For centuries, Val d’Isère was a long-forgotten hunting hamlet for French royals trapped in a dead-end valley, fringing the tree-line, surrounded by steep mountains. Snow-filled forever-winters forced subsistence-level living on the poor, local farmers. Then in 1929 Jacques Mouflier came to town, their first skier. He suggested developing tourism, the rest is skiing history.

The rambling town was re-designed for the ’92 Olympics and now a new phase is being completed to the tune of 200MM Euros. The investment expands the village so the pedestrian area connects to the town’s major lift complex. The result: Val d’Isère will be an ever-more appealing, harmonious and better organized resort. Good reason it’s a Brit favorite, and always in the top ten of the world’s resorts.

Val d’Isère’s natives nurture their babies into champions: Henri Oreiller, the Goitschel sisters, and, of course, Jean-Claude Killy. Their Olympic golds came from the incredibly extensive terrain in that dead- end valley. The area, six times the size of Vail, covers more than 25,000 acres and averages over 40 feet snow a year. In 1938 the Solaise lift was first installed; in 2017 a new high-speed, 7-minute gondola with heated seats increased capacity by 40%. Engineers also literally moved that mountain building a restaurant, lodge, picnic and children’s games area at the top, all with great views of the famous ‘Face de Bellevarde’ downhill.

Today Val d’Isère, combined with Tignes, has 84 up-to-the-minute lifts linking 159 runs totaling 190 miles of pistes. Terrain and facilities are impressive enough that besides the ’92 Olympics they hosted the World Championships in 2009. For the 18-19 winter, a new high-speed gondola whisks dancing queens directly from La Daille to Folie Deuce!



This small 17-room hotel, opened in ’13, is truly a family affair. It is in the village’s historic center where the Mattis family’s great grandparents opened the town’s second hotel. It’s named for the five grandsons who helped them. Today the youngest generation manages this unique hotel with three or four rooms per floor so a family can reserve a floor for themselves. They now have in-house ski rental and a children’s playroom. Décor mixes antique with the new, colorful with the exotic, in this cozy, comfy family hotel.

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The Christiania’s high quality won it five stars in ’12. It is ski-in and out, rare in European resorts, and very central. The recently redone, well-appointed 69 balconied rooms have rustic-alpine furnishings. There’s a fireplace in the sunny lounge; a pool with sauna, hammam, and hydro-therapy spa; and fine-quality cuisine. Then there’s Philippe Bertoli along with his son and guest-friendly staff, no wonder the hotel is top-rated. A hard-to-beat combination, here or anywhere!

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