Apres Ski in Val d'Isere
Val d’Isere is a bustling large resort but it has some history behind it, and although its ancient buildings have largely been replaced by ersatz modern ones, their influence remains and it’s a pleasant place to spend time in.
Val d’Isere Village
Val d’Isere was once a small hunting village owned by the Dukes of Savoie, and the pretty church of Saint Bernard of Menthon, built in 1664 but with some aspects dating back to the 11th century, still stands in the centre of the old quarter. Harsh winters forced villagers to build solid houses with the local wide flat stones or ‘Lauzes’ as well as wood, setting the style for centuries to come. Although the first hotels started appearing around the turn of the century, it was Jacques Mouflier, a Parisian, who brought Val d’Isere to a much wider audience when he discovered it under mounds of snow in 1929. And the snow, “as light and fluffy as swan’s down” convinced him that this was just the spot to create a resort resembling an Austrian ski village.
But like many French resorts, post-war developments did not enhance the look of the village, and there are still a few eyesores from this period. The resort’s rediscovery of its heritage began in the years leading up to the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, and has continued ever since. The latest development plan, Le Coin, completed in 2022 features a new underground moving walkway and new buildings constructed in the old style with stone, slate and wood, and the pedestrianised area has been extended.
Val d’Isere Apres Ski Bars & Nightlife
Val d’Isere offers a full range of après ski to suit all tastes and budgets. In Val d’Isere you can eat, you can drink, you can play and you can party hard until six in the morning – and most visitors do all of them.
Val d’Isere’s apres-ski is notorious, and often boistrous. How some night owls manage to stagger onto the ski slopes again the following morning is difficult to imagine, but they do and it is because Val d’Isere’s nightlife can be like a magnet. On a more relaxing note, there are a number of spa therapy centres in several of Val d’Isère’s hotels. Where there a spa there’s usually a bar, and Val has plenty to chose from – most with live music, a DJ and a ‘happy hour’.
Val d’Isere’s most famous bar is Dick’s Tea Bar, which opened on New Year’s Eve, 1979. It is now made up of three sections – the Entry bar, the Cocktail Bar and legendary Members’ Bar next door. More than 1,000 customers a day filter through from 3:00pm until the small hours. But Dick’s is now just one of many fun apres ski venues competing for your attention and budget from afternoon until well into the small hours.
Cocktails in Le Blizzard’s bar with its sumptuous sofas are a real treat and the warmth and atmosphere of the Savoyarde’s bar make it well worth stopping by before or after dinner. Le XV at the lower end of the village has a more French vibe and is popular with the locals. It is always exciting to be in a ski town during World Cup races, especially at the very start of the ski season, when La Taverne d’Alsace is THE place to meet.
Dicks Tea Bar
Host to the big name DJs, this is an essential location at night for students and partygoers. It is well known in Val d’Isere and is worth a visit in either the day or the night. It also offers free wireless during the day and the nights can go on right until 4am; a must if it looks like snowstorm the next day! Vodka and spirits are a must here in the evening, but you will feel at home with a nice cup of tea during the day.
Dicks Tea Bar Members Bar and Club
This is an incredibly stylish and expensive bar which is designed to be sophisticated and comfortable, a great place to get away from the rowdy party goers next door in Dick’s Tea Bar.
Doudoune & Cocorico
This is one of Val d’Isere’s newest nightclubs and the club is open until 5am. Set at the Rond Point des Pistes, it hosts international DJs and goes off. Enough said. The Cocorico is the apres-ski aspect of the club and is trying to wrestle with Dick’s Tea Bar and Folie Douce as the best place to go as the ski lifts shut.
Located next to the main road, the Cafe Face is also situated at the foot of the Face de Bellevarde, the famous face of the Winter Olympics in 1992. This bar is merry and cultural, the decor not having been changed since 1993, with live music most nights from 5pm. Happy hour starts at 4pm and the prices rise 10 cents an hour throughout the night. This is a perfect end to a day and is full of locals and French skiers into the night.
This bar has a great position for apres ski or lunchtime stop as it is situated right at the bottom of the slopes in the town system. Their cocktails are renowned in Val d’Isere for being both well mixed and original; they are also served by the pint! Many tourists enjoy this bar and holidaymakers use it as a warm-up before a big night out. This bar has a log fire, which adds a homely feel during the early evening and is also the haven of chalet staff later into the night.
