A simply fabulous resort...
... in Winter
If you come from Geneva, Valmorel is the first ski resort you reach in the Tarentaise valley in France’s Savoie region. But this intimate little village is often overlooked by British skiers in their rush towards the bigger Trois Vallées and Paradiski resorts. It’s the main village of the Grand Domaine ski area, which includes beginner slopes in the hamlet of Doucy-Combelouvière. Ski to the Col de la Madeleine – one of the Tour de France’s toughest climbs – and you end up in the linked resort of Saint-François-Longchamp in the Maurienne valley.
Created in 1976 at 1,400m, Valmorel is one of the few purpose-built resorts in France that’s not a concrete eyesore. Learning from earlier mistakes, planners stuck to classic Savoyard design: low-rise wooden buildings and sloping slate roofs. Most accommodation is close to the lifts, and free eco-shuttle buses connect outlying hamlets. Le Bourg, the pedestrianised high street, is full of shops, restaurants and bars. It’s friendly, relaxed, predominantly French and very family-focused. Club Piou-Piou in the centre takes children from 18 months to six years, and there’s a family snowzone with snow park, picnic areas and pedestrian access.
165km pistes, 50 lifts, 14 green, 25 Blue, 11 Red and 5 black pistes, It’s blue and green heaven for beginners and low intermediates, with mainly wide motorway runs from 2,030m in Valmorel (and up to 2,300m in Saint-François-Longchamp). Novices have six areas, including two just for children. There are snow parks graded from green to black, including the very tricky black Combe du Riondet snowcross. Off-piste skiers wanting a challenge can hire a guide to tackle the Massif de la Lauzière, which is gaining a reputation among expert skiers who want a mountainside pretty much to themselves.
... in Summer
The area boasts so much to do, you won't know where to begin.
Within a few km you have access to the most stunning walking, mountain biking, tennis, outdoor swimming pool, basketball, via ferrata climbing areas as well as climbing guided adventures for all levels, canyoning and white water rafting, to name but a few activities for those who like to be busy.
Road biking is also extremely popular during the summer months with lots of challenging local routes, not least the famous col du Madeleine - often a feature on the Tour de France route - for which there is easy access from Doucy.
For those who like a more relaxed approach, the two thermal cure spa towns of La Lechere and Brides les Bains are literally on the door step.