Two skiers on forest trail piste at Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps.

Valmorel

Tarentaise Valley, Savoie, French Alps

The ski resort of Valmorel is linked to Saint-François Longchamp, in the Maurienne Valley.

One of the quicker resorts to access in the Tarentaise, with straightforward road transfers from Albertville, Moutiers, Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc and Grenoble.

Snowfalls benefit from the presence of high peaks surrounding the nearby 3 Valleys resorts of Méribel and Saint-Martin de Belleville.

Skiers beside ski lifts on mountainside at Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps

The Ski Area

Valmorel’s piste network is lift-linked with that of Saint-François Longchamp, which lies beyond the famous Col de la Madeleine (1993m) in the Vallée de la Maurienne. The combined area, known as Le Grand Domaine, offers something for most levels and interests, and access to both sides of the mountain means skiers can find the best snow conditions throughout the day.

In line with intermediate skiers’ taste for plenty of long cruising runs, Valmorel obliges with the majority of its pistes being graded blue, although there are also some worthwhile reds, plus a handful of blacks. For less-confident skiers and back-to-nature fans there’s also a long, relaxing tree-lined cruise down to the charming, smaller village of Doucy.

In addition to the groomed terrain there are snowparks, snowzones, boardercross, etc., designed to keep families and freestylers entertained. There’s also a good selection of off-piste routes, the most accessible being a normally-unpisted black now called the Free Ride du Riondet. Local ESF guides are well acquainted with the others.

Infrastructure-wise, in recent years Valmorel has finally started to address its longstanding reliance on drag-lifts and installed much more capable high-speed chairs. There are, however, lots of drags still in use, which might not suit snowboarders.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1400m - 2500m
Valmorel
Pistes Total:
165 km
Pie chart showing ski terrain at Valmorel, French Alps.
24 Green
39 Blue
19 Red
8 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 50

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Visitors walking through colourful, car-free village heart at Valmorel, French Alps.

The Ski Village

They call it ‘Valmorel la Belle’, and we can see why. Although purpose-built since the mid-1970s, the compact, car-free heart of the village is high on colourful Savoyard-style character and feels cheerfully cosy and welcoming. Beside it is a novice area, and there’s a choice of chair or gondola access to mid-mountain skiing. Just below are the hamlets of Le Crey, Le Pré and Charmettes, set around another novice area, and there’s also a draglift for connections to the main ski area.

A few minute’s walk from the main village is a newer development of premium self-catered apartments at the foot of the Lanchettes fixed chair-lift. Like the arrival in recent years of an impressive self-contained Club Med village, it’s a compelling indicator of Valmorel’s steady progression upmarket.

There’s extensive parking around the main village, all of it payable.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Skiers on chairlift above Club Med village set among trees at Valmorel, French Alps.

Best For

Despite being relatively young, Valmorel has already established a loyal following among family skiers who value quality self-catering accommodation combined with a reasonably-priced lift pass. It also has a relaxed, friendly vibe, and the road access is perhaps the easiest of all the Tarentaise resorts.

While Valmorel’s ski terrain might not be the most challenging around, there’s variety, plenty of cruising plus safe, accessible beginner areas. A healthy selection of snow-parks and other fun areas will also appeal to families with teenagers.

Confident intermediates, though, will soon be heading off to discover the Grand Domaine’s full potential by skiing across the Col de la Madeleine and seeing things differently in Saint-François Longchamp. Finally, if you feel like trying cross-country skiing then there’s dedicated groomed terrain locally.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

6 snowzones with boardercross, snowpark, snowcross. Pirate themed adventure zones for kids.
2 Snowparks
3 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Two areas - Valmorel / Doucy / Celliers and Nâves. Circuits for all levels. Nordic ski pass obligatory.
60km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

Handiski...

