today is May 21, 2022

9th May 2022

The resort closed at the weekend, and we were there for The Grande Derniere ski race and more. We also assess VT’s winter with skier visits back to pre-pandemic levels. It was a fabulous way to end the season. NEW

Skiing, partying and racing in the high-altitude French resort.

Our content editor, James Cove, crammed as much into 48-hours as he could, before putting away his skis until next winter (unless he heads to the glaciers for a spot of summer skiing).

Firstly, what was the snow like as winter ends?

For those concerned he didn’t choke on a random fish bone – he opted for a salad instead.

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

And here are a few more images of PlanetSKI’s final day on the slopes, Sunday May 8th.

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

On Saturday James donned his race gear for the main event of La Grande Derniere.

La Grande Derniere. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere. Image © PlanetSKI

300 people registered to race and James came what he described as a ‘creditable’ 88th – though his race plan didn’t quite bring him the sporting success he was after.

  • It’s race day in Val Thorens

We are often in VT at the beginning and end of the season as its altitude of 2,300m usually guarantees good snow.

It is the highest resort in the Alps.

It offers 150km of piste skiing and is part of the largest linked ski area in the world, Les3Vallees with 600km of slopes.

At the beginning and end of the season though it is just Val Thorens that is open.

So, how did the winter go?

“It was a poor start for our British visitors as the UK border with France was effectively closed from mid-December to mid-January,” said the head of the tourist office, Vincent Lalanne-Clout, to James.

“It was obviously sad not to be able to welcome the British as they are our largest overseas market, but we were able to fill the gap with more Dutch, Belgian Danish skiers over the holiday period.

“It was though very tough in early January with the holidays over and worries about when restrictions would be lifted, and we were unable to replace the numbers of British guests in their large groups.

“Once the border was re-opened the British were back in huge numbers and it was an utter pleasure to welcome them back.”

Vincent Lallane-Clout, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Vincent Lalanne-Clout, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

The resort has 25,543 tourist beds ranging from basic apartments all the way through to 5* hotels.

Val Thorens, France

Val Thorens, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Val Thorens saw an 81% occupancy rate across the whole of the winter.

Impressive.

That is a figure back to pre-Covid times.

“All the people I spoke to were delighted how the winter played out after the serious Covid-19 concerns at its start. To be back to where it was pre-pandemic is a significant outcome,” said James Cove.

“Hats to Val Thorens and all the people who made it happen,” James added.

As winter started back in November the resort said “this year will all be about finding each other again on the slopes and in the resort.”

It added that it wanted “to see holidaymakers again and have them experience staying in the mountains.”

“It’s that simple” it added.

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

27% of Val Thorens’s guests are French, with the British just behind on 23%.

UK skiers are very important to the resort.

The Dutch are the next largest on 13% and in this final week of the season as PlanetSKI visited there were 6,500 Dutch people in resort for the so-called ‘Dutch Week’.

As they left on Saturday their exit looked like a mass evacuation.

Dutch exodus, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Dutch exodus, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Dutch exodus, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Dutch exodus, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Belgium makes up 7.6%, Sweden and Denmark both offer 6.9% of visitors.

Val Thorens has not been seriously hit by the lack of Russians, unlike the other 3Valleys resort of Courchevel that had a sizeable and high-spending clientele from Russia.

PlanetSKI reporter, Chris Moran, was in Val Thorens when the lifts started spinning last November: PlanetSKI in Val Thorens for its Opening

Our editor James Cove previewed his end-of-season visit ahead of arriving: PlanetSKI set for its final ski of the season

He promised he’d be reporting back on how the winter went in Val Thorens after starting with all the Covid concerns, then the UK/France border closures over Xmas New Year.

  • France imposes tough new restrictions on travellers from the UK

Related Stories:

  • France now open to British skiers and snowboarders
  • Surge in bookings as UK border restrictions eased
  • France and Switzerland ease some Covid-19 restrictions

The final weekend of the season is an important one for Val Thorens.

“It’s the last chance to put on skis and enjoy the final turns, along with the amazing views of the snowy mountain tops”.

There number of skiers and snowboarders in town is not like the height of the season, but the resort did not feel empty.

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

Except on the slopes.

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

“Hopefully skiers will remember the closing weekend for a long time and will only have one thing in mind when leaving: coming back in November 2022 for the next opening.”

And so, on Sunday May 8th PlanetSKI made its final run of the season on the main piste that runs down to the resort from the Moraine lift.

Massive thanks VT, it’s been a blast – we’ll see you next November.

Bring it on!

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI

La Grande Derniere, Val Thorens. Image © PlanetSKI