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.

Valmorel is divided in to various 'hameau' (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 fašades in pastel tones are decorated with trompe l'oeil frescos. The archways, porches and overhangs are reminiscent of the time when architecture was sophisticated.

The main pedestrian street:

  Most shops are open until 20:00

Many good resturants on the way:

  Music in the street:

The town completly covered in snow one morning:

  - lots of snow...: