When your family and friends want to go skiing, but it really isn't your cup of tea, don't panic. You don't have to ski or snowboard to enjoy a memorable holiday in a ski resort.
Whilst Val Thorens is a great place to come skiing, there are many activities here to suit a non-skier of all ages and tastes.
Here are some great ideas for you:
- Buy a pedestrian pass and jump on a lift
- Go to après-ski along with everyone else
- Ride a skidoo, bike or huskies
- Book a tandem flight
- Go snowshoeing or ski-touring
- Go to the sports centre
- Visit a spa for some relaxation
- Book a restaurant for lunch
- See a film
- Learn nordic skiing - you might just like it!
Snow fun without the skis
Buy a pedestrian pass
Enjoy the mountains as a non-skier by buying a pedestrian lift pass. It provides access to many activities and mountain restaurants. Over half of the mountain restaurants can be reached on foot by ski lift, so it's entirely possible to meet up with your family and friends for some fine dining, but good hiking boots or snowshoes are still a must in certain conditions. Always dress for the weather - layers are the key, sunglasses and sun cream are vital even on a cloudy day. Stick to the trails, respect the environment and be aware of changing conditions.
Après-ski with everyone else
You don't have to ski to enjoy "après-ski". Meet up with the rest of your group in a local bar and share stories from your day over a beer. Or head to the local ice skating rink located in Place Péclet, for a fun evening set beneath the snow-clad mountains. There's a music and light show, and a cosy chalet to enjoy pancakes and hot chocolate once you need a rest - another fun activity you don’t need skis for.
Alternatively, head to the top of the Péclet lift and take the sledge ride back down. The whole descent should take around 45 minutes, and is open to anyone aged five years upwards (children must share a sledge with an adult). And whilst you're up there you could try a new style of sledging called 'snake gliss'. This activity involves ten sledges all tied together led by an instructor. Be aware the activity guidance states this is a "rapid" descent and that "participants should be physically fit".
Drive a dog sled or skidoo
Whether on a sledge pulled by huskies, riding your own skidoo, or driving a car at speed across ice, there is an excursion choice to suit all levels of adrenaline. The huskies are based at St Martin de Belleville, and skidoo trips run in the evening from town.
The ice driving takes place on the highest ice racing track in Europe at 2,200m, and you can choose to be a driver or passenger with a trained professional alongside you, or they have ice karting and ice quads available to try. Take the free shuttle bus to access the track from the resort centre. And one snow activity that seems to be increasingly popular is mountain biking on snow. This is exactly as it sounds and entails heading up ski lift with a mountain bike and coming back down via the ski slope.
Book a tandem flight
Take to the skies for a bird's eye view of the mountains with a tandem paragliding flight, book yourself onto a helicopter tour, or jump on the La Bee zip line. Located at the top of the Moutière chairlift, it is accessible to pedestrians, and at 1.8km will take you flying 65m above the pistes back to the centre of resort reaching speeds of up to 75km/h.
Snowshoeing and ski-touring
You can really get away from it all and disappear into nature on some snowshoes (raquettes). Go it alone with a map from the tourist office, there are several planned itineraries ranging from 2km to 6km. Or book a snowshoe excursion with an activity company to see a side of the mountains that most skiers will never see. Full-day, half-day and night-time options are available to take you into the heart of the mountains – from the highest peaks to the wildest valleys. Equipment and transport are usually included, check when you book. Snow shoeing is the perfect way to get out and about on the mountain at your own pace.
If you've decided the days of skiing up the mountain all-day, every-day, are well behind you, those with previous skiing / snowboarding experience could try ski touring. There are various ski touring routes around the area, and it's a great way to work up a sweat, earning your burger whilst the rest of the world takes the lifts. Hire a guide and pull on some skins for an adventure away from the madding crowd.
Not just a ski resort
Val Thorens is so much more than a ski resort. In fact, you can really have a great time here without setting foot on a lift.
Go for a swim
The Val Thorens Sports Centre is 7,500m² in size, and under its roof you'll find swimming pools, a relaxing spa with saunas, jacuzzis, and a range of treatments available. There's also a children's fun park, gym, multi-sports hall - the list goes on. So don't forget to pack your gym kit and a swimsuit (speedo-style only boys).
Book a treatment at the spa
Or if all of that sounds far too active and you really just want to pamper yourself and read your book, or stare at the view, there are numerous spas and treatment rooms you can enjoy. Many hotels have luxury spas which are open to non-guests, the public pool has relaxation areas and spa treatments, and mobile massage companies will arrange to visit you at your chalet or apartment.
Book a table
And when you feel hungry, enjoy some slap up French cuisine with a glass of fine local wine - you deserve it. Many local restaurants have well priced lunchtime set menus offering the same cuisine as their main menus, but often with considerable discounts. Some offer wine tasting sessions also.
Go see a film
Drop into the local cinema, grab a box of popcorn and catch up on the latest releases - look for VOST or VO (version originale) for English language films.
Skiing, but not skiing
Still looking for something to occupy your time? Cross-country skiing is an extremely popular mountain sport, known as 'ski de fond' in France. In Val Thorens itself there is only 4km of cross-country tracks, but head down the valley and between Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville you'll find 28km of marked pistes. The tracks are all well marked and are free to use. You can hire equipment and arrange lessons locally, and once you've got to grips with the basics, there are many more routes to discover across the Three Valleys.