One of France, Europe and the world's newer major resorts, Valmorel was built in 1976 after the mistakes of earlier French ski resort developments had been learned. It is the first ski centre you reach on entering the famous Tarentaise Valley and, provided you arrive on a good day, you should be inspired by a sense of calm, natural beauty on arrival. The resort opens out onto scenic pine forests, mountain pastures and the backdrop of the high Alps, the marketing slogan 'Valmorel La Belle' seems perfect. The architectural style is unique in France, inspired by ancient construction techniques in the Morel valley. There are no slopeside rectangular concrete apartment blocks, but instead large chalet style buildings, none of them more than three or four storeys high and all following the curves of the land beneath. Only wood, stone and paving stones are used and there are no visible electrical wires or cables either. Valmorel is divided in to various 'hameaux' (hamlets) - clusters of buildings on different levels. These are connected by footpaths, sometimes covered, and adorned with charming little squares and internal courtyards. Everything here has been created with a calm but active lifestyle in mind and to remain harmonious with the natural setting. It's a concept very similar to that taking the major North American ski areas by storm in the late 1990s, pioneered by Intrawest, most notably with their successful resort designs of Whistler-Blackcomb and Tremblant in Canada. Valmorel centres on The Bourg ('the small market town'). Almost all of the shops and services are located here in a pedestrianised area. The façades in pastel tones are decorated with trompe l'oeil frescos. The archways, porches and overhangs are reminiscent of the time when architecture was sophisticated.
Valmorel is not yet 40 years old, and very tastefully designed, gaining widespread admiration for having the advantages of a purpose-built resort without looking like one. The ski area is linked to that of St François Longchamp giving over 150km of terrain. An 'ideal family resort'