  • ESF Valmorel have qualified instructors and Dualski equipment for half or full day lessons.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Charming, traffic-free village.
  • Easy liaison with Saint-François Longchamp’s long cruising runs on sunny slopes.
  • Some challenging terrain for more experienced skiers, both on and off-piste.
  • Visit Doucy via a long and picturesque green piste for a relaxing half day and spectacular views.
  • Popular mountain walking routes offering stunning scenery and access to restaurants.
  • You can journey to nearby Moûtiers by high-speed TGV ski train.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Outdated lift system with some slow chair-lifts and too many drag-lifts.
  • Long-stay parking in the resort is all payable.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Ski over to St Francois Longchamp in the morning for sunny slopes and a cheaper lunch options.
  • If you don’t have parking at your accommodation, reserve covered parking in advance on the Valmorel website. All parking in Valmorel is payable.
  • If self-catering, do your main shop before you arrive, there’s a good Centre Commercial beside the autoroute at Albertville. There are two small supermarkets in the village, plus boulangeries and specialist local produce shops.
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Practical Information

Getting there

By car
Autoroute A43 Lyon / Albertville, then N90 (direction Moutiers) to Aigueblanche, exit 37. Follow the signs for Valmorel.

By air

Jet2.com offers low-cost flights to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

Other low-cost flights are available from the UK. Transfers are just 1¼ hours from Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc. Lyon, Geneva, and Grenoble are all within 2 hours’ transfer time.

Visit for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.

By train
Ski trains run throughout the winter and take you direct into Moûtiers, where you can organise a transfer.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with Voyages SNCF UK.


Things to do

In line with its family resort image, Valmorel has something approaching an obsession with toboggan and snowkart runs. Just below the main village, for example, you’ll see children and their parents having fun in the Espace Luge, which is floodlit until 9pm. There’s another 200m-long groomed run in the village of Naves, and another dedicated luge area at the foot of Doucy’s pistes.


For something less traditional, each afternoon there are snowkarting sessions with ESF intructors at the top of the Pierrafort chairlift. Alternatively, if you’re around on a Saturday afternoon then head to the same meeting-point for ‘Multigliss’ activities - choose from snowkart, airboard or snakegliss (caterpillar-style linked luge fun descents).


The Office de Tourisme in the village has full details of these and many more activities including parapente flights.

Where to stay

Seen, tried and tested.La Grange aux Fées

Les Fontaines
73260 Valmorel

Exterior view of CGH La Grange aux Fees ski apartments, Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps

Beautifully presented, spacious and contemporary styled apartments. Set in a quiet location on the edge of the ski village just a few minutes walk from the car-free centre, which has a choice of restaurants, bars and shops.

The apartments are extremely well-equipped, with microwave/oven, dishwasher and various appliances, although the food preparation area is tiny. There’s a bathroom and separate WC, plus a generous en-suite bathroom with shower in the double bedroom. The dining area/lounge opens onto a balcony – ours overlooked the return piste.

Access to the slopes is via the Lanchettes lift right beside the residence. The ski locker rooms open straight onto the end of a blue grade piste and the lift. Good skiers can return via one of two red-graded pistes, and it’s also possible to find an easier way via a cut-through among apartment buildings in the main village.

We stayed with Peak Retreats at La Grange aux Fées. 7 nights self-catered from £283pp, including Eurotunnel crossing with FlexiPlus upgrade.


Seen, tried and tested.Club Med Valmorel

Overview of Club Med ski village at Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps

The all inclusive 4-Trident Club Med Resort is located in the heart of Valmorel, at the foot of the slopes of the Massif du Cheval Noir with magnificent views across the mountains.

We visited to take a look at what's on offer. The moment you enter you get an impression of the sheer scale of the resort from the large welcome desk and entrance hall complete with shops and lounge area. It's lunchtime and the foyer is busy with people passing to and fro, making their way from ski lockers and accommodation to the restaurant for lunch. On the ground floor alone there are several restaurants, bar and entertainment area, a crêche, pool and fitness suite, ski lockers with ski hire and ESF ski school desk. Teenagers have their own space too in an enviable basement hangout.

