Tignes is one of France’s most popular skiing resorts, attracting a wide variety of skiers because of its height and the fantastic range of facilities. It is a high altitude resort that sits in the Savoie region close to both the Swiss and Italian borders. Tignes is in close proximity to the Grande Motte glacier which is able to offer skiing practically throughout the year. Essentially it is one of the longest skiing seasons in France, since it only closes for a few weeks at the end of the winter season usually in May/June time and again for a few weeks in September prior to the next winter season. The main resort winter season runs from early December to early May.
The nearest airports to Tignes are Lynon, Geneva and Chambery; Chambery being the nearest with a transfer time of just under 2 hours, the others are approximately 3 hours away. By train, the resort can be reached by Bourg St. Maurice (which connects with the Eurostar) from where the resort is only about half an hour.
It is a purpose built resort with all the advantages and disadvantages that brings. This means a great network of runs that are well connected, but maybe a little lack of charm.
The resort is perhaps not as picturesque as other resorts with more traditional roots, although in recent years newer developments have tried to take this into account. Most accommodation is within walking distance of lifts and the resort is car free, with free buses shuttling between areas.
Tignes is in fact a collection of little villages. Firstly there is Val Claret, the highest of the villages, which is the best location for those looking to ski the glacier. Secondly there are the middle villages called Tignes-leLac and Le Lavachet. The lowest, but more serene and traditional villages, are Tignes Les Boisses and Tignes Les Brevieres. Together, with neighbouring Val d’Isere, they make up the ski region known as Espace Killy which extends to some 10,000 acres.
There are plenty of skiing choice either in Tignes alone or with the use of a joint pass for the whole Espace Killy area. Lift passes are available for either areas, with the option to add on an extended pass for a day. The lift network mainly uses the latest technology and is hands free which helps greatly to reduce queue sizes.
Plenty of choices are available for all levels of skier, from beginners right through to the more adventurous; with a well known black run called Sache which descends over 1,000 metres. The off piste skiing is highly recommended and even includes a marked off piste area for those trying it for the first time.
There are also ungroomed black runs that function as warm ups for the black runs and the full off piste skiing. If you are just starting out there are the usual ski schools including 2 bases for the ubiquitous Ecole du Ski Francais. The children’s ski school, Les Marmottons, offers ski lessons from the age of 2.5 years, with lessons on offer in English held in specially cordoned off areas.
Tignes has also established a good reputation for snow boarding as it has very few flat areas and also offers a park with jumps, rails, half pipes and a boarder cross course. This very neatly meets the needs of new as well as established boarders.
When you have tired of skiing, there are other possibilities on the snow including ice driving, dog sledding, ‘skijoring’ (this means being pulled along on skis/snowboard by horse), ice skating on the natural lake rink or even mountain biking on snow.
If that’s not enough, you can try horse riding, ice climbing and paragliding. For non-skiers or those just looking for something different, take a trip up the Grande Motte funicular to the ice grotto.
For activities away from the snow, the sports centre offers a full range of facilities with courts for basketball, football, volleyball, tennis and squash and there is even a climbing wall. Waterslides are a great attraction for kids at the swimming pool and there are bubble beds and waterfalls too. The wellness features on offer span from a relaxing sauna & spa to the more challenging gym. If you still have time to kill, there is a cinema and a bowling alley.
The area does have shops with the usual range of ski wear and souvenirs, but for those looking for a little more by way of retail therapy, you’d be advised to visit the more varied Val d’Isere. There are many bars and restaurants to keep you occupied, but Val d’Isere is again the busier resort area.
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