An independent guide to Val Thorens
Here we have news of what's new in Val Thorens for 2015-16. There's a new easy skiercross type course, Fun Slope, and a new red run, piste de la Chasse; also on the piste, touring skiing is to be accommodated in the early morning and late evening. Off the piste, the five star Hotel Pashmina opens. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2015-16 here.
The main innovation for 2015-16 on the piste is the creation of a new easy skiercross course, to be called Fun Slope. In a video made by Val Thorens' tourist office (embedded below), Jérome Grellet, Director General of the SETAM, says that it will be accessible to as many people as possible, so it should be ideal for kids and relative beginners.
It will be 1km long, and have rolling bumps (known as 'woops' in French), banked corners, a tunnel, and some special sound effects. Although Val Thorens already has a skiercross course, it is too difficult for lower level skiers and boarders, and it is usually closed for the first two months of the season, for competition. The new Fun Slope is therefore a very welcome development. It looks as though it goes alongside the Traversée des Deux Lacs, towards the Portette and Moraine chairlifts. Update: see the exact location on the 2015-16 Val Thorens piste map.
In another skiing development, there's to be an 'experience' around the existing World Cup skiercross course, allowing skiers and boarders to be videoed and timed, with a related community called the Fight Ski Club.
Director General of the Service des Pistes for the Belleville Valley, Benjamin Blanc, speaks in the video about new opportunities which will be created for touring skiing. They will secure and open one run in the early morning (7-9am), and again in the evening (5-8pm), outside the opening hours of the lifts, so that people can go touring skiing on those slopes without risk. The piste and sector will change during the course of the season.
There'll be a new piste in the Plein Sud sector. This is a project which has been under consideration for some time. When you get to the bottom of Pluviometre, instead of going left into the resort of Val Thorens, or right to Les Menuires, it'll be possible to follow the new red piste de la Chasse lower down, over the road, and via the chalet Chez Pépé Nicolas, to boulevard Cumin and (I believe) the Plan de l' Eau chairlift.
Another new piste is to start from the top of the Funitel de Thorens, and descend into the Pierre Lory valley. According to the tourist office website, the piste goes as far as the bottom of the Bouchet chairlift (in the Orelle ski area). Update: in fact when you look at the new Val Thorens piste map, you see that the piste de Lory goes to the bottom of the Peyron chair, which makes more sense.
There are changes to the snow park. The old snow park area becomes an Easy Park, suitable for learning the basics of freestyle on small jumps. The main snow park, with green, blue, red, and black corridors, and the bigger jumps, will now be on the other side of the Plateau piste. Update: from the new piste map, it appears that the Easy Park will in fact be on the other side of Plateau piste, and the (expert) Snowpark stays where it is.
There are to be two 'augmented reality' viewing telescopes, at the top of the Cime de Caron, and a short distance away at Col de la Chambre. The names and heights of the different peaks will appear before your eye as you move the telescope to look at them.
This is the video made by Val Thorens tourist office (in French, with English subtitles), setting out what's new in Val Thorens for winter 2015-16.
Val Thorens is excited about the opening of a new 5 star hotel, the Pashmina. It has been built by the Gorini family, who already own and run the Hotel les Trois Vallées, and the Chalet de la Marine mountain restaurant. One of the USPs of the new accommodation is the option to sleep in an igloo on the roof of the building.
In the video, the Director of the tourist office, Grégory Guzzo, also says that the Epicurien restaurant at le Montana has won a Michelin star, with its chef Jéremy Gillon; and La Pause and La Maison have become maitre restaurateurs.
Finally, a new service is to be offered by the tourist office, VT Pass. In effect, they are offering a concierge service. You call the number, and you can benefit from the type of service that a hotel concierge might offer. Ordering flowers for someone, and being accompanied from the parking to your accommodation, are examples given in the film.
Val Thorens has built a new helistation, with space for three helicopters at a time. It'll be accessible from the piste and from the road, and the 'airport building' will be one of the old Cime de Caron cable cars.
A comment: all ski resorts rely on it being cold and snowy enough for them to function. Helicopters burn a large quantity of fossil fuels for a small number of passengers, contributing to a warming climate. I strongly question whether a ski resort should be building infrastructure for this form of transport. Instead, it should be investing in sustainability - for example, insulation of buildings, and encouraging people to visit using less polluting forms of transport. What about spending money on electric resort shuttle buses, not a helistation?
There's a video dedicated to showing what a run on Fun Slope will be like:
Also new for 2015-16, in conjunction with the tourist office, Cameron Robb is offering ski rental with your equipment delivered to your apartment.
As well as skis, poles, and boots, he will have lip balm, socks, and more. He'll be contactable from 7am to 9pm during the week, and 7am to midnight at the weekend.
Celebrated chef Jean Sulpice, who runs the Oxalys restaurant (2 Michelin stars), has a new cookery book out. It's called 'L' Assiette Sauvage', which translates as 'the Wild Plate', and it has 45 original recipes (price €45).
At the Alain Prost ice driving circuit, clients can now take their own cars on the ice, and learn about braking and control in wintry conditions. From €200 for a session, which includes 30 minutes theory and 30 minutes practice.
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