Earlier this year we took the snow train for the first time, jumping on board the Eurostar at St Pancras and travelled through the night to arrive at Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the heart of the French Alps at 6am. We took a short 45 minute transfer to our hotel, checked in, had a couple of hours sleep, headed out to collect our kit and lift passes and hit the slopes all before 12pm. Whilst you don't get a fantastic night's sleep on the train, you get an extra two days' skiing (on empty pistes on the weekend transfer days) so it's definitely worthwhile.
This was my first time skiing in Val Thorens and I was very impressed. At 2,300 metres it's the highest resort in Europe and the highest location in the Trois Vallées region, which is the largest ski area in the world. The altitude means you get fantastic powder and the interconnected valleys means you have 320 pistes covering 600km. You cannot get bored here. We went mid-January, just after the snow came down thick and heavy and it didn't stop when we were there, dropping inches every single day. Unfortunately that meant the visibility was often poor and the lifts to Meribel and Courchevel were closed for six of the eight days, but we still had a fantastic time.
We booked with Crystal Ski and stayed at Hotel Tango, a fun hotel with a cool take on traditional alpine décor and a happening lounge bar ideal for aprés ski; we had drinks in front of the fire, listened to live music, watched retro ski documentaries from the 80s and ate stone-baked pizzas.
Val Thorens itself is quite a large village with plenty of restaurants - my favourites were the excellent Michelin-starred Jean Sulpice and L'Epicurien - along with the usual bars filled with seasonnaires, fondue places and casual lunch joints. We finished a few afternoons at the crazy La Folie Douce at the top of the Les Pionniers and Plein Sud pistes with a DJ, singer and massive crowd partying, dancing on tables and popping champagne bottles. It's totally ridiculous and I loved it.
The snow quality, variety of runs, excellent choice of restaurants and fun nightlife made Val Thorens my favourite resort I've been to yet: we're already looking forward to going back next year. A bien, Trois Vallées!
Hotel Tango, Rue de la Boucle, 73440 Val Thorens, France