Verbier is the biggest ski area in Switzerland, not counting the Les Portes du Soleil, which is partly in France, and one of the largest in Europe. Verbier (4 Vallées) is located in the Valais / Wallis region near the city of Lausanne in the Pennine Alps range of the Western Alps. The main feature of Verbier ski resort except its size is its main mountain, Mont Fort (3,329 m / 1,0921 ft), where the slightly lower top station is located at 3,330 m (10,925 ft). In total there are more than 400 km (248 mi) of slopes and more than 70 ski lifts. The resort is best suitable for intermediate skiers. It also offers more than 100 km (60 mi) of easy and advanced slopes of each type, as well as a lot of opportunities for freeride. The most common type of ski lift is a chairlift. The Verbier (4Vallées) season is from mid-November to late April in general.
Imagine that you are driving along a lake. Once the lake is behind you, you enter a large valley. On both sides of it are mountains, which get higher and closer. There are ways out of the highway to start climbing the mountains and go to other smaller higher up valleys and up on mountain tops. When you stop seeing the lake, and take a highway exit, the excitement of the day in the mountain builds up.
What I have just described is what it will be like if you land in Geneva Airport and drive along the Léman Lake, also called Geneva Lake, through the city of Lausanne in the Vaud / Waadt region. Then you will enter the Vallée du Rhône where you have the Pennine Alps of the Western Alps on both sides and the lake behind you. You will leave the highway to start climbing in the direction of Verbier (4 Vallées) Ski Area, in the Val de Bagnes situated in the Valais / Wallis region, in French speaking Switzerland but where you will find many locals speaking English and / or German, too.
Val de Bagnes is one of my favorite valleys for skiing, road biking and hiking. The scenery is stunning, whatever the season and the colors. For example, Verbier is known for its type of trees called ‘Mélèze’ (larch tree), which turn beautifully orange, golden and yellow in autumn. In the Val de Bagnes, there are many alpine huts accessible on foot in summer and with ski mountaineering in winter.
The Geneva Airport is just about 2.5 hours away from Les 4 Vallées by two trains or about two hours by car, including a first cable car to Verbier Village. Arriving in Geneva Airport you take an InterRegio train to the town of Martigny. In Martigny a smaller Regio train takes you to Le Châble where you get up in Verbier village with a cable car.
With a car or with public transportation, if I want to enjoy the whole 4Vallées, I go to Verbier, which is the largest of six resorts in the ski area, the others are Nendaz, Thyon, Veysonnaz, Savoleyre-La Tzoumaz, and Bruson.
If your accommodation is not in Verbier and you come to ski there for one day like me, you drive to the village of Le Châble below the Verbier Ski Resort, park your car in the big parking lot at the entry of the town Le Châble where the cable car is. Then you take the cable car to get to the village of Verbier itself and a second one to the ski slopes.
If I’m not on public transportation, I always park in Le Châble. Parking in Verbier, if you don’t have a private car park with your accommodation, is difficult — and unnecessary since everything is organized to park and ride from Le Châble. You can easily get around Verbier with the free shuttle.
Sometimes I want to ski in only one of the other resorts, for example, in Bruson. In this case, it is easier to drive directly to it. To access Bruson by public transportation, you need to go to Le Châble and take the cable car to arrive in Bruson.
The nearest bigger city to Verbier (Les 4 Vallées) Ski Area is Sion.
You can ski in Verbier (4Vallées) from December to April. Mid-December to mid-March is the busiest period. Christmas and New Year are very busy. The ski area is also busy on weekends and during school holidays, including school holidays in the UK — the British with their children are frequent visitors to the resort. But the ski area is so big, and the ski lifts are modern, so ‘busy’ does not mean crowded.
Anyway, on these days, I go to Verbier early in the morning. Waking up early is always worth it for empty slopes and calm skiing. In general, January is my favorite month for skiing in Verbier, it’s usually snowy and cold.
Other smaller resorts of an area are calmer than Verbier.
Verbier (Les 4 Vallées) is located at an altitude ranging from 1,080 to 3,330 m (3,543 and 10,826 ft) with a difference of 2,220 m (7,283 ft). In other words, it is high enough to find snow on the higher slopes. As a rule of thumb, slopes above 1,800 m (5,900 ft) usually have snow. Except late spring when temperature gets higher, snow conditions are great or at least satisfactory. This is one of the reasons why I go to Verbier: I’m sure to find snow.
The backcountry and freeride skiing are more dependent on the weather conditions: the amount of powder snow, and the like. If you plan to go off-piste, you need to check the conditions locally.
The Bruson Ski Resort is lower than the other areas (1,080 to 2,200 m / 3,543 to 7,217 ft). When it is not cold enough, you might not be able to ski in this area. However, if the conditions are good, it is one of the hidden gems for powder and off-piste skiing, thanks to its north-east exposure.
