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Tignes

Sharing the huge ski area of the Espace Killy with it’s sister resort of Val d’Isere, Tignes is rightly considered one of the best ski resorts in Europe with access to over 300km of exceptional pistes.

The resort itself comprises of five interconnected villages at varying altitudes, all of which are easily accessible by both ski lifts and pistes. Val Claret sits at 2100m and has played host to the winter x-games for the past three years, as well as the British Championships for the first time this winter. Le Lac is generally considered to be the centre of the resort and houses plenty of bars and restaurants for apres-ski endeavors. Lavachet offers a quieter atmosphere within easy walking distance of Le Lac, but can get boisterous enough as it houses a large percentage of the resort workers.

Tignes Ski-LiftLower in the valley, just above the dam and reservoir, sits Les Boisses. This has previously been the sleepiest of the villages, but is currently undergoing a €150 million redevelopment with a MGM eco-resort and shopping complex set to change the landscape dramatically. Below the dam sits the village of Les Brevieres, which generally has a quieter, more traditional atmosphere and is linked by a gondola running up the mountain.

All of the villages are fairly compact and the vast majority of accommodation is no more than a short stroll from a lift access point. A 24 hour bus service runs around the top four villages too, but make sure you don’t get stuck on the Val d’Isere side of the mountain after the lifts close as strangely there is no regular transport link between the two resorts.

While no one would claim that Tignes is a picturesque resort, and large apartment complexes still blot the landscape, recent efforts have been made to correct this. There are more sympathetically designed chalets being built around the town and even the new apartment complexes tend to have traditional architecture now.

If you’re focusing on the man-made landscape though, you are missing the point of Tignes. This high altitude resort has one of the best snow records in Europe and the Espace Killy is regarded as one of the best ski areas in the world for both easily connected pistes, as well as lift accessed off-piste runs. Winters here are to be spent exploring the terrain rather than soaking up the scenery.

Tignes Panorama

With plenty of black and red runs available Tignes rates as excellent for advanced and intermediate skiers, although beginners green runs can sometimes be more difficult to access than is strictly necessary. There’s also the 3000m glacier which can be accessed year-round by the underground funicular train in just seven minutes.

Recent investment has replaced some of the slower lifts in the area, although a few do remain. The Espace Killy is big enough though that there are very few lift queues except at the main access points which run from all the villages. There’s also a small snow park which sits above Val Claret with an easily accessible half-pipe, but the larger park in Val d’Isere is much better and is only one chair lift away.

Away from the slopes there are a good selection of restaurants and bars scattered around all of the villages as well as four nightclubs that stay lively until the early hours. There’s also a sports centre with swimming pool, ice-skating available on the lake, bowling, as well as dog-sledding and ice-diving for those who want to spend some time away from the slopes.