Valmeinier can be found in the Savoie region of the French Alps in the heart of the Maurienne Valley and is a picturesque and largely traditional resort. The resort is made up of two areas, one of which is a traditional village (or in fact a collection of mini villages) at the lower height of 15000m, with a purpose built resort area set above it at 1800m.
Snow starts in in early December and the season extends through until mid-April, the resort does have a good snow record overall.
The area is easily accessible and is within two hours drive of at least six airports. The nearest is Chambery which is a mere one hour away. This short transfer time does make it popular with weekenders and short break holiday-makers.
The ski area has been named Galibier-Thabor after the two summits that dominate the area. It offers great skiing and is seen by some as a slightly smaller version of the great Trois Vallee area.
This area is probably best suited to beginners, intermediate skiers or boarders because there are plenty of easy, wide open, nursery slopes close to the resort as well as some pretty tree lined runs for the new starter. The resort has an Ecole du Ski Francaise ski school including a children’s club, ideal for if you have a young family to consider.
Although more challenging runs are fewer, the resort does feature both mogul fields and several black runs, including an Olympic ski run. For those looking further afield, it is possible to do a number of day trips to other ski areas.
Options include Karellis or the Trois Vallee, which can be reached from the gondola lift at Orelle which takes skiers up to Val Thorens. There is even a day’s heli-skiing across the border of Italy if you are especially daring. A reduced rate is available on the lift pass for the Trois Vallee for day trippers.
In all, the resort has access to 150km of ski runs, totalling around 78 pistes which can be reached by 34 lifts. Ski slopes above 2500m can be accessed by lifts, this helps maintain the area’s snow record throughout the season, in fact around 70% of the runs are above 2000m.
It also has 400 snow canons which assist with the natural snow across and around a third of the piste area. The lifts include links to the ski area at the more well known Valloire. For snow boarders there is a purpose built snow park with a half pipe and a boarder cross course as well as wide open spaces ideal for free riding.
Accommodation can be found in many forms, although the purpose built resort provides the best access to the slopes if that is what you are looking for.
There is everything from self-catering apartments, right through to hotels offering full board – you will find that most of these are located in the upper resort area. A number of the lodgings are built in a holiday village style and offer private apartments with shared facilities for things such as swimming pools, jacuzzis and saunas.
Other outside activities include paragliding, tandem skiing, snow shoe walking, floodlit skiing, dog sledding and snow football! Away from the snow there are two cinemas, a bowling alley and a live music venue.
The resort also has a selection of shops offering all the usual holiday requirements including a bakery, delicatessen and a supermarket. The generally small scale nature of the resort makes it more friendly and welcoming than some of its larger counterparts.
There is a limited choice of restaurants and bars but nevertheless enough choice for everyone with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Nightlife is primarily found in the purpose built area of the resort, which has a good selection of bars and a disco, these often run events and festivals that help to add to the resort atmosphere.
Valmeinier is ideally set in scenic surroundings with great access to some of Europe’s finest skiing. Despite this, it remains unspoilt, relaxed and excellent value for money. The resort’s generally quiet nature perhaps makes it best for families with young children and groups large enough to make their own entertainment.
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