This week, I went to Val d’Isere for the first time since I was a teenager.
Well, not quite the first time. I did go there on a work trip, back when I was working for a London based ski company, but that time was three days, and doesn’t count.
So, I know what you’re all thinking: has Val d’Isere really changed since you last stayed there?
The answer is, it’s not actually as different as you might think. The places to go are still pretty much the Petit Danois, the Morris Pub and wherever you can find loud music on the mountain. The chairlifts still don’t have covers, even though it can get pretty windy up top, and the skiing is still a well balanced mix of off piste routes and wide, accessible pistes.
If I’m being honest, the only real difference is that prices are higher now than they were when I was a teenager (and therefore not paying for anything). Even that though, can largely be attributed to inflation. That, and the company is better now than it was then; fewer bratty 16 year olds, and a couple of old friends can make all the difference in the world, it turns out.
I didn’t go back to Dick’s Tea Bar this time around. I’m still recovering from the trauma of my last visit. I’ve been assured though, that it’s still completely mirrored, there are still hordes of students there somehow all the time, but I no longer need to babysit the aforementioned bratty 16 year old.
Despite some of the hotels getting a lot more upmarket, it was a relief to discover that you can still do Val d’Isere on a budget; no need just yet to up sticks and head to Tignes if you’re looking for a bargain ski trip. Plus, there are a few dives still playing cheesy 80s music and featuring drunk apres skiers dancing on tables.
It’s been interesting to see how much a ski resort doesn’t change in ten years; I was expecting more unfamiliarity than I got. Maybe there’ll be more to write about when I go back in another decade…