Skiing and snowboarding are not for everyone. We get that. Every now and then, someone shows up in a ski resort who isn’t a big fan of it all, but has come along for the ride anyway. So, we’ve come up with a list of activities to do in Val Thorens for non-skiers.
From Ski Holidays to Mountain Experiences
As well as the non-skiers, these days you’ll find that on a typical seven day ski trip, at least one or two of those days won’t be spent on the slopes. Instead, people are enjoying time off in the spa, or trying other non-ski activities, like tobogganing, ice-diving, and husky sledding.
Fortunately, resorts are starting to pick up on this, and are realising that skiers and snowboarders want more than just perfectly groomed pistes. We’ve taken a look at Val Thorens, one of our most loved ski resorts, to see what else we can do besides ski, on our next trip.
Kicking off with a firm favourite, did you know you can go dog sledding in Val Thorens? Essentially, you clamber into a sled and get pulled around the mountain by some gorgeous canines. The activity takes place around Chemin des Montagnettes and the idea is not to get about at breakneck speed but to take in the scenery and enjoy the sounds of a quiet ride. This is a great activity in Val Thorens for non-skiers as you’ll get the sensation of skiing without the sore backside.
The dogs are driven by someone called a ‘musher’ and the sled fits an additional two adults and one child at a maximum. Weight limits of up to 150kg apply.
The activity is run by Evolution2. Call them on +33 (0) 6 13 76 78 74 to find out more and book a slot. Prices start from €90. If you’d prefer to book online, you can do by filling in their contact form. On occasion, rides will be cancelled if the weather is poor or the dogs are tired or not in top health.
Want to get a full look of the mountain without careening down it face first? Helicopter tours are the perfect way to do so. Take in the beauty of the peaks on one of four possible tours.
- Wink of the 3 Valleys
- Heart of the Alps
- Mont Blanc
- Mont Blanc & Annecy Lake
Wink of the 3 Valleys
Get 15 minutes of viewing les Trois Vallées and fly over Val Thorens, Courchevel, Les Menuires and Méribel. Prices start from €500 for a helicopter for up to five people.
Heart of the Alps
Fly over the Roseland dam and take in views of the Beaufortain summits. Prices start from €900 for a helicopter for up to five people. This tour is 30 minutes long.
Take a 45 minute trip and lose yourself in the beauty of the Mont Blanc glaciers including Aiguille du Midi, Mer de Glace, and Les Grandes Jorasses. Prices start from €1,300 for a helicopter for up to five people.
Mont Blanc & Annecy Lake
Enjoy a full hour of world-class stunning scenery. As well as the heart-stopping sights of Mont Blanc’s summits and glaciers, you will fly over nearby Annecy lake, a truly beautiful scene. Prices start from €1,700 for a helicopter for up to five people.
Back on the ground, and if you’re up for a walk or simply love hiking, snowshoeing is the way to go. A snowshoe, or ‘raquette’ is a must have when walking on snow. Crudely put, a snowshoe is a tennis racket-type object tied to your foot to help distribute your weight so you don’t sink into the snow. These days snowshoes have become extra snazzy, with specially designed grips to help you walk up steeper inclines or handle icy footing better.
There is no strenuous additional work necessary with snowshoes; you choose your route and pace, and off you go.
Grab a map from the tourist office to check out different route options and choose between a relaxed 2km stroll or a 6km hike. The stroll should take you between one to two hours. For the hike, be prepared for it to take up to five or six hours, depending on your speed. If you’d prefer a guided tour, then ESF runs morning or afternoon walks at €25 per single session or €125 for six sessions.
You can also get a special walkers ski pass that allows you onto certain lifts so that you can walk back down the mountain. This is an ideal activity in Val Thorens for non-skiers, as you won’t be slip sliding down some cruddy pistes. The nature and views are just beautiful, and on a bright sunny day, you’ll be able to see mountains for miles.
