An independent guide to Val Thorens
Musaraigne magic carpet/perspex tunnel, Val Thorens
This page covers the Val Thorens beginners area. Beginners usually start at the Rond Point des Pistes, and use the magic carpets and nursery slopes there. Then, Deux Lacs chairlift gives access to the main green run, also called Deux Lacs. Cascades chairlift, leading to the Deux Combes piste, is usually the next one to try. After that, there are some fairly easy blue runs. Read about the Val Thorens beginners area here.
Skiing Made Easy is a Kindle ebook. It's a practical guide to learning to ski, based on many happy seasons of ski teaching in Val Thorens. Most of the demonstrations are performed by my friend and fellow Val Thorens ski instructor Marina Michaud.
Rond Point des Pistes, Val Thorens
The Rond Point des Pistes in Val Thorens has some gentle slopes which are ideal for complete beginners to get used to sliding a few metres. It's where most ski and snowboard lessons with ski schools start too, with meeting points for group lessons for adults, children, and snowboarding, and for private lessons.
If you're staying in the lower part of Val Thorens, in the rue du Soleil, it's easy to get to the Rond Point des Pistes. You can walk directly onto the snow at the hairpin bend in the road by the Chamois d'Or; or, from Montana or Temples du Soleil, you can use the magic carpet lifts (Musaraigne and Campagnols, which open at 8.30am) to get up there.
Castor & Pollux magic carpets/perspex tunnel
If you're a beginner staying in the middle or top part of resort, you'll have to walk from the place de Caron, down a short slope called La Voie Lactée (the Milky Way), to get to the Rond Point des Pistes. The easiest way to do it is to walk inside the Castor & Pollux tunnel, between the two magic carpets, on rubber matting. (There was a suggestion at one point that this was going to be stopped, but any ban isn't strictly enforced). Later in the week, beginners will be able to ski or board down La Voie Lactée.
To get back up to the place de Caron, take one of the two parallel magic carpets Castor and Pollux (no lift pass needed).
Once you've got your balance at the Rond Point des Pistes, you'll move onto the beginners' area (espace débutant ), which is served by two travelator or 'magic carpet' lifts. The lower one is Musaraigne (which means shrew), and the upper one is Campagnols (voles). They are in perspex tunnels, which are great for protecting you from the wind, but not so good as it gets warm in the spring, when it can feel like being in a greenhouse. No lift pass is needed for these magic carpets.
Annotated map of the central beginners' area in Val Thorens
The area by Musaraigne is easier; when you're confident there, move on to Campagnols. (If you start at Rond Point des Pistes, you may have no choice but to ski down Campagnols first, once, to get to Musaraigne).
If you're a beginner, try to avoid the piste in betweeen the two magic carpets, as it's a busy thoroughfare for confident skiers and boarders heading towards the rest of the lifts in the ski area.
When you can control your speed, and turn left and right, you're ready to take a chairlift and attempt a green run.
Deux Lacs (two lakes) is the first chairlift that beginners should take. Head past the bottom of Musaraigne, go by the Plein Sud chair (on the left), and you'll arrive at the departure point of Deux Lacs chairlift (on the right hand side of the piste).
From the top of the Deux Lacs lift, turn left on Traversée des Deux Lacs. Almost immediately, there's a mountain restaurant - the Chalet des Deux Lacs.
Chalet des 2 Lacs
Continue a little way past the mountain restaurant, then there are a couple of options - a left turn down the Espace Junior (recommended for the first descent), or straight on to the Chalets du Thorens and join the Combe de Thorens. Either way, you end up back at the Rond Point des Pistes.
The easiest green runs are from Deux Lacs chair, but there's another green run from the top of the Cascades chairlift - Deux Combes. This is the next step in the progression.
New in January 2016, and starting at the junction of the Traversée des Deux Lacs and the Espace Junior, is the Funslope. It's an easy Skicross, which is suitable for children and lower level skiers. See what the Funslope is like in this video:
Now for a look at the easy blue runs.
Dalles piste & Chalet de la Marine
If you're progressing from greens to blues, Dalles is usually the next step after Deux Combes. Turn right at the top of Cascades chairlift to head down Dalles, towards the Chalet de la Marine mountain restaurant.
Other easy blues (starting with the easiest) are Gentiane, Linotte, Moraine, Blanchot, and Plein Sud.
How difficult a run is can vary a lot, depending on the weather and snow conditions. Runs are generally easier first thing in the morning, too, when they have been pisted overnight. By the afternoon, they can get more chopped up.
Pluviomètre piste, Val Thorens
If you want to get to the top of the mountain, and ski down on a fairly easy blue, there's Tête Ronde, Niverolles, and Pluviometre.
I hope you make rapid progress in the Val Thorens beginners area.
A guide to all the ski schools in Val Thorens, including the ESF, Prosneige, Ski Cool, Evolution 2, and Free School Attitude.
The Val Thorens ski area section covers the beginners' area (including the green runs, and the easy blues), and the ski area sector by sector. There's a page dedicated to the snow park, Scross, and the slalom stadium. You can also find out about Val Thorens off piste itineraries, look at a piste map, and consult the Val Thorens ski pass prices. Finally, have a look at the ValThorensGuide to the Val Thorens mountain restaurants.