Our complete guide to
The ski areas of Tignes and neighbouring Val d’Isère make up what is known as L’Espace Killy, one of the largest, most varied and snow-sure ski areas in the world.
Tignes itself comprises five distinct villages, the largest and most animated of which is Tignes Le Lac, home to all of our featured hotels. Although it is purpose built, it has seen huge investment in recent years which has allowed the resort to move steadily upmarket.
Where is Tignes?
Transfer time: Chambéry 2hr, Geneva/Lyon/Grenoble 3hr
Tignes is located in the east of the Savoie département in the northern French Alps, close to the border with Italy. The local area is also known as the Haute-Tarentaise, which also encompasses the neighbouring resorts of Val d'Isère and Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise.
Tignes - the resort
Resort height: 2100m
The resort of Tignes is split into five main centres. Below the dam lies the oldest and least developed of the villages, Tignes Les Brèvieres. A little higher up, level with the dam, is Tignes 1800 (formerly known as Tignes Les Boisses).
Drive a few kilometres up the winding road from Tignes 1800 and you come to Tignes Le Lac, which has merged with Tignes Le Lavachet. At the head of the valley, 3km further on up the mountain, is Tignes Val Claret.
The largest of these centres and best connected to the ski area are Tignes Le Lac and Tignes Val Claret.
All of our hotels are found in Tignes Le Lac which, despite having started life as a classic 1960’s purpose built development, has seen plenty of investment in recent years and now offers a relatively lively and increasingly upmarket vibe.
Tignes - the ski area
Pistes: 150km (300km - Espace Killy)
Val d’Isère and neighbouring Tignes share 300km of pistes spread over a wide area, collectively known as L’Espace Killy.
Tignes’ part of the ski area (150km) is spread across a vast horseshoe of mountains and is almost entirely above the tree-line.
At the head of the valley, above Val Claret, is the famous Grande Motte ski area, accessed by fast chairs or an underground funicular. This sector offers the area's most reliable snow and highest skiing (3455m), also open in the summer, with a variety of long runs (both on and off-piste) all the way back to base.
The Col du Palet and Aiguille Percée sectors offer a more mellow range of mostly intermediate runs, but with the option of some longer descents (including the famous Sache black) off the back of the area down to Tignes Les Brevières.
On the other side of the valley, a series of fast lifts to Tovière and Col de Fresse serve other areas of mostly intermediate runs, and facilitate access acrosss into the Val d’Isère ski area.
Tignes' snow record
Our snow rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tignes arguably has the best snow record in the entire Alps. Not only is the resort itself high (the main villages sit above 2100m) but over half of the skiing in L’Espace Killy is above 2500m, the area tops out at nearly 3500m, and there are also two glaciers.
Add to that a healthy snowfall average of around 6m at 2100m, plenty of north-facing runs and extensive snow-making, and it’s easy to see why the area has such a good reputation for snow.
Where to find the best snow in Tignes
The best snow in Tignes is nearly always to be found in the Grand Motte sector, which faces north and also has a large glacier.
Where to ski in bad weather
More locally, the area above Les Boisses and Les Brevières is relatively sheltered (by Tignes standards), but Tignes is generally not a great area to be skiing in during a storm.
Tignes for experts
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tignes is an excellent ski resort for advanced and expert skiers and boarders.
On-piste there are a number of challenging blacks, the most beautiful of which is La Sache which starts at l’Aiguille Percée and follows a remote valley down to Tignes Les Brévières. The Trolles run from Tovière down to Tignes Le Lac is another good test, and there are several other black runs dotted around the neighbouring Val d’Isère area, including the famous Face.
Tignes also has numerous exciting off-piste routes, which can be found with a guide. One of the most popular off-piste areas is the Tour de Pramecou, starting just below the Grande Motte glacier, which offers several variants to suit those with different levels of off-piste experience. Another favourite is the Vallons de la Sache, which offers a wilder feel than the nearby pisted La Sache run, and is well removed from the lifts.
There is also seemingly limitless off-piste on the Val d’Isère side of the ski area, much of it easily accessible from the lifts.
Tignes for intermediates
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tignes is an excellent resort for intermediate skiers and boarders with a huge variety of super-snow-sure blues and reds in all sectors. The Val d’Isère side is better for more leisurely intermediates looking for wide open cruising. The Tignes side, on average, has the slightly more challenging on-piste intermediate terrain.
One of our favourite intermediate runs is the long red Double M from the Grande Motte glacier all the way down to Tignes Val Claret. It faces north and snow conditions are usually excellent but it can get very busy. The wide open runs in the Col du Palet and Aigulle Percée sectors are generally less busy and very scenic.
Tignes for beginners
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tignes has excellent beginner slopes at both Le Lac and Le Lavachet. However, the nursery area at Val Claret is steeper and less appealing to novices.
Progressing off the nursery slopes to easy blues is not entirely straightforward in Tignes. There are some wide easy runs scattered around the ski area, but neighbouring Val d’Isère is a better option for near beginners.
Tignes for cross country skiers
Tignes has a good selection of cross-country trails, most of which are located on and around the lake between Tignes Val Claret and Tignes Le Lac.
There are also additional cross-country runs at Tignes 1800, Tignes Les Brevières and even up at the top of the mountain on the Grande Motte glacier.
Mountain restaurants in Tignes
Tignes has a reasonable number of mountain restaurants scattered around the area, which are also generally cheaper than in neighbouring Val d’Isère.
Our favourite mountain restaurant in Tignes is Lo Soli at the top of the Chaudanne chair, though we also enjoy lunching at the Hotel Arbina down in Tignes Le Lac. The Panoramic at the top of the Funicular on the Grande Motte glacier also comes recommended, especially in the table service section, but it is expensive.
By contrast, for really good value and atmosphere, you could also try the Sachette close to the end of the piste in the traditional village of Tignes Les Brévières.
Tignes for non-skiers
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Although it is essentially a resort for serious skiers, Tignes does have quite a bit to do for non-skiers, especially if you are active.
In addition to an excellent sports centre where you can swim, rock climb or play tennis, there is also skating (both on the lake and on a rink), snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sleighing, ice diving and snow mountain-biking on offer.
Tignes offers plenty of après-ski action, although it pays to know where to go as the best spots are not always obvious. In Le Lac, the Loop Bar is popular with locals and tourists alike, as are Jack’s and L’Embuscade.
Val Claret tends to draw a slightly younger crowd, who flock to the Drop Zone, Grizzly’s and the Melting Pot Club.
Eating out in Tignes
Most of Tignes’s best restaurants are in Le Lac, and include La Ferme des 3 Capucines, which offers great value, service and atmosphere, and the British-run Le Brasero.
For a more gastronomic experience, you could also try the upstairs restaurant in the Hotel Arbina, which specialises in traditional French cuisine.
Our accommodation in Tignes
Tignes has a vast array of both self-catered and hotel accommodation in each of the resort's five villages.
We offer tailor-made luxury ski holidays to some of the resort's finest hotels, all located in 'Tignes Le Lac'. Here you can choose from the 4 star Hotel Les Campanules, a small and cosy 'Hotel de Charme', the larger ski-in ski-out Village Montana complex with its choice of luxury 4 star family hotel or its more exclusive 5 star Suites du Montana.
We also offer the very popular 3 star Hotel Le Refuge, a wonderful family-run mid-range B&B a stone's throw from both the centre of Tignes Le Lac and the slopes.
Snow-wise's top tip
Don't forget to explore the slopes above Tignes Les Boisses and Tignes Les Brevières, which are often ignored but among the most varied and interesting in L'Espace Killy.
Considering a luxury ski holiday
or short break in Tignes?
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