Val d'Anniviers lies in between Verbier and Zermatt on the map, but not when it comes to glamour or opulence, which it definitely lacks. Instead its five villages (Grimentz, Zinal, St Luc, Chandolin and Vercorin) are still relatively small and each has an authentic rustic core where you're more likely to stumble across an old cowshed than a nightclub.
Val d'Anniviers is also more affordable than the more famous Valais ski resorts. We are not talking bargain-basement prices (this is Switzerland after all, and there is discreet luxury available if you want it) but your accommodation, lift pass, meals and drinks should all be cheaper. And that's not the only advantage of skiing in something of a rural backwater: lift queues are rare, the pistes are uncrowded and at lunchtime you can usually get a table at a mountain restaurant without having to make a reservation in advance.
In total, Val d'Anniviers has about 220km of piste, which is just about enough for a week unless you're a zealous piste-basher, and certainly enough for a long weekend. There are a few ultra-modern lifts, but also plenty of slow chairs and old T-bars. The skiing is divided into three separate areas.
St Luc-Chandolin is the most cohesive area with lifts and pistes linking the two villages in both directions. Together they offer about 75 km of gentle piste skiing, most of it above the treeline, plus four marked itineraries, which are much steeper. The slopes mostly face South West so can suffer from too much sun later on in the season although the highest ones (the top lift rises to a very impressive 2980m) are generally okay. Neither village is very large but they are a little stretched-out and very quiet at night. Search accommodation in St Luc-Chandolin and book online >>>
Grimentz and Zinal have mostly East-facing runs which are linked together by a cable car ascending from Grimentz to the mountainside above Zinal with a black and blue piste for the return journey (plus some off-piste alternatives). There are four mountain peaks each with lifts reaching over 2800m: Combe Durand, Corne de Sorebois, Becs de Bosson and Roc d'Orzivals. Coming down from these are about 115km of pistes with a good variety of blues, reds, blacks and ungroomed but marked itineraries, plus a designated freeride zone. Grimentz is also earning a reputation as a centre for off-piste skiing: there may be fewer ferociously steep slopes than there are in Verbier or Zermatt, but the powder stays untracked for longer. Zinal is the more compact village to stay in; Grimentz is slightly spread out, with a traditional rustic centre and more modern buildings closer to the lifts. Search accommodation in Grimentz and Zinal and book online>>>
Vercorin is the prettiest village but also the smallest area. Keen skiers will ski its 35 km of piste within two hours, although that is partly because they are unlikely to encounter any lift queues. Ths skiing here is lower than it is elsewhere in the Val d'Anniviers (the top lift only reaches 2374m) but the runs mostly face North so hold their snow well. Apart from a couple of short black runs, the pistes are all red and blue. The other ski areas are reached by bus. Strong skiers can return to Vercorin off-piste from Grimentz (hiring a guide is recommended). Search accommodation in Vercorin and book online>>>
You can follow the sun by skiing Grimentz and Zinal's mostly East-facing pistes in the morning, then St Luc's and Chandolin's West-facing ones in the afternoon, but the bus ride between the two areas takes about an hour, so it's not something you will want to do everyday.
Ski Hire and Equipment Rental in Val d'Anniviers
There are outlets in all the villages but not a lot of choice. The Skiset shop in Grimentz offers discounts if equipment is booked online through this link. ALPINRESORTS.com works with other shops in and around Val D'Anniviers and also gives discounts if you book online in advance - click here to see shop locations and special offers.
Getting to Val D'Anniviers
Nearest airports: Sion Airport is just 29km (30 mins) drive away from Vercorin and Chandolin,via the A9, and Geneva Airport 182km (2 hours) via A1 and A9. Allow another 15 minutes for St Luc, 30 minutes for Grimentz and nearly an hour for Zinal which is at the head of the valley.
Ski-Lifts arranges hassle-free, door-to-door transfers to all the Val D'Anniviers resorts from Geneva Airport, Sion Airport and other airports, train stations and city centres, with 24/7 assistance. Get an immediate quote and book online>
Val d'Anniviers Pros & Cons
+ Uncrowded slopes
+ Quiet cosy villages
+ Good value, unpretentious hotels
+ Plenty of off-piste
- Lack of nightlife
- Three separate ski areas.