Now, before you write off snowmobiling as nothing but jet skis on snow (that’s pretty much what they are, but hear us out), you can actually have a whale of a time on a snowmobile. Pretty simple to drive and great fun once you get the hang of it, discovering Val Thorens on the back of a skidoo is a unique experience. You aren’t just let loose to wreak havoc on the pistes. Instead, guided tours set off at 5:30pm every evening giving you an opportunity to see the stars and moonlit mountains. This is a more slope-immersive experience in Val Thorens for non-skiers, and well worth it, in our opinion.
Last time we checked, prices were around €130 per skimobile, or if you prefer to cling on to someone who knows what they’re doing, get a guide for €65. Book by calling +33 (0)4 79 00 21 46 or check in with Val Thoren’s tourist centre for more information.
Ever fancied zooming over the pistes under a ribbed parachute? Well, in Val Thorens, it’s totally doable and we think it’s worth giving it a try. Evolution2 offer a tandem paragliding or ‘parapente’ flight. This means you will take your trip with pilot and you won’t have to think about a thing.
After a quick safety briefing, you are strapped into the gear. A quick run is all that’s needed to open up the wing and you’re off! Focus on the glorious skies, mountains, trees, and tiny skiers and snowboarders winding their way down below you.
Prices start from €80 from Boismint and €110 from Péclet.
Call +33 (0)6 13 76 78 74 to enquire further, or fill in a contact form online.
If you’re thinking about trying another adrenaline sport, why not have a crack at some ice climbing?
You’ll be shimmying your way up a frozen waterfall (the pics look pretty stunning) using all the proper gear including harnesses, crampons, and axes. Crampons, by the way are spiky things you add to your shoes so you can dig into the ice as you climb. There’s probably a better way to describe it, but we thought that ‘traction device’ didn’t quite paint the full picture. Under the professional guidance of your climbing instructor, you’ll ascend the waterfall and will be able to enjoy a unique panorama of the resort below.
Next to paragliding and ice-climbing, tobogganing suddenly seems quite vanilla doesn’t it. Well, it’s still an absolute hoot for those young and old. Forget any past experiences of bumping your way over slushy snow covering muddy lumpy ground; these are not British hills you are tobogganing down.
The Cosmojet is the longest toboggan run in Europe. To get to it, you must make an eight-minute ascent using the Péclet Funitel. You’ll find the Cosmojet is open Monday to Friday from 12:15am to 4:30pm. On Saturdays and Sundays it runs from 10m to 4:30pm. Head to the Cascades chairlift to buy your tickets.
Once you’ve paid, jump on to the Péclet Funitel. Then, begin your descent to 3,000m. You’ll spend the next 45 minutes on your bum, snaking your way down to 2,300m. For €16 per go, you get a sled, a helmet, and a barrel full of laughs. Participants must be at least five years old and the maximum age is 88.
Fancy making an evening of it? For €24 finish your toboggan run with mulled wine and some local mountain Beaufort cheese, served at the Chalet Cosmojet. Pre-book your tickets in advance. Evening runs kick off from 4:45pm and run until 6:30pm.
Kids aged between five and 10, or who are under 1.25m tall go free. They must share a toboggan with someone aged 18+. The toboggans provided are SETAM sleds and, unfortunately, you cannot use your own toboggan on the Cosmojet. Gloves are compulsory so make sure you bring a pair!
Take ten sledges, tie them together, and you’ve got 45 minutes of whiplashing fun. Val Thorens offers the activity of Snake Gliss only to participants who are ‘physically fit’. You can expect a rapid descent that starts at 3,000m and crashes you back down to the resort at 2,300m. An instructor will be there to guide you as you hurtle down at breakneck speed.
For those with hangovers, you’re either gonna be sober as a fish by the time you get to the bottom or ready to chunder if the adrenaline hasn’t quite kicked in.
Kids have to be over 120cm tall. Kick off is at 4pm Monday to Friday and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The €30 price includes all helmets, sleds, and a ski pass to get you up the mountain. Don’t forget your gloves. Find out more by visiting the ESF website or calling +33 479 000 286.
