If you're planning a holiday in the Alps, one destination you might be considering is Val d'Isere. This French resort is popular in the winter for skiing, snowboarding, while summer visitors love hiking, climbing, mountain biking and just enjoying the beautiful views and fresh air.
Val d'Isere is certainly a wonderful place to visit, but when choosing your accommodation, it's important to remember that the resort actually comprises several smaller villages - and each one has its own individual character. Some spots might be more popular with families, while others are known for their exciting apres-ski scene.
So which one do you choose? Well, here's a quick explanation of some of the most popular villages in Val d'Isere so that you can decide for yourself:
● La Daille - Situated right at the entrance of the Val d'Isere resort, La Daille has a number of high-rise apartment blocks, along with a few traditional chalets. It might not be the prettiest part of the resort, but it does offer some great value self-catering accommodation and access to the lifts. There's also a regular bus service that will take you to the centre of Val d'Isere village.
● Le Cret - This small traditional hamlet is nestled into the hillside and offers lovely views over the resort. It has a quiet, calm atmosphere and features a number of traditional farmhouses, which have been restored into luxury accommodation.
● Le Fornet - Located just 5 km outside of Val d'Isere Centre, this picturesque village is full of traditional chalets made in the Savoyard wood and stone style.
● Le Joseray, Le Chatelard and La Leggettaz - This grouping of quiet hamlets can be accessed via a tunnel from the centre of the village. It offers beautiful chalets, hotels and apartments and during the winter, many of these offer ski-in-ski-out access. Or you can hop on a bus and be in town within five minutes.
● Val d'Isere Centre - This is the heart of the Val d'Isere resort, and it includes a wide selection of shops, restaurants and accommodation.
Situated in the picturesque Tarentaise Valley in south-eastern France, Val d'Isere is a popular French resort known for its winter skiing and summer outdoors activities.
And soon the popular resort will have even more to offer its visitors, as it has recently announced the "largest and most ambitious" Alps development project in the last 20 years.
The £170 million project, Called Le Coin de Val, will bring a host of new facilities to the destination, including accommodation, shops and restaurants. There will be some 900 new beds added to the resort, thanks to the development's two new hotels and a pair of tourist residences and there will also be around 100 new private homes added to the mix.
It will cover around 22,000 square metres, and an underground moving walkway will be built to connect the development to the main mountain access lifts. This means that guests will be able to easily get to the pistes and then ski back to their accommodation.
The project is expected to take around five years to complete, and a spokesperson said it will "reshape the heart" of the destination by the time it's completed in 2022.
According to the resort, visitor numbers have "steadily increased" over the last year since the UK's vote to leave the EU. This is despite other resorts noting drops in visitors, which has been attributed to a slump in the value of sterling against the euro.
Plans for the new resort weren't all about increasing visitor numbers, however. Local architect Jean-Charles Covarel who designed the development said he did so with the environment in mind. The new buildings will include smart technology, all of which should help to limit energy consumption, while rainwater and melted snow will be used to run the sanitation system. Geothermal energy will also be incorporated to heat the hotel rooms and apartments, and the exterior of the buildings will be made from traditional stone, slate and wood.
The announcement of Le Coin de Val follows other recent improvement and development projects that have been carried out in the Solaise ski area, including a new high-speed gondola, surface lifts, beginner area and an American-style mid-mountain day lodge.
When there's snow on the ground, it can be hard to resist building a snowman - and it's not just kids who love to get out and create something in the snow. Plenty of adults love it too.
Although most of us are probably happy with three large snowballs stacked on top of each other, with some twigs for arms and a rock or carrot for a nose, some people take their snow sculptures very seriously indeed. And they will be in Val d'Isere from the 19th to 23rd of December, demonstrating just how artistic you can actually get with the cold white stuff.
Over the five-day period, five snow artists will be working on sculptures measuring more than four metres tall, as well as a nativity scene.
Building these works of art requires more than just a pair of gloves and a pile of loose snow. First, the snow is packed into a case to create a solid block. Then, a preliminary sketch is drawn. Once the artist is ready to start chiselling away at the sculpture, the main tool used is a chain saw. More detailed work is later carried out with a handsaw and other smaller instruments.
Last year, sculptures included a giant Santa with a curly moustache and jolly smile, and an enormous court jester with a big round nose and bow-tie. There was also a large bear, a ram's head and a portrait of a woman wearing what looked like a big fuzzy hood.
The nativity scene was particularly impressive, with an alcove where people could stand for photographs - perfect for a selfie with the snow sculptures, or a group-shot of yourself, the three kings, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus to share on social media.
Visitors to Val d'Isere wishing to see the sculptures this year should head to the church on Olympique Avenue. Sculptures will be out working from 10am to 8pm every day, giving you the chance to watch how they work, as well as ask questions and learn more about the art of building impressive displays out of snow.16/12/2016
It was recently announced that races originally planned for Beaver Creek in Colorado have been moved to France, following poor early-season conditions in the US.
This is actually the second World Cup racing event that's been affected by the warmer-than-expected autumn in North America. A competition in Alberta, Canada, at Lake Louise was also cancelled by the International Ski Federation.
Thanks to an amazing start-of-season in the Alps, however, the snow is already perfect for world-class events, so the races have been moved to Val d’Isere, where there’s around 60cm of settled snow in town and 90cm on the glacier. What’s more, even more snow is expected to fall soon.
In case the natural snowfall needs help in the run-up to the competition, Val d’Isere also has one of the largest snow-making operations in Europe and the resort has gained a reputation as one of the most snow-sure destinations on the continent.
The races are set to take place from Friday, December 2nd to Sunday, December 4th on the Oreiller-Killy race course, which runs from the top of Bellevarde down to La Daille. An official schedule should be distributed in shortly.
Commenting on the sudden change of venue - and country for the event, Vincent Jay, director of Val d’Isere’s Club des Sports said that the situation was unfortunate for Beaver Creek.
"We know too well all the hard work that has to go into organising a World Cup ski race and the loss in energy, time and money that a cancellation represents," he said.
However, Mr Jay is also confident that Val d’Isere will be ready tor the competition. "Ski racing has been in our genes for the past 60 years. In the past, we have organised countless World Cup races and we can do this at short notice when we have to. We are proud to meet the challenge of organising eight races in three weeks."
Michel Vion, president of the French Ski Federation agreed. He said that the French ski industry is delighted that Val d’Isere will be hosting the event.
"It’s crucial for the World Cup that it sticks to the scheduled calendar, even if this means some last-minute changes. So, for three weeks World Cup Alpine skiing will be centred on Val d’Isere. I’m certain that the resort will produce some great races," he said.30/11/2016
For a thriving ski resort such as France's picturesque Val d'Isere, a well-equipped gondola system plays an instrumental role in keeping everything ticking over - which is why the resort is excited to be launching a new and improved chairlift this winter.
The final stages of testing of the revamped gondola have already commenced, with staff having bade a fond farewell to the old Solaise cable car over the summer, when the system was finally dismantled and packed away after running reliably for more than 70 years.
Guests visiting Val d'Isere at the end of the year will see a number of benefits as a result of the upgrade, as the new Solaise gondola will offer 91 cabins, each with the capacity to hold ten people. This will increase the system's overall capacity by an estimated 40 per cent, allowing up to 3,600 passengers to be transported every hour.
Travel time has been reduced to just seven minutes, making this one of the fastest chairlift setups of its kind in the world; as such, visitors will no longer need to deal with the queues and bottlenecks that used to be a problem during peak season.
However, that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new gondola's improvements. Each car offers Wi-Fi internet and heated seats, meaning you'll be able to travel to the mountain summit in the lap of luxury; meanwhile, two of the cars will even feature glass floors, providing some spectacular views.
Other enhancements include the addition of new beginner pistes at the top of the gondola, plus a lounge area and bar offering snacks, drinks and microwave facilities, as well as a screen showing cartoons for the kids to watch and a football table for everyone to enjoy.
The builders of the revamped gondola have also been scrupulous about minimising its environmental impact, reducing the number of supporting pylons to a mere 16, while planting five new trees for every one cut down. This means the new Solaise chairlift will be just as good for the mountain as it is for the Val d'Isere patrons!