Food is available at any time with all meals, tea and cake, plus snacks and drinks included in the all-inclusive package.

The upper floors are dedicated to the accommodation. Off quiet corridors, the rooms make the most of the spectacular views. We viewed one of the 5-Trident luxury suites on the 3rd floor of the hotel. These suites have two bedrooms (double and twin), a private lounge, dressing room and 8m² terrace. Guests on this floor enjoy their own club lounge with refreshments, newspapers etc.

Find out more about the Club Med experience with the Peak Retreats comprehensive Club Med Guide.

You can book Club Med Valmorel with Peak Retreats including self drive Eurotunnel premium FlexiPlus or ski train.


Where to Eat

In Valmorel’s pedestrianised heart you’ll find a generous selection of restaurants, bars and the inevitable takaway. As you’d expect, there’s no shortage of choice for 'Spécialités savoyards’, supported by crêpes, pizzas, steaks, etc.

One which did catch our eye, though, was Le Jimbo Lolo, which serves tapas, steaks and even Tex-Mex in a latino-style setting complete with heated terrace and potted palms. An extensive cocktail list completes the package.

As far as on-mountain dining is concerned, choose from: L’Altipiano, at the top of the Pierrafort gondola; Les Voiles du Nant, above the Altispace chairlift (both are accessible to non-skiers); La Vache Orange, via the Lanchettes chair, or Le Prariond, at the foot of the Prarion chair. Alternatively, if you’re en route to Saint-François Longchamp you can drop into La Banquise at the Col de la Madeleine.

Insight: Valmorel

Morning skiers on front-de-neige in Valmorel ski resort, Savoie, French Alps.

Insight: Valmorel

Our previous encounter with Valmorel had been confined to a fleeting visit in poor weather after having skied over from neighbouring Saint-François Longchamp. It’s taken a couple of seasons to get back, but this time we’ll be based here, to find out just what it feels like on this side of the mountain.

Our spacious apartment at CGH’s popular ski-in/ski-out Résidence La Grange aux Fées is in a quiet location a few minutes’ walk from the main village, but since our balcony looks onto a nicely-groomed piste returning to the foot of the Lanchettes chairlift, just 50 or so metres away it’s quite a practical option.

The slow, fixed two-seater (due to be replaced by a high-speed lift) takes almost ten minutes to reach the top station, but since the weather is good it’s an enjoyable ride, dropping us at 1829m for a choice of onward routes.

View from balcony of CGH Fée des Neiges ski apartment, Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps.

We take the slow ride from Valmorel

The red return piste to our right is currently closed but ahead of us is the link over to Saint-François Longchamp, courtesy of either a pair of draglifts (named Arenouillaz) or the Biollène fixed 4-seater chair. The drags are actually faster, but we take the chair, and around 1.5km and a little under 11 minutes later we ski off at 2019m altitude and look back towards the village now hidden from view far below.

At the foot of the lifts there’s a choice of blue-graded runs back to the village or across to the lifts serving the red and black pistes below the Col du Mottet (2403m). That particular option also brings access to the Riondet draglift serving an unpisted black (le Freeride du Rondet) for exhillarating plunges into the La Grande Combe.

View of skiers beside ski-lifts at Combe de Beaudin, Valmorel, French Alps.

The liaison with Saint-François Longchamp

We ski off the Biollène chair, turning right onto La Valette, a steepish blue which drops 415m or so into the combe, where a sense of calm detachment adds a welcome natural dimension to skiing in Valmorel. At the bottom we pick up Madeleine, a powerful 6-seater high-speed chairlift which handles the liaison with Saint-François Longchamp. The haul takes us smoothly from the chill of the combe and through the tree-line, en-route for a 2180m ridge, beyond which we’ll leave the Tarentaise (in Savoie) and ski into the Maurienne (which lies in Isère). The transformation is remarkable, the mostly south-facing terrain from here onwards being much sunnier, although less demanding. You’ll find our usual in-depth insight and impressions in our Saint-François Longchamp Resort Review.

