Val d'Isère ski resort. View towards La Daille
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||Bernard Catelan|
|Area1||94.39 km2 (36.44 sq mi)|
|• Density||19/km2 (48/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||73304 / 73150|
|Elevation||1,785–3,599 m (5,856–11,808 ft)
(avg. 1,849 m or 6,066 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Val d'Isère is a commune of the Tarentaise Valley, in the Savoie department (Rhône-Alpes region) in southeastern France. It lies 5 km (3 mi) from the border with Italy. It is on the border of the Vanoise National Park created in 1963. During the 1992 Winter Olympics, the Face de Bellevarde was the site of the men's downhill race. Other alpine skiing events held during those games included men's giant slalom and alpine combined. Val d'Isère regularly hosts World Cup alpine events, usually for the men in early December, and hosted the World Championships in 2009. It is located in the Savoie région with good transport links in and out of Lyon, Geneva and Chambery. The ski area of Val d'Isère and Tignes forms the Espace Killy, named after the triple olympic champion Jean-Claude Killy who grew up in Val d'Isère.
Skiing and snowsports
The western and central areas of Val d'Isère are most recognizable by their "chalet" architecture, while in the eastern part of the town high-rise architecture dominates the landscape. Along with nearby Tignes the area forms part of the "l'Espace Killy", the self-titled "Most Beautiful Ski Area in the World".
The Pissaillas Glacier offers summer skiing, as well as the usual winter fare. Snow cannon are placed on certain slopes to accommodate heavy skiing. The ski slopes themselves are equipped with a high-volume gondola, able to transport standing skiers, the funicular Funival from La Daille via a tunnel to the top of Bellevarde, traditional chair lifts—some with windshields and many detachable, button/disc-pulls and tow-ropes. There are both groomed slopes and backcountry (off-piste) skiing. The slopes' difficulty levels are particularly high. However, as in Tignes there are wide, easily navigable pistes for those of the beginner-intermediate level as well. Its extensive off-piste facilities include guides for safety reasons; reviews are generally favourable.
Tignes possesses more of the same, with a funicular shuttling skiers up through one of the mountains to the Grande Motte glacier. A free shuttle bus runs between the villages in the valley, providing free transport throughout the towns of Val d'Isère and La Daille.
Human habitation of the valley dates back to before Roman times. The town received parish rights in 1637 and the parish church, which is still a landmark in the town centre, was built in 1664.
Skiing in Val d'Isère has its roots in the 1930s when a drag lift was built on the slopes of the Solaise. This was followed by an aerial tramway (cable car).
Tarentaise Valley skiing
Within the Tarentaise Valley you find the biggest concentration of world-class ski resorts in the world. Most well known neighbour systems are Paradiski (Les Arcs, La Plagne) and Les Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens and more). A weekly lift ticket in Val d'Isère/Espace Killy gives you a choice to ski one day in each of the other two systems mentioned. There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create what would have been by far the largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.
Olympic Games, World Cup and World Championships
The resort hosts every year men's and women's competitions of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. The men's Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom of the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games were held on the Face de Bellevarde in Val d'Isère. The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 were also held in Val d'Isère.
Tour de France
GEM Altigliss Challenge
Val d'Isère is the location of the annual winter sporting event GEM Altigliss Challenge which is organised by Grenoble School of Management. Each February over 1000 students from 30 Grandes écoles of France participate in the week-long skiing and snowboarding event which takes place in Val d'Isère.
Val d'Isère was made well known as the vacation spot of characters Edina and Patsy in the British sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous. Although the movie Les Bronzés font du ski (French Fried Vacation 2) has been a great success in France, only a few people are aware that it was shot in Val d'Isère.
In 1994, a video game named after the resort, Val d'Isere Championship was released for the Super NES, after it was featured in an episode of GamesMaster. Another game called Val d'Isère Skiing and Snowboarding was released for the Atari Jaguar the same year.
- 1992 Winter Olympics official report. pp. 114–7. (English) & (French)
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