Skiing in Tignes

Skiing in Tignes

The resort’s five base stations are the villages of Val Claret, Le Lac, Le Lavarchet, Les Boisses and the restored original village of Les Brevieres, set at the lowest point of 1,550m, but with 2,000m of vertical drop above it. The 150kms of varying trails are split into four interconnecting areas, La Grande Motte Massif, Palet/L’Aguille Percee, Les Brevieres and Toviere, accessible from the funicular, cable car, 19 drag lifts and 24 chairlifts at the five base areas.

La Grande Motte glacier used to offer year-round skiing, but a degree of melt has reduced this to around 10 months or so, reinforced by the use of snow cannons. In winter the area can be extremely cold, off-putting to less experienced skiers who might otherwise enjoy the good selection of wide blue runs. At the top of the glacier, open to the magnificent scenic spectacle, is a red run and afternoon conditions around Tichot and Grattalu lifts’ blue runs are usually perfect.

The Tichot chairlift also accesses the Pallet massif, home to an improvement area for both skiers and snowboarders, dedicated to giving an understanding and awareness of the mountains – a kind of ‘health and safety’ on skis or boards. There are several lunch stops around here, with groomed intermediate runs nearby offering good afternoon snow conditions. L’Aguille Percee is a quieter, less crowded area of east-facing slopes with five fast lifts and blue, red and black runs down to Les Brevieres.

For advanced-level skiers, the long black Sache run from L’Aguille Percee down to Les Brevieres offers challenges and fierce moguls. The most serious challenge, however, is the black run down from Toviere to Le Lac, with its heavily mogulled, almost vertical sections, while the area’s mass of spectacular off-piste opportunities continue to draw experts from across the planet.

Although Tignes is admittedly more aligned to experienced skiers, intermediate piste-bashers will have a great time here on the local slopes as well as on many of the glacier runs, with the area’s varied terrain giving every chance for improvement. Snow on the easier runs is almost always in perfect condition, and adventurous intermediates could do worse than attempt the Sache after a few days’ practice.

For beginners, the nursery slopes at Le Lac are snow-sure and excellent for their easy access, gentle slopes, lack of through traffic and slow chair and drag lifts, all giving confidence to nervous would-be skiers balancing on seemingly impossibly narrow strips of wood unequipped with brakes. For further encouragement, all five lifts to the nursery slopes are free, removing any weak financially-based excuses for not trying again. Tignes has long been a hub for snowboarders, with great off-piste offerings and lower prices than in Val next door. Lots of powdery slopes in which to play plus three snowboarding schools for beginners combine with fast, wide pistes perfect for having fun.