Earth : Europe : France : Southeastern France : Rhône-Alpes : Savoie : Val Thorens
Val Thorens is a ski resort in Savoie, France. Val Thorens is the highest Alpine Skiing resort in Europe, with the town itself at 2300m above sea level. This also makes it one of the most snow assured in Europe, with the ski season extending to early May. Val Thorens is part of Les Trois Vallées interlinked ski area.
The only way to get to Val Thorens is by road. The journey from Moutiers takes an hour (or more if in a bus or stuck behind one). The nearest rail station is also at Moutiers. There are buses from Moutiers station to Val Thorens.
Cars are officially banned in the resort. Dropping off luggage is allowed, but vehicles must then be parked in one of the Valthoparc car parks. Police will fine or even tow away illegally parked vehicles.
The resort is small enough to walk anywhere, but if you're with small children, or carrying heavy skis, there's a free resort shuttle bus.
The viewpoint at the top of the Cime Caron cable car is at 3200m above sea level. It is possible to see Mont Blanc from there. It is accessible to pedestrians as well as skiers, using the Cairn, Caron and Cime Caron cable cars. There is a restaurant at the top.
Apart from (obviously) Alpine Skiing, mountain biking, walking, hiking, microlight, paragliding, fishing and quad biking are on offer in the summer months.
There are lots of ski shops, which rent and sell skis and snowboards, as well as accessories. One of the best, in the centre of resort (place Caron) is Zenith ski shop.
Restaurants in Val Thorens are plentiful, and mainly fairly expensive. As long as you're prepared to pay the prices, you can have an excellent meal out. Savoyarde specialities are available nearly everywhere (fondue, pierrade, and raclette), as well as pizzas, salads, and steaks. There are one or two slightly different restaurants too, for example a Scandinvian fish restaurant, and another serving Thai curry. See Val Thorens Guide's restaurant section for a full guide.
A lot of the bars in Val Thorens are in the rue de Gebroulaz, also known as rue de la soif (thirsty street). The British pub is the Frog & Roastbeef, and a few doors down is O Connell's Irish pub. Malaysia and Summit are the two main nightclubs.
There's a wide range of accommodation in Val Thorens. There are privately-owned apartments, often rented out through agencies; self-catering apartments in professionally-run tourist Residences; catered chalets run by UK tour operators; and hotels. The most prestigious hotels are the two 4-stars - the Fitz Roy, in the place Caron, and a more recent addition, the Altapura.
The most obvious day trip is to ski the Three Valleys, which is all one linked ski area. Val Thorens is in the Belleville Valley, with the resorts of Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville. The next valley over is Méribel (la Vallée des Allues), then the Courchevel valley. Other resorts slightly further afield, which require a car to get there, but which can still be done as a day trip, include La Plagne, Tignes, and Val d' Isere.