London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Home of “snow bistronomy”, Val Thorens did not just spoil us twice with impeccable April skiing and sunshine, but some serious fine dining, from warm and cosy Savoyarde cuisine, slope gourmet lunches and sushi, to Michelin star treats. Some of the best Val Thorens restaurants in here, 2 weeks are too short to exhaust sampling them all, we counted over 60!
After a good ski session, what could be better than lunch on the slopes? Val Thorens 11 slopeside chalets and restaurants have it all: from friendly and relaxed gourmet sandwiches and waffles, to traditional French mountain cuisine, to creative and buzzing afternoons.
1. Once again my favourite on the slopes has to be La Fruitiere: Chef Damien de Valukoff and his team come up with some amazing dishes with a twist and fresh local produce. The trout with ravioli were superb, the oysters fab, the kids menu with steak hache and chocolate mousse out of this world the kids confessed.
Pair it with a serious après ski session, both 2022 and 2023 April La Folie treated us with some great DJs, on table dancing, champagne flowing all directions and happy, fun loving crowds.
2. A little bit lower altitude, Fahrenheit 7’s La Rotisserie makes a great spot for lunches by the slopes or dinners, overlooking the pistes and serving an eclectic mix of traditional French dishes with a twist, pasta and poké bowls. We adored the tuna tartar and spaghetti with seafood, the kids settled for pizza (bunny shape for Easter), fries and chicken nuggets. We found Thursday and Friday afternoons on Fahrenheit 7’s terrace also cool and buzzy, DJ and a funky fun loving crowd.
3. Another piste option is Chalet du Thorens, fast lunch at the cafeteria, Italian pizzas prepared on the spot, snacks, sushi, wok, seafood. We loved the live music, the kids loved the waffles, and in April 2023 we returned on their beautiful terrace to test the sushi properly as well as the dancefloor at 360!
4. Chez Pépé Nicolas charming old farmhouse, family-run and serving food since 1957; April skiing here is fine if the snow is plentiful (La Chasse piste), otherwise we recommend their friendly shuttle from P4. We adored their risotto (best we ever had ?!) and cheeses; quirky traditional French alpine food with a lovely, warm service.
5. Chalet de la Marine, very short ride from Cascades chairlift : inside, a traditional mountain restaurant with roaring log fires and wooden beams, the terrace ideal for sunny lunches. The scallops carpaccio was fab, our friends raved about their fish, whilst the kids tested the Asian dishes. One can also head in here for dinner in a Mongolian yurt, get back on skis, snowmobile or chenilles, depending on the choice, one may wish to go gentler on the genepi!
6. La Maison – right in the centre of Val Thorens but also just above the kids carpet: generous terrace and white exterior with large windows; just by the newly opened sports centre Le Board, La Maison spoiled us with truffle pizza, lobster and fish.
7. Last but not least for lunching Marielle’s terrace conveniently located by ESF’s jardin d’hiver has casual options or proper dining, as well as aperols and rose! We celebrated in here the kids ESF medals in 2022: 1ere etoile for the 6 years old and etoile de bronze for the 8 years old after a week of various attempts including ESF competition (too repetitive, same black slope over and over he said after the first day!) and Free riders (too young and tete dans la lune for the hors piste ESF said!).
8. Dining wise our kids vote in Val Thorens is once again Fahrenheit 7‘s, between their games rooms, the terrace, the live DJ and their nutella pizza they were lost with excitement. And we fully approve their votes, seeing the sun setting at 8pm from La Rotiserie over dinner was magic! If you are after chilling après dinner, La Cheminée offers a quieter place to relax after a day on the slopes with coloured sofas, fluffy cushions and a fireplace. And if it’s snowing and sunset is not on the menu, we loved Le Zinc, live music on Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, great wine selection, seafood platters and fondus!
9. Another hot spot in Val Thorens, this time for sushi and fusion dinners, Jackie and its Yuki Yama have eclectic funky vibes! Expect international staff, funky tunes with live DJs and a fun crowd. On the main bar street of Val Thorens, Rue de Gébroulaz, the bar stays open until the early hours so if you haven’t worn yourself out skiing all day (like we did!!!), you can party the night away into the wee hours.
10. For cosier Savoyarde cuisine, we also tested La Petite Ferme opposite to Marielle : fondue, raclette and pierrade, family friendly and with kids menus including steaks and pizza.
11. If time constraint and/ or happy with casual dining, music and young crowds, head to La Favela. Latin American fare meet cocktails in a happening après-ski hangout with cool décor & late-night hours.
12. And for some serious Michelin treats, one can head to Pashmina for Les Explorateurs. Pick up in Pashmina’s coolest vintage car was much appreciated after days of skiing, apres skiing and dead legs!
Designed as a luxury refuge, Les Explorateurs has some great surprises up its sleeve: sustainable ingredients meet a cosmopolitan cuisine, the décor is eclectic and fun. My fish was exquisite, the seasonal menu a tour de force and cheese was divine.
And after all that skiing, one is in for a treat with Val Thorens après ski scene ! Led by the infamous Folie Douce and the Alps biggest underground nightclub, Le Malaysia, Val Thorens has plenty of spots to keep you partying ! From live music to slopeside parties, here are our favourite spots after 2 weeks of extensive due diligence, 2022 and 2023!
An institution we got to love over the years from Courchevel and Val d’Isere, La Folie Douce is one of the hottest après spots in Val Thorens and effectively claims to be the highest open-air club in Europe. The party starts daily from 1pm, with DJs and live musicians playing on the balcony, whilst we danced the afternoon away on the terrace. Champagne and beers flow freely, I’d also rave about their aperols and of course coud not resist dancing on the table / chairs with the coolest house music and live saxophon. I certainly loved my traditional lunches at La Fruitiere and as 2pm arrives head to the terrace for dancing or VIP area if the legs have given up on you, soak in music and vibes from comfy pillows whilst enjoying some bubbles. La Folie Douce is certainly NOT to be missed!
Best spring skiing Europe? Look no further, here’s to Val Thorens mid April fabulous snow and 12 hours of uninterrupted sunshine! We stayed at Marielle’s in 2022 and whilst the hotel has been nicely renovated same year, we found the family rooms very modestly sized, the kids bunk beds actually in the hall. Also the ski room was not properly ventilated but we have to admit the location is great for kids going to ESF jardin d’hiver, 1 minute drop off and pick up mornings, lunch and dinner time. There’s lots of great books by Marielle’s reception as well as a sun terrace perfect for sunbathing and we were smitten by April skiing with sunshine and very long days !
And if you are like me with dead legs after 3 days of skiing, warmly recommending booking a spa day, Pashmina has my votes again! Mid April skiing can be hard work if there is slushy snow in the afternoon, so if you find it tough to keep up with the kids (like us!), luckily ESF can keep them entertained with black slopes and parents can grab a drink at La Folie and chill at Pashmina spa and terrace.
We stayed at Fahrenheit 7 in April 2023 and adored the live music at Zinc, the breakfast and the sauna; the kids indulged with Arcade games and socialising. Access to slopes is easy for kids skiing intermediary level and above, whilst the rental shop staff are sweet and fun.
For more inspiration on best European ski breaks, check our article with our highlights over 20 years. For more French skiing, great food and cool après skiing, check our Courchevel top activities and restaurants; Chamonix or Tignes. All Covid restrictions in France have been lifted on March 14th 2022, hurray and fingers crossed it stays this way.
PS: Many thanks to Fahrenheit 7 for the dinner treats, we had a blast après skiing on their terrace, mid April snow and sunshine does not get better !
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