Tignes is a snow-sure ski resort connected to Val d'Isère through the Espace Killy ski area. Although it is known as a party resort, it can also offer families an excellent value for money ski holiday.
There are several distinct villages that make up the resort of Tignes. Tignes le Lac remains the centre of the resort, and is a good base for a family because of the plentiful accommodation and activities on offer. There are a number of private childcare companies that provide nannies and equipment rental, and are able to look after babies and older children. A new 'village', Tignes 1800, has been developed with families in mind, offering a village-style atmosphere with specially created children's ski areas. It is connected to the rest of Tignes by the express Boisses cable car. Have a look at our Maps of Tignes to see how it's all connected.
There is a wide range of affordable accommodation in Tignes, much of which is ski-in/ski-out. This is important if you don't want to be carrying two or more sets of skis and all the paraphernalia that goes with skiing with children! The main resorts of Le Lac and Val Claret are fairly flat once you arrive, so getting around with small children is made that little bit easier. There are nursery ski areas right in the village centres where you can use some of the ski lifts for free. There is a good selection of children's ski schools and the resort has a modern ski lift infrastructure to help you explore the ski area easily and quickly.
In addition to the wonderful skiing, Tignes can offer families plenty of activities, with its swimming pool, climbing wall, trampolines and an outdoor ice rink in the centre of the village. Many of the restaurants are family-friendly and there are several independent childcare companies that can help with looking after the kids.
Accommodation for families
Taking the family on a ski holiday can be hard work so finding good family-friendly accommodation is essential to making life that little bit easier. Many families tend to come here because of Tignes' ski-in/ski-out accommodation which can be a big help at the start and end of each day. Most of the accommodation is in self-catering apartments that offer an affordable way for a family to take a ski holiday. There is also a small range of chalet rentals, mainly in the pretty village of Les Brévières and in central Tignes Le Lac. Each village also has a good selection of hotels if you prefer a full service holiday.
Tignes le Lac
Probably the best place for a family to be based, because of its central location, access to the nursery slopes, additional winter activities, and large choice of accommodation.
A busy hub with lively après-ski, it has better value accommodation and is just ten minutes on the free bus from the main resort.
A quieter, more charming village further down the valley, which still has direct access to the ski area.
Les Boisses/Tignes 1800
The rebranded village of Les Boisses is now known as Tignes 1800, and has been developed towards families with newly built accommodation and nursery ski areas. Chalets made of stone and wood, ski in/ski out accommodation, and two state-of-the-art ten-person gondolas await you.
Note: If you plan on enrolling in ski school, find out where your meeting point will be so that you can make sure you know how to get there in the morning. The main meet up areas are in Le Lac and Val Claret, at the bottom of the nursery slopes.
You are likely to find better value accommodation further out of town, and as there is a good free shuttle bus service in Tignes, you can still access the lifts fairly easily without having to walk too far. The shuttles run all day and some run through the night.
Lift passes for families
Various family ski passes are available - essentially, everyone pays the child price. There are also special beginner passes and pedestrian passes available - children under five ski for free but you still need to get them a lift pass (with proof of age). Please see our Ski Lift Pass Prices page for further information.
Ski schools for families
If you have designs on raising the next Shaun White or Chemmy Alcott, then getting your kids into ski school as soon as possible is going to be a priority! Ski schools will not take children under two and a half, so if you think your child is ready earlier, then you will need to teach them yourself or hire a private instructor. If you want to teach them yourself, you can find out more about the nursery and beginner ski areas in Tignes in our guide. All ski equipment can be rented at the ski hire shops in Tignes when you arrive or you can book everything online in advance. Children will need a helmet, mittens and goggles in addition to skis (poles are not initially needed), and make sure they have enough layers on to stay warm. Remember to apply sun cream to their faces before they start and place a snack and your phone number in their pocket, just in case.
There are plenty of ski schools in the area offering ski lessons for children, many of them are British-run and are English-speaking. Most are based in Tignes le Lac, although all the of villages have a ski school you can use. Check at what age the ski school will start to take children, as the age varies from two and a half to seven years old. For three and four year olds the focus is on having fun in the snow, and games are used as part of the teaching process. They learn to ski in their own specially designed snow gardens where they can play in a fun and safe environment. Their ski pass is free of charge. For children aged five and above, you can enrol them in courses according to their level, from beginners to good skiers who are nearing competition level.
Ski schools offer mainly weekly courses, so if you are here for only a few days then you will need to enquire on arrival to see if there is any space for your kids on the days you are in resort. The alternative is to hire a private instructor for your dates.
Ski areas for families
Val Claret and Le Lac
The main nursery ski areas for children and beginners are in Val Claret and Le Lac. Here you will find several free ski lifts; it's also where most of the ski schools meet up.
Les Brévières and Tignes 1800
There is also a nursery area with free lift in the villages of Les Brévières and Tignes 1800 (still being developed). Further beginner areas can be found above Les Brévières, nice tree-lined blue runs that tend to be quieter than the slopes further up the mountain. The Gliss Park is a mini playground filled with boxes, whoops and a boardercross, it's located at the bottom of the Palafour lift.
If you want to explore the runs at the higher altitudes, remember you can take the lifts down if you feel the home runs could cause you problems. Find out more about the Beginners Ski Areas in Tignes.
For more advanced skiers, you have the whole of the Espace Killy ski area to explore. With