Also know as fat biking due to the chunky tyres, mountain biking is a sport that’s become increasingly popular in recent years. From urban rides to off-road descents, mountain biking has also found its way onto the pistes.
Experienced mountain bike riders will enjoy grappling with the snowy terrain. If you’ve not really tried mountain biking before but are confident without your stabilisers, then we’d recommend giving this activity a go. You’ll be given basic instruction on how to control your bike on the piste, including all important braking techniques and turning tips. You may take the odd tumble, but the ride is well worth it.
Guided by a professional instructor, you’ll hit the slopes once they’ve closed to skiers and snowboarders. You’ll be provided with a bike and helmet before taking the Péclet lift up to the 3,000m mark. Then, head down Tête Ronde slope, which is a graded blue slope, so shouldn’t be too treacherous. You’ll cover about 6km in 45 minutes before arriving back to the resort.
Start times are 16:45 or 17:15; the latter time is introduced later in the season. You’ll be part of a group of between five and 10 people. The activity runs on a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Prices are €40 for those who already have a ski pass and €50 for those without. Once you arrive back at the resort, mulled wine is served to get you into the après mood.
This activity must be booked in advance, so stop by at Chalet Toboggan, Rond-point des Pistes to arrange your slot.
Sitting at 2,200m, the Val Thorens Driving school is home to the highest ice racing track in Europe. 760m long and between 10 and 12m wide, the track is the officially recognised home of the Trophee Andros races. Each year, these races draw crowds to watch drivers fight their way around the course.
Lessons are an hour and a half long at €430 each. Or, take a full driving course for about €1500. Learn about how to approach turns, handle the vehicle, optimise your lines (whatever that means), and manage your speed.
If you’re not looking to learn but fancy a spin behind the wheel, take a 15 minute taster with a professional instructor. Prices are €99 in a 2WD and €199 in a 4WD.
Still not convinced? The school offers an aptly named ‘Baptism Passenger’ experience. For €60 you’ll get two hair raising laps and an experience you won’t forget. It’s one of the few times in your life that you can only hope you get a total maniac behind the wheel.
Free shuttle buses zip you up from the resort to the school, which is open every day from 8am to 10pm. Night rides are possible upon request. There is also a specific circuit dedicated to ice karting. To book, call +33 06 74 78 25 13 or book online. For more information submit an enquiry form.
Ever thought you’d be able to dive halfway up a mountain? No, we didn’t either. Ice diving is the practice of plunging yourself underwater that is covered by a thick layer of ice. The activity takes place a Lac du Lou, which is between Val Thorens and Les Menuires.
You’ll take a 40 minute snowshoe walk to the lake, where your dive instructor will gear you up and brief you on the plans. The equipment may feel a little bulky, but the watertight neoprene drysuit will keep you warm and comfortable. You’ll also be given waterproof gloves and a diving mask, meaning not part of your body will come into contact with the water.
For more seasoned divers, this may not be quite as exciting as some of the encounters you’d have on a typical dive. However, seeing the light stream through the ice and immersing yourself in patchy darkness is a unique experience. Here’s an idea of what to expect, although this footage really doesn’t convey the beauty of the ice.
You have to be at least 16 years old to participate and the activity runs for about 20 minutes. For a straight up diving experience, the cost is €130. Adding on the snowshoe walk brings the price up to €160, and throwing in lunch brings it to €180. Book with Evolution2 by calling +33 (0)6 13 76 78 74
There are two zip lines, or zip wires, in Val Thorens, one accessible only if you are a skier, and now another accessible to those who choose not to ski. Simply head on up the high speed Moutière chairlift to find the start.
The zip line is about about 1.6km long. Setting off from 2,511m, you’ll hit speeds of up to 75kmph as you shoot over the resort. During the season, the zip line is open everyday.
The other zip line that is only accessible by skiers and snowboarders is the called the Tyrolienne. Opened in 2014, the zip line starts at 3,230m on a peak in the Orelle resort. Set off from the top of the Bouchet chairlift and head towards the Funitel de Peclet cable car. The ride lasts just under two minutes and you’re guaranteed to hit speeds of over 100kmph. The views are pretty spectacular.
