As autumn begins, and the warmer weather starts to fade, a timeless sport begins to resurface. With many looking to the snow capped mountains for a heart racing adventure, the adrenaline and thrill of snow sports, cause adventurers to travel to the white slopes and test their skills over nature.
With ski season about to begin and upgrades and installations complete for this year’s season, the slopes are ready to be tested. Many countries offer resorts and slopes to entice beginners and experts to this fast paced sport, however, France is renowned for their access to untouched powder slopes and rustic alpine villages to rival the beauty they are surrounded by.
The Alps are home to four main valleys; Grèsivaudan, Maurienne, Tarentaise and the Arve. It is Tarentaise, in the heart of the French Alps that truly gains the most infamy. Set in the Savoie region of France, Tarentaise is home to the three valleys, or Les 3 Vallèes. The name that brings together four major ski resorts; Val Thorens, Les Menuires, Meribal and Courchevel, opening the way to the largest ski area in the world.
These recognisable high altitude ski resorts have reputations built upon their; snow guarantee, wide range of equipment, ambience, accommodation and uncharted scenery. With each resort, connected solely by the ski routes, thus bringing their own unique style to the table. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, enabling one of the longest seasons for skiing. Situated at the head of the three valleys, Val Thorens snowy fields, groomed slopes and 600km runs are about as legendary as the view of 1,000 mountaintops seen from the highest peaks of Val Thorens.
Les Menuires, a village built four decades ago, situated right at the heart of the three valleys, making it great for diversity and access. The town of Belleville is full of hidden history, with classical music concerts organised regularly. Meribel and Courchevel have, over the years, become tailored to specific cliental. With over half of Meribel’s visitors being from Britain, the English atmosphere is evident from the nightlife to the base valley resort. Courchevel, similarly has become a hotspot for the rich and famous ski lovers. Boasting nine five star hotels and Michelin star restaurants, it seems every corner of the three valleys has a distinct appeal.
One factor that matches Tarentaise’s winter sport allure, is the breath taking scenery. Blankets of white snow cover valleys, mountain peaks and villages, back dropped by the French blue sky make for unforgettable sights. From any point in the northern French Alps, the scenery is marvellous to behold, making Tarentaise a common attraction for sports enthusiasts, avid travellers and those that appreciate natural beauty.
The main villages within the Savoie region are; Albertville, Moûtiers and Bour-Saint Maurice. Albertville, is a 14th century town that hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, bringing this South east region of France to the forefront of people’s attention. Along with Moûtiers, a river town deep in the heart of the valley and Bourg-Saint Maurice, the last large town in along the Tarentaise valley, they make three main ports to the les 3 Vallèes, filled with their own beauty, culture and atmosphere.
While the world’s largest ski area may seem complex, what it offers is unparalleled anywhere else, it’s infamy is there for a reason. Snow sports may be the main attraction at Tarentaise and the three valleys, however it is the atmosphere, rustic architecture and landscape that aims to remain in the memories of those that visit this season.
What other heart-racing adventures does Val Thoren’s inspire?