The French Alps Deserve Worldwide Respect

Val d'Isere in the French Alps is a fantastic ski resort town with hundreds of kilometers of trails, lots of outdoor recreation that's fun for the whole family.

The minute you hear the word Alps visions of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland probably come to mind. Not this time. Val-d'Isère is the reason the French Alps deserve a little respect. No, make that a lot of respect.

Skiing this wintery wonderland is first and foremost, with 300 kilometers of slopes broken down into trails colored by the rainbow. Beginners will find they have 60 blue routes, with 20 green and 35 red for those willing to try something a bit harder, and 16 black trails for the most adventurous.

No one said skiing was the most economical sport, so good thing 10 of the 94 ski lifts in the area free. Ahh, all the better to see the French Alps countryside from a birds-eye advantage. At a height of 3,450 meters at its peak, that's some view. I think I can see Brazil from here. Ha-ha, it ain't winter there this time of year--too bad.

By the way, both ski and snowboarding rental equipment is readily available for anyone not able to bring their own to make it all possible. Cross country skiing is also popular here with 120 kilometers of cross-country trails that are open from December to May, in case you're interested.

What's great about Val-d'Isère is that even when one person isn't a skier (or when you're not on the mountain) there's something to do, like yoga and pilates, spa treatments (ahh, a massage and facial), and not to mention ice skating.

A guided village tour can be done on Thursdays starting at 10am in French, 11:30am in English. Farm visits are also popular when not skiing, as is scoping out all the Baroque and Chalet architecture in town. Nothing beats taking a French Patisserie class, 'cause who wouldn't want to cook to French chef? I sure would love to, I'd just do with a much less persnickety attitude.

Funny, being on five kilometers from Italy you'd think they'd offer Italian cooking classes too. See, didn't I tell you French chefs were persnickety.

The kids certainly won't be without anything to do. While mom and dad are hitting the slopes, kids as young as 18 months can be hanging out at the Village Nursery where they're let 'em build a snowman, let them go sledding, or teach them to ski at the Ski Kindergarten.

Don't worry Parents, you can learn to ski too, as there are a number of ski schools all willing to teach you everything you need to know. Although Summer Skiing is an event onto itself, and honestly you're not getting much prettier than this part of France.

What's great too is that there are chalets and hotels to fit all kinds of budgets, right down to 1-star hotels. What difference does it make if you're outdoors most of the time anyway? Still, if you got the chance to stay in 5-star hotel like Barmes de L'our (or even a 4-star like the Grand Paradis or Auberge St. Hubert), I say go for it.

I also say that Val-d'Isère better get some respect in becoming one of the world's best ski resorts. On second thought--maybe not. This way we can keep it all to ourselves.

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