If you’re after a snow-sure season, then look no further than Tignes in the French Alps, close to the Italian border. The Grande Motte Glacier, which rises above the group of villages that make up this high altitude ski resort, offers year round skiing and plenty of the extracurricular stuff, too. Yes, you heard it right; you can also ride the slopes in the summer months. To get the most out of your time here, a little planning and foresight is required. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL travel tips for a skiing trip in Tignes.
HOW TO GET THERE
The most convenient airport to fly to for Tignes is Geneva, which offers frequent flights to and from many UK cities at the lowest prices you’ll find. London is only 1 hour and 40 minutes away, which means you could be on the slopes by lunchtime should you set off early doors. An airport transfer (137 miles) takes around 2 hours 40 minutes to get from Geneva airport to Tignes, and the views on the journey are pretty spectacular, to say the least.
You can also get to Tignes by train, taking around 9 hours. The Eurostar runs ski trains from London St Pancras and Ashford in Kent to Bourg Saint Maurice in south-east France, every Saturday between April and December, and there are also night trains running on Fridays from January to April. From Bourg Saint Maurice, you can get to Tignes in just 40 minutes, via the funicular train, transfer or bus.
WHERE TO STAY
Made up of several villages with varying altitudes and amenities, it’s best to get familiar with the different areas of Tignes before booking your accommodation. From self-catered apartments and catered chalets to hotels and resorts, there’s something for everyone here.
The central hub, where all the action happens in Tignes, is undoubtedly Val Claret; the highest village with direct access to the slopes. Here you’ll have a pick of hotels to choose from and the apres-ski is considered the best in the region, with many bars and clubs, restaurants and shops. A little further down you’ll find Le Lac which sits next to the gorgeous Tignes Lake, offering lots of slope-side accommodation. It’s mostly made up of high rise apartment blocks but has a few traditional alpine-style chalets, too. Both Val Claret and Le Lac offer high altitude access to the slopes but Le Lac has a better nursery slope and is arguably more attractive.
Le Lavachet boasts cheaper ski in/ski out apartments, and is slightly quieter than Le Lac; whether that’s a positive or negative is up to you. It’s linked to the lifts by ski bus and what’s more, a bus service runs through the night if you want to explore the rest of Tignes. Further down the valley, you’ll find Tignes 1800 and Tignes Le Brevieres. These are the older and more traditional villages and are more secluded than the areas higher up the mountain.
OUT ON THE PISTE
Apres-ski, the social activities and entertainment that follow a days skiing, is half (hmm, perhaps more?) the fun of any ski trip. We’ve already mentioned that the nightlife in Val Claret is the best, and home to the most popular nightclubs (The Blue Girl and Melting Pot, if you’re asking).
However, if you’re after something properly rowdy, then visit the world-renowned apres ski bar ‘La Folie Douce’ where table dancing and partying on the piste is encouraged. Here the entertainment kicks off every afternoon at 3pm, and sees dancers, live music and DJ’s make this area of Tignes as hot as an Ibiza nightclub without melting the snow. Another firm favourite for apres ski sessions is the ski in/ski out Loop bar at the bottom of the Trolles slope in Le Lac. Their huge sun terrace is legendary and has some of the best live bands in the Alps. Bliss.
FUEL YOUR SKI SAVOYARD STYLE
Alpine food is undoubtedly the best fuel for skiers and there’s plenty of hearty Savoyard fare to be found in Tignes. Highly calorific, based on lots of melted cheese and potatoes, these dishes we’re designed to keep mountain villagers, who were often isolated for months, going during the long, snowy winters. Today, they are a perfect way to keep energy levels going strong after a morning tumbling down the mountains.
The French Fondue, as delicious as it is, needs no introduction. Some other Savoyard specialities you must-try include Raclette, where a semi-hard round local cheese is melted then spooned over boiled potatoes and served with an assortment of charcuterie such as Savoyard ham and rosette de Lyon and pickles on the side. If you’ve still got room, then Tartiflette is a rich and luxurious gooey gratin of potatoes, reblochon cheese (can you see a theme developing here?) lardons and onions. And Croziflette, a French baked buckwheat pasta dish which is similar to Tartiflette, sees potatoes replaced with that pasta. Wowzers.
And before the food coma renders you useless, throw back some dessert; here, a blueberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a wonderful way to finish things (and you) off.
Although this is first and foremost a skiing destination, the abundance of snow means that you’d be mad not to try out some of the other snowsports on offer here. And rest assured, there’s a whole host of hair raising, adrenaline baiting activities available on the slopes. In fact, we’ve written more about that over here, so check out these 5 IDEAL things to do in Val Thorens.
And with that, we wish you a safe trip on the slopes!