The Moris pub is large and frequented by seasonaires and holidaymakers alike. This pub has an extensive menu and is fair for a lunchtime burger. In the evening live bands and reasonably priced drinks help make this place one of the liveliest places for an evening out. This was one of the first pubs in Val d’Isere and the name ‘Moris’ is one of the founder families who put Val on the map as a ski resort. It looks it, though and although it is fun, it’s pretty dingy.
La Petit Danois
Both a restaurant and a bar make this also a suitable place to go with children. Later on at night it becomes busier and in the morning full English breakfast is served to help those late nights fade away before a big day on the slopes. A central location means there is only a short walk home at the end of the night.
Situated at the bottom of the beginners slopes and only one minute walk from the high street this bar is the best place to go both the end of a long day skiing and a fantastic location for a night out. There is free wireless internet available here too. The student friendly bouncers and staff make this place busy and loud right into the night.
Full of character this bar is renowned for being a French bar, with a slightly more family feel, used as a place to go once the kids have gone to bed later in the night! However, for students, on the right night this cosy bar has fantastic DJs and live bongo and reggae music.
This is one of the newest nightclubs in town and only a few minutes walk from the city centre offering free bus services home at night, until 4 in the morning. Beer is only two euros and a flashing dance floor makes this a good option.
Run by Scandinavians the food here is exceptional and it is often really busy after the lifts close in the early evening. People use it as a meeting point later on because of its central location right above the Spar supermarket in the centre of town. Some of the best cocktails are found here and into the night it becomes a good place for a drink.
Renowned for their ‘Hot Toffee Vodka’ this bar has one of the liveliest spirits in Val. It is loved by locals and holidaymakers alike, and it has a happy hour on Stella beer rising 50cents an hour from 4pm until 7pm. Located right at the bottom of the slopes, if you still have energy straight after skiing, this is where to get your night started.
The Gourmandine is a roof terrace filled as much with non-skiers and injured holidaymakers trying to salvage a tan, as it is with après ski mountain lovers. It is on the Rond Point des Pistes and serves all day from sunrise into the evening. They have a varied menu with the choice of a sweet dessert or crepe to snack on, or a full meal with all the sides.
La Belle Etoile
One of the classiest bars in Val D’isere this is the only place in the whole town where you can drink Heineken, Crystal or Petrus, whilst enjoying the sounds of live music every night. The most exclusive wine list and many different hot sushi dishes are to be found here.
Next to the Post office this is run by an eccentric Kiwi called Phil who is known and loved by the seasonaires. The bar is fantastic for larger groups of people and well known for its high quality loud sound system.
This bar is fantastic for seasonaires and holidaymakers alike. Probably the most friendly atmosphere in Val d’Isere, it has seven plasma screens all playing a variety of sports and ski movies so that you do not miss any of the Premier League matches or any other sport in the rest of the world. Right next to the main parade of shops and the famous Precision rental shop this place is perfect for apres ski, or a full night out.. Also watch out for the amazing ski and snowboard raffles on every week on a Wednesday. There is free wireless internet at Pacific Bar until 7pm.
An atmospheric bar, with very few students, this bar is a great place to get away from the party crowd whilst enjoying a well mixed drink. It is easy to miss but is actually right at the bottom of the ESF meeting point and next to their offices. Free bar snacks from 3pm and cheap drinks for apres ski make this bar unique so close to the slopes.
This is a new bar right in the centre of town on the main high street. It has an urban feel with modern art on the walls and around the tables and hosts some of the best cocktail makers in the region.
A cosy little pub located in a parade of shops on the high street next to the internet cafe this is a quite place but extremely friendly and serving great food and drink throughout the evening.
Val d’Isere Restaurants
There is a wide choice of places for eating out: ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants and takeaway pizzas. At the top end, but still affordable, dinner at La Savoyarde is superb. Others include Hotel Aigle de Neige (formerly Les Latitudes), which has been completely transformed and is rapidly become one of the places to eat out.
The Perdrix Blanche, right in the main street, always provides a wide selection of food, from Chinese to Savoyarde. La Table des Neiges has an excellent chef, or try for La Taverne d’Alsace for something other than Savoie fare. During the Criterium de Premier Niege in mid December, this is one of the best places to eat in town – it’s not bad for the rest of the season, either.
