What’s New In Val D’Isère For The 2016/17 Ski Season
December saw the opening of a major state-of-the-art gondola that rises from the heart of the resort. It’s the biggest innovation in France’s top resort for a decade, and it will transform mountain access in Val d’Isère for all standards of skier. Val D’Isere and Tignes have had one of the best starts to the season for many years. While other areas have suffered from a lack of the white stuff, Espace Killy has enjoyed better than usual early snow to welcome the new Solaise Gondola.
The opening of the Solaise Gondola is the final phase of the two-year €16 million redevelopment of Solaise, one of the resort’s two iconic mountains, reached from the front de neige base area.
During the course of this summer, the old Solaise Express chair-lift and the even older Solaise cable-car – the original was built in 1938 – were dismantled. In their place comes a 10-person gondola with 91 cabins, complete with heated seats and WiFi. You can park your skis in exterior baskets, or bring them inside – the choice speeds up loading time.
The lift company has taken every step to minimise the environmental impact of the project. The redevelopment reduces the number of lift stations from a total of eight with 34 pylons to just two with 16 pylons.
The new gondola will increase capacity by 40% and can carry up to 3,600 passengers per hour, bringing an end to any previous peak-hour bottlenecks at the base on high-season dates. The journey time will be just seven minutes, making it one of the fastest lifts in the world.
The gondola machinery is buried underground at the base area. This significantly reduces the noise impact both for two and four-legged inhabitants that live here at the foot of the mountain.
New Day Lodge
The top station of the Solaise Gondola is located on the reshaped summit of Solaise, higher up the mountain than the old chair and cable car. Bulldozers shifted 70,000 cubic metres – a million tons – of earth to create the new station platform. The North-American-style Day Lodge, opening this season beside it, has floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views. It will be the focal point for skiers and boarders in the Solaise sector of the resort. It’s a place where you can meet up with friends, warm up on cold days, and generally recharge your batteries between runs.
The Day Lodge features art displays as well as a bar area serving coffee, tea, and pastries and – very unusual in a European ski resort – a comfortable picnic area, where skiers can eat their lunch and relax in warm and comfortable surroundings. It’s equipped with a microwave and vending machines for snacks and drinks. To keep older children happy there’s table football, while for younger ones there’s a Kids Corner on the first floor with cushions and a TV showing cartoons. Outside, there are two sun terraces with magnificent views of Bellevarde in one direction and the Solaise pistes in the other.
New Beginner Area
The Solaise redevelopment will encourage novice skiers to venture away from the nursery slopes on the front de neige, go up the mountain, and experience the full glory of the ski area.
The new, secure, beginner slopes created at the top of the gondola have been regraded to provide the perfect pitch for learning first steps on skis and snowboard. They’re served by three covered magic carpets lifts. Beginners can swiftly progress from these slopes to the easy, rolling terrain reached from the adjacent Madeleine chair-lift.
New Reduced Price Lift Passes
To celebrate the redevelopment of this part of the mountain Val d’Isère is offering a special lift pass. It covers the new beginner area as well as a substantial amount of terrain suited to more accomplished skiers. The pass includes the two village lifts of Legettaz and Rogoney, the Solaise Gondola, and the three magic carpets as well as the Madeleine, Datcha, and Glacier chairs.