Ski Holidays in Valmorel, France
Ski and Snowboarding in Valmorel, France
Recognized in the corporate ski rhyming slang as 'la Belle', Valmorel is situated in the shadow of its larger and higher Tarentaise competitors, and skiers tend to rush past on the way to La Plagne and Val d'lsere. But if you have children in tow, then there's no better spot for a safe, relaxing, child-friendly ski holiday.
Built in 1976 in charming chalet style, the low-rise ski resort consists primarily of apartment 'hamlets' with a central area, Bourg Morel, where the limited off-slope action happens. The whole place goes well with its natural surroundings and is aimed squarely at the family market, from its traffic-free main street to the kindergarten and creche facilities in the middle of the resort, which are second to none.
The ski resort shares its 'Grand Domaine' lift pass with St Frangois-Longchamp and Doucy-Combelouviere, and was the first ski region to link the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys. With a top height of just 2,550m and a lot of runs below 2,000m, good snow is by no means a sure thing, but heavy investment in snowmaking implies most of the home runs are covered. The low-lying pistes extend for an impressive 150km across the various sectors and though the area is usually as placid as its clientele, there are a few steeper runs to gratify more adventurous mums and dads.
Unsurprisingly, ski novices young and old have some great roped-off nursery slopes right by the village and once they've mastered the snowplough, some long blues from the top of the two main village lifts awaits - the Pierrafort gondola and Altispace chair. The latter also takes skiers up toward the ridge, from where a network of lifts and easy pistes leads via the Col de la Madeleine to the unattractive outpost of St Frangois-Longchamp.
The area's most rugged skiing, and its most reliable snow, lies in the opposite direction on the north-facing slopes of the Col du Mottet above the Pierrafort gondola, and the neighboring Col du Gollet, while experts may quickly exhaust Valmorel's on-piste challenges. Luckily, the resort's family-friendly tag signifies that there should also be plenty of untracked powder. Then there's also the Maeva Planchamp Et Mottet which is made up of several 4 and 5 floor buildings clustered in hamlets. This human-scale residence is in the pure architectural style of Savoy. Access to the slopes can be done directly on skis.
There's a terrain park below the Creve-Coeur chairlift, having a boardercross course and half-pipe. There's also a special boarders' lift pass.
Valmorel was contrived with skiers in mind and little thought has been given to non-skiers, with snow-shoeing, coffee-drinking and cinema-going the three main choices off the slopes. That said, it's an attractive enough place.
Middle-of-the-road Valmorel isn't a place for destination dining, with mostly identikit fondue and pizza places lining the main pedestrian heart of the village. La Grange and La Marmite are the most atmospheric places to dip your bread, while Chez Albert cooks up tasty wood-fired pizzas and pasta. But for something a little bit different, book in for a meal and a night in an igloo at the Kanata igloo village, where you can 'chance upon the mysterious world of the night'. Frosty reception guaranteed.
Straight off the slopes, La Cordee has a heated terrace to enjoy a sundowner, while the ideal places for a late-night drink are Jimbo Lolo, a Tex-Mex bar with tequila and tapas, and the relatively lively Ski Roc.
There are only a couple of hotels in Valmorel. Hotel du Bourg is at the heart of the apres-ski action but the rooms are cramped, while Hotel La Fontaine is a piste-side two-star that offers larger rooms and a children's club.