There are two different techniques – classic and skating. Classic is the easiest for beginners; you simply place your skis in two parallel groves, push off and glide around the trails. Skating is more energetic and a slightly harder skill to grasp; you push your feet out to either side as though you are ice skating and use your poles simultaneously to gain momentum.
You can hire the comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops and book a group or private lesson to learn the basics from most ski schools or private instructors. For those used to downhill skis, at first you feel precariously balanced and downhill sections are definitely more exciting on narrow skis with no edges! The skis are lighter and slimmer than downhill skis and the boots are much softer and more comfortable.
The tranquility of cross country (also known as Nordic) skiing is perfect for anyone who enjoys peace and quiet, or finds the downhill pistes too crowded or too steep. It is a great form of aerobic exercise and one can be as energetic or slow as one likes, while the relaxed pace makes it a more tranquil way to enjoy the surroundings!
Cross Country Skiing (Ski de Fond) in Tignes
Once you have grasped the essentials, head off into the beautiful and tranquil cross-country trails that meander through the Espace Killy. No lift pass is needed, so once you have bought/hired your equipment it is free to take part in, and one can be as energetic or slow as one likes. The Espace Killy has a total of 44km of tracks for cross-country skiing, approximately half of which are in Tignes and most of the ski schools also offer instruction in this discipline.
The Tignes cross country circuits are free to use and are shown on the piste map with their level gradings – green, blue, red or black. Most of them are situated at the foot of the ski area, on or around the lake.
Val d'Isère also has it's share of cross country trails to be explored, such as:
La Daille – To the left of the main road just past La Daille is an easy, green,1.5km long trail
Manchet Valley – There is a 1km track running from the Solaise cable car to the Clochetons restaurant (green) and then a further 3km to the Manchet old hamlet (blue) - this trail is sunny in the morning and early afternoon. There is also a 6.5km long red run – Le Manchet
Ouillette lake – At the top of the Solaise cable car, walk to the Madeleine chairlift and there is a 2km blue trail around the ‘Ouillette lake’ on the right hand side
Le Fornet – From the Le Fornet cable car, there is a 5km blue trail out of Val d’Isere to the border of the Vanoise National Park