Coming to a ski resort for the first time as a beginner skier or snowboarder can be a bit daunting, especially if this is your first ski holiday in Val d'Isere. With a little bit of locals know-how, we've got some suggestions to help you make the most of your time skiing here.
Val d’Isère is already well known for it’s exceptional skiing. With so much accessible off-piste and a reputation for being one of the more challenging ski areas in the French Alps, one thing that people may not realise is just how great this place can be for beginners.
Beginner specific lift passes
New for this winter the resort has swapped out the old Solaise Express chairlift with a fancy new cable car inclusive of heated seating and WiFi. The new 10 person gondola will be able to fast track up to 3,600 people an hour to the top where beginners will be able to feel at ease in the heart of mountain. Last season saw the introduction of magic carpets “pimpam” and “poum” making the Solaise area a perfect setting for both adult and children beginners. To encourage beginners to take advantage of this amazing new area you can get a Solaise beginners area pass for just €35 a day.
Which lifts can you use for free?
If your'e not wanting to shoot up the mountain straight away, you can always take advantage of the nursery slope with the free “village” chair lift and the “savonnette” drag lift. It has to be said though, it is definitely worth going up to the top, even if its just for the views!
Which lifts and pistes are the most beginner friendly?
After you’ve had a couple of days to find your ski legs and wanting to explore more, you can always shoot up the other side on the Olympic cable car to have a cruise around the ski tranquil area. Here, you can ride round the Mont Blanc, Borsat and Grand Prie chairlifts safe in the knowledge you're always going to be on a nice, easy green run.
Where to rent your gear
Of course none of this will be possible without a pair of skis/snowboard strapped to your feet. There are plenty of places in resort to hire ski gear for your holiday and it's strongly recommend to book in advance to get the best deals. One place to note here is Snowberry located right next to the piste, meaning great access to the lifts mentioned above as soon as your suited and booted. These guys offer a great service making it quick and easy for any beginner and at the end of your holiday they’ll even come grab your kit from your chalet upon departure. So no need to worry if you get carried away at après..!
What to wear or bring?
Buying all the gear before you go can be daunting if you’ve never set foot in a ski resort before. Look for all weather goggles and technical ski socks, not the thickest ones you can find in your drawer! The key items to bring with you, along with the obvious ski jacket, salopettes and sunglasses, are as follows:
- Layers - thermal tops and leggings, fleeces, hoodies, hats and a good pair of ski gloves (there's nothing worse than cold fingers!) Weather on the mountain can change pretty quickly, and you are much better off wearing thinner items as opposed to big, bulky jumpers that take you from one extreme to another!
- Socks - a variety of socks ranging in thickness, it may sound weird but in my experience hire boots can be quite painful with the wrong socks.
- Sun cream - even when it’s cloudy the sun here can (and will) still get you, and don't forget the underneath of your chin as the sun reflects off the snow too. Also don't forget to use a lip salve with an SPF.
- Piste map - make sure to always have one in your pocket while you're out on the mountain.
Thanks to New Generation ski school for this article. They offer instruction from a professional, experienced team in Val d’Isère. Small group lessons are great for beginners who want to learn in a social setting. Their local instructors will pick the most suitable terrain to build your confidence, and improve your technique throughout the week.