In The Spotlight: Tignes

Quick facts on Tignes

Combining purpose-built convenience with striking mountain scenery, Tignes occupies a secure place among the world’s premiere ski destinations. With Europe’s most snow-sure conditions, an incredible variety of terrain and over 300km of pistes to explore, it’s an almost unbeatable proposition for a winter break. Throw in almost year-round skiing, a lively après-ski scene and a huge range of ski-in ski-out accommodations, you start to see what makes a Tignes skiing adventure so enduringly popular for families, groups and solo adventurers alike.

Tignes Fast Facts

Domain altitude: 1550–2100m
Lowest slope: 1550m
Highest lift: 3456m
Total pistes: 300km
Lifts: 76
Runs: 154

  • Green: 21 (14%)
  • Blue: 67 (43%)
  • Red: 42 (27%)
  • Black: 24 (16%)

Getting There

The nearest airports are

  • Chambéry (142km / 2hrs)
  • Grenoble (215km / 2.5hrs)
  • Lyon (219km / 2.5hrs)
  • Geneva (224km / 2.5hrs).

If you choose not to drive, there are a variety of private transfer services linking them with each of the five Tignes villages.

Prefer to travel by train? Then you’re in luck! The Eurostar operates a weekly service between St Pancras International and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, from which Tignes is a convenient 40-minute (30km) hop away. There’s a decent public bus service, or you can jump in a taxi. Eurostar departures from London are on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, with return leg departures from Bourg on Saturday mornings and Saturday nights.

We Love

  • Staggeringly large ski area
  • Great lift system
  • Dependable snow cover

The Downsides

  • Highly questionable architecture
  • It’s above the treeline, so in bad weather there’s nowhere to hide
  • Many of the beginner runs are a little tricky to access

The Domain

More of a network of interlinked villages than a resort per-se, Tignes is made up of five distinct areas.

Located at the head of the valley, bustling Val Claret (2100m) is well serviced by fast, modern lifts and offers easy access to the jewel in Tignes’ glittering Alpine crown: the Grande Motte glacier. Just down the road, on the other side of the lake, Le Lac (2100m) functions as the domain’s main hub, with neighbouring Le Lavachet (2100m) providing a quieter, more low-key feel. The three are grouped fairly close together on Tignes’ central plateau, and this is where the bulk of the domain’s action takes place.

Located further down the valley on the edge of the dam, Tignes 1800 (formerly known as Les Bosses) is the quietest and most budget-friendly of the villages, but extensive recent investment means it’s growing fast. Finally, nestled by the river at the foot of the dam is Tignes Les Brévières (1550m), a renovated former hamlet that’s easily the most picturesque of the bunch.

All five villages are well linked by Tignes’ extensive lift system, and there’s a free shuttle bus connecting Val Claret, Le Lac, Le Lavachet and Tignes 1800 running well into the evening. No such luck with Les Brévières – once the lifts close for the day, you’re on your own. Fortunately, it offers a good spread of bars and restaurants to keep you happily fed, watered and entertained.

The Ski Area

Along with its glitzier neighbour, Val d'Isère, Tignes comprises one of the world’s largest interlinked ski areas, so there’s no shortage of things to do. Intermediates will love the huge spread of long, challenging runs, while experts can take advantage of some of Europe’s best and most extensive off-piste terrain… much of it easily accessible by lift! A further ace up the domain’s sleeve is the Grande Motte glacier, which boasts some worryingly steep runs and also offers some of Europe’s finest summer skiing over the course of its six-week season.

Freestyle aficionados are well served by Tignes’ impressive array of terrain parks. Its well-maintained halfpipe is currently Europe’s largest, and there’s a free airbag in Tignes Val Claret (at the bottom of the Carline piste) offering budding freestylers a welcome opportunity to hone those new aerial manoeuvres before taking them to the park proper. Recently constructed separate learner areas allow beginners and families to get in on the freestyle action in a lower consequence manner, and a couple of boardercross tracks – one mini, one full-sized – are great for a good old-fashioned hoon.

Tignes has four nursery slope areas – one in Val Claret, one in Le Lac, one in Le Lavachet and one in Tignes 1800 – meaning there are plenty of options for kids and newbies. There’s also a designated green area for beginners (albeit with slightly tricky access) and a wealth of gentle, rolling blue runs to progress to.

Thanks to its high elevation, Tignes is almost entirely above the treeline, meaning if the weather closes in visibility can prove challenging. In these instances, the tree-lined lower slopes of Les Brévières can provide a bit of definition, but those in the know head over to Val d'Isère to take advantage of its superior tree runs.

Tignes is fairly spread out in nature, but there are plenty of dining options in each of its five villages. From hearty local favourites like tartiflette and fondue to more international flavours like sushi or gourmet tapas, you’ll find something to please in the many excellent Tignes restaurants.

Karl Gustav, Val Claret
This upscale bistro in Val Claret does an excellent line in modern French cuisine, with a fantastic wine list to boot. Famed for its stylish décor and great service, it brings a welcome touch of Parisian chic to Val Claret.

L'Armailly, Les Brévières
If traditional Savoyard food is what you’re after, then this is the place. Its charming, rustic feel and spacious sun terrace make it a perfect choice both for a languid lunch or a delectable dinner.

Le Panoramic
Replete with sheepskins, roaring fires and even complementary slippers, Le Panoramic redefines what a mountain restaurant can be. Located at the top of the Grande Motte glacier, it offers an unforgettable dining experience, with spectacular views and gourmet food courtesy of renowned local chef Jean-Michel Bouvier.

Though it lives somewhat in the shadow of its famously party-centric neighbour, Tignes has some lively après-ski action and plenty of great watering holes… if you know where to look. Here’s our top pick of the Tignes bars.

Grizzly’s Bar, Val Claret
Whether you’re after a reassuringly expensive cocktail or a warming vin chaud, Grizzly’s ably dishes up the goods. A rustic log cabin with bear-themed décor and sturdy wooden furniture, it’s great for après-ski or evening festivities, with open fires both indoors and outside.

The Loop Bar & Restaurant, Le Lac
Situated at the bottom of the Trolles and Rosset pistes in Le Lac, the Loop Bar’s convenient location and large sunny terrace make it a firm après-ski favourite. It’s also a great spot for lunch, due in no small part to its near legendary burgers.

Couloir Bar, Val Claret
Thanks to its excellent cocktails and an imaginative menu that fuses traditional Savoyard cuisine with more contemporary flavours, the Couloir bar is always buzzing. Regular live music makes it an essential stop on any good après ski itinerary, and the food is out of this world!

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