Enjoy a real altitude summertime in Val Thorens and dive into the Savoyard culture Chez Pépé Nicolas15 min read
Famous for its honorable altitude (considered as the highest ski resort in Europe) and its large winter sports domain, Val Thorens also deserves to be appreciated in summer time. The station welcomes you every year to admire its summits, between the months of July and August 28, just the time to recharge your batteries and enjoy a cure of pure fresh air. During this sunny period where a flow of greenery covers its surrounding mountains, Val Thorens invites you to the heart of its valleys, in order to change your daily landscapes. Indeed, perched up at an altitude of 2300 meters, this situation offers a breathtaking view, starring varying colors and shades along the day. We promise you a complete disconnection, far from your daily duties and close to the essential. In order to make these benefits possible, we propose some exciting hikings in the heart of a wild nature, either by walk or using other transports, such as cableways, electric bikes.
Thus, you would find in this article, enough possibilities to contemplate a magnificent sunset or sunrise, while exploring astounding great spaces, omnipresent in this rich region of Savoy… Along them, some other cultural and gastronomic suggestions to integrate Val Thorens as you future summer rendez-vous. By Alex Plato
For a summer holiday full of pleasures, discover the assets of Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe, located at an average altitude of 2300m (and a maximum peak at 3230m). From this pretty high height, you’re really invited to explore this warm atmosphere, guaranteeing you enough fun and leisure, all year long. Thanks to its privileged location, Val Thorens is situated in the heart of the slopes in winter and in the heart of a slope of many summer activities in summer. Inaugurated in 1971, the young station proposes now more than 150km of ski slopes, enough to enjoy yourself for a just a weekend or more! Part of the wide 3 Vallées ski zone (along Les Menuires, Méribel, Courchevel…), you can is easily access there from the Moutiers train station, followed by a one-hour shuttle to reach the summits. Whatever you prefer them on wintertime or summertime, their mountain is always ready to welcome and fascinate you (photo credits: Alex Plato).
Indeed, apart from skiing, Val Thorens proposes you activities in connection with the configuration of the relief, notably through the Spot United. This multi-activity center proposes all kinds of sports for everybody and even nearby, a double zip line of 1800m long, able to overfly over the dry slopes over an altitude of 65m! On top of that, open for the first year in summer, this zip line is unique in Savoie and allows you to run in couple or with a friend, along some thrills over a panoramic view on the Val Thorens valley. A facility reachable at the top of the Moutière chairlift and accessible to children, from 14 years old. Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm, 28€ per person (including the cableway). By the way, these transports are as well included in the MultiLoisirs Card. With this sesame, you may also benefit from an entrance to the multi-sports center, where stands the swimming pool, a Spa to relax in the sauna or hammam and order some massages, among many other activities to discover.
For more information, any visitor of Val Thorens may find enough complementary resources at this Spot United, located on the Place Caron. In the Club House, they could be warmly greeted and informed by the team, in order to eventually plan their upcoming experiences or benefit from a GoPro loan for the day. Otherwise, they could sit on one of the deckchairs and enjoy the entertainment, offered by the different activity courts, just in front of them.
In parallel of this, also find the possibility to loan a bunch of sports equipment and the rental of the highest tennis court of France! A set of surprises enhanced by the Tourism Office and aimed to entertain anyone willing an easy and free access to all kinds of sports and fun games for all tastes. Last but not least, don’t forget the remaining board games (Mölkky area), sandboxes able to welcome your young children’s fantasies, beach volleyball court and the ping-pong tables… But that’s not the only asset of this colorful station because we can also find many other activities, concentrated in this Spot United or all around, such as the football yard, the archery stand and even a large outdoor platform to play some giant collective games to share. From this dynamic spot, it’s also possible to borrow (for free) a high-tech electric mountain bike (both for adults and children), to book in advance (for a slot of 2 hours, from 11 am until 1 pm or 4 pm until 6 pm) with your MultiLoisirs Card.
Nonetheless, don’t miss to win again the stage of the Tour de France, that occurred in Val Thorens on July 27, 2019, where you could still pass through the symbolic arrival flag at a respectable attitude of 2500m, in the heart of the mountains. A decisive leg for the leading group and the famous Yellow Jersey, since this difficult spot to reach (especially after 200km) was located the day before the final at the Champs Elysées Avenue in Paris…
This specially steep road is now signposted for the last 2 kilometers, which allows you to train, analyze your capacities of progress and even challenge yourself on this high mountain stage. In case you can’t manage with a regular bike, you could borrow one of the electric bikes (as seen earlier) and even recharge it, at the charging station, located in front of the Sherpa store.
As far as you have understood it, there are many good reasons to organize your next summer holidays in an incredible framework, with a view on these endless valleys of Savoie, that can turn from white into green, in summer. Moreover, despite this avalanche of activities, the main part of the hotels, situated in Val Thorens, are closed in summer but you could still rely on some residences, in order to bring your sleep closer to the stars, at this altitude of 2300 meters. Among them, you are invited to have some rest in Les Chamois d’Or, Les Vypaètes, Chalet de Rosaël, Chalet Cocoon, Pierre et Vacances, or even with private locations! Another option to try would be the bivouac… Therefore, it is authorized to pitch your tent close to some existing refuges, in the natural Parc de la Vanoise. This formula gives you the opportunity to spend a night under the stars, for example at the edge of a mountain lake, such as the Lac du Lou, located through a hiking of 45min from Val Thorens or 30min from Les Menuires.