Skiers joining piste above Combe Beaudin,  Valmorel, French Alps.
Two skiers passing mountain restaurant at Valmorel, Savoie, French Alps.

Valmorel’s lift-served home terrain

We string together a long cruise down to a familiar lunch spot, then head back to Valmorel to check out some of the terrain we’d missed earlier through not having set out from the main village. Skiers based more centrally, however, have a simple choice of lift. The Altispace I and II high-speed chairlifts head for the Boardercross des Pirates or the liaison with Saint-François, while the Pierrafort gondola heads up to the Boardercross & Snowpark de Pierrafort. Both lifts also access mostly blue-graded return pistes, with the option of a detour from Pierrafort to another Free Ride zone and a couple of pisted blacks below the Col du Gollet (1981m). While there are few really long runs, intermediates will find plenty of cruising terrain, most of it north-facing.

Take the Mottet fixed 2-seat chair up to the Col du Mottet (2403m) and you get a panoramic viewpoint plus another Free Ride zone and a long red-graded descent back to the base of the lift.

View of skiers leaving Altispace chairlift at Valmorel, French Alps.

From Valmorel down to Doucy

Day Two begins back on the Lanchettes chairlift, this time to ski some of the blues served by the Biollène chair. Combe de Beaudin is a nice wide cruise (good for carving) with the pair of long draglifts for company and the option of turning off to continue all the way back to the main village. Arenouillaz, on the other hand, feels more removed from things and throws in some pretty enticing views across the Grande Combe.

Having skied that we continue past two successive paired draglifts, between which is a gondola from the alternative access point of Celliers. By now Valmorel is starting to feel quite distant, and is about to become more so on the long, green-graded woodland cruise down to the village of Doucy. Yes, it’s a green, but for us this a must-ski run, for the haunting natural beauty of the tree-lined, away-from-it-all setting. Time and time again skiing on the margins has brought us experiences like this.

Wide view of tree-lined ski piste above Doucy, near Valmorel, French Alps.

From Doucy back to Valmorel

Down in Doucy things are quiet, to say the least, but it’s a charming, sunny spot which we have virtually to ourselves. That’s fine by us, as we’re in no hurry to leave just yet. The compact village has a laid-back bar plus a minimarket selling local produce, so we order Beaufort cheese baguettes and wash them down with well-chilled beers on a sunny bench nearby – a perfect moment. Heading back on the Combelouvière high-speed 4-seater chairlift counts as one of the most enjoyable rides we’ve had this season, and takes us past a string of stylishly-renovated chalets, before throwing in elevated views of the memorable piste on which we’d cruised down to Doucy.

At the top of the lift we’re faced with two draglifts (the second of which is 1361m long) although at 3m/sec the ride is quite rapid and the gradient gentle. At the top a quick run down the red-graded Lanchettes piste would drop us neatly behind the apartment résidence – if the run were open.

Alternative routes back to Lanchettes

There’s still plenty of skiing time left, so we try some alternative routes, starting with a schuss down to rejoin the Biollène chair. At the top we ski off left and take la Froide, a blue-graded cruise down past the muscular Morel 6-seater chair, which some years ago replaced a humble draglift. We continue on Plan du Favre until we reach a fork – keep left and you’re onto Oratoire, and an initially-steep blue-graded drop onto the front-de-neige beside the Pierrafort gondola. More intriguing, though, is the right fork onto Lanches and Côte Soleil for a less direct cruise which eventually meets Oratoire.

Either route ends up some way from our apartment, but the Altispace I chairlift drops us at 1659m right beside a return piste – the red-graded Planchamp. Near the bottom is a tight left turn which heads through some woodland before dropping onto the Lanchettes lift, taking us right behind our apartment – simple, as long as you don’t miss that turn. MountainPassions heart icon

Wide view of mountainside with skiers and chairlift at Valmorel