I learned to ski for the first time when I was sixteen. My parents took my sister and I to one of those Warren Miller films tours and signed us up for lessons at Snoqualmie in Washington state. Being the (non)-athlete I was, I sucked and after that first year of lessons promptly forgot everything I learned.
Fast forward twenty years later to my first winter living at the foot of the Jura Mountains and not far from the Alps in France. Mr. Misadventures, who’s first wife had been a ski instructor, would not take no for an answer in the “I-don’t-ski” department and shipped us off to a ski resort for a week of lessons.
I skied in classes in a mixture of French and English for five days and came out the other side able to hold my own. There is just something special about French ski resorts. They can turn on a non-believer into a believer.
There are beautiful, stunning, gorgeous mountains all over the country just crying out to be skied on and plenty of smartly-designed resorts of all sizes to entertain and delight (and I swear the food is delectable in each and every one!). One of my favorites spots to go is Val Thorens. Mr. Misadventures did some training there when he was a young lad in the French mountain troops and the beauty of the locale drew him back.
It is the resort in the French Alps so it always has snow! And as part of Three Valleys ski area there is plenty of room to “spread out” and not feel like you are crowded, even on the gentler slopes where I tend to stick. As an advanced skier, Mr. Misadventures did miss out on the “exciting” runs (that’s what I like to call them anyway!).
I think that France has the best ski schools in the world and at Val Thorens you have access to several. But if you aren’t a skier you will still enjoy the resort whether you wander outside for other physical activity or want to be a lodge bunny (I like to do that too!).
Of course, when the Misadventures family travels, food is on our minds and there are plenty of places to fuel up pre and post skiing. I personally like visiting a local bakery to pick up sandwiches for my lunch-time meal and save my Euros to eat in Michelin-starred Oxalys, run by chef Jean Sulpice. However there are many options that fit somewhere in between the bakery sandwich and fine-dining!
There are plenty of resources for planning Val Thorens ski holidays and I recommend doing a little bit of homework ahead of time. Figure out when the French school breaks are – you don’t want to go when they do – everyone descends on the Alps at once. If you can avoid those times, do!
Check out more winter wonderlands in my AFAR Wanderlist.