Bowling and Billiards
If you’re sick of the snow and fancy something active but indoors, head to the bowling alley. The facility offers eight rather snazzy looking bowling lanes, along with seven English pool (eight ball) tables that are each seven-foot long, and one American nine-foot pool table.
The place is open from 12pm to 2am. There’s also a sports bar and a games room that offers an F1 Simulator, various video games, air hockey, flippers, and babyfoot. For a second there, we had to Google babyfoot. Turns out its table football and nothing to do with those gel foot peels. Call to enquire and book on + 33 4 79 07 01 47.
Val Thorens Fitness Centre
Fancy a game of squash, indoor tennis, football, or badminton? Val Thorens fitness centre is fully equipped with all of the above, plus a gym, a spa, and two swimming pools. In the spa, you’ll find a jacuzzi, body and face treatments, and a sauna.
Kids can bounce out their energy on the trampolines or bouncy castle and the centre is generally open seven days a week.
Opening times vary for different parts of the fitness centre: the spa is open from 11am until 10pm. The swimming pools are open from 1pm to 8pm, and the fun centre is open from 10am to 10pm. Discover more about prices and opening times at the official Les Centres Sportifs et Les Espaces Bien-Être website.
Val Thorens Après-ski
When it comes to après-ski, Val Thorens is a leader all things food, drink, and party. Val Thorens nightlife is pretty spectacular, and we’ve reviewed our favourite bars and clubs already. The Folie Douce always gets a special mention because it throws such excellent parties and the staff vibe is amazing.
If you plan on visiting Val Thorens in spring, look out for the Dutchweek hosted by Snowtime. It’s a week of mayhem that always sells out.
For foodies there are a range of options to please the palate. Choose from Michelin-starred establishments and fine dining hotspots. There are also a fabulous collection of restaurants that offer excellent dishes on moderately priced menus. With such a great choice of restaurants serving traditional, local, vegetarian, and fancy food, you’ll never get bored.
Val Thorens Spa
After a long day on the slopes, or a long night at the bar, sometimes all you need is to be horizontal. Fortunately, there are over 15 spas in Val Thorens, where your battered and bruised body can undergo all manner of treatments. Choose from Hammams, saunas, jacuzzis, and indoor pools, as well as a plethora of full body and face treatments.
Several of the hotels in Val Thorens also offer spas, meaning you needn’t wander far from your room to receive relaxing massages and facials.
Some of our favourite spas to mention are:
- Five-star Spa Pure Altitude by Altapura
- Spa by L’Occitane by Hotel Pasmina
- Five-star Le Spa by Koh-I Nor
- Three-star Espace bien-être et beauté by Hôtel Le Sherpa
- Four-star Les Bains du Montana by Résidence Montana
- Five-star Centre de Beauté by Fitz Roy
- Three-star Espace bien-être et beauté by Fahrenheit Seven
Fall in Love with Val Thorens
So, there you have it. 16 things to do in Val Thorens for non-skiers, and they’re not exactly arts and crafts and fireside sing-alongs either. Adrenaline junkies who don’t fancy the slopes can take to the skies with paragliding and zip lining, and burn some rubber going ice driving. For those looking for a calmer trip, lose yourself in the beauty of the mountains on a helicopter tour or whilst you relax in one of the many spas.
At WeSki, a good number of our customers go on skiing holidays as much for the après as they do the snow. We also have non-skiing customers request trips without ski passes, so we’ve made it easy to personalise each person’s trip extras. You can now arrange your trip entirely by yourself and non-skiers needn’t get caught up in additional costs of ski rental, passes, and lessons. In a couple of minutes, you can create and book an entire trip, from flights to lodging, ski passes to luggage, and gear to lessons, for everyone.
WeSki are a travel platform that specialise in group trips and experiences. Bookings for the 2019/2020 season have already begun. If you’d like to book with WeSki, you can do so easily via our website.