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November 12th 2020 | By Matthew Williams
Tignes and the wider Espace Killy ski area offer some of the best skiing on the globe. At an altitude of 2100m and above, the resort enjoys a fantastic snow record with snow on the ground from early November until May. Paired its great variety of pistes from gentle green slopes for beginners to challenging black runs for the more advanced skier, it is easy to see why Tignes is so popular.
If you are planning to go skiing in Tignes, then you can make sure you arrive prepared with the quick guide to the resort below. We will explore the piste options for different abilities, advice on finding ski and snowboard lessons, a guide to the accommodation available, top tips on things to do off the slopes and some helpful advice on how to reach Tignes.
Tignes forms part of the 300km of varied slopes that make up Espace Killy together with neighbouring resort Val d’Isere. At Tignes you will find a great selection of nursery and beginner friendly slopes with gentle gradients that are easily accessible directly from the resort.
You will find 4 different areas for beginners at Tignes - Val Claret, Les Lac, Le Lavachet and Les Brevieres. Each has its own nursey slopes with slower drag and chair lifts to help beginners find their feet. At Val Claret there is also a family friendly carpet lift, which is ideal for young children. Many of these beginner lifts are also free to use! It is a good idea to stay in these areas and practice on the nursery and green slopes before advancing to the easier blue slopes.
When you feel confident you can handle some blue slopes, make your way up the mountain on the Palafour or Chardonnet lifts from Tignes le Lac. From the top you can take the broad and gentle blues, such as the Combe or the Kadjar back into the resort. For a bit more of an adventure, take the Chaudannes lift from Le Lac to meet the winding blue Rhododendron run to meet the Melezes blue and down through the trees into Les Brevieres.
There are plenty of other runs to choose from, just make sure you feel confident and ask your instructor for advice before trying more challenging runs.
Tignes is known to be one of the best resorts in the Alps for intermediate skiers and snowboarders with a fantastic mix of blue and red slopes to choose from. The resort has 38 blue runs and 17 red runs, plus some well-known and challenging blacks if you feel up to the task by the end of your trip.
A great way to begin your week is to head up the mountain on the Palafour from Tignes le Lac and ski all the way back down on the fun, wide blues back to the resort. You can then proceed to the more challenging Aiguille Percée at 2748m and take in the views of the famous ‘Eye of the Needle’ rock formation. From here you can take the Corniche, Rhododendron, Melezes and Myrtilles, all blues down to Les Brevieres 1550m below.
For one of the best intermediate runs, head to the Orange run, which is actually a red… To make the most of the intermediate slopes, it is recommended you go for the full Espace Killy pass. You will need this pass to access the Marmottes chairlift and to the Orange. At the top of the lift is the Rocher de Bellevarde peak at 2827m, where you will find the run all the way down to La Daille. You can also make a stop at the Folie Douce and enjoy its world renowned après-ski.
If you are an experienced skier or snowboarder in search of a fresh challenge, then Tignes will not disappoint. It has an excellent selection of blacks, tricky reds and naturide or un-groomed black runs, ensuring you have plenty to try.
By far the most difficult run is the renowned La Sashe, a 10km black run that descends from the Aiguille Percée peak all the way down to Les Brevieres. It is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced as it is tricky and often full of moguls.
Other options include the brilliant red runs from the top of the Grande Motte glacier with amazing views from the Leisse run and fun moguls both sides of the piste down to Val Claret. You can also attempt a naturide from the top of Guerlain Chicherit via the Col des Ves.
From Tignes le Lac you can take the Palafour lift and onto the Grand Huit and or the Aiguille Percée lift to enjoy the reds there. You can also give the naturide beneath the Chaudannes chairlift a try if the conditions are right.
It is well worth opting for the full Espace Killy pass if you want to make the most of your ski trip here as there are also some memorable runs over on the Val d’Isere side, including the 1992 Olympic run ‘The Face’.
No matter your level of experience, it is a good idea to take some lessons. There is always something new to learn and you can easily find a suitable instructor to teach you new skills at your level. If you are a complete beginner, lessons are essential to ensure you are safe on the slopes and learn quickly in structured way!
You can find a variety of different lesson types from one to one lessons to larger group lessons. If you can afford it, a couple of days of one to one lessons will give you the most rapid progress in improving your skills. The cost of lessons will depend on whether you are in Tignes during the peak season, the time you take the lesson and whether it is a private or a group lesson. In general, the cost for a 5 day group lesson with 2 to 3 hours of lessons a day will set you back around €200. A private lesson, for one or two people cost about €150 for 2 hours and can go up to €450 for a full day of lessons. Make sure to book in advance to find the best prices.
If you are travelling with children, it is a good idea to put them into a ski school during your stay. They will receive specially catered ski or snowboard lessons and take part in fun games and activities with other children. Lessons are offered for children from 4 years of age and upwards, but you can also find private lessons for children under 4. Snowboarding lessons are only offered for children from 7 years of age as it requires more advanced muscle development. While your children are having fun at school, you can enjoy your time on some of the resort’s more advanced pistes.
A good thing to note is that most instructors in Tignes will speak English, as the resort is very popular with British skiers and snowboarders.
You will find all sorts of accommodation for skiing in Tignes from budget dorms to luxury chalets and hotels. You can find both self-catered and all-inclusive accommodation options and have a great choice of different areas.
In Tignes there are different villages, each with its own character. At Val Claret, the highest village, you will find many of the larger clubs and nightclubs making it a popular hub for a younger party crowd. Tignes Le Lac near the lake is where many of the restaurants, bars and hotels are located and is the heart of the resort also with many shops and spas. Quieter options include Tignes 1800 which is a reconstruction of the old village that was displaced by the dam, Le Lavachet and Les Brevieres in a nice little spot at the bottom of the dam with its distinctive traditional ski chalets. These last 3 are popular with families and a quieter crowd and there are excellent bus services between them and the higher villages.
One of our favourite accommodation options is provided by Hucksters. Their quaint, traditional chalets in Les Brevieres are fully catered and offer great value throughout the season. The chalets are perfect for groups of 6 or more and you will enjoy 3 course home-cooked meals in great comfort after your long days on the pistes. You can appreciate the magical winter atmosphere of Les Brevieres and still have easy access to the rest of the resort via the nearby ski lifts and regular bus service. Due to the current uncertainties surrounding the Corona measures, Hucksters are offering Frozen Rates allowing you to snap up a ski holiday from as little as £299 pp. Deposits have been reduced to £100 pp and cancellations made due to Covid-19 issues can be fully refunded or rearranged.
Before you travel make sure to consult the travel advice of your home country and your final destination.
If you have the energy after a long day on the slopes or if you want to take a break from the pistes, you will find plenty of alternative activities in Tignes.
While in the Alps it would be silly not to make the most of the snow! You can enjoy the thrill of dog sledding, tobogganing, test your skills in the terrain park in Val Claret or even go ice-diving under the frozen lake. For a less active experience, you can enjoy a traditional local meal in a yurt, take a helicopter ride over the resort or sit back and relax in one of the resort spas.
There are also a great variety of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to try, concentrated in Val Claret and Tignes Le Lac. You will find something for all tastes from traditional bars to club nights with world renowned DJs. Make sure to try the local Savoyard cuisine during your stay with cheesy dishes, such as raclette and fondue, to restore you after an active day on the slopes.
For a more relaxed evening, head back to your chalet and put your feet up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate. Dig the boardgames out and enjoy a cosy night in!
Tignes is well-connected with plenty of different options to choose from. To help you plan your trip, we have narrowed down the choice to the 4 easiest below.
To get to Tignes you can either fly to Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble or Chambery. The closest airport is Chambery and if you can find an easy flight here, it is your best option for transferring to Tignes. However, Chambery is a small airport and does not offer so many connections. Geneva is your next best option with multiple flights a day across Europe with a fantastic selection of transfer buses and taxis serving the airport.
Chambery is 2 hours from Tignes and Geneva about 3 hours away. For convenience, book a private transfer from either airport, but if you are on a budget, then opt for one of the regular coach services.
There are frequent connections to Bourg St. Maurice with the TGV from Paris or the Eurostar from London. From Bourg St. Maurice to Tignes it takes around 1 hour 15 minutes by private transfer or coach.
This option takes a lot longer in total than flying and can work out more expensive. However, it is a more ecological option and you can relax, sit back and enjoy the great views of the countryside the whole way.
This is by far the cheapest option but is also one of the longest and offers the least comfort. If you are on a budget, it a great choice and if you are able to sleep along the way, you can arrive fresh and ready to jump on the ski lift!
Make sure to bring plenty of road trip entertainment for your journey, a travel pillow and a blanket. You can then make the most of your time on the bus!
Many major coach companies offer routes to Geneva, Grenoble and Lyon from where you can connect on another coach to Tignes. There are even direct coaches to Tignes from major cities, including Paris and London. Be aware that these journeys can take up to 20 hours, but can cost as little as £65 one way.
The final transport option is to drive to Tignes. This option offers you the most flexibility as you can stop along the way for breaks or even break up your journey with stays in different places along the way. The drive from Calais to Tignes takes around 10 hours without any major traffic delays.
Be aware that the road up to Tignes from Bourg St. Maurice can be challenging. It is well cared for during the winter months but snow fall is common and the road winds its way up the mountain. You will need to make sure you have snow chains fitted and it is a good idea to give yourself plenty of time. From Bourg St. Maurice it takes around 40 minutes to reach Tignes.
So there you have it, our quick guide to skiing in Tignes! There is much more to discover about this resort but we hope that this has given you all the basic information you need, plus some inspiration for a fantastic time in the Alps.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.