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Val D'Isere, France - New Years 2015/16

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Better late than never...done to get me in the skiing mood for next week in Utah.



This year certainly was a weird year going into it with a severe lack of snow in Europe but with experience of L’Espace Killy I knew if somewhere will have good snow then this would be it in France.


Travelling there was nice and easy with a flight from Edinburgh to Chambery then a nice bus drive up through the busy mountain roads through Bourg Maurice up to Val D’Isere. Arriving late about 9 at night it was a nice surprise that ou hotel Le Foret had some soup and bread for us, which was lovely and certainly was what we needed. Out for a drink then early to bed as we were very tired.


Day one, up at 730 and down for what turned out to be a perfect breakfast and all tht was needed. Kit on and then a slide through the ice in the hotel car park then a short walk up to the slopes. Starting our walk we lucked out that the shuttle bus was going past so we jumped on and arrived at the main lift centre.



First day was a day to see the entire ski area and find out where the good snow was and where the not so good snow was. It turned out the highlights were the blue runs in the Solaise bowl and over on the Grand Motte glacier, the latter was very busy due to the snow being so good up there. First day was awesome and we certainly explored the area and worked out where to go the next day and the rest of the week. Post ski we were very tired so a nice walk around town then dinner at the hotel was the decision, dinner was awesome and a lovely set three course meal, great service then up to the room for an early night.



Day two was like the first up early a nice breakfast then out to get the first lift, this time like the rest of the week the shuttle bus was not driving past so a walk up the hill which was about 3 minutes and not bad at all. Day 2s highlights were again the Solaise bowl and then over into the Iseran glacier then the afternoon cruising about on the Bellevarde side skiing the easy blues over there. Post ski similar a nice walk through the village then dinner at the hotel, which again was lovely, with all three courses being to my liking. Early night again as we are getting old and shattered and so looking forward to the next days skiing.



Day three is always the hardest day for the legs and mind, having not skied before this trip for the first time ever my calves and outside of my quads are shattered and even the first run was hard on them.  Decsision was made to head to the Grand Motte Glaceir as fast as possible and to spend the morning over there, we made It over quickly and up the final cable car to the top and the most perfect red/black runs, the rest of the morning was spent on the glacier skiing runs I have never skied as normally the t bars on the glacier are never open in the winter but with the poor snow they were open. The afternoon was spent on the Tignes south facing slopes which definitely had the worst snow of the entire area but a couple few hours of exploring over there. Post skiing was the usual wander round town with some browsing in the shops, then we booked a restaurant I had been to in the past that had some great steak so had a nice meal there for a change from the hotel then out for a few drinks, late to bed for us about 1 in the morning.



Day four again similar to the previous day we decided to head to a glacier but this time on the Iseran side above Le Fornet, skiing warm up runs in the Solaise bowl then over the up and over lift into the Fornet area. Wow it was busy so getting up to the glacier was hard work with us having to go all the way down to Le Fornet then up from there trying to bypass the queues. Once on the Glacier the queues spread out and we had some great runs up there. The evening meal was to be our last in the hotel and it was the best yet.


Day five we woke up to another gorgeous cold bluebird day so like most mornings it was up early and out before the ski school rush from the base. The runs in the morning were in great shape including the little red run up in the top right corner of the bowl, where we even got a little bit of nice off piste skiing. WE skied down and over to the Bellevarde where we went for lunch in the best value/ quality restaurant next to the Val Park or what was actually built with the lack of snow. Afternoon was a cruise over into Tignes and a lap of the runs above on the south facing slopes above Tignes Val Claret and Le Lac. Finishing going down La Face which after being injected for the World Cup races was just pure ice now and not so easy on my 102 wide soft as skis. Funny La Face is a perfect run, cruisy at the top then finishing nice and steep but I skied it 6 times in the eek and wow was it hard but fun at the same time. Being New Years Eve we had a meal booked at L’Taverne D’ Alsace which was busy and had a great atmosphere along with its good German food. Post food we didn’t really know what to do so just went for a nice walk and headed to the main snow base for the New Years countdown. The whole midnight thing was a massive let down as the previous four years I had been in Tignes or Val Thorens where there was massive parties with music and thousands of people, this certainly was more low key.



Day six was our last day as we thought at the time so it was time to ski our favourite bits of the area. Grand Motte glacier first thing was the plan to beat the crowds and enjoy the perfect groomed snow. Once skiing the Grand Motte once we had to ski it again and again it was so good. Afternoon was lunch on the Solaise side then cruising about our favourite blues and reds over there, perfect end to the holiday’s skiing. Dinner as at the Fondue Factory the new restaurant in town where you can get fondues for one person, a nice steak one was ordered and it was gorgeous, perfect meal to finish the trip.


Day seven was a bonus day with the way our flights worked and with the forecast of finally getting snow, we decided to bite the bullet and pay to ski for 3 hours, what a decision that was as there was some blower powder about 20cm deep and we had so much fun up on the Solaises Bowl and then the final run down the Val D’Isere base. Traveling home was a delay after another delay, from huge traffic jams, to an awful Chambery airport but we finally made it back to Scotland 11 hours later after our 2 hour light.


Overall I had an awesome time, the snow was the worst I have ever seen there but the expanse of the skiable terrain just makes the place perfect.  I certainly wore out my six year old Kung Fujas and now needing to replace them but it was worth it and I skied the whole week with a smile on my face with perfect company. Val D’Isere to me still is the best place in Europe to ski and if it were up to me I would ski there yearly.














Edited by scottydonald - 9/26/16 at 3:13am
post #2 of 2

SD : the man whose backyard is L'Espace Killy, interesting, early season 2014-15 was not good either but ended well, and they have a ton of snow now , yes . Your reports and videos are compelling reading, but in your videos, it would be great to see your route on a GPS map or something, for those who know the area (was there 7 days as you know in 2015 guided by a 12 yo), it's icing on the cake.

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