The Fornet (Val d'Isère)
Thistle Amélie is located in the beautiful village of Fornet at an altitude of 1930m. The Fornet itself is an idyllic and tranquil mountain village with endless slopes and beautiful powder snow, with the world-famous town of Val d'Isère just a 5-minute free shuttle (or a quick ride to the lifts), with its impressive après-ski and world-class restaurants and shops to keep you entertained for hours. Unlike other more recently built villages, Le Fornet has retained its traditional Savoyard charm. Its narrow streets (paved when they are not under a foot of snow!) and the picturesque church means you can look out your window at the ski slopes, trees and the Isere River, rather than high-rise apartment buildings. That doesn't mean you're away from the action – you could spend weeks alone on the slopes in the valley directly above the Fornet, with over 25 runs, including skiing on the Pissailas Glacier, which ensures great snow conditions all winter long. There are also impressive off-piste opportunities in the area, with excellent tree runs and hidden valleys to explore, with the famous off-piste areas of Grand Vallon, Col Pers and the Malpasset Gorges all easily accessible by lifts going straight from the village.
A lush pine forest separates the 2 km between Val d'Isère and Le Fornet. Legend has it that this village had been occupied since the Middle Ages by Sarrisins who were mineral prospectors in the surrounding mountains. But it was only when the potential of the small alpine village of Val d'Isère was recognized by The Parisian Jacques Moufflier in the early 1930s that the Isère Valley became the ski resort we know and love today. Moufflier was charmed by its natural, beautiful, endless snowfall and its well-exposed snowfields and after convincing the locals, the Hôtel Parisien was opened and in 1936 the first draglift was built on the slopes of the Solaise mountain. However, the resort was put on the map in 1937 after making the national news when two government ministers, Pierre Cot and Leo Legrange, were trapped in the resort by four meters of snow during an official visit.
After 37 years of construction, the Iseran Road was created in the late 1930s linking Val d'Isère to the town of Bonneval in the Maurienne Valley. It was then the highest cobblestone pass in Europe at an incredible altitude of 2764m, and still holds this title today! The road, not accessible during the winter months, winds up to Val d'Isère after Le Fornet and crosses the slopes seen in winter to culminate in the middle of the Fornet ski section called the Vallon de l'Iseran. The Col itself is named after the river that runs through the entire Isère valley, whose glacial source is just above the village of Le Fornet. The pass has been used seven times on the Tour de France since 1938.
1940 saw the construction of the station's first cable car, the Solaise Cable Car. Further construction work on the resort after the Second World War saw the village transformed into a fully operational ski resort with all its original traditions and the rural site intact. Farmers have changed jobs and become local hoteliers and store owners.
The Fornet is located near the Italian border, where it is possible to take a ski tour from the top of the lift system. What's more, it is nestled directly on the edge of the Vanoise National Park, which was created in 1963 – the very first national park in France. On the Italian side of the border, the park is pursued by Gran Paradiso National Park. Together, these two parks cover more than 1250 km, making it the largest combined alpine national park in France. Historically, it was planned to connect the stations of the Killy Space of Val d'Isère to the Paradiski stations of La Plagne and Les Arcs and to the stations of the Three Valleys of Courcheval, Meribel and Val Thorens. However, the creation of the national park made this impossible because it protected so many species of native plants and animals only to this exquisite area. The park is well known for its alpine Chamois and Ibex populations that spend most of the year over the tree line. They descend the snow line in early spring and late fall to enjoy the grass discovered by ice and snow. There are also more than 100 species of birds in the protected area. Birds of prey include the bearded vulture, the golden eagle and the Eurasian owl eagle.
Three-time Olympic gold medallist Jean-Claude Killy grew up in Val d'Isère, and the men's downhill, super-G and giant slalom slalom at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics was held on the Face of Bellevarde (affectionately known as "a Fac").
Today, Val d'Isère is well known for its lively nightlife, with the most famous nightclub, the iconic Dick's Tea Bar, founded by Dick Yates-Smith in 1979. After skiing starts from 4.30pm to 10pm, then there is live music until 1am when the nightclub starts. Alternatively, you can party at altitude at Folie Douce (which literally translates into tender madness!), at the top of the La Daille gondola, where you can dance on the tables of your ski equipment with live music, cabaret numbers, DJs and alcohol that flows freely until the lifts close. For a great live music venue, you can always follow the Seasonnaires at Cocoricos at the Rond Point above the Olympic gondola, with its partner club Downounes next door for an underground dancefloor that you will have unwittingly skied or embarked on during the day!
Val d'Isère and Le Fornet offer exquisite cuisine, with the chic Savoyade-style restaurant that the melted factory opened in the winter of 2015. They serve classic local dishes at reasonable prices, they also boast of a brand new ski museum so you can scratch on the history of local skiing while you wait for your cheese to melt. If cheese isn't your thing, the 1789 is a small, intimate traditional steakhouse with steak cooked over an open fire – a perfect way to end a long day on the slopes. On the ski slope in Le Fornet the mountain restaurant Edelweis is nestled halfway down the blue Magnard trail. They offer a modern touch on French cuisine served on their terrace with exceptional views of the valley. The bars and restaurants of the main village of Val d'Isère are accessible by the regular 5-minute free shuttle which takes directly outside our Chalet Amélie and runs until 2am.
Those who want to have an early night and make the most of the epic ski area on your doorstep at Chalet Amélie can relax on our south-facing sunny balcony and terrace and enjoy the idyllic mountain views. Dinner is given with a glass of presseco or a cocktail served with canapés in the lounge at 7:15 p.m., followed by a 4-course dinner, an inclusive local cheese board and a flowing wine. Enjoy dinner with our mature and experienced staff and other like-minded guests!