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Val d'Isère - See giant snow sculptures in Val d'Isere

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.


Val d'Isère - Colorado World Cup races moved to Val d'Isere

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.


Val d'Isère - Val d'Isere prepares to introduce new Solaise gondola

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!


Val d'Isère - Fete de la musique comes to Val d'Isere

Usually a celebrated skiing and snowboarding town, the streets of this resort will come alive and be filled with the sounds of music, rather than people skiffing over the snow. This is a free event that is on for one day on 21st June and it spills from the bars and restaurants onto the pavement and encompasses all kinds of music. Basically, if you can think of a genre suitable for a fete, you're going to hear it here. Who are the type of people who will be playing? Again, this is a great mix and it includes local amateur bands who are setting up their first gig, all the way up to professional classical musicians. There's something for everyone at the festival, even the most discerning music fan's ear is sure to be turned up in delight.

Originally, the festival was launched in 1982 by the French Ministry for Culture and it was always intended to be a fete, rather than a music festival, as the intention was for the event to be free to the public. Such was the success of the festival that it's not only revered in France, but it's also championed all over the world, although you may have heard of it under the name of World Music Day.

Although Val d'Isere is definitely a place to go and relax during the winter months, something rather special happens in June. The locals and out-of-towners who come to enjoy the music reach a new level of fun, dancing in the street and with the musicians who make the region somewhere truly special to be. As you can imagine this is a popular event, but it certainly isn't to be missed, and it's a great way for the whole family to spend time together.

For more information on the Fete de le Musique in Val d'Isere and the programme of events, get yourself along to the website now.


Val d'Isère - Spring skiing in Val d'Isere

Val d'Isere is one place in particular that's excellent for spring skiing conditions especially if you're an early riser in the morning. You can go skiing in Val d'Isere from now (27th April) until the first week of May, which is perfect if you're looking for a quick and late in the season weekend off to the mountains. There is a website that's wholly dedicated to the skiing conditions in the whole of the Val d'Isere resort, and it highlights where the places are going to be for you to get the best skiing conditions over your holiday.

Typically, the snow can feel quite hard in the morning in Val d'Isere during spring, so it's best to get up early, trek your way to the top of the piste and enjoy the view and landscape before you get going for the day. The conditions soften during the day under the bright sunny weather, meaning that as the hours go by the ground underfoot will yield more to your skis. So that things don't get too soft for you, you're best to follow the way the sun sets and rises, beginning the day on the east of the resort to finish on its west side.

If you feel like it, Tignes is right next to Val d'Isere and its conditions are completely different, so it can be good to try a bit of variety when you're enjoying your vacation. Don't forget though that if you are going to try skiing at a different resort you'll need a brand new lift pass, otherwise you won't be able to take advantage of the different slopes. Instructors are a key part of both resorts, meaning that you're going to benefit from lessons with experts who will not only teach you how to tackle the slopes, but also how to stay safe.

As it says on the Valdisere Hotice site, the snow is going to feel great underneath your skis and it doesn't really matter what time of day you take to the pistes - you're going to have an excellent time.

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