Val Thorens

In the 1960s the potential of Val Thorens to be transformed from summer pasture into a location for a purpose-built ski area was noted.

Prior to this the development of Les Menuires at 1850 m was begun in 1967. In 1969 the access road was extended up to Val Thorens so that development of the resort could start. In 1971 the first of three drag lifts was installed, followed in 1972 by the opening of the first ski school.

Like many 1960s purpose built resorts in the French Alps, Val Thorens suffered from a lack of architectural guidelines in the early days, leading to an over-dependence on concrete. New and renovated developments now have to meet much stricter design guidelines and the use of traditional materials is sought.

Val Thorens was founded almost 50 years ago and the founders were told that their plan to build in the highest ski resort in Europe wouldn’t work because it was too high. However, Val Thorens is now one of the most successful resorts in the Alps.