Tignes: A French Ski Resort For Snow Lovers

There is certainly no shortage of ski resorts in Europe, but travelers who crave great slopes with quaint villages will love the French area of Tignes. In the southeast part of the country, Tignes is easy to get to, has a stunning landscape, and plenty of excellent winter activities for people of all ages. It has many modern conveniences like shopping and dining, and its five villages offer something different for everyone.

A Beautiful Landscape that is Easy To Get To

Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Tignes can be reached from Lyon, Geneva, or Chambery airports. It is part of the Tignes Val d’Isère ski area, which is one of the largest in the Alps.

The area’s natural landscape is combined with a massive man-made dam and lake, and includes a giant natural glacier and a number of mountainside lakes that are fed by it. Today these features are used for everything from ice fishing, to ice skating, to even swimming and ice diving for the most daring out there.

Top Quality Skiing

Tignes offers hands-down some of the best skiing in the region; it’s no wonder that it was the location of freestyle skiing in the 1992 Winter Olympics. From 2010 to 2013 the resort was also home to the European version of the popular Winter X Games, which highlights the best snowboarders and extreme skiers from around the world.

If you require a car then something like this car hire Geneva Airport website may be just what you are looking for. You can add all the usual ski equipment necessary during the booking process. The prices are quite competitive based on our research. It is hard to beat the flexibility and value for money hiring a car offers when visiting Tignes and its environs.

Ski Facilities

Tignes has almost 80 total lifts, and most are, designed to maximize speed in getting up the mountain. Three of these are gondolas, 21 are chairlifts, and there is even a cable car. There are 80 total trails in the area, covering nearly 300 kilometres of ground, with most of them blue. The trails go up to almost 3,500 metres in height, with runs designed for all levels.

One of the biggest appeals of Tignes is that the location next to the Grande Motte glacier used to mean that skiing was available all year long. In recent years climate change has had an impact on the size of the glacier, so it is now closed for nearly a month or more each year. However, visitors can take the funicular to the cable car up the Grande Motte, to the resort’s highest altitude of 3,456 metres.

Today thrill-seekers can engage in modern winter sports, like snow-kiting, go karts on ice, heli-skiing, and even bungee jumping.

Villages of Tignes

The first village was located in the valley, and it was a popular winter destination during the early 20th century, with innovations like a ski lift as early as 1936. However, it was eventually destroyed by the creation of the Tignes Dam. Replicas of some of the buildings from the original village can be found in other resort towns.

Today, Tignes is made up of five villages, each with different histories and locations. Tignes Val Claret, Tignes le Lavachet, and Tignes le Lac are the highest altitudes, at 2,100 metres, and are all closely located near each other. Lower down are Tignes-les-Brévières, the oldest village, and Tignes Les Boisses (or Tignes 1800), the newest.

* Tignes Val Claret
Val Claret is home to the resort’s best nightlife, with restaurants, bars, and clubs for all types. Its higher altitude means it is close to the lifts as well as the villages of le Lavachet and le Lac.

* Tignes le Lavachet
Located just near the ski lifts, le Lavachet is a great village for a beautiful view and close proximity to the slopes. Plus, visitors can easily access the two nearby villages with a free shuttle bus.

* Tignes le Lac
The most cosmopolitan area of the resort is often considered to be le Lac. There is shopping and access to spa and wellness activities, and it is closely located to skiing.

Something like a 7 seater car hire is great for getting everyone about between the various locations and resorts. Roof racks can be easily reserved.

* Tignes-les-Brévières

Tignes-les-Brévières is the main village at the bottom of the dam (1,550 metres) that attracts those who like charm and value. Due to recent expansions and its location, Tignes-les-Brévières is cheaper than the higher towns, and it is representative of the traditional French ski resort village.

There are quite a few international airport within short driving distance of Tignes.

* Tignes Les Boisses (or Tignes 1800)
In 2013 Tignes 1800 opened, which heralded a new era for the resort. The village includes a replica of the church from the original village, and it is home to Tignes’s cable car lift.

The Tignes Dam

After World War II, France began to focus on different forms of power generation, such as hydroelectricity, and so a dam was constructed in 1952 on the site of the original village, which submerged its remains under water.

While feelings were mixed about the creation of the dam, it did create Lac du Chevril, one of the most spectacular man-made lakes in Europe.

The lake used to be drained every ten years for maintenance, allowing visitors to see the remnants of the village. However, as of 2000, this process has been mechanized, and the lake is drained less often.

While the dam took away Tignes’s oldest village, it did add one of its more modern attractions. Artist Jean-Marie Pierret painted a fresco on the dam in 1980, which was one of the biggest found in the world. Over the years it has decayed, but visitors can still see parts of it from the Tignes-les-Brévières side.

The Modern Resort

In the 1960s, after the creation of the dam, it was decided that new developments in the area would be placed in higher elevations for direct access to skiing and stunning vistas.

In recent years the villages have worked at updating structures from the 1960s to reflect modern sensibilities and conveniences. Today’s visitors have accommodation choices ranging from traditional chalets, hotels from one to five stars, and even house and apartment vacation rentals. The resort has also focused on becoming more child and family-friendly, offering activities for people of all ages.

A huge highlight in the area is the funicular, which transports visitors from Tignes Val Claret to a panoramic restaurant that is located at over 3,000 meters. It’s fast – getting from top to bottom in seven minutes – and can carry up to 3,000 people every hour.