An independent guide to Val Thorens
What's new in Val Thorens for 2017-18. On the piste, the headline is a new telecabine to replace the Moraine chairlift. In the resort, developments include the opening of the latest résidence within the Village Montana - their 5-star Montana Lodge. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2017-18 here.
Val Thorens tourist office has produced a video, in which Director Gregory Guzzo talks about the new developments for winter 2017-18:
Please contribute generously to the fund to buy Gregory a pair of sunglasses.
Top of the Moraine piste, Val Thorens
The old Moraine chairlift is being replaced with a new Moraine telecabine which will open in winter 2017-18. The cost is €14 million, and each new cabin will whisk 10 seated skiers to the top of Moraine piste.
The Moraine sector is popular because both pistes - Moraine and Génépi - are easy blue runs, ideal for intermediates at the start of the week, or as a step up for those who have mastered the very easiest runs. However, cold winds can blow down this valley, especially when there's a south easterly weather system. A telecabine, which provides shelter from the wind on the way up, makes sense.
As a comment, and at the risk of sounding like a kill-joy, another problem which the resort will have to try to solve is out-of-control skiers. Moraine is one of the problem areas. It isn't just down to speed: Adrien Théaux could ski as fast as he liked down Moraine, and it wouldn't worry me at all. Trouble comes from some skiers and snowboarders over-estimating their ability. When you factor in the increasing popularity of the Val Thorens ski area, and perhaps alcohol in some cases, it's likely to result in collisions, and it does. There has to come a point where it's not enough just to deal with the consequences.
Caricature of Adrien Théaux on the Stade start hut, Val Thorens
Plein Sud sector, Val Thorens
A fourth blue piste is to be added to the Plein Sud sector in Val Thorens. The idea is to create an easy return run to the top of the resort, because Plein Sud is so popular, especially at the end of the skiing day.
Even quite short stretches of track are sometimes given names and classified as separate pistes, and it's possible that the new piste will be something on these lines - a help, but perhaps not a whole new run in the way you'd normally think of it.
A Plein Sud resident asks, 'Did you consult me?'
Because touring skiing is becoming more popular, Val Thorens is creating a new itinerary route. It's to be called la Camille, after Camille Rey, who was the first high mountain guide in Val Thorens. He also built the Aiguilles de Péclet mountain restaurant at the top of the Funitel Péclet. I don't have any more details of the itinerary at the moment.
The Lac du Lou is a lake which is frozen in winter, at the bottom of an off piste itinerary run from the Cime de Caron or Boismint in Val Thorens, and from La Masse in Les Menuires. It always had a refuge, but it was small and ramshackle.
Now the commune has invested €1.2 million in a 31-bed refuge, with a large communal dining area. It will be open in summer and winter, with a guardian on site.
New Lac du Lou Refuge, by OT Val Thorens
Montana Lodge 5-star apartments, by OT Val Thorens
There's a new résidence within the Village Montana in winter 2017-18 - the 5-star Montana Lodge. It's by the ramp from the road down to the piste, near the Montana bakery. As with all new hotels and apartment blocks in Val Thorens, it was built over two summers, so if you were here in winter 2016-17, you may have seen the shell of the building.
It opens on 16th December 2017, and boasts 17 south-facing apartments for 4, 6, or 8 people. There's a pool, sauna, and hammam. Rates start at €1,635 per week.
One of the intruiging features of the 5-star Hotel Pashmina when it opened in 2015 was the Igloo Pod. It allows guests to spend the night in luxury camping, looking out at the mountains and the stars.
Since the Igloo Pod has been such a success, a second one is being added, also on one of the hotel's roof terraces. Both Pods are getting Nordic baths, which are large open wooden barrels, heated by wood-burning stoves.
Also at the Pashmina, if you're near the Explorateurs
restaurant and you hear a champagne cork popping, it could be chef
Josselin Jeanblanc and his team celebrating their award of a Michelin
star in the 2017 guide.
Amélie, who grew up in Val Thorens and competed at a high level in downhill and freeride skiing, is opening a new café and shop in the Péclet centre.
All the food will be vegan and gluten-free, and it will include baskets of fresh fruit. You'll be able to sample locally-produced, organic beers on the terrace. Items on sale in the shop are to include fashionable clothes.
There's a new Italian bistro and restaurant by the pistes, called Il Gusto. It's the new name for the Jean Sulpice restaurant at lunchtime, and one of the attractions is the large terrace with views of the Cime de Caron.
There's an exciting new adventure course in Val Thorens sports centre, with trampolines and foam landing areas.
Ok, maybe it's not quite the right era, but the Ice Driving Circuit has some new (but old) vehicles. The cars are from the 1980s and 1990s, and include the BMW 316, Subaru Justy, VW Golf, and Ford Escort. Rates are €120 for 15 minutes, and €210 for 30 minutes.
The main innovation on the piste in Val Thorens for 2015-16 is the creation of a new easy skiercross type course, the Fun Slope. There's a new red run, piste de la Chasse, linking the bottom of Pluviometre to the boulevard Cumin, and new arrangements for touring skiing. Off the piste, the five star Hotel Pashmina opens its doors. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2015-16.
As every year, there are exciting improvements and innovations in Val Thorens for the new ski season. For winter 2016-17, there'll be a new, fast 6-seater Boismint chairlift, and the Roc and Stade draglifts will be replaced by a Stade chairlift. There are more developments too. Read what's new in Val Thorens for 2016-17.
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