Val Thorens is located in the Belleville Valley which is part of the World famous 3 Valleys ski area. The 3 Valleys is the largest ski area in the world with over 600km of piste skiing stretching over actually 4 valleys, not 3. Originally there were the 3 valleys which included Courchevel valley, the Meribel and Mottaret valley and finally the Belleville valley which has Val Thorens, Les Menuires as well as some smaller towns lower down. As the skiing in the area got more popular the valley that hosts Orelle joined the other 3, more on this a little later.
The Belleville Valley
Nestled under Mont Peclet which is at the top of the Belleville valley Val Thorens is considered by many to be the best placed resort in the 3 valleys, however if you ask some locals who live in Meribel they might have something to say about that. With easy connections to Meribel and the ‘fourth’ valley of Orelle there are plenty of other areas to ski outside Val Thorens.
Val Thorens is also the highest resort in the 3 Valleys and in fact the highest in Europe therefore you are very likely to get great snow through-out the season. So sure that there will be snow through-out the season the resort guarantees there will be or they will refund you some of your holiday money.
In the same valley is often forgotten Les Menuires ski resort. Considering it’s great connections to Meribel and La Tania and of course Val Thorens this resort should really be a place to spend your holiday. The problem with Les Menuires is that it is very spread out, shops and bars are not all near each other and if your ski party is split up into two different buildings you could be far away from each other.
St Martin de Belleville
The next stop down the valley is the beautiful St Martin de Belleville, not really a ski resort but a small village in the mountains. St Martin de Belleville is the main ‘town’ in the valley in the summer and is where most of the local people live in the valley. This village is really nice and very picturesque, well worth a visit. You can ski down an easy route, an intermediate route or off piste. In fact you can also get the local bus down.
Further down the valley there are small hamlets of houses dotted around, these are more visible in the summer.
Back to Val Thorens which is the jewel of the valley. As you can see by the resort stats there is simply places to ski for all ski levels. We cover the types of pistes in more detail as well as some great routes to try for all levels in our Val Thorens Pistes and Routes page.
For years Val Thorens has had the reputation of being an ugly resort, this was not unfounded as the resort didn’t have a lot of money to create the buildings. Therefore functional concrete blocks (ala 1060’s) where used. However a lot has changed over the last 10 years, there are now new pretty chalets and 5 star Hotels as well as a very good Sport Centre and Bowling Alley. Where it has not been possible to replace the old larger apartment buildings the resort has cladded them in wood to make them look a lot nicer. It has made quite a difference.
For many years there has been talk of expanding the resort, the Mayor of the Belleville valley is under pressure from the government to increase the amount of skiers in the area. However there is resistance from the environment agencies to restrict the building expansion. Most of the area around Val Thorens is protected so it is very hard to expand the resort. They have been talking about many different solutions but for the time being they are filling in the holes within the resort. Some of the buildings will be getting bigger, these are mainly Hotels like Club Med or the Fitz Roy. They have also created many new Chalets which are made to high standard.
Additional to Val Thorens expanding Les Menuires is also, there are a lot of older buildings which will be knocked down in the coming years therefore they need to create some nice looking replacement. This is half the reason why the resort is spread out so much. It won’t be too many more years until Les Menuires and Val Thorens might actually become one!
Compared to many other ski resorts Val Thorens is very lucky as it is the home of SETAM. SETAM are designers of ski lift (among other things) and whenever they invent a new ski lift system Val Thorens is the place to try it out. Because of this Val Thorens lift system is superb. Almost all are new or will be replaced very soon, some even have music and Wifi!
We have broken down the Val Thorens Lift system further and let you into the secrets of where you should be at what time of day to miss the queues!
If you would like to know more about Les Menuires, the Meribel valley and the Courchevel valley we have created separate pages for each of them with the local knowledge.
Val Thorens ski resort is one of the top ski resorts in France, we know we have tested them all and when you consider what you are getting it is one of the cheapest resorts too! Well for now anyway.