Look down on your fellow skiers - you're in Europe's highest resort

Where is it?

Where is it?

At 2,300m, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe and starts where many other ski areas finish. This means the snow is as sure as it gets but the place can be bleak when the weather sets in, especially as the trees stopped growing a long way down the mountain.

Chocolate box or concrete box?

Although it is no alpine beauty, the resort is a user-friendly mix of smart hotels, gargantuan apartment blocks, lively bars and underground shopping centres linked together by frostbite-free indoor walkways.

What's the snow like?

With mainly north-facing slopes and skiing up to 3,300m, a winter wonderland is virtually assured until the beginning of May. In case of shortages, 20 per cent of the pistes are covered by snowmaking.

Going up

Val Thorens forms part of the Trois Vallées, the biggest ski area in the world with 200 state-of-the-art lifts and a hefty lift map to help you to find your way round. Three high-capacity funitel gondolas keep the crowds moving, while the queue-prone Cime de Caron cable car rises up nearly a kilometre into the sky.

Coming down

With 600km of mostly intermediate piste at your ski tips, you can clock up some serious mileage around the Trois Vallées. In Val Thorens, beginners have plenty of gentle terrain right on the doorstep, while experts should head up to the steepish pistes below Cime de Caron and Col de la Chambre or hire a guide and check out the area's vast off-piste potential.

Where can I leave the kids?

Val Thorens is a P'tits Montagnards resort so it is very child-friendly, despite the freezing temperatures. The Ecole du Ski Français (00 33 4 79 00 02 86) monopolises childcare and runs two mini-clubs for children from three months old, as well as teaching "snowflakes" to ski from four years.

Can I get some air?

The terrain park is situated just above the resort on the Deux Lacs piste and has got tables, hips, rails and a 110m-long half-pipe.

How much for a lift pass?

A six-day Trois Vallées lift pass costs €198 (£134) for adults and €149 (£100) for children aged 5-12. Under-fives ski go free.

My thighs hurt. Can I slope off?

For a weather-proof wind-down, the revamped sports centre (00 33 4 79 00 00 76) offers everything from swimming to ping-pong, plus sauna, Jacuzzi and solarium. Back outside, petrol-heads will enjoy blasting round the slopes after dark on a snowmobile (00 33 4 79 00 21 46), although don't expect a quiet time - it'll be just you, the elements and 100 other holidaymakers on your tail.

Enough exercise. Where can I eat up my euros?

Val Thorens's brand new top table, L'Oxalys (00 33 4 79 00 12 00), is situated at the bottom of the resort. Run by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Michel Bouvier, gastronomes should book well in advance for dinner at this fancy newcomer. For something a little less haute, try La Paillotte (00 33 4 79 00 01 02), in the centre of the resort, a cosy Savoyard classic with acres of wood, cheese, potatoes and checked curtains.

Après-ski rating

If you're looking for post-piste ski-boot dancing, then head to the top of the resort, where five or six heaving bars stand cheek by jowl. Which one you go into depends partly on your nationality, but with names like the Frog and Roast Beef, O'Connells and Le Viking the choice is fairly obvious. Back in the centre, Le Chantaco is far more low-key, with table football, decent music and dodgy neon lighting.

How do I get there?

It's only 120km from Geneva to Moutiers, where the Eurostar ski train also makes a stop, but Val Thorens is a further 40km up the D117.

In the area

If you fancy skiing something a little more extreme, head across to the Courchevel valley and test your nerves on the famously frightening Couloirs. Time your descent right and you can enjoy a 120-strong captive audience in the Saulire cable car overhead.