To decide which area of Les Quatre Vallées is sunny to ski today, check the live webcams. You can also view which slopes and ski-lifts are currently open.
The Verbier (Les 4 Vallées) Ski Area is simply huge. It consists of six ski resorts: Verbier, Nendaz, Thyon, Veysonnaz, Savoleyre-La Tzoumaz, and Bruson — by the number of ski lifts, so the latter is the smallest. The ski slopes of each of these resorts are connected, which means that with one ski pass, you can access all of the slopes.
Now a little more detail about the individual resorts of a ski area:
Verbier is the largest ski resort of the 4Vallées Ski Area. Its main mountain is Mont Fort, surrounded by the Glacier de Tortin and Col des Gentianes with interesting ski opportunities. For me (and other locals), it is legendary. As a kid, I only skied occasionally with school. I mainly learnt skiing as an adult, when I went riding with friends.
Mont Fort is a summit categorized as black piste so it is reserved for advanced skiers. I have always found the start especially steep. Plus, the slope isn’t groomed, which means that you will find small ‘bumps’ made by people skiing. You need to feel confident enough to go to Mont Fort, including how to brake on the side, with a turn of your skis on a bumpy slope — the “snow-plow technique” is not good enough. I was proud the first time I went down!
I wish you could see the view from the top of Mont Fort, it is magnificent with many high mountains around in a good weather: Matterhorn (4478 m / ft), Mont Blanc (4810 m / 15,781 ft), Combin de Grafeneire (4,313 m / ft), Dent d'Hérens (4173 m / ft), and others.
Mont Fort is an ‘add-on’ option to your ski pass ticket, so you don’t need to overpay for it, if you don’t plan to ski on the highest mountain of 4 Vallées.
It is also accessible from Nendaz Ski Resort. In turn, from the top of Mont Fort itself, you can also access off-piste itineraries.
Nendaz offers suitable slopes for telemark skiing and several itineraries from the base station for uphill off-piste skiing. Whatever the weather conditions and your motivation, there is an option. It is a great base station for a group of people who have different ski styles.
While Nendaz is getting bigger, it stays a familial and friendly station with many local people. The atmosphere is less fashionable and sparkly than in Verbier village (even if there is one famous dance club called the ‘Cactus’) but more low-key and friendly.
The ski village La Tzoumaz is located on the same mountain as Verbier, but on the northern slope. It is sort of the other side of the mountain. If your accommodation is in La Tzoumaz, you can access the Verbier southern slopes by going up with a cable car to Savoleyres.
In winter, La Tzoumaz enjoys less sun than Verbier because it is located on the northern side of a mountain. The atmosphere in the ski resort is calmer and less touristy and crowded than Verbier but very friendly. You might find a less attractive nightlife but cheaper prices.
Bruson is facing Verbier, but on the other side of the Val de Bagnes. It is linked to Verbier by a brand new 8-seater cable car available at Le Châble. In other words, if you are up on the slopes of Verbier, you need to come all the way down to Verbier station, then to Le Châble and take a cable car to access Bruson.
If I want to ski in Bruson, I access the slopes directly at Bruson (not through Verbier or Le Châble) and buy a day ticket for Bruson only. To go to Bruson directly, you need a car as it is not as well connected in public transport as is Le Châble-Verbier.
Bruson is lower than Verbier, meaning if it is not cold enough, not all the ski slopes will be open. However, thanks to the north-east exposure of the slopes, if there is snow, it is good snow: There usually is no sticky melting snow due to the sun. You can find good spots of fresh powder in Bruson.
I also like Bruson, because it is a smaller ski resort. It is friendly and the slopes are less touristy than in Verbier. There are many locals and advanced skiers, which means that you can go fast on the slopes: there are fewer people who do large turns in the middle of the slopes. The ski resort itself is pretty thanks to the forest around, you can ski in the middle of the trees. Bruson is not a fast up and down ski-lift station, it is a calmer experience with slower lifts. If you are looking for party après-ski and music and you like doing as many slopes a day as you can, Bruson is not for you. If you like safe off piste skiing with trees, Bruson is for you.
If you like off-piste skiing, Bruson is good, too: There are areas of fresh powder beyond the forest.
All in all, if you stay a week in Verbier or La Tzoumaz, I would still recommend going at least for one day in Bruson to experience a different atmosphere and its off-piste options, especially if you are an intermediate to advanced skier.
In my opinion, it's a mistake to think that if a ski resort is big, it's necessarily for advanced skiers. On the contrary, it is more likely to say that it has pistes of all levels of difficulty, as in the case of 4 Vallées.
There are 410 km (254 mi) of slopes for all levels of skiing and 72 ski lifts, whose total number depends if one counts all of the magic carpets and installations that function to go somewhere but not a direct ski slope (like snow tubbing).
Given the size of the ski area, the starting (base) and highest (top) stations are different at different resorts:
Let's summarize the information about the slopes, ski lifts and other skiing-related features of the entire Verbier (Les 4 Vallées) Ski Area:
If you want to cross-country ski, don’t go to Verbier. This is not what the resort is famous for. While the 5 km (3 mi) piste is fun to do once or to try this type of skiing for the first time, I would not like to do it more often. For cross-country skiing, head to Les Mosses where the Youth Olympic Games took place in 2021 or in the Vallée de Conches (named Goms Valley in German).
For snowshoeing, choose one from 19 itineraries around Verbier. The longest trail, 10 km (6 mi), brings you from Lourtier to Champsec through the Posodziet clearing. An easier trail which is a loop following the Bisse des Ravines. A Bisse is an old water canal, which means that you can expect a rather flat trail within a forest.
For telemark skiing in Verbier (4Vallées) Ski Area head to Veysonnaz Ski Resort, it is known for this.
Many of my friends like Verbier for off-piste skiing, uphill and freeride. If this is your thing, you should definitely look into Verbier. It is world famous for off-piste skiing. You must have heard of the most legendary freeride competition Xtreme Verbier, part of the Freeride World Tour, where skiers go down the mythical “Bec des Rosses”.
If you speak with Swiss people, you will also hear us menting the Club Alpin Suisse (CAS), which can be translated as the Swiss Alpine Club. Most people who like mountain activities, either winter, summer or both seasons are part of a CAS. In particular, the club offers safety courses and training for off-piste skiing and manages many alpine huts (called ‘cabane’ or ‘refuge’ in French, there are actual buildings on top of mountain, don’t imagine your childhood wood hut).
To ski downhill off-piste and freeride in 4 Vallées, in general, you need to take a gondola lift first, and then head to a suitable lane. For example:
Be careful, off-piste and freeride require not only an excellent skiing technique but also knowledge of the weather conditions and snow: snow in Japan, snow in a resort in the US and snow in Verbier-4Vallées are different. Decisions for freeride are made according to it, as well as the time of the day. For example, local people will know which lane is south, gets dangerous past a certain time of the day and temperature, the quality of the snow and how it moves. So even if you are an experienced freerider, always ask locals for information before heading to the mountains or go with a guide. Here we say: "The mountain does not forgive" — a mistake can be fatal. For trustworthy information about the dangers of avalanches and the level of risks, use Météo Suisse.
However, if you want to try freeride skiing safely, but you don’t know the safety processes in the mountains and/or do not want to hire a guide, head to the piste 'yellow' ('jaune’). There are seven yellow slopes, i.e. safe freeride itineraries in Verbier. Stay on the itinerary marked with yellow or orange poles. The ski patrols of the resort mark out and secure them against the dangers of the mountain.
The ski-pass at Verbier (4 Vallées) includes access to all six ski resorts. It can be bought with or without access to the Mont Fort. Alternatively, you can purchase a ski-pass for an individual ski resort.
If you ski off-piste uphill and you need only a short way to get to a starting point or you are on-foot and wish to see the scenery, buy a single ticket (15 to 25 Swiss Francs (CHF), which is currently equal to euro). A day ski-pass to Verbier only costs 74 CHF. There are special discounts of 15% when buying your ski-pass in advance online.
Before or after skiing, visit the resort’s and the region's official tourist offices in one of the resorts of the Les Quatre Vallées Ski Area, starting from Verbier:
Verbier Tourist Information Office
Rte de Verbier Station, 61, 1936, Verbier, Switzerland
Monday to Sunday: 8 am to 6:30 pm
At the ski resort you can find a few dozen restaurants, cafes, bars and more, many of which also offer après-ski and events. Here are the main ones, at the four largest resorts, recommended by experts of the ski area itself:
From what I personally can recommend, the restaurant Le Dahu, located on the slopes of Vervier, offers a magnificent view and an enjoyable atmosphere.
To explore the whole Verbier (4 Vallées) ski area, it is better to stay in the village of Verbier where you’ll be closest to the slopes and the nightlife but the accommodations there (chalets, apartments — everything you can imagine) are the most expensive, and you need to book them in advance.
Alternatively, you can stay in Le Châble, which is still very close to the slopes of Verbier: You only need to take one extra cable car.
In other resorts in the area you can easily find the same types of accommodation.
If you like off-slopes uphill skiing, there is a high chance you will like to sleep in a mountain hut, which is a total dreamlike experience.
In the Val de Bagnes, the area of Verbier, you find the Cabane Mont-Fort, the Cabane Brunet and the Refuge de Chaurion. My personal favorite is the Cabane Louvie (closed in winter), but the area is accessible by ski via the Col de Louvie. Located next to a lake in a natural reserve, you have high chances to see chamois.
Through the Grand-Saint-Bernard tunnel, you can go skiing to Italy, which is to the south, as well as to France, which is to the west of Verbier.