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Val d'Isère
Val d'Isère ski resort. View towards La Daille
Val d'Isère ski resort. View towards La Daille
Coat of arms of Val d'Isère
Location of Val d'Isère
Val d'Isère is located in France
Val d'Isère
Val d'Isère
Val d'Isère is located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Val d'Isère
Val d'Isère
Coordinates: 45°27′02″N 6°58′41″E / 45.4506°N 6.9781°E / 45.4506; 6.9781Coordinates: 45°27′02″N 6°58′41″E / 45.4506°N 6.9781°E / 45.4506; 6.9781
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Patrick Martin
94.39 km2 (36.44 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2018)[1]
 • Density17/km2 (43/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
73304 /73150
Elevation1,785–3,599 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.

Val d'Isère (French pronunciation: ​[val dizɛʁ], literally Valley of Isère) is a commune of the Tarentaise Valley, in the Savoie department (Auvergne-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 Albertville 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 Chambéry. 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. There are two mountain huts (called “refuges” in French) owned by the Vanoise National Park on the territory of Val d’Isère: le Refuge du Prariond and le Refuge du Fond des Fours.

Skiing and snowsports[edit]

View in the center of Val d'Isère

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".[2]

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. Val d'Isère is renowned as having some of the world's best lift-accessed off-piste and has many independent instructors and guides who specialise in off-piste tuition and guiding.[3]

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 with traces of Celtic tribes found in the area. The town received parish rights in 1637 and the parish church, which is still a landmark in the town centre, was built in 1664. Val-d'Isere was part of the historical land of Savoy emerged as the feudal territory of the House of Savoy during the 11th to 14th centuries. The historical territory is shared between the modern countries of France, Italy, and Switzerland. The House of Savoy became the longest surviving royal house in Europe. It ruled the County of Savoy to 1416 and then the Duchy of Savoy from 1416 to 1860. 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).[4] During WWII, the village secretly housed Jewish children; the former mayor of the village, Dr. Frederic Petri, sheltered a young woman in his chalet and nursed her broken leg.[5]

Tarentaise Valley skiing[edit]

The Tarentaise Valley has the largest 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). 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.

The Face de Bellevarde racing track
 Val-d'Isère is located in Alps
Location in the Alps of Europe

Olympic Games, World Cup and World Championships[edit]

The resort hosts every year a round of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup for both men and women. 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[edit]

The resort was the start of Stage 9 to Briançon in the 2007 Tour de France. The 2019 Tour de France passed through Val d’Isère on July 26, on their way to Tignes, descending the Col de l’Iseran. Due to unexpected bad weather – a hailstorm resulting in landslides on the road along the ‘Lac du Chevril’ – the organisation of the Tour had to cancel the stage passed the Col de l’Iseran. The cyclists stopped in the village of the Val d’Isère.[6]

GEM Altigliss Challenge[edit]

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.

Popular culture[edit]

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 in 1995.

Val d'Isère has referenced in the film adaptation of Me Before You, having been changed from Courchevel.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2018". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Ski resort Tignes/Val d'Isère - Skiing Tignes/Val d'Isère". Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  3. ^ "SkiBro". Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  4. ^ "The history of Val d'Isere ski resort". Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  5. ^ "Val d'Isere: The doctor who hid a Jewish girl - and the resort that wants to forget". BBC News. 2020-01-05. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  6. ^ [1] Le Soir, 26 July 2019
  7. ^ [2] website of Val d'Isère, 5 September 2019

External links[edit]