A guide to Tignes
Tignes is one of the best ski resorts to come to for a long, snow-sure season. The main resort on the edge of Le Lac sits at an altitude of 2100 metres above sea level and the lower villages still boast altitudes of 1550 and 1850 metres. Above all of this is the Grande Motte Glacier which rises to a lofty 3450 metres and is accessible not only during winter but in the summer too - yes you can come summer skiing in Tignes!
Tignes and its neighbouring resort of Val d’Isère make up the ski area known as the Espace Killy (named after France’s Olympic downhill skiing champion Jean Claude Killy). It offers over 300kms of pisted skiing linked by around 47 ski lifts which include a funicular railway, a cable car, 24 chairlifts and 19 drag lifts, enabling you to ski around the whole area with ease.
Tignes offers something for every level of skier or snowboarder, with a world class snow park, pistes suited to beginners and advanced skiers alike and for the more adventurous, some of the best off piste skiing in the French Alps. Families love coming here, as do large groups of university students and groups of friends and as such the nightlife and dining on offer reflect that as there is pretty much something to suit every taste and budget.
There is a wide selection of accommodation in Tignes, often at more modest prices than its neighbour Val d'Isère. In comparison there is less choice of luxury or high end accommodation, but this market is starting to develop now and more options are becoming available.
Food is a great part of life in the French Alps, and with all those outdoor pursuits to try you can rest assured it is all very hearty! Local specialities are often cheese or cream based (sometimes both…), featuring local meats, potatoes and green salad. The food in the Alps is often accused of being unadventurous and ‘lardy’ but there are plenty of delicious regional dishes besides the good old fondue.
The emphasis is very much on fresh local produce and so cured and seasoned meats will have come from cattle grazed on Alpine pastures, the local cheeses of Abondance and Beaufort will be prevalent and although there isn’t a coastline in sight there is still a regional fish dish! The féra is caught in nearby Lake Geneva and is a popular dish served in many restaurants, alongside other lake fish such as Omble Chevalier (char), truite (trout), brochet (pike) and perche (perch).
Where is Tignes?
For Tignes the most convenient airport is Chambery, situated 144 kms (2 1/2hrs) away by motorway and then mountain road. From the airport, you have a number of different methods of transport to choose from to get you up to resort. If you can’t get a flight to Chambéry, the next best options are Lyon (3hrs) and Geneva (3.5hrs) both of which are serviced by a number of the major airlines.
Each airport has it pros and cons. Chambery is closest but may close in bad weather and your flight be diverted elsewhere. Geneva is a bit further away but has excellent bus/shuttle links to Tignes & Val. Lyon St-Exupery airport has fewer links to the mountains, especially midweek, but the journey is easier and quicker than from Geneva if you hire a car.
Also see: Towns & Villages in Tignes
History & Culture in Tignes
The old village of Tignes disappeared beneath the waters of the Lac du Chevril when the valley was dammed in 1952. The ski resort of Tignes 2100, is now made up of many smaller villages at varying altitudes. Tignes Les Brévières (1550m), Tignes Les Boisses (1850m), Tignes Le Lavachet (2100m) and Val Claret (2100). Tignes-Le-Lac is generally classed as the main village of Tignes.
Although having spent millions in improving its visual appearance, the architecture of Tignes is some what more synonymous with a collection of high rise housing estates, than your typical traditional Savoyard chalet village. There are few trees at this altitude so Tignes isn't the most visually appealing of resorts. However, beauty is only skin deep, so if you’re there for the skiing and not fussed about your outside appearance of your accommodation then Tignes is the place to go.
Also see: History of Tignes
Events in Tignes
"The Brits" skiing & snowboarding competition takes place in Tignes every winter and in summer it plays host to the "Ice Trail Tarentaise", one of the toughest trail running races for miles around.
Sights & Attractions in Tignes
Tignespace and Le Lagon offer a multitude of different sports and swimming once you're in resort and on the way up to resort you can't fail to miss the impressive Tignes dam which has features in TV shows like "Les Revenants" and has a statue of the "lady of the lake" overlooking it.
Where to Stay in Tignes
There are four parts to Tignes, each offering a slightly different atmosphere, but all linked to the same great ski area; from the lowest elevation to the highest Les Brevieres, Tignes 1800 (Les Boisses), Le Lac & Lavachet.
Also see: Where to Stay in Tignes
Chalets in Tignes
There are a good selection of chalets to choose from in Tignes, from tour operator run to privately run business open in summer and winter.
Apartments in Tignes
There are literally hundreds of apartments to choose from in Tignes, sleeping groups large and small.
Hotels in Tignes
There is a lot of choice in the centre of Tignes for hotels, more so than any of the smaller surrounding villages.
Things to Do in Tignes
In winter with quick and easy access to the whole Espace Killy ski area and an abundance of ski in, ski out accomodation options you can be out the door and skiing in just a few short minutes. Le Lac is an extremely popular resort for this reason, but it also has plenty else to offer for those who do not fancy venturing out onto the slopes. The beautiful and picturesque lake freezes over in the winter and you can meander across it and enjoy the wonderful snowy mountain scenery (although check it is safe before setting off!), and there are lots of alterative winter activities to do.
In the summer the mountains turn from white to green and with plenty of sunshine there is lots to do. There are a whole host of summer activities that are perfect for groups, families and individuals. Tignes Le Lac has great access to the ski lifts and in the summer you can whizz up the mountain and enjoy a range of walking and hiking routes or the mountain biking trails that Tignes is famous for in the summer time. You can also hop on the free bus service and be at the Grande Motte in Tignes Val Claret for some summer skiing on the glacier in just a few short minutes.
Restaurants in Tignes
You can enjoy some lovely traditional Savoyard restaurants or choose from the more modern restaurants in each of the villages of Tignes.
Nightlife in Tignes
There are many bars and restaurants in each of the Tignes villages and 4 nightclubs; 2 in Val Claret and 2 in Le Lac. From the many restaurants, you can sample the traditional Savoyard delicacies or gourmet cuisine delights. There is also a 24 hour free bus service between Val Claret, Le Lac and Le Lavachet making it especially easy to experience each village by night!
Location: Tignes Region