Winter Arrives in Val d’Isère

The snow is here, folks. With just three weeks to go until the scheduled opening of Val d’Isère, it’s bang on time – and all the early signs indicate a vintage start to the ski season.

It’s been an exceptionally balmy autumn across the French Alps, but the new moon at the end of October changed all that. Temperatures at altitude dropped below freezing today and the first proper snowfall of the winter is forecast for this weekend.

The weathermen expect the snow to fall on and off all day Saturday, with the thermometer down to a wintry -3C at 3000m. But the winter should begin in earnest on Sunday afternoon and evening as the wind swings to the northwest. This is expected to bring a welcome base of 15cm all the way to the village at 1850m and beyond – with cover reaching down to the valley floor and Bourg St Maurice at 800m.

Val d’Isère, which shares its 300km ski area with neighbouring Tignes, has guaranteed snow cover during a long season that starts on Saturday, November 26 and continues until the beginning of May 2017.

It is also home to the largest artificial snowmaking operation in Europe and the low temperatures in the coming week will allow pisteurs in Val to add to the natural base by firing up its network of 560 snow cannons, linked by 60km of underground pipes.

Over the last two Christmases, when skiers in other resorts across Europe had to contend with just a dusting of snow or no snow at all, it was business as usual in Val d’Isère with all the main runs open.

This season sees the opening of the new 10-person Solaise Gondola, the final stage of a dramatic redevelopment of a substantial part of the ski area. Last weekend the resort swept the board of major prizes at the World Snow Awards. It won Best Resort, Best European Resort, and Best Apres Ski Resort.