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Valtournenche ski resort in Italy's Aosta Valley is a quiet traditional-style valley village whose local ski slopes are linked into the cross-border Cervinia-Zermatt ski area. Here's the lowdown on this lesser-known Aosta resort.

Cervinia ski area CREDIT iStock AscentXmedia
Photo: iStock_AscentXmedia

Overshadowed by and overlooked in favour of its more famous Aosta Valley neighbour of Cervinia, Valtournenche is a sizeable and attractive Italian mountain village resort that's filled with character. Terraced into the sunnier west-facing flank of a long north-pointing side valley off Italy's major Aosta Valley, it sits just 9km south of the more internationally renowned ski resort of Cervinia (Breuil-Cervinia), with which its slopes are linked at high altitude. Less exposed and less expensive than neighbouring Cervinia, Valtournenche is a viable alternative gateway base for ski holidays in this region.

Valtournenche has much more traditional charm than its neighbour, and is surrounded by softer yet no less dramatic scenery, whilst still offering access to the same tremendous ski area, shared and linked with the top-notch Swiss resort of Zermatt on the far side of the Theodul Pass between the Piccolo Cervino (Klein Matterhorn) and Monte Cervino (Matterhorn).

This is first-class big-mountain territory, and yet the Valtournenche ski area of 54km of pistes – 17 km easy, 35km medium, 2 km difficult - mainly consists of undemanding novice & intermediate-friendly terrain. Add in Cervinia and Zermatt and you get 360km of pistes. It's a good choice for discerning intermediates who are seeking a more laid-back and authentically Italian Alpine experience.

Valtournenche - Ski Map & Pistes:

The sole access lift to the ski area from Valtournenche is a gondola based about one kilometre to the north of the village centre, just off the main valley road which continues on up to Breuil-Cervinia. A ski-bus service runs between the village and the lift station, but many local hotels also operate shuttle services for their own guests.

When snow conditions are good, there's a tremendous red home run all the way to the car park in front of this base terminal; when conditions are poor everyone has to download on the gondola.

The core Valtournenche ski area covers the slopes immediately above Salette where the upper terminal of the gondola is perched, well above the tree line at 2,245m. Perhaps surprisingly for such a region of dramatic big-scale mountains the slopes here are mostly all gentle blue runs, with an excellent beginners' zone and a spacious snowpark within easy reach of the gondola.

Two chairlifts provide uplift to the slopes above Salette, again mostly straightforward blues, one linking to a further series of lifts into the more challenging upper sector plus the link across the watershed of the Cime Bianche col into the Cervinia ski area. From winter 2023/24, Valtournenche offers better use of the slopes of the Cervino Ski Paradise thanks to the new 6-seater Gran Sometta chairlift which, replacing the pre-existing ski lift, takes skiers to the Colle Superiore di Cime Bianche. An onward cross-border cable car links with the Plateau Rosa sector of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise ski area shared with Zermatt in Switzerland. From March 2024, the new Matterhorn Alpine Crossing is officially open and all-season travel between Cervinia and Zermatt is possible even without skis.

All of the pistes on these upper-sector links, including the return routes, are of average intermediate level, but they are very exposed and can be tricky, or closed, in poor weather.

When snow and weather conditions are good, the 21km run to Valtournenche village from the Plateau Rosa is one of the world's longest on-piste descents, and one of the greatest home runs anywhere.

Valtournenche - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:

The links to Cervinia and Zermatt mean that the off-piste here can be good, but the nature of the high mountain terrain means that a guide is pretty much essential. The Theodul Glacier has some of the best snow in the region.

Of course, if you head across the link to Zermatt, you'll find some of the best and most extensive off-piste in the world. If you're a serious freerider and you're staying in Valtournenche, make sure you get an International Ski Pass!

There are also good options in the area for heli-skiing. check out Heliski Cervinia for more info.

Valtournenche - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:

Although most of its streets are quite hilly, the centre of Valtournenche village is a pleasant place for a stroll and contains a fair selection of small shops, cosy café-bars, and good-value family-run restaurants.

Valtournenche has no substantial entertainment facilities, but it does have a large leisure centre with a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gym, climbing wall, indoor tennis courts and multi-sports hall. You can go snowshoeing, try your hand at mountaineering and go out with sled dogs. Other non-skiing options include ice climbing, ice skating and a visit to the ice grotto on the ski area's glacier.

Apres ski and nightlife are limited to relaxing evenings in a handful of local bars and hotel lounges, such as the Bar Maquignaz; a livelier scene exists at the resort of Cervinia, only 9 km further up the valley road, but be aware that the local bus service doesn't run late in the evenings and taxis are expensive relative to the short distance.

Valtournenche - Ski Hire:

there are various good options for ski equipment rental, including Pellissier Sport, Gal Sport and the Mountain Shop Sabolo.

Valtournenche - Ski School:

For lessons and guiding, try the Valtournenche Ski School, and the Ride'Em Ski School.

Apres Ski
Lift System
Off the slopes
Resort Charm
Ski Area
Vertical drop
Altitude range
Ski area
Resort height
Turin (1hr 30)
Train station
Chatillon St-Vincent
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