As the second highest skiing station of Europe, the winter sports village Tignes surely has the most unusual history of them all. As the original village Tignes disappeared on the bottom of the Lac de Chevril in 1952, to which the river Isère was dammed, the new village Tignes was built at an altitude of 2.100 meters in 1957. Since then Tignes has developed into one of the most famous French skiing villages and belongs to the skiing region Espace Killy together with Val d'Isère. The „new“ Tignes, which consists of the districts Le Lavachet, Val Claret and Tignes-le-Lac that group around a small lake is also known for several different larger sports events. Already in 1986, the first freestyle skiing world championship took place in Tignes in 1986, and the competitions in freestyle skiing were held here in the framework of the Olympic winter games in 1992. In 2007 Tignes was day destination of the Tour de France after an incline of 18 kilometres that included a height gain of more than 1.000 meters.
For fans of winter sports however, Tignes is mainly one thing: a skiing region that offers best snow conditions and a versatile slope mix from September to May. A skiing village that kept its original Savoy charm thanks to the traditional construction style of the buildings and on the other hand is one of the most cosmopolitan and athletic skiing stations of France. And a vacation destination whose alpine landscape with the gigantic Vanoise-Massif and its peaks like the Grande Motte (3.656 m) or Mont Pourri (3.779 m) provide pure relaxation.
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The snow guarantee in Tignes is due to the glacier, as well as to the great altitude of the skiing region Espace Killy that is located between 1.550 and 3.456 meters. Skiing vacationers that choose Tignes therefore benefit from a number of different slopes with significant height differences and unusually long downhill stretches – and all this with a fascinating panorama. In total, all winter sportsmen – from beginner to professional- have 156 slopes available at a total of 300 kilometres in length in this XXL skiing region that encompasses three mountains and two valleys. They are connected by 88 lifts, including the probably most spectacular lift in the French Alps. Skiers that want to summit the Grande Motte first enter the state-of-the-art underground cableway „Funiculaire Grande Motte“, that climbs to 3.030 meters height in only 5 minutes. The trip then continues by cable car up to just below the summit of Grande Motte to 3.400 meters. At the top, two attractive slopes of medium difficulty are available, among others one of the longest blue slopes of the world. For several kilometres, this slope passes by the glacier safely and leads down to Val Claret, offering an incomparable skiing experience even to beginners. A red slope is available for a little more experienced skiers that is equipped with snow guns along its entire length with an altitude difference of 1.400 meters and is therefore open 8 months of the year.
Of course, professional skiers also find what they are looking for in Tignes, for example on the black slope La Sache, which leads from Aiguille Percée directly down to Les Brévières with breathtaking views. Not to forget the legendary deep snow region of Tignes. Numerous untouched slopes close to the prepared areas invite you to conquer them.
The skiing region of Tignes also provides best requirements for downhill fun on a board. The width of the slopes, as well as the variety and the level of difficulty of many slopes are adequate for snowboarders of all levels. The skiing station in the region Espace Killy was not one of the pioneer’s of this discipline for nothing, and is home to the first international snowboard competition of the season (Kebra). If you want to combine winter sports, being out in nature and relaxing during cross country skiing, you will also get what you came for in Tignes and can enjoy trails in a unique landscape either on the glacier or around the Lac de Tignes.
The leisure activities alongside the slopes or after a successful day on skies are just as versatile as the range of slopes. Paragliding, snowshoeing or dog sledding are especially popular as active leisure activities. Different ice sport activities on the lake belonging to the ski station are also available, along with the leisure and sports centre Tignespace with tennis courts, a fitness studio, trampolines and a climbing wall. Numerous good restaurants, bars and discotheques are available to end your day in pleasant way.
Extra event tip: Since 2010, the Winter X Games Europe have been taking place every year in March in Tignes. A special event that was imported from the USA, drawing world-class extreme winter athletes. In eight different competitions on three days, professionals can be cheered on among other things on the ski and snowboard superpipe and slopestyle for men and women, as well as in a snowmobile show.
Extra excursion tip: Even if the old village of Tignes is hidden on the bottom of the Lac du Chevril, the impressive arch dam of the lake is well worth a visit. At 180 meters, it was the largest arch dam of Europe at the time of its construction, and was decorated with a gigantic fresco that encompasses nearly half of the wall, approximately 10.000 sqm, showing the face of Heracles.
Holidaymakers in Les Brévières will not only find they are staying in one of the most picturesque villages anywhere in the French Alps, but also in what has been dubbed the “world’s most beautiful ski area”. This charming little winter sports resort, with its traditional wooden buildings, has fully retained its original rustic feel. However, this doesn’t mean it lacks anything you would expect of a modern ski resort, linked as it is with the “Tignes” ski centre. Located at the foot of the XXL ski area “Espace Killy”, Les Brévières offers its guests direct access to an enormous variety of ski runs, totalling 300km in all.
The return journey to Les Brévières at the end of the day couldn’t be more straightforward. All it takes is one more chairlift ride from Tignes-le-Lac, and visitors will find themselves at the head of 1 blue, 2 red and 1 black-graded run, all of which will take them directly back down to the resort. These runs are fully operational right up until the end of the season, thanks to a combination of excellent snow conditions and the use of snow cannons.