Skiing in Val Thorens: Guide and where to stay (Alps)

Get the guide to Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in the Alps. From the ski slopes, where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and much more.
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Val Thorens is the French ski resort that has one big claim to fame: the highest altitude. Located in the 3 Vallées (Trois Vallées), it is situated above 2000m altitude in the French Alps. The resort states that it guarantees snow (with or without its artificial machines), making it one of the most popular ski resorts in France.

The 3 Vallées calls itself the largest ski area in the world, with a 375 mile (600km) network of alpine slopes, including some the best ski resorts in France and Europe. Among the other ski resorts in the 3 Vallée network are Courchevel, Méribel, les Menuires, Brides-les-Bains, and more.

Val Thorens perhaps doesn’t have the small village charm of Courcheval or Meribel ski resorts, or the same luxury atmosphere. It is more of a mid-level resort. There are no Michelin star restaurants here. That being said, the restaurants, hotels, and facilities are excellent. An aubaine for skiers, snowboarders, and tobogganers alike.

Val Thorens is a very large resort, with just one epicenter village, and has plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. It tends to be a go-to resort, an easy choice, as it will likely always have decent snow conditions and is easy to plan since everything is in one location.

Where to stay

There are several great options within walking distance of the main ski lifts. These hotels in particular all have ski-in ski-out access, making it easy to get around even if you have your skis with you:

You can find more accommodation options in Val Thorens here.

Top attractions in the area

1. The Ski slopes

Being part of the 3 Vallées ski area, Val Thorens not only has its own ski slopes, but you can also get an alpine ski pass that let you ski all over the 3 Vallées. The chairlifts, ski-lifts, and cable cars are all relatively new, with rapid multi-lines moving people quickly.

Expert skiers and snowboarders will definitely want to get the 3 Vallées ski pass, but if you have beginner skiers in your group, the Val Thorens ski pass should be sufficient. Guides are also available for those who want to go off-piste.

Ski slopes in the Alps

Val Thorens has about 95 miles (150km) of ski slopes, with over 30 different lifts and funiculars. There are approximately:

  • 11 green slopes
  • 39 blue slopes
  • 30 red slopes
  • 8 black slopes

In total the 3 Vallées ski area is has about 375 miles (600km) of ski slopes. It is quite easy to get around from Val Thorens on skis. Many skiers take the opportunity to head over to Courcheval which is at the other end, for lunch and then head back before the ski lifts close around 5-6pm.

2. Children’s and Beginners’ area

One of the most practical parts of Val Thorens I found was that the easy green slopes for young children is right next to the center of town. For some ski resorts like in La Plagne, the green slopes require a ski lift to get to, making it difficult for non-skier parents and caregivers to get to.

In Val Thorens, the ski school monitors start kids and beginner skiers right from the edge of the resort. There are a couple of magic carpets and small ski pulls to get beginner skiers comfortable, before they venture onto the bigger slopes.

Peclet glacier

3. Peclet Glacier

Val Thorens sits at the foot of the Peclet Glacier, which is one of the highest points in the Alps. The summit is called the “L’Aiguille de Péclet”, and is at more than 3500m altitude.

A ski lift called the Funitel de Pectel runs from from Val Thorens runs up the glacier, and until 2001, used to allow skiing in the summer.

In winter time, there is a restaurant at around 3000m altitude called the Café Les Aiguilles de Péclet, which serves menu dining as well as self-service. The restaurant is only open during the day because you have to come down on ski or by the funicular.

In the busy season, the “descente aux flambeaux” takes place around once a week starting at the café, where expert ski monitors and skiers from the local UCPA come down the mountain on skis, carrying light torches in the waning hours of the evening.

(There is also a children’s descente aux flambeaux held on Val Thorens’ green slopes near the center of town.)

4. Après-ski bars and restaurants

Val Thorens has plenty of bars and restaurants, even a couple on the slopes. The Café Les Aiguilles de Péclet on the glacier is very popular and has service all day.

In addition, one of the branches of the famed La Folie Douce is also located on its slopes. If you are looking for break with beer and techno music in between skiing, then head over to la Folie Douce on the Plein Sud ski slope.

In the town center of Val Thorens, there are several pubs and bars that start early at a happy hour après-ski and then go late into the night. From elegant dining at the Hotel Marielle to the more cozy Club 72 Steakhouse, there is also plenty to eat. Try the local fondue and other specialties from the Alps.

For drinks and music, some suggestions include the Parisien transplant Au Perchoir or the high end Le Fitz Roy. There’s also music late into the night at the Shamrock or the Red Fox Pub.

5. Swimming pool and spa

If you need to recuperate after all that partying (and your hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool”, you can head over to Val Thorens’ Sports Center and Aqua-spa. It offers a large pool and spa area, with hammam and jaccuzzi along with fitness facilities like aqua-bike and table tennis.

6. Tobogganing at Cosmojet

For tobogannning at Val Thorens, head over to the Cosmojet. It is advertised as being the longest run in Europe at 4 miles (6km) long. You can access it using the Péclet Funitel, for a departure set at an altitude of 3,000 m.

It takes about 45 minutes to get down the toboggan run, so have your helmets and sleds ready!

7. Hiking

If you enjoy hiking, there are four main hiking paths in at Val Thorens:

  • Marine path – Easy 5km roundtrip starting at the Chalet du Cosmojet, taking about 2h30.
  • Montagnettes path – Medium difficulty 2km roundtrip starting in the Les Balcons district, taking about 1h30.
  • 2 Lacs path – Medium difficulty 2.1km roundtrip starting at the Chalet du Cosmojet, taking about 1h30.
  • Moutière path – Hard difficulty 6km roundtrip starting at the Chalet du Cosmojet, taking about 4 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to get to there?

By Train: Val Thorens is part of the “Les Trois Vallées” (the 3 valleys) and the closest train station is the “Moûtiers – Salins – Brides-les-Bains” train station, which is about 23 miles (37km) away from Val Thorens.

High-speed trains from Paris, London and other major cities in Western Europe arrive at Moustiers all winter long, bringing you to the foot of the 3 Vallées.

From the train station, there are several busses including Altibus which costs around €8-14 for a ride to Val Thorens.

From Airport: –  There are several large airports within driving distance of Val Thorens. Approximate driving times with no traffic are:

2. How easy is it getting around?

Val Thorens is one of the larger resorts in the Alps that still remains very walkable. There is an upper and lower part of town, which are connected by footpaths and stairs.

There is also a free shuttle that runs around Val Thorens in the wintertime, making it easy to get around.

3. How many days should you spend?

In the busy part of the winter during ski season, most places in Val Thorens only rent for the week (Saturday to Saturday), so you will be required to stay at least 1 week.

In the off season and summer time, you should have more flexibility with dates, but I would still recommend staying at least 3-4 days to full enjoy the resort. You can read more about the best time to go skiing in France here.

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If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more facts about the Alps here. A bientôt!

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