Tignes ski resort
A long-time popular resort, Tignes’s crown jewel is the 3,456m (11,339ft) Grande Motte glacier which grants the resort the longest ski season in France – from October to May plus a two month summer ski period in July and August. A stat that is particularly impressive given the region’s on-going struggle with dry slopes, making Tignes’s snowsure pistes an attractive prospect to European skiers.
Indeed the resort has grown in to one of Europe’s biggest with links to neighbouring Val d’Iisere, forming an area known as the Espace Killy with 300km (186 miles) of runs spread over some 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres).
Tignes itself is split into several villages. There are three main settlements: Val Claret is the highest – and therefore the closest to the funicular station – and provides access to the glacier; Tignes-le-Lac is the bustling resort centre; while adjacent Le Lavachet provides a scattering of accommodation and bars lower down. Further down the valley, there is the quieter Tignes 1800 (which has recently been redeveloped and was previously called Tignes les Boisses), and its more traditional neighbour Tignes les Brévières.
Tignes ski resort is located in the southeastern French region of Savoie in the Western Alps, close to the Swiss and Italian borders.
On the slopes
The winter season runs from early October until early May, but the glacier is open for summer skiing from mid-June to mid-August – overall the longest ski season in France.
Tignes alone offers an enormous variety of terrain, but add Val d’Isère into the mix and visitors can easily ski a different zone every day of the week. Lift passes are available for Tignes only or the entire Espace Killy area with its 300km (187 miles) of linked piste.
Complete beginners can take advantage of the free Rosset chairlift, around which their first lessons take place on the nursery slopes of Tignes-le-Lac and Le Lavachet.
Intermediates have a huge choice of blue and red cruisers on either side of the valley or up on the glacier. For experts, Sache is an epic black run (when snow conditions are good), descending from the 2,478m (8,130ft) Aiguille Percée down to Tignes les Brévières (1,550m/5,085ft).
The off-piste skiing in Tignes is fantastic, but the less experienced should head first to Le Spot, a specially marked off-piste zone. Skiers and boarders can seek advice from the ‘ski patrol’ at the chalet, then practise using avalanche transceivers. The Naturides (ungroomed, but patrolled black runs) are a good next step, before progressing on to unpatrolled terrain.
Tignes ski resort is particularly good for snowboarding as there are relatively few flat areas, and there’s a good terrain park under the Palet chairlift, plus beginner and advanced halfpipes and a boardercross course.