WHAT ARE THE BEST SKI RESORTS IN THE TARENTAISE VALLEY, SAVOIE?

Internationally known as being the best skiing destination on the planet, the Tarentaise Valley has long been linked with snow-covered superlatives. Firstly, it hosts the largest group of Olympic quality alpine ski runs anywhere in the world, which saw the Tarentaise Valley host a major part of the 1992 Winter Olympics.

But that’s not all; the valley has a whopping 1400 km of ski slopes and 600 ski lifts, with its snow reliability making it a popular summer destination for skiers. With the area hosting the largest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées, as well as several other world-renowned resorts, narrowing down your itinerary in the region to one ski-able set of slopes can be tough. We’re here to help with that. If you’re wondering what the best ski resorts are in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie, then sling on your skis and let’s explore…

ESPACE KILLY (TIGNES & VAL D’ISÈRE)

Named after Val d’Isere native and three-time Winter Olympic medal winner Jean Claude-Killy, Espace Killy combines the two iconic resorts of the aforementioned Val d’Isere and Tignes, coupling 300km of downhill skiing.

Situated close to the Italian border, Espace Killy is defined by the Grande Motte Glacier at its summit, which rises some 3600 metres above the group of villages that make up this high altitude ski resort. 

In Tignes, the action is focused around Val Claret; the highest village at 2300 metres and with direct access to the slopes (there are five lifts here, all within a few minutes of each other), as well as plenty of bars. In fact, there are two nightclubs in town notorious for debauchery, the Blue Girl and the Melting Pot.

Read: 5 travel tips for a skiing trip in Tignes

Speaking of debauchery, Tigne’s sibling Val D’isère is famous on the snow circuit for its raucous apres-ski, a reputation which is defined largely by globally celebrated apres-ski bar La Folie Douce, where a level of impropriety is actively encouraged. It’s even earned Val D’isère the nickname of being ‘Ibiza on the Snow’.

It’s also here where you’ll find the infamous black downhill run, La Face. So, whether you’re looking to get off your face or tackle La Face, you’ll find Espace Killy an incredibly satisfying place.

PARADISKI (LES ARCS & LA PLAGNE)

Another collection of Tarentaise Valley resorts with a quirky name, Paradiski primarily encompasses La Plagne, Les Arcs and Peisey Vallandry. The former is particularly good for beginners and intermediate skiers, as it’s home to plenty of gentle runs and the longest ‘funslope’ in Europe, as well as a 1500m Olympic Bobsleigh which is now open to the public.

For something a little more full-throttle, the ski resort of Les Arcs in France was the first of its kind in Europe, boasting ski-in and out apartment access as standard and plenty of hair raising descents. 

If you’re planning a ski holiday in Les Arcs, it’s important to know that the villages here are, rather prosaically, named numerically. The original village, for instance, is Arc 1600, and the most party-heavy is Arc 1800. In Arc 2000, on the other hand, the ice bar known as Igloo Village attracts tourists to its freezing cold climes for cocktails and traditional Savoyard fare.

VAL THORENS

Next up in our rundown of the best ski resorts in the Tarentaise Valley, we’re heading to Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe, reaching a whopping 3,230m at the peak of its skiable glaciers, Thorens and Péclet. This high altitude pretty much guarantees superb snow, and with 600km of piste, skiers of all levels will find slopes to suit their needs here. 

The superlatives continue; Val Thorens boasts the world’s highest zipline, La Tyrolienne, which stands at over 3km tall and stretches for 1.6km in length. All of it is over in just under two minutes, but it’s well worth it if the ski slopes didn’t raise your adrenaline levels sufficiently!

MERIBEL

Onwards, to Meribel, which alongside Courchevel (more on that in a moment), the aforementioned Val Thorens, and La Tania, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville and Orelle, make up the resorts of the largest connected ski area in the world, the Three Valleys (or, Les Trois Vallees). 

The whole area is linked solely by ski lifts and slopes, and accessible with a single ski pass, making it the ideal location for intrepid, inquisitive travellers.

Meribel itself is equally ideal for beginners, with green runs making up around a tenth of the total offering here, and the Easy Rider slopes safe and accessible for all. There’s so much to see and do in the resort village beyond the slopes, too. In fact, we’ve written a whole guide on that here. Do check it out.

COURCHEVEL

The ski town of Courchevel (actually a collection of four resorts) borders Meribel and is perhaps the most prestigious destination in The Three Valleys, its name synonymous with opulence and luxury.

Courchevel is famous for its fine dining options, with twelve Michelin stars in the resort and counting. Wow! There’s even a three Michelin starred restaurant (the highest accolade of all) here, Le 1947, which offers an ultra-refined take on traditional Savoyard culinary disciplines using only the finest local produce.

Back on the slopes, Courchevel is heralded as having one of the longest ski seasons going, with some of the best snow cover in the whole of the Alps. When combined with tree-lined, wide, open runs, and an intricate, ultra-modern lift system, it’s easy to see why this collection of resorts is one of the most popular destinations in the Tarentaise Valley.

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