Our complete guide to...

Val Thorens


Not only is Val Thorens the highest ski resort in the Alps, it is also part of the world famous 3 Valleys, the largest fully interlinked ski area in the world.


With mile upon mile of snow-sure slopes for all levels, the main draw here is the skiing, but the increasingly upmarket village is also vibrant by purpose-built standards and offers some of the liveliest après-ski in France. 

Where is Val Thorens?

Transfer time:   Chambéry 2hr, Geneva/Lyon/Grenoble 2hr45


Val Thorens is part of the 3 Valleys ski area in the department of Savoie in the northern French Alps. 

Val Thorens - the resort

Resort height:  2300m


Set in a snowy bowl at the end of the Belleville valley, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in the Alps. It is also one of the most convenient, with pistes running above, below, beside and even through the village.


Although Val Thorens is purpose-built, it is more animated than many of its French counterparts with a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants, and a vibrant après-ski scene. It may still largely consist of apartment buildings, but has moved steadily upmarket in recent years and now offers a wide range of luxury accommodation including five 5-star hotels. 

Val Thorens' ski area



(1260-3230m - 3 Valleys)



(600km - 3 Valleys)


The Val Thorens local ski area is entirely treeless but very snow-sure, with several distinct sectors arranged in an arc around the resort, all of which surpass 3000m. Access to the rest of the vast 3 Valleys area (including Méribel and Courchevel) is straightforward, weather-permitting, as it is to the so called “4th valley” above the resort of Orelle in the Maurienne valley.


Although the ski area is best suited to confident intermediates, there is also lots to interest advanced skiers (both on and off-piste), along with excellent nursery slopes, all of which makes Val Thorens an excellent resort for families and groups of mixed ability. 

Val Thorens' snow record

Our snow rating:☆☆☆☆☆


Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in the Alps and, unsurprisingly, has one of the best snow records. Not only is the village itself high (2300m) but all three of the ski area’s main sectors also surpass 3000m, many of the slopes facing north, and there are also two small glaciers.


The main weaknesses are the runs down from Méribel and those in the Orelle sector, which face south or west and are prone to slush later in the season. However, these are well covered by snow-making and, all things considered, Val Thorens is one of the most snow-sure resorts in the Alps

Where to find the best snow in Val Thorens

The very best snow quality in Val Thorens is often found on the red run below the Pointe de Thorens. 

Where to ski in bad weather

Val Thorens is a tricky resort to negotiate in bad weather, as there are no trees whatsoever. The nearest properly wooded runs are some distance away in Méribel, but the lifts linking the two resorts are likely to close in a major storm. In short, there really isn’t anywhere to hide in seriously bad weather. 

Val Thorens for experts

Our snow rating:☆☆☆☆☆


Val Thorens has plenty to amuse advanced and expert skiers, even before you consider the rest of the vast 3 Valleys network on its doorstep.


The most interesting of the several black pistes scattered around the area is the Combe de Caron run down the north side of the Cime de Caron. The Combe de Rosaël black run down the south side of the same mountain is also enjoyable, though prone to variable snow conditions later in the season.


Some of the other blacks (and a few reds) are left to ‘grow’ challenging moguls but the main draw for experts in Val Thorens is the snow-sure off-piste. One of the most famous off-piste routes is the Lac du Lou off the Cime du Caron, but there are numerous other options both here and elsewhere in the 3 Valleys. 

Val Thorens for intermediates

Our snow rating:☆☆☆☆☆


Val Thorens is an intermediate’s paradise with endless options in all directions. Generally speaking, the harder runs are found towards the top of the mountain, with the easier cruising closer to resort.


One of our favourite blues is the Pluviomètre from the top of the 3 Valleys chair back to base. For something a little steeper, we also like the long Col de l’Audzin red off the Cime de Caron as well as those from the Glacier de Péclet, which are great for racking up the vertical.


If it’s busy, you could also try the underrated Boismint area which is usually devoid of crowds. 

Val Thorens for beginners

Our rating:☆☆


Val Thorens has an excellent wide nursery slope at the foot of the resort with various free lifts. There are also some easy blues to progress to, with a special half price lift ticket that accesses four main lifts.

Val Thorens for cross-country skiers

Val Thorens does not offer any cross-country skiing. The nearest loops are about 20 minutes’ drive down the valley, between Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville. 

Mountain restaurants in Val Thorens

Val Thorens has a good array of mountain restaurants. Among the trendier options are the Folie Douce and La Fruitière at the top of the Plein Sud chair-lift.


For something a little more rustic, you could try the highly reputed Chalet de La Marine which is accessed from the Cascades chair. The Chalets des 2 Lacs is also welcoming, with a log fire and  hearty food. 

Snow-wise - Our complete guide to Val Thorens, France - Mountain restaurants in Val Thorens La Chalet de la Marine.

Val Thorens for non-skiers

Our rating:☆☆☆


Val Thorens is essentially a skier’s resort but does have a good sport centre with swimming pool, a 6km toboggan run, bowling, a small cinema, ice driving and a handful of walking trails. Non-skiers also have a good range of shops, restaurants and cafés, many of which are on the piste and ideal for sunbathing later in the season. 

Snow-wise - Our complete guide to Val Thorens, France - Val Thorens for non-skiers Val Thorens' night-time toboggan run - 'la luge nocturne'.

Val Thorens' après-ski

Our rating:☆☆☆☆


Val Thorens is lively for a French purpose-built ski resort, thanks in part to its popularity with the Swedish and Dutch.


The focal on-slope après-ski spot is the legendary Folie Douce, of Val d’Isère fame but now also operating in several other ski resorts across the Alps. Back in town The Frog and Roastbeef has long been popular with the Brits, but the Downunder and Saloon are also lively.


For late night revellers, the Malaysia club is packed out most nights. 

Snow-wise - Our complete guide to Val Thorens, France - Val Thorens' après-ski La Folie Douce, Val Thorens style.

Eating out in Val Thorens

Val Thorens has a surprising number of upmarket eateries, including the two Michelin-starred Jean Suplice in the Oxalys residence. Other gourmet options include the Michelin-starred Le Diamant Noir at the Hotel Koh-I Nor and Les Enfants Terrible at the Hotel Altapura.


For simpler more traditional fayre you could try La Petite Ferme, La Fondue or L’Auberge des Balcons

Snow-wise - Our complete guide to Val Thorens, France - Eating out in Val Thorens Le Diamant Noir in the Hotel Koh-I Nor.

Our accommodation in Val Thorens

Val Thorens has moved steadily upmarket in recent years, offering a diverse range of top quality hotels. We offer tailor-made luxury ski holidays at the effortlessly cool 5 star Hotel Altapura, the more alpine yet still contemporary 5 star Hotel Koh-I Nor and the fabulous retro-chic 4 star Hotel Fahrenheit 7. We also offer an excellent mid-range hotel by way of the charming family-run 3 star Hotel Le Sherpa.

Snow-wise's top tip

Just because Val Thorens is purpose-built, do not assume that the après options are limited. Val Thorens actually offers some of the liveliest nightlife in France. 

Considering a luxury ski holiday
or short break in Val Thorens?


Call us on: +44 (0)20 3397 8450

Email us at: info@snow-wise.com

To be the first to hear about our latest offers: