Valmorel is one of the world’s youngest ski resorts, first opening in the late 1970s, but its careful design in keeping with traditional architectural style is both attractive and almost timeless, so you might not realise it is so young. This means that the advantages of purpose-built ski areas are here with ski-in/out accommodation the norm for example, but without the need to put up with ugly concrete blocks.
The village has a relaxed, family-oriented atmosphere while its ski area, the Grand Domaine, has spread out to become one of the largest in France with nearly 100 miles of piste linking it to the nearby resort of St François Longchamp.
Valmorel’s main resort activity is airboarding. Airboarding is high-speed sledging on inflatable sledges, while the snake glisse device, particularly popular in France, is a kind of long articulated sledge you ride down the slopes on like a snowy conga. Speed flying takes the most skill and involves descending a slope with a small paragliding sail on your back, so that when you take a small jump, you get big air.
There are also plenty of other things to do in Valmorel. You can have a day out on the mountain, snowshoeing with a guide and being taken to places that you didn’t know about. You can also rent snowmobiles and quadbikes if you want something a bit more high paced.
A network of 50 lifts fan out across several smaller valleys and mountain faces, providing an extensive terrain of mostly intermediate reds and blues, most of which are on open faces rather than below the treeline, though one exception is the green run down through the trees to Doucy Combelouvriere, which is a lovely scenic run.
Beginners are well-served here, though, with a nursery area right next to the village and good gentle greens and easy blues for when they are ready to progress. Intermediates will enjoy the crusing blues and reds and while there is little here to challenge experts, freeriders can take advantage of the off-piste in the Lauzieres area, which is also a favourite for ski-touring and snowshoeing. There are also some steeper reds alongside the handful of black runs, in the Col du Mottet area and in the descents either side of the Col de la Madeleine.
Although the main village is quite low, the snow making ensures that even the home runs are good enough when nature doesn’t quite come up to scratch.
Snow conditions in Valmorel are usually very similar to the nearby Three Valleys and visitors can enjoy views of the striking Mont Blanc mountain range in the distance. The resort is not however as popular as many of its neighbours, therefore you can expect to experience good quality food and drink at cheaper prices.
2 hours 4 minutes from Geneva. 1 hour 50 minutes from Lyon.