Tignes has to be on your 'to-ski' list. The Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and extensive ski areas in France's Savoie region and in the whole Alps, come to that. On piste, off piste, freestyle, freeride or free-rando… it's a top destination for free spirits. Whatever you like doing, there’s a perfect spot for you!
Tignes ski resort lies at 2,100m, and the heart of the western half of this vast linked ski area in the upper Tarentaise Valley of the central French Alps. It's perfect for keen intermediates and advanced-level skiers and snowboarders, and the resort also has good off-slope amenities plus a lively nightlife scene.
Architecturally, it's a high-rise mini-metropolis in an otherwise uninhabited realm of snow and ice, split into two main resort centres, Tignes-le-Lac and Val Claret, facing each other across the frozen lake.
It's got all kinds of terrain
The variety of terrain is extensive: from the intoxicating glacial heights of La Grande Motte at 3,456m, to the thigh-burning long cruises down to the valley floor at Les Brévières; and from the quiet powder fields around the Col des Ves, to the bustling groomed motorways linking towards Val d'Isère via the Col de Fresse and Toviere. It's got ski touring pistes for beginners, two snowparks and family fun areas to suit any type of sporty person or group.
The majority of the 300km ski area is a paradise for intermediates, with sweeping blue and red pistes. There are nearly 30 black runs marked on the piste map, although most advanced-level thrill-seekers will look beyond the piste map at the real powder potential that this area has to offer, with some of the most extreme and exposed off-piste routes in the Alps, for those that have the ability and the mettle.
The glacial massif of La Grande Motte is Tignes' most emblematic sector. This towering, permafrost peak allows the resort to roll out the white carpet earlier than any other French ski station; opening in October and staying open until early May, with snowsports on the glacier available during the summer months too, when conditions allow.
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More than just a ski holiday
Snowboarders, telemark skiers and snowscooters already know this, of course, but ski areas are definitely not just for alpine skiing. Tignaddicts may well have their favourite ski run (Génépy? Double M? Maybe La Sache?) and memorable moments racing down the piste, but the Tignes/Val d’Isère experience wouldn't be complete without:
- Taking time out for a trip to the DC Park to watch the pro-freestylers.
- Taking part in a crazy boardercross race - solo or with a group of four ski-mad buddies, take on the banked turns, rollers, jumps and tight curves of the expert boardercross course.
- Going hiking or cross-country skiing on mixed terrain in Les Chartreux and Les Brévières.
- Trying an adrenalin-fuelled activity, such as a “Bun J Ride” (it's bungee jumping on skis!), snowkiting, tandem paragliding, snowmobile riding or a microlight flight.
- Going beneath the ice, with an ice dive in the frozen lake.
- Giving ski touring a go on the Petit Col and Palafoulée slopes, which are secure and groomed so that you can work on your cardio and descend on marked trails.
- Plus, whatever your age it’s never too late to start! Whether young or old check out the 123 Ski Start areas, which include 9 free ski lifts leading to gentle green runs, and 'Turn & Run' fun runs with sloping bends, woops, mini-slalom, tunnel, mini canyon, bells and even xylophones so that you can have fun while you learn.
Tignes 'Mountain Shaker' (4-12/03/2022)
Tignes' big 3 Mountain Shaker events, running from 4-12 March, celebrate slopestyle and snowboard culture. Things kick off with the French Freeride World Qualifier from 4-5 March in the 'Tufs'. This geological curiosity, which overlooks the lake of Tignes and draws a garden of highly photogenic corridors, will see pro and amateur riders confront each other during 4 freeride competitions over two days.
Next up is the FISE XPerience Series, from 8-9 March, when the world skateboarding tour comes town, for two days over demos and contests on five stages in the 500 square metre indoor skatepark.
Finally, from 8-12 March, it's the World Cup Ski Slopestyle, taking place on the iconic Double M piste, an well-known piste that hosted the X Games Europe four years in a row from 2010-13.
MORE INFO: en.tignes.net
Getting to Tignes
Tignes is 3 hours from Geneva airport, and 2hrs from Chambery. If you prefer to take the train, it's about a 45 minute drive from Bourg St Maurice.
Staying safe: be prepared
For the latest information about Covid-19 safety measures in the resort, see en.tignes.net
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