Les Clocheton, in the Manchet Valley, is a good spot for lunch for skiers returning from the Santons piste area. L’Arolay, at Le Fornet, serves local specialities in a friendly atmosphere. La Becca, a hotel restaurant at Le Laisinant, serves excellent food.
Le Casa Scara is a stylish and cosy little Italian restaurant opposite the church: the risotto with truffles is ‘to die for’! Le Pré d’Aval, which serves local specialities in the town centre, is unpretentious and good value for money.
For good value and good food Tufs at La Daille is also open in the evenings: likewise the Brasserie du Grand Cocor (Bar des Sports). Sur la Montagne (33 4 79 40 06 12) on Val’s high street is another relatively reasonable restaurant worth a visit. The Billabong Cafe appeals to the young and the hamburger-hungry.
Val d’Isere Other Activities
Val d’Isere is not just for skiing. It has enough going for it that those who do not simply want to ski can pass a week there quite easily. From a first-class swimming pool and gym complex to husky-drawn sleigh rides and wellness the resort is a full-on winter holiday destination, not just a ski station.
Val d’Isere, like virtually every other ski resort in the Alps, is investing a lot in extra-curricular activities away from the slopes in order to attract those not chained to skiing on the mountain. Pride of place is taken by the Aqua Leisure Complex, which boasts 5,000sqm of top sports facilities and equipment as well as a wide range of classes and wellness. It is a magnificent addition to the resort and gives both visitors and seasonnaires a welcome alternative to the slopes.
Perhaps Val d’Isere’s favourite pastime off the snow is shopping. It has one of the biggest and best high streets in the Alps – and don’t miss the side streets, either. Designer clothes, shows, handbags and furniture can all be bought on the high street, while ski and boarding clothing ranges from the highly technical to designer (Prada), are also freely available. And if you’re in town at the end of the ski season, you can be sure to pick up some real bargains.
If you are not planning to ski in Val d’Isere, pedestrians and snowshoe walkers can use the Solaise, Olympique and Fornet cable cars, La Daille and Le Vallon bubble cars, the Funival funicular and the Solaise, Bellevarde and Manchet Expresses. There is also a disabled sports association in Val d’Isere, which offers various activities and cultural trips as well as skiing.
Snowshoeing in Val d’isere
Under the ‘Winter Touring’ category, you’ll find guided snowshoe outings on which you might encounter chamois or ibex. You can go for half a day or a whole day, and even trek at night. Equipment and transport provided.
Les Plus de Killy Sport | Pascal Bertres | Tel: +33 4 79 06 05 14
Top Ski | Isabelle Lombard | Tel: +33 4 79 06 14 80
Ski Adventure | Elisabeth Chabert | Tel: +33 6 08 63 27 48
Gavet Michel | Tel: + 33 6 62 45 89 94
Ice Climbing in Val d’Isere
There is and Ice Fountain at La Daille, where high-mountain guides will teach you how to make use of crampons, ice axes and harnesses. The icefall is floodlit between 6pm and 10pm. You will enjoy it more if you’re in good physical condition.
Bureau des Guides | Tel: +33 6 87 52 85 03
Yves Astier | Tel: +33 4 79 06 51 28
Husky Rides in Val d’Isere
Be a ‘musher’ and get on the back of a husky-drawn sleigh. Between six and 12 huskies draw the sleigh, and can cover from 30 to 60 km a day at 10km an hour. There are half-day trips and day trips. Some even include dinner in a typical alpine restaurant.
Tarentaise Traineau Mushing | Tel: +33 6 16 48 60 47
Ice Driving & Snowmobiling in Val d’Isere
Snowmobiling and ice driving are possible in Val d’Isere under the guidance of qualified instructor Didier Laroche. The ice circuit has been completely redesigned in recent years and you can now even drive around in a brand new BMW.
Didier Laroche | Tel: +33 6 15 20 71 08 | Web: www.automaitrise.com
Paragliding & Microlight Flights in Val d’Isere
You could take to the skies with a parasail, and ‘fly with the eagles’ from the summit of Solaise for a maiden flight. Looking down (if you dare) you can admire anything from a sea of stone or slate roofs, the odd chamois, the immensity of ‘lost’ valleys, the Pissaillas or Ruitor glaciers, or the slopes of Miravidi across the border in Italy. ‘The human bird’ says the tourist office,’ doesn’t really know where to look first!’ They also do tandem flights and speed riding.
Ski Parente | Tel: +33 6 81 05 99 57 | Web: www.ski-parente.com
Air Professionels | Tel: +33 6 09 46 64 78
Philippe de Villenoisy | Tel: +33 6 07 22 43 97
Biathlon in Val d’Isere
This is not the sort of thing that you do lightly, but if you are fit enough the Biathlon might be something for you.
Tel: +33 6 98 03 81 44
Ice Skating in Val d’Isere
In the middle of Val D’Isere there is a good natural ice rink on which you can skate. The ice rink is open every day between 2pm and 7pm, which changes to 3pm and 8pm after mid February. There is a small chalet by the rink so children do not get too cold and there are hot drinks for sale and a host of entertainment.
Tel: +33 4 79 22 82 05
Val d’Isere Tourist Office
BP 228 – 73 155 Val d’Isère, France
(Resort centre in front of Val Village)
Tel: +33 4 79 06 06 60
E-mail: [email protected]
Winter season opening hours
Every day – From 8.30am to 7.30pm
Saturday – From 8.30am to 8pm
Val d’Isere’s Suburbs & Hamlets
The main road (D 902) still runs through the village, although traffic is diverted away from the pedestrianised centre or swept underground. Avenue Olympique is the principle name for the road within the resort and most of the nightlife is on either side or close by it. Perpendicular to it, is the side road that descends under the Rond Point des Pistes then snakes up the valley between Val d’Isere’s two home mountains, Solaise and Bellevarde, to reach its new smart, ski-in/ski-out suburbs, Le Joseray, Le Chatelard and La Legettaz.
Approaching Val d’Isere on the D902, you first encounter the hamlet of La Daille which is almost an independent mini-resort. Although it’s very well located for skiing with excellent lifts, it’s not a pretty sight, unless you’re a fan of large apartment block architecture (some of their roofs mimic the surounding cliffs, aparently). Gradually the old eyesores dating back to the 1960s and 1980s are being replaced (a process that was hastened by a fire) and those that remain have been re-clad, and there are some smaller, cosier, chalet-style buildings scattered around, but overall La Daille is for keen skiers who value function above form, or just want to save money (it’s one of Val D’Isere’s cheaper areas).
About 1.5km further along the road, you reach the first suburb of Val D’Isere proper, Le Cret. It’s easier on the eye than La Daille, but it doesn’t have its own lifts or pistes, so you can be a long walk (or short bus ride) away from both the skiing and the bars and restaurants of the centre.
After Le Cret, is Central Val d’Isere, but be warned the central area is now a very big place, and stretches out for nearly a kilometre, so if proximity to the main lifts and pistes is important, check exactly where in the centre you’re staying. On the other hand, the bus service is good, and the whole area has a pleasant ambience.
If you turn right and go up the side road (or walk across the Rond Pont des Pistes and its nursery slopes) you will reach Le Joseray, Le Chatelard and La Legettaz, Val D’Isere’s latest suburbs, which are all dominated by smart modern, slope-side apartments, plus a smattering of luxury hotels.
If instead you keep going on D902, you’ll emerge from the far end of Val d’Isere and one kilometre up the road is the hamlet of Le Laisinant. This has its own high speed, 6-seater, and usually blissfully uncrowded, chair lift and its own Nordic ski circuit. As an area it’s upmarket, sensitively developed but very quiet at night and a long walk from the buzzy centre.
Even further away, but with much more charm, is Le Fornet. On the right side as you approach it from Val d’Isere, is the old hamlet. Quite how much of it really is genuinely old is a matter of debate, but the new buildings blend in well. And on the North side are some large smart modern chalets, plus a luxury restaurant. On the road itself is the eponymous Cable Car station. The skiing it serves on the Col de l’Iseran, Signal de l’Iseran and Glacier de Pissaillas can often seem quite remote from the central ski area despite all the connecting lifts, but it’s definitely higher and arguably more beautiful.
Le Fornet is the last stop on the ski bus, and beyond it the snow makes the D902 impassable in winter, at least in a car (part of the road is converted into a piste). In good weather, however, the footpath stretching to the Pont St Charles is a lovely place to take a stroll, provided you don’t mind sharing it with the occasional off-piste or nordic skier. In Spring, if you bring binoculars and point them just below the snowline on the mountains on the North side of the road, you can often see ibex. If you do, the lively nightlife of Val d’Isere’s centre might seem a million miles away but the real distance is less than 5kms.