Après-ski and non-skiers
Val d’Isère might have world-class skiing, shops, restaurants and nightlife, but at heart it is still a village. Its older residents remember the time when people slaved throughout the brief summer to put aside enough food and fodder to survive the long winter, and even we recall seeing locals sharing their living room with their cows. Nevertheless, there is a lot more happening in Val d’Isère than in your average British village!
Every Thursday cars and buses are banned from the village centre, which becomes a pedestrian zone with light shows, ice sculptures, live music and stalls for an atmospheric stroll between skiing and dinner.
There are regular firework displays to celebrate festivals and holidays, and usually a torchlit descent too, where up to 100 instructors ski down the vertical kilometre of La Face carrying flaming torches as they descend – it’s a wonderful sight.
There’s a market every Monday selling ski clothes, sunglasses, gloves and hats, regional dried meat and cheese, bread, sweets, and Alpine curtain material and cushion covers.
The Baroque church is always open and worth peeping into, with actual services taking place on Saturdays at 18.00, and Sundays at 10.30.
There are marked walks around the village, guided walks in English, visits to the dairy farm with cheese-making and tasting, and one of France’s best pâtisseries (with pastry-making classes) in the centre of Val d’Isère.
BARS AND MUSIC
Something for everyone: classical recitals in the church (see below for specific dates); dancing the night away at Dick’s Tea Bar or Doudoune; locals, live music and tapas at the Jack; pool and Scandies at the Petit Danois; rugby players at the XV; young Brits at the Hibou; pool and table football at Blue Note; cocktails at Victor’s; champagne at the Blizzard; louche night bars; tea rooms and piano bars, as well as dozens of friendly little bars in the hotels and restaurants.
Non-skiers can buy cheap lift passes and join skiers for lunch on the slopes. Please see the Ski pass and discounts page for pedestrian lift pass prices.
Mountain restaurants accessible to pedestrians in the Solaise area:
Tête de Solaise. Access via the new Solaise TC10 mega-bubble with a short walk on the flat at the top. The restaurant is now called Gigi’s and the bar, Le Refuge. Both are special and quite expensive with wonderful views. At lunchtime Le Refuge bar will serve cheese and charcuterie boards and desserts, snacks by the fire and aperitifs in the early evening.
L’Ouillette. Access via Solaise TC10 mega-bubble and a walk across the slopes to the base of the Madeleine Express chair lift.
L’Alpin (formerly Les Clochetons). In the Manchet valley, access by bus or quite a long walk.
Le Peau de Vache (formerly known as La Tanière). Access via the Bellevarde Express chair lift. Never crowded but check return journey before going up!
Bellevarde. Access via the Olympique cable car or the Funival, followed by a difficult short (steep) walk. Stunning views and decent food.
La Fruitière and La Folie Douce. Access via La Daille bubble lift. Choice of self-service or smart restaurant. Large terraces and live music every afternoon.
Le Signal. Access via the Fornet cable car. Choice of restaurant or self-service.
There are also plenty of good restaurants at resort level where skiers can join non-skiers for lunch: l’Etincelle, Atelier d’Edmond, Crozets, l’Alpin (formerly Les Clochetons) and Les Equinoxes (formerly Les Tufs).
Please see the separate Restaurants page for more information about Val d’Isère’s restaurants.
The ultra-modern sport and aquatic centre has lane swimming, rapids, a bubble area and water sprays as well as aqua aerobics classes in English. Also squash, table tennis and badminton. One visit to the pools is free when you show your ski pass, though there are supplements to pay for the spa (sauna, jacuzzi, steam bath, hydro-massage, etc.), climbing wall, and the gym overlooking the pool.
MASSAGE AND PHYSIOTHERAPY
The physiotherapists at Bonne Santé can treat long-term or recently acquired sports injuries in their clinic in the Portillo building or in the comfort of your chalet. They also offer a range of sports and relaxation massages, and are recognised by most insurance companies for injury treatment. Prices start at €50 for a 30-minute massage.
There are also spas with small pools, steam rooms and saunas in numerous hotels in the centre of Val d’Isère.
Val d’Isère has two cinemas with films in French and English.
Outdoor skating rink, open daily 14.00-17.00.
Toboggan and bodyboard races, human curling, football on ice, floodlit parallel slaloms, cross-country ski relays on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 17.30 at the foot of the slopes – one activity each evening. Entry is open to all.
Cross-country ski circuits at village level at Laisinant and La Daille, along the Manchet valley, or around the Lac de l’Ouillette at the top of Solaise (pedestrian lift pass required). You can hire cross-country ski equipment from our recommended Mattis ski hire shop.
The ESF, Evolution 2 and Mountain Masters run guided snowshoe excursions to remote parts of the valley to spot wildlife or just enjoy the silent forests. Joining an afternoon group with the ESF from 14.30-17.00 (14.00-17.00 during school holidays) costs around €41 per person, or meet at Killy Sports in the village centre for a 3-hour excursion with Pascal Berthes of Mountain Masters. Day walks and even a snowshoe dinner, walking to Fornet, also available.
Evolution 2 also offers a huge range of other activities: ice diving in Tignes le Lac, ice climbing at La Daille, parapente, speed riding (skiing while attached to a kite), helicopter rides over the Espace Killy or over Mont Blanc, husky sledding, snowshoe walking with helicopter return or just a half-day excursion. See the ski schools page for websites and contact details.
Altitude Biathlon brings the Olympic biathlon shooting event to Val d’Isère for anyone to try. Minimum 8 people. Sessions last an hour, or longer if it’s not busy.
In addition to the specific events during the season, every week you can join a Wildlife Walk at Le Fornet; see the inner workings of the Olympique cable car lift and how the resort makes snow; take a guided tour: Once Upon a time Val d’Isère and learn about its history or take part in sunrise and sunset Yoga.
The Val d’Isère website has downloadable brochures describing activities and prices.