Thus, this natural mountain lake is preserved and located between two valleys, which makes it a magical place, stuck out of time, sometimes victim of its own success… That’s why, you can’t be alone there! Indeed, once the snow went away, another horizon appears with its flow of marvelous vegetation flourishing, starting from aromatic plants (only to observe, not to collect) and you could just hike around and reach some famous spots, thanks to plenty of available itineraries, leading you for instance to this Lac Du Lou. Once there, you would observe that this altitude lake is logically famous for its shiny reflects on the water and the interesting tour around its rectangular shapes, that you could proceed all around this site. We advise you to take some time to stop and contemplate the panorama on this communion between relief and depth, earth and water.
It’s a sure thing that you couldn’t find this scenery everywhere but here at a respectable height of 2350m, so you better bring a good camera to immortalize this moment! For any need of rest or just for drink, the Refuge du Lac du Lou is the closest place to settle if you are in this case or if you just wish to sleep if their dormitory.
For more authentic sensations, at an altitude of 1950m above the sea level and a few steps before Val Thorens, we highly advise you to have a pause in the bucolic and so Savoyard altitude inn, Chez Pépé Nicolas. This haven of peace and nature is nested in a panoramic pasture, spread from an original chalet offering you the best of Savoie gastronomy and identity. This traditional structure, made of wood and stones, proposes a surprising decoration composed of vintage furniture (like in La Bouitte Hotel), that makes you feel like at home, in a genuine local interior design from yesteryear.
Indeed, once upon time, Nicolas Jay, then baptized Pépé Nicolas, a former mayor of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville and an alpine farmer acquired this typical mountain chalet, by the time known as La Chasse. Then, he started to transmit his vision to maintain the balance of his fragile valleys, by growing his own vegetables and hiring some cows, goats but also pigs, chickens and rabbits. This farm was then completed from 1986, with the arrival of the Suchet family, by donkeys, horses, ducks and even guinea fowls. Some of the local farmers were happy to rent their animals, and gaining com. Furthermore, this new management was the beginning of a new era for this bucolic pasture, since this tribe paid many efforts to gradually transform the place into a true alpine sanctuary. What may be regarded as a real cultural act, from every detail dedicated to share the spirit and the gastronomy of the valley, coming from about 40 local producers.
From the early renovation works until the latest extensions, Thierry Suchet, helped by his brother Eric and his cousin Bruno, invested very much implication and money (some say more than one million euros) to reach their goal. Without forgetting the numerous obstacles, inherent to an establishment like this, not so close from a road, plus bringing up there the necessary electricity and water, at least to create a certain comfort. Thereafter, thanks to an additional administrative authorization, an access path and a parking were settled, so that the visitors from all over the world, may easily get there. The result is this panoramic terrace counting 120 seats on the terrace and 100 places settings inside the chalet, whose vintage interior fittings were imagined by Magali Suchet. She’s the wife of Thierry Suchet and she decided to recall the original spirit of the place, which used to be a barn, nowadays married with a contemporary and cozy design.
In case you want to get closer to this charming company, you have to know that they may be approached by the visitors at some moments of the day, even during their milking time until the manufacture of cheese… By the way, some of this production is given back to the farmers as a compensation. In front of the vegetable garden, where also the homemade aromatic plants are grown and where a masterful perspective on some marmots‘ habitats ! If you stay for lunch, you would be undoubtedly pleased to appreciate some creations of the inventive Chef, starting by local cheese with edible flowers from the garden, served on a natural tree bark, in order to preserve the inner spirit (and even perfume) the heart of these savory products. Thereafter, we continue with a delicious homemade appetizer, an estival trio, composed of serac cream, vegetable tapenade and a parsley houmous, from the garden… eventually to marry with a traditional Mondeuse wine.
On top of that, one last recommendation to follow, called the Montée en Alpes 2020. This annual event announces the opening of the summer season, generally happening at the Solstice Day. This joyful escapade is accompanied with a colorful herd of goats, cows, chickens and ducks and usually cross the various villages forming the Belleville Valley, so to say le Chatelard, Saint Martin, Saint Marcel, Praranger. After a convivial breakfast served in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville with local bugnes, the cortege pursues its path in direction of the alpine pastures, located between Les Menuires and Val Thorens, for a lunch Chez Pépé Nicolas, completed by an authentic in-situ experience. Once arrived, you’re invited for a visit of the old chalet, the new vegetable garden, the flower garden and of course the shepherd’s path. Adding to this, you could also attend and even participate into the manual milking of goats and cows and maybe some souvenirs of this farm, from the store (honey, cheeses, sheepskins…).
The result of this journey, a distance of almost 10km of a friendly walk, either respecting the rhythm of the animals and the participants and for sure a free transport is normally organized to go back down to the original place of departure. For lunch, single menu at the price of 25€ for adults and 12€ for children (- 14 years old). Reservation by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chez Pépé Nicolas, Piste de la Chasse, 73440 Val Thorens (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)6 09 45 28 35. More information on the official website.
In case, you’re rather into classical alpine cuisine, we have selected for you two pleasant adresses in the heart of the Val Thorens station, at least open in summer time. Therefore, we either recommend you Les Saints Pères, a cosy restaurant, spread on two levels, where are served a selection of inspired and tasty Savoy specialities, made to warm you up at any season, either inside or outside.
Therefore, you can decide your favorite position, among the ensemble of industrial inspired furniture, surrounded by a couple of very decorative forged iron elements, notably built in the stairs structure. Otherwise, for an equivalent convivial atmosphere, if weather permits, take a sit in the wooden terrace, doubled with a panoramic view. By the way, you have to know that it can be cold at night, especially at this high altitude, even in August and in this case, a warm alpine fondue is a right moment to share.
The result is a neat and sunny bistro-style cuisine, to complete these essential Savoyard specialties which delight the passing guests in search of local products. For your information, all dishes, suggestions of the day and desserts are prepared and cooked on site, using fresh vegetables, finely selected according to the season.
Moreover, the Chef proposes his proper specialities, such as an appetizer with Tuna Tataki, then as main courses, the Saints Pères burger adapted to the local habits, the Charolais cooked in chimichurri, a lobster prepared as a bolognese, and a lamb served in a tagine. In dessert, a mousse made with grand cru chocolate.
On the other hand, not so far from this previous establishment, the Café Péclet waits for your venue between the walls of this charming wooden space, surrounded by two intimate alcoves. For instance, a configuration, to enjoy a certain quiet and intimate environment. Thus, take the time to admire in this place, the selection of vintage decorative elements adjoin some contemporary paintings.
As a matter of fact, the Café Péclet suggests a dash of homemade specialties melt with a bunch of fresh products, enhanced by a spoon of conviviality and good mood.
From this traditional restaurant, you would certainly remind a certain melting-pot, between the regional anchorage and the ch’ti origins of the Chef Benoît, from the north of France. Straight from this territory, we naturally find the fries and the burger, but also the timeless tiramisu inspired by the Italian waitress Patrizia or the legendary Crème Brûlée, flamed with the local herbal spirit, the so-called Génépi. A legend even tells that this Café Péclet is acclaimed by a certain fox, passing there at certain times to collect some of his favorite French fries…
Le Café Péclet, Chalet Les Trolles, Place Péclet, 73440 Val Thorens (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 79 04 18 40
If you’re just into traditional cheeses and charcuterie to bring at home, La Belle en Cuisse located behind the multisports center, is definitely the address. Launched in 1986 by Anne Daupeyroux, with the wish to transmit the passion for the local products to the visitors. Make your choice among a selection of different ancestral cheeses, such as the famous raclette, with its distinctive taste and an ideal fondant ability, thanks to the diversity of the Savoyard climate, the quality of the pastures, where is extracted the whole raw milk from cows, and the know-how of the master refiners.
For example, get tempted by their reblochonnade, a typical dish from Savoy. Made with reblochon wrapped in a lightly smoked bacon, to be appreciated in the comfort of your residence, for an intimate gastronomic moment. Such as raclette, you can accompany your Reblochonnade with steamed potatoes, pickles and for sure local wine! Otherwise, ask them the unmissable Savoyard fondue, another emblematic regional speciality, made from melted cheese, accompanied by croutons of bread, to be dipped in that cheese.
La Belle en Cuisse, l’Arcelle, 1 Rue de Caron, 73440 Val Thorens (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 79 00 04 30 / Open everyday from 10am to 1pm and from 4pm to 8pm. More information on their online store.
Last but not least, don’t hesitate to burn your calories, during one of these upcoming competitions, such as the Summit Games, occurring at early August. For the time of a sporting week, experiment the best of hiking and trail running, in an exceptional panorama, between lakes and high mountain. This race is suitable for everyone willing to train and surpass his capacities, on varied paths and adapted to all levels, among them:
VT Crazy Cross, a fun and intense obstacle course in the heart of the resort.
VT Speed 3200, a vertical race to the top of Grand Fond.
VT Trail Pursuit, a 42km trail between lakes and summits.
VT Family Fun Marche, a family walk in the heart of the mountains, for a lively discovery of hiking.
VT Trail Kids, a trail dedicated for the youngest ones, from 12 to 17 years old
VT Boost Camp, a training camp animated by Julien Chorier, ambassador of the Summit Games.
Otherwise, don’t miss the Fête de Péclet, usually happening on mid-July and mid-August.
This festival, named after the emblematic glacier of Val Thorens, is a convivial moment evolving in a guinguette spirit, plus offering breathtaking views on the surrounding peaks. Along this planning, there would be a pétanque tournament, a couple of guinguette games (chamboul’tout, wooden and skill games), completed by a musical and dancing entertainment, to accompany with snacks and refreshments sold on site, before the sparkling fireworks!
More information at the Tourism Office.