The Tignes-Val d'Isère ski area - formerly known as the Espace Killy - is rightly celebrated for its amazing skiing, multiple winter experiences and wonderful facilities. The two centres, Val d'Isère and Tignes are very different but both provide a superb base for a family ski holiday.
Val d'Isère is one of France's longest established ski resorts and one of the world's most prestigious winter-sports destinations. A Mecca for expert skiers & snowboarders, yet also a popular mainstream resort with high-quality accommodation and well-established services, Val d'Isère is best suited to those of intermediate to advanced ability, but the wide range of terrain in its extensive ski area means it can successfully cater for all ability levels.
Neighbouring Tignes is a buzzing mini-metropolis, split into two main resort centres, Tignes-le-Lac and Val Claret, facing each other across a frozen lake. The resort was mostly constructed during the 1970s, when the resort's original designers had just two absolute prerequisites in their brief: easy access to some of the world's best skiing, and guaranteed snow conditions. Indeed, Tignes pioneered the concept of ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
It too is best suited to keen intermediates and advanced visitors craving big mileage and big vertical, and for those travelling early or late in the season and looking for peace-of-mind regarding snow reliability. But with so much terrain, there is plenty for beginners to enjoy, too.
Where is the Tignes - Val d'Isère ski area?
The twin centres are in the French Alps, in the Upper Tarentaise Valley, in the Savoie department (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) in southeastern France. Val d'Isère sits at a snow-sure altitude of 1,850m, while Tignes is a little higher, at 2,100m.
Chambery is the closest airport to Tignes-Val d'Isère with the shortest transfer time. However, the Geneva (GVA), Lyon (LYS) and Grenoble (GNB) airports are served by more airlines and from more UK airports. The transfer time obviously depends on the traffic and weather conditions, but is about 2hrs 15mins from Chambery and 3hrs 15mins from Geneva. The resorts are also reachable by train, with services to the station at Bourg St Maurice.
Highlights of skiing Tignes and Val d'Isère ski resorts
In a word, skiing here is epic. The varied terrain on the Tignes side of the domain is extensive: from the intoxicating glacial heights of La Grande Motte, to the thigh-burning long cruises down to the tree line and valley floor at Tignes 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.
The majority of the ski area is a paradise for intermediates, with a great selection of sweeping blue and red pistes. There are several black ski runs marked on the piste map, although most are in fact fairly tame; advanced-level thrill-seekers will look beyond the piste map and see the real potential that this area has to offer, with some of the most extreme and exposed off-piste routes in the Alps.
Val d'Isère also offers superb, varied off-piste, from high-altitude glacial zones, super-steep couloirs, to powder-filled bowls. The three distinct sectors that form its pisted ski area also have their own distinct characteristics.
The Pissaillas Glacier/Le Fornet sector, at the highest and easternmost perimeters of the domain, has the quietest and most reliably snow-sure slopes and contains some good cruising runs through the upper Isere Valley. The central Solaise sector offers motorway-wide blue and red pistes that sweep through a high snowbowl and run down to the edge of the village via quite challenging sections through wooded slopes. And the Bellevarde sector is draped over an expansive snowbowl above Val d'Isère and La Daille, and houses the resort's two famous downhill courses: the Face black run and the OK red run.
Why is Tignes ski resort good for families?
The range of facilities and off-slope activities and experiences makes Tignes a good choice for families. The resort boasts two sports & leisure centres, numerous spa facilities, a tenpin bowling arcade, plus there are various day-time and evening adventure-sports activities available, including snowshoeing, dog-sledding, trampolining, ski joering, tandem paragliding and ice diving.
And with Esprit customers able to take advantage of a range of childcare and child ski lessons, parents have plenty of opportunity to discover the extensive slopes, knowing their youngsters are in safe hands - a definite win-win.
Is Val d'Isère ski resort good for family ski holidays?
Much the same can be said of Val d'Isère, with the same excellent childcare and child ski lessons, and plenty of family winter activities to do away from the slopes - because skiing with young children is about much more than just snow sports and ski school: the municipal sports centre houses two swimming pools, saunas and steam room, a fitness suite and climbing walls; there's a small outdoor ice rink on the base-area slopes, plus there's a dizzying array of adventure activities on offer, including ice circuit driving, ice climbing, sightseeing flights in helicopters, tandem microlite aircraft or paragliding; as well as more sedate attractions such as scenic walks, a number of plush spas, and a cinema.
Moreover, Val d'Isère is quite a sizeable village, with lots of hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, shops and amenities, serving a year-round community, giving it a great buzzing atmosphere.
Skiing Tignes - Val d'Isère with Esprit
Esprit's Tignes accommodation, childcare facilities and children’s ski area are all conveniently close to one another, and with runs back to Le Lac from both sides of the valley for skiing parents, this is an easy resort for the day to day logistics of a family ski holiday. Furthermore, Esprit's partner ski school has an excellent reputation for caring for English youngsters.
In Val d'Isère, Esprit's childcare base is situated in the Hotel Ducs De Savoie, just minutes from the slopes and lifts, making Val d’Isère ideal for families, as it offers the best of both worlds - a convenient location and excellent children’s ski area for the youngsters, whilst allowing parents the chance to explore the wider ski area.
For more information about booking your family ski holiday in Tignes, go to espritski.com
For more information about booking your family ski holiday in Val d'Isère go to espritski.com