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48-HOURS IN VAL THORENS - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Sunday November 27, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

The highest resort in France officially kicked off its season at the weekend with fresh snow and plenty of action; on and off the slopes. PlanetSKI was in resort for the start of its long, long season.

Val Thorens actually opened some slopes a week early on November 19th as we reported here.

The abundance of snow was simply too good to waste.

But at the weekend, its official start date, thousands upon thousands turned out to make their first turns of the winter. 

And the season here lasts till the beginning of May.

More than 5-months of skiing and snowboarding.Smile

And as I arrived in resort on Friday it seems there was plenty of snow still about.

Last minute preparations were underway.

Val Thorens, FranceSill more to clear up
















Saturday morning looked like a near-perfect start.

In fact it was perfect.

Val Thorens, FranceDawn of the new season
















The main lift started at 9.15 and I was lucky enough to be at the front of the queue.

With a red carpet. Wink

Val Thorens, FranceFirst lift
















Up on the slopes we had bright blue skies and a great covering.

Off piste it was rocky in places but there was plenty of chopped up powder to play with.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France
















However further down the valley in Les3Vallees, well, they need more snow.

The start of the season is only a few weeks away.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France
















But at altitude this is what it looked like at the weekend.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France
















Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France
















Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France
















As it was the official opening weekend there was plenty going on.

Some activities were , er, more engaging than others

In town there are ski and snowboard tests where people can try out all the latest gear for the coming season.

So far, so good.

Val Thorens, FranceTesting, testing, testing...
















There's no need to watch more than 10 seconds of this video to get the feel of conditions in Val Thorens.

And then there was fat bike riding.

Fat biking riding!

Now I'm not quite sure why anyone would want to ride a bike on snow when they can go skiing or snowboarding.

Just a personal opinion, but it is mine.

Most of the bikes remained poised for action.

Fancy it?Fancy it?
















Two other somewhat bizarre things on offer are wing jumping and monosking.

Yes, monoskiing!

I thought it went out with flared jeans and glam rock decades ago, but Val Thorens is attempting a revival.

I didn't see a single person doing it.

80's reminderIn case you need reminding of what that might look like...









And then there is wing jumping.

Well, would you?Well, would you?













I leave you to make your own mind up about that, but I was reliably informed by a couple of mates that had a go that the only way to get airborne is to jump in the air.

But they did say it was great fun.

The simple physics of a flappy bit of cloth in the wind is not enough to propel much upward motion.

There is something in the way called gravity.

It all begs a simple question: "Why?"

And the main reason I asked the question is because Val Thorens has some fabulous skiing and snowboarding and I advise PlanetSKI readers to pursue those two activities with their precious time in such a fabulous resort.

And then there is the opening après ski.

Val Thorens, FranceParty time
















It is better than in most French resorts.

I was also in resort to test a few of the latest skis from one of the best rental companies in the mountains in my opinion - Intersport.

And test them I did.

I am a sucker for trying out every new ski available and what better way to do this than hiring and then taking Intersport up on its option of chopping and changing.

I was the proverbial big kid in the toy shop and no-one seemed to mind.

Val Thorens, FranceYours truly at play

















But more of that later in the week.

The PlanetSKI senior news reporter, Katie Bamber, has been travelling with me.

She is writing a full-length feature on why Val Thorens keeps winning Resort of the Year award and asking if it is a worthy winner.

Her report will be posted later in the week as she sees how the resort has changed in recent years and gone from strength to strength.

What makes a good resort great?

Unlike me she also know which skis she likes - and she sticks to them.

Her weapon of choice was the Rossignol Sky 7s.

Val Thorens, FranceKatie Bamber on the slopes
















And Katie has been doing her research to get under the skin of Val Thorens:

Katie Bamber at workKatie Bamber at work

















And as my 48-hours drew to a close on Sunday this was the view as I took the last lift down from the very top at 4.15PM

Welcome to winter - I've missed you.

Big time.

Val Thorens, FranceSun sets on opening weekend
















Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France















For an earlier PlanetSKI feature on all that is new in Val Thorens for 2016/17 then see here.

And Katie Bamber shot a quick video of skiing on the opening weekend in VT:


James was staying with Pierre et Vacances in Val Thorens.

Residence Temples du Soleil is priced from £662 per apartment down from £981 saving 32% for a seven-night stay in an apartment that sleeps up to five people beginning 14th January.

Pierre & Vacances: 0870 0267 145 -

The price from 10th December is £519 per apartment down from £776 saving 33% but it looks like that's nearly sold out - so you'd better hurry.

Pierre & Vacances offers flexible arrival dates and durations even over the festive season so skiers can extend their holiday or book a last-minute short break to suit them.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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