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A Beginner’s Guide to Skiing in Val Thorens

Val Thorens Rond Point des Pistes


There are so many superlatives associated with Val Thorens, anyone would be forgiven for thinking it might seem out of reach for beginners, but we are here to calm any nerves. In fact, Val Thorens in the French 3 Valleys, is perfectly suited to those skiing for the first time, or anyone introducing family and friends to the sport. You can immediately sound like an expert by knowing how to say where you're headed—pronounce the resort as ‘Val Torrance’.

In the following beginner's guide to Val Thorens, we use our expert knowledge of the resort to answer any questions, queries, or concerns you may have as a new skier thinking of coming to the resort. In summary, don't worry, we think you'll have a blast.

We answer:

 Let's begin. 



Is Val Thorens a good resort for beginners?


The often sunny, high, snow-sure resort of Val Thorens is an ideal base for your first ski holiday, whether you are in a mixed-ability party looking to do your fair share of skiing and partying, or taking your family.

Check out our beginner's guide to skiing in La Plagne if you'd prefer a more mellow resort for your first ski holiday.

The beginners’ area is in the middle of the resort, easy to access, and there are plenty of wide and gentle runs to graduate to. 

Val Thorens even has a very attractive beginners’ half-price lift pass, the EasyRider, to get you going on four major ascents, without forking out money unnecessarily - more on that later.

In addition to the above, the sheer convenience of ski-in/ski-out accommodation, the plethora of ski schools, and the efficiency of the lift system including four free magic carpets, make this purpose-built resort second-to-none. 


Fun fact: 

Val Thorens is one of France's most snow sure ski resorts, making it ideal for beginners concerned about learning conditions.


Is Val Thorens suitable for a first time family ski holiday?


The first ski trip for any family will be full of ups and downs, and we don’t just mean lift up, ski down. There is so much to plan for and many decisions to be made. However, Val Thorens makes things simple for families, positioning accommodation right on the slopes with equipment hire shops close by, and there’s a free ski-bus which runs every 20 minutes on two separate runs to provide alternative transport around the area.

In the resort there are some fabulous family fun activities to try such as Europe’s highest zipline and Europe’s longest toboggan run, together with snowmobiling, ice-diving, ice-karting and fat biking. There are cosy indoor shopping centres and a vast sports complex. 

About 90% of accommodation here is ski-in/ski-out or almost so, meaning no lugging or losing kit or walking miles to a ski bus stop before you can start skiing.

There’s also plenty of accommodation to chose from - from homely half-board hotels, to timber-clad self-catering apartments for those looking for absolute flexibility and good value. There are even catered chalets here to make your first time in the mountains a completely stress-free trip for the whole family. A top choice is the Club Med Val Thorens Sensations, an all-inclusive family-friendly resort, well organised to host and teach beginners.



Where are the beginner ski areas in Val Thorens?


You will soon become a big fan of the resort’s four magic carpets. Val Thorens has four of these moving walkways on gentle inclines in the centre of the resort. As a beginner these will give you a breather as you ascend, ready to descend once again as you practise with your ski school group and start to build up confidence. You’ll meet your ski school group in the easily-found Rond Point des Pistes, marked on the map below.



What are the beginner slopes called?


The beginner zone in Val Thorens covers the area between the base of the Roc, Cascades and 2 Lacs lifts, where the four magic carpets are free of charge. The four are called: Castor, Pollux, Musaraigne (meaning shrew) and Campagnols (meaning voles). They are in perspex tunnels, transporting you up the gentle slope with protection from the elements on snowy or windy days.

From the Rond Point des Pistes, head to Musaraigne, the easier of the two, and once confident, move onto Campagnols.


The best beginner runs to head to when you’re ready to explore Val Thorens


You are looking for green runs for your first descents. When you feel ready, take the 2 Lacs chairlift. At the top you have two choices, Espace Junior (perfect for your first run down) and Combe du Thorens. 



You can practise your turns on 11 green runs, and slowly progress onto 29 blues totalling just over 50% of all runs. In the whole of the Belleville Valley, there are 20 greens and 60 blues. 

One of the fantastic things about Val Thorens is that unlike most resorts and ski areas, it has gentle pistes that connect the various different areas of the valley, providing huge variety and fun.

Next head to Plein Sud, where you’ll discover wide, gentle slopes. Then onto Flocons where the Flocons run, Combe-de-Thorens and Roc ski runs are connected to green slopes designed specifically for beginners, offering a safe and controlled environment to learn the basics.

You can also head up the Cascades lift and cruise down the 2 Combes piste back to the top of 2 Lacs.

As confidence increases, progress to blues. Try the Cairn run, which is wide and not too steep. It leads to the Boulevard Cumin, which is narrower but flatter and runs towards neighbouring Les Menuires.

At the bottom of Cumin, you can explore the calm and flat winding blues around the Masse 1 lift in Les Menuires. Slopes in Val Thorens are north/north-west-facing meaning great snow conditions and no slush in the afternoons.

A very long ski season means you can take your pick of the weeks, and consider low-season when the resort is quieter, but still boasts perfect snow.


How much do lift passes cost in Val Thorens?


Beginners need not to pay for a lift pass for the first few days whilst they are using the free magic carpets in the resort.


Is there a free lift pass?


The four carpets are free of charge. When you are ready to take to the mountain, pick up an EasyRider pass, then move on to a one day pass, either for the local Val Thorens-Orelle area or the whole of the 3 Valleys.

All ski passes are free for children under 5. Simply show proof of your child’s date of birth and a recent passport photo.


Is there a discounted lift pass for beginners?


The EasyRider pass is on offer for either for 4 hours or 1 day and gives a whopping 50% discount off standard prices. It gives access to four serious lifts and numerous pistes on the lower slopes and is an excellent package. 

These four lifts are included, Cairn gondola, 2 Lacs and Cascades chairlifts and the Caron gondola.

These green pistes are accessible - Combe de Thorens, Voie Lactée, 2 Combes, Grenouillère, Flocon, Espace Junior, Roc, Traversée des 2 Lacs, La piste de l’espace.

These blue pistes are included, Hermine, Gentiane, Chalets, Cairn, Dalles, Bleuets.


How much is a local lift pass?


You may wish to get a local lift pass once you've explored everything the EasyRider has to offer. 

The 2023/2024 full price lift pass for adults for 4 hours is €58; for children 5-12 years, €46.40.

The 2023/2024 full price lift pass for adults for 1 day is €65; for children 5-12 years, €52.

If, once you've found your ski legs, you're skipping the EasyRider to give yourself full access to the mountain so you can ski with other members of your group, you can purchase a multi-day pass and make savings over the daily rate.



Can you access après bars and restaurants from the beginner slopes/with an EasyRider lift pass?


Val Thorens is known for its huge range of bars and restaurants on the mountain and in town. There is something for everyone. 

For lunch on the slopes, beginners can head to rustic Chalet des 2 Lacs, accessible to anyone who can do a green run. It’s popular, it’s warm, it’s welcoming with a log fire and good food. Les Chalets du Thorens from the 2 Lacs chair is also accessible by beginners. 

There are plenty more eateries you can access with the EasyRider pass, including restaurant Chalet de Caron, and the very popular Chalet de la Marine. There are lots of other local restaurants on blue runs that become available once you upgrade your lift pass. 

Of course, everyone wants to party in the Folie Douce in Val Thorens, situated under the Plein Sud chairlift, and suitable for beginners confident enough on blue runs. You’ll also need the full local lift pass to get there.

For beginners looking for more mountain party madness, there are plenty of bars to choose from. Bar 360 is accessible via the 2 Lacs or Cascade chairlifts, which are both included in the EasyRider lift pass.  

And remember, there are many bars and restaurants in the resort centre, too. Don’t miss Le Malaysia nightclub hailed as the world’s biggest resort night club with a 1,500 square metre dance floor attracting 2,000 people a night. But take it easy on your first night, as it may take a little time to adjust to the altitude.


Read more:

Another beginner friendly ski resort that knows how to party is Meribel, on the other side of the 3 Valleys. Discover how Meribel caters to beginners in our dedicated guide.


Folie Douce Val Thorens

Folie Douce is the Alps' famed party hotspot 


How much do ski lessons cost in Val Thorens?


Lesson prices range from €37 to €99 per session, depending on age, the week you ski and whether you select a group lesson or to go private.

Choose from no less than 15 ski schools in Val Thorens, from the mainstream operators to niche providers.

The table below gives a rough idea of how much you can expect to pay per day (2 to 3 hours per day) to learn to ski here except where shown.

Private lessons are shown per hour except where shown. Prices are accurate as of January 15th, 2024 and refer to the 2023/2024 season. Costs may change, so please check current prices before booking your holiday. Private lessons on peak dates do get booked up early.


Val Thorens ski lessons prices


Ski School Group lesson per adult per session Group lesson per child per session Private lesson per adult per hour Private lesson per child per hour
ESF Peak: €40 Non peak: €37 Peak: €40 Non peak: €37 Peak: €40 Non peak: €70 Peak: €74 Non peak: €70
Evolution 2 Peak: Full Non peak: €32 Peak: Full Non peak: €42 Peak: €99 Non peak: €74 Peak: €99 Non peak: €74
Prosneige Peak: €42 Non peak: €38 Peak: €42 Non peak: €48 Peak: €78 Non peak: €70 Peak: €78 Non peak: €70
Ski Cool Peak: €41 Non peak: €38 Peak: €43 Non peak: €43 Peak: €64 Non peak: €61 Peak: €64 Non peak: €61
Oxygene From €249 a week From €249 a week From €198 per 2.5 hours From €198 per 2.5 hours


Is there a beginner-friendly snow park in Val Thorens?


The terrain park on the ‘Plateau’ improves year after year and is a fantastic place to try some tricks.

It is accessible via the Moutière chairlift, and is served by a dedicated drag lift (not everyone’s favourite!) and has an open layout. There are different areas for all levels from beginner to pro, with all sorts of tables, rails and box combinations, plus an airbag jump. The hip/corner jump is excellent. Go and have fun!


In summary


Given that Val Thorens was purpose-built in the early 1970s, you can be sure that everyone’s needs were considered. It’s a compact resort, with guaranteed good snow and a highly efficient lift system. 

What’s more, easy runs link nearby resorts, so no beginner will get bored here, repeating the same run over and over.

On top of that, the food selection is exceptional and the travel and accommodation choices mean there’s a perfect getaway for everyone.

Book your Val Thorens ski holiday today!