Alex Hutchins - Ski Expert"Some great skiing over in Tignes - the views from the Glacier are immense on a bluebird day. Good access from the different villages, though Val Claret was my preferred destination with the whole of the Espace Killy seemingly on your doorstep! Good night out there as well...!"
Tignes ski resort is made up of several villages at different altitudes: Val Claret, Le Lac and Le Lavachet are grouped loosely together surrounding the lake, with Les Boisses and Les Brevieres nestling past the dam at the valley's lower end. The original village of Tignes is long gone, submerged under the waters of Lac du Chevril in 1952 when the dam was built. Tignes le Lac is the hub of the resort (where the Tourist Information is) and as you might have guessed is on the shores of the lake which is frozen for the majority of the winter. If you fancy some time off from skiing you can always try ice diving!
Tignes is not known for its beautiful architecture but most people find the resultant lunar landscape feel to be more than compensated for by its excellent snow record and friendly vibe. Numerous bars and restaurants provide a relaxed nightlife with each village having its' own character. Where you spend most of your time will probably depend on where you are staying but there are free buses that run between the different areas.
SKI AREA OVERVIEW
Along with its glitzier and more illustrious neighbour to the south, Val d'Isere and Tignes make up the Espace Killy ski area, named after France’s Olympic downhill skiing champion Jean Claude Killy. Continually vying for the title of `world's largest', it's rivalled only by the Paradiski and the 3 Valleys in terms of sheer scale, so the problem faced is not what to do, but what to leave out. The skiing itself is spectacularly varied: experts will love the huge range of steeps, bumps and challenging off-piste, while great beginner facilities and extensive fast groomers ensure newbies and intermediates will be kept equally happy. Tignes is at 2100m so the altitude, good snowfall and the Grande Motte glacier mean there is usually great skiing right through from November - May. The Grande Motte is accessed by an underground funicular from Val Claret that whizzes you up to over 3000m in just seven minutes, followed by a ride in a huge cable car. There are blue, red and black runs to play on up here and beautiful long runs back to the resort. The Grande Motte means Tignes is also a popular location for summer skiing.
- Get on the Marias chairlift right to the top of the Aiguelle Percee. This is where the Eye of Needle is located - Tignes's famous rock formation.
- From the top of the Aiguelle Percee you can enjoy some beautiful long runs down to Les Brévières. Whilst there its worth visiting L’Armaily. The restaurant offers a cosy Savoyard ambience like no other but if the sun is out there are tables outside too. The cotes du beouf is fantastic!
- Make the most of the Espace Killy ski area and head over to Le Fornet in Val d'Isere. Make sure you leave enough time to get back though. There are public buses and of course taxis but they aren't free!
- If you can spare the time away from the pistes consider taking a breath-taking husky ride over the Tignes frozen lake. You can even learn to drive the pack.