The western and central areas of Val d’Isère are most recognizable by their “chalet” architecture, while in the eastern part of the town high-rise architecture dominates the landscape. Along with nearby Tignes the area forms part of the “l’Espace Killy”, the self-titled “Most Beautiful Ski Area in the World”.
The Pissaillas Glacier offers summer skiing, as well as the usual winter fare. Snow cannon are placed on certain slopes to accommodate heavy skiing. The ski slopes themselves are equipped with a high-volume gondola, able to transport standing skiers, the funicular Funival from La Daille via a tunnel to the top of Bellevarde, traditional chair lifts—some with windshields and many detachable, button/disc-pulls and tow-ropes. There are both groomed slopes and backcountry (off-piste) skiing. The slopes’ difficulty levels are particularly high. However, as in Tignes there are wide, easily-navigable pistes for those of the beginner-intermediate level as well. Its extensive off-piste facilities include guides for safety reasons; reviews are generally favourable.
Tignes possesses more of the same, with a funicular shuttling skiers up through one of the mountains to the Grande Motte glacier. A free shuttle bus runs between the villages in the valley, providing free transport throughout the towns of Val d’Isère and La Daille.
Within the Tarentaise Valley you find the biggest concentration of world-class ski resorts in the world. Most well known neighbour systems are Paradiski (Les Arcs, La Plagne) and Les Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens and more). A weekly lift ticket in Val d’Isère/Espace Killy gives you a choice to ski one day in each of the other two systems mentioned. There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create what would have been by far the largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.
Après-ski comes from the French for “After Skiing” but is now used universally and refers to the socializing that is popular after a days skiing ends. When the sun goes down is when the ski resorts come alive and enjoying a steaming mug of hot Chocolate laced with rum or a glass of hot Gluhwein whilst watching the sunset over the snow covered mountain peaks is a memory which will last a life-time.
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