesser known, but not lesser, ski areas including the Powderhounds gem La Norma & the like.

Search & book all Orelle ski accommodation here.

Ski Rentals, Lessons, Guides & Services

Ski rentals are available in the villages of Val Thorens, Les Menuires & St Martin de Belleville. Search & book Val Thorens ski or snowboard rentals here.

An eye-popping number of ski guides & instructors ply their trade in the Val Thorens ski resort & adjoining valleys. A good mountain guide can make all the difference to an off-piste powder day in an unfamiliar ski resort. See our Val Thorens Ski Lessons & Guiding page for more information.

If you need a new ski outfit comprising modern jacket, pants, gloves & goggles, Val Thorens is one of the French ski resorts served by a ski clothing rental company. Order online & your ski outfit is delivered direct to your accommodation at the resort.

[AdListings Filter="Val Thorens Ski Rentals Clothing"]

Review

The Powderhounds finally reviewed Val Thorens, Orelle & the 3 Valleys in early 2020. We were astounded by how good it was & suitably impressed by the quality of the overall experience. Read the review via the links in the left column (or top of page if on a mobile).

See how Val Thorens compares to the rest of the European ski resorts on the Europe ski resort ratings page.

Follow Powderhounds Europe on Facebook or Instagram to see where we are currently skiing.

Tours in or near Val Thorens

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Tarentaise Powder Ski Safari
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Skiing | 3+ Resorts
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski some of the most famous ski areas of the world in France with an experienced guide riding vertical descents of up to 2,000m through untracked powder even days after a snowfall. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy & min group of 7.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,229
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Val Thorens here
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