Tignes has several strong selling points for beginners – there’s a choice of ski schools, including some British-run operations and each of the bases have their own beginner ski areas, separated off from the main throughfares and served by easy-to-ride slow lifts, most of which operate free of charge, so you don’t need a lift pass for the first few days.
There is also the convenience of ski-in accommodation, you don’t need to walk a long way or get a bus or lift up the mountain to reach the nursery slopes.
It’s not 100% perfect though, the easiest (green) runs are located around the resort, but there aren’t any more (except over on the Val d’Isere side of the Espace Killy) once you’re tired of these, so you’ll need to gain confidence on the short greens at the base then move up to blue in one go if you want to take on longer runs. You should also consider if you want your first ski holiday to be in a big ski resort high above the treeline and whether somewhere smaller in a prettier location might suit you better. But then Tignes remains a good choice if you’re in a mixed ability group and for most smaller, prettier resorts you’re likely to need to make other sacrifices, such as the doorstep snow.
10,000 hectares, more than 100 blue and red runs, 300km of runs and around 90 lifts – it’s the stuff that a recreational skier's dreams are made of. The huge bowl above Tignes consists primarily of long blue trails with powder in between on the wide-open mountainside.
The fast funicular and cable-car combo will take you up to the top of the Grande Motte glacier from where you can take wonderful long descents back to resort on blues and reds over 1,350 vertical metres. Therre are wonderfully long winding red and blue runs down to pretty Le Breviere and loads more options and of course with the Espace Killy pass all of Val d’Isere’s skiing to explore too.
The Espace Killy is one of the world’s classic ski areas, with around 20 marked black trails but, more interesting for most good skiers, a vast amount of off-piste potential too. On the groomed slopes the long black down from L’Aiguille Percee at 2750m to the resort’s lowest point at Brevieres (1550m) is a wonderful 1200m of vertical through a valley miles from the busier slopes above the altitude resort.
The off piste opportunities are immense, and several niche ski schools exist purely to service this market. There is Le Spot, and unpisted area of the mountain dedicated to freeriding, and numerous superb routes within the Espace Killy itself. There is also the opportunity to head off piste to neighbouring resorts like La Plagne, under the direction of a local professional guide.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Of course snowboarders benefit as much as skiers from the extent and varity of terrain that Tignes and the Espace Killy have to offer. But there are terrain parks too, with the winter park located on the Col du Palet one of the biggest in Europe covering a 600m vertical with pipe, various jumps and a freeride zone. The resort also has several specialist snowboard schools offering all levels of park or freeride tuition, and for advanced boarders there's guided off piste boarding and heli-boarding.
Tignes has always been popular with snowboarders but this had much more to do with the quality of the freeriding rather than the park. It is only in the last decade that Tignes began to invest time and money into building a quality park, but improvements have happened quickly. This was been recognised by the snowboarding and freestyle skiing community, when the European Winter X games were brought to Tignes for the first time in 2010.
There are about 20km of cross country trails at Tignes, with equipment easy to rent if required at virtually all of the rental shops. The loops are mostly easy and located around the base of the ski slopes. Individual trails vary in length up to 6.5km. As much again is available on the other side of the Espace Killy at Val d'Isère where there half-a-dozen trails varying in length from 1 to 7km with easy and intermediate runs through the forest, around the lakes and across open summer meadowland.
Tignes Average Snow And Weather Conditions
Tignes used to be open for snow sports 365 days a year and probably still could be, as it operates one of Europe’s largest glacier ski areas on the Grand Motte above 3,400m. As it is, it still opens from mid-September to early-May, as well as for a two month period from mid-June to late August,so is basically open nearly 10 months a year – that’s more than all but about two other resorts in the world.
The resort maintains at least 1000m of vertical for eight months of the year, which again means you are pretty safe here all winter and in to spring. Average annual snowfall is 5.5m (about 18 feet) and there are more than 200 snow guns covering the key runs.
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