Skiing Les 3 Vallees - Val Thorens, France

We have been skiing in Val Thorens, France, for a number of times. We knew the FitzRoy as much more than just a Hotel. It was a Landmark in Val Thorens. Not only was it the only 4-star Hotel in the Resort but it's the highest one in Europe at nearly 2300 m. When LL put the Hotel Le FitzRoy on its auction list, we were thrilled and we auctioned and won the package. We knew the property as a top of the line Relais&Chateaux property, well. By the time we got there in 2007, unfortunately, the property had changed hands and they lost their 1-star Michelin chef. It was a most disappointing experience to say the least. In 2008, the new owners of the FitzRoy, the Luxury Mountain Hotels Group, promised a 2 million euro renovation and we decided to give the FitzRoy a second try since the skiing in Val Thorens and the 3 Vallees is fabulous. Unfortunately, the new renovations fell far short of our expectations since few of the promised renovations had been completed. This year, we opted for the 4-star self-catering Residence Village Montana, This charming, authentic savoyard-style residence, where wood meets stone, is ideally situated with the ski slopes at your doorstep. The apartments are fully furnished including a small kitchen and the residence boasts a nice family restaurant and a small spa center. We do like the independence, the convenience, the spa and the closeness to the slopes of Village Montana, and I could highly recommend these accommodations.

A word to those who have not yet skied here in the 3 Vallees (consisting of the valleys of Courchevel ( Tania (, Meribel ( (www.brides-les-bains,com) and Les Menuires ( Martin ( Thorens ( / Orelle ( It is, simply put, the largest ski area in the world! A unique area that few people know inside out. And yet nothing could be simpler than to ski the length and breadth of all 3 Vallees using its vast network of interconnected pistes. It is even possible to ski it all in just one day one long day, that is.
You have a choice of 600 km of marked pistes from morning to evening, so you are never short of options. Add guaranteed snow cover thanks to the altitude and a vast network of snow makers and there can be no doubt that this is the place to quench your thirst for boundless skiing. 10,000 m of vertical drop in one day! An impressive figure, but, with a little motivation, easily within your grasp. The local snow hounds , who know all the best slopes and turnarounds to avoid wasting time on the lifts, can just about manage 15,000 m of vertical drop in one day! Figures that compare favorably with a heliskiing trip to British Colombia. But you won't be needing a helicopter here to get back up the mountain in double-quick time. Here the difference lies in the ingenious interconnections between the valleys via the summits, combined with a range of state-of-the art ski lifts and of course piste quality whose reputation speaks for itself. All this is at your feet, and considerable more environmentally friendly than a day of heli-skiing all you need is a 3 Vallees ski pass!

Yesterday we had a beautiful, sunny and clear day so we decided to attempt crossing the whole ski area of the 3 Vallees. Inspite of the early January season, the cold means the snow is better than ever and excellent in terms of both quality and quantity. Our decision was made to take advantage of these ideal conditions to do a complete crossing accompanied by a private guide. We started from Val Thorens and skied down to Meribel, the heart of the 3 Vallees, to ensure that our photos would benefit from the morning light that strikes this side of the mountain first. We made our way over to Tougnete.

Meribel Come de Tougnete Red piste
The freshly groomed pistes were just waiting for our team of 3.

From the top of the detachable bubble chairlift there are two options: we could cross over to Belleville towards Val Thorens, but since we had just come from there, we chose instead to descent Tougnete to get to La Sauliere via Meribel-Motarette in order to cross over to Chanrossa (Courchevel 1650).

We then returned to the top of La Sauliere to ski down towards Courchevel 1850, before crossing over to La Tania, nestling in the forest. It then just remained for us to return over all the same ground again to get to the Belleville valley! With the first leg of our trip over, we took the opportunity for a quick but tasty lunch: We got to Le Farcon (1 Michelin star) on the snow front in La Tania to rest our legs, treat our taste buds and recharge our batteries.

After Lunch we started on the second leg of our trip. We digested lunch on the lifts: we set off again via theCol de la Loze

to cross the Meribel valley and cross over to the Belleville valley and Les Menuires. Heading for the permanent skiercross course at La Becca,

we couldn't resist an impromptu race, skiers against snowboarders which our guide had organized on the spot. After that battle our legs were burning, a little.... but we continued to Val Thorens. Up to the top of the Cime Caron (3100 m)

for a final carving session on Rosael, then we headed back to the resort by the light of the setting sun... Mission accomplished! A round or two through the sauna and the hammam, a delicious savoyard dinner with a bottle of red wine completed an exhilerating and unforgettable day.

Message Edited by LL_Travelfan on 03-06-2009 11:50 PM