Pros: Excellent facilities, slopes to suit all ages and ability levels, beginners well catered for
Cons: Not many - some bars/cafes/restaurants charge premium prices
Val Thorens has the privledge of being Europe's highest ski resort, the village itself lies at an altitude of 2300 metres (8000ft) and stretches up to 3100 metres at the highest point. It is part of the 3 Valleys - the largest ski resort in Europe.
A full area pass allows you access to all slopes in the 3 valleys area - underpinned by the three villages Val Thorens, Saint Martin de Benneville and Les Menuires.
The slopes are of a high standard offering skiers and snowboarders of all abilities the opportunity to expand and explore their skills - beginners need not fear as there are plenty of wide and friendly pistes not too far up the mountain. Being Europe's highest resort there is a good chance of getting decent snow on the lower slopes for more of the time. Facilities are excellent - for the 2001-02 season the resort has invested heavily in new lifts, including more release-mechanism chairlifts as well as a brand new "Funitel" gondola system.
Beginners are well catered for; there is a generous nursery slope, served by two conveyor-type tows, a godsend for those lacking the confidence and skill to use a drag tow, and why all ski resorts can't install these on beginner runs remains a mystery - snowsports are difficult enough to learn without the simple business of getting back to the top being a trial in itself.
Bugbears? not many - but the usual ski resort ones apply, like the stratospheric prices charged in mountain bars and restaurants for example. Despite improvements, lift queues remain a problem on the busiest runs, and personally I didn't like the way three runs (and the nursery slope) all converge at the bottom of the mountain - leading to a rather hair raising traffic flow problem that can be disconcerting to the beginner.
But these are small gripes on what I consider to be one of the best and friendliest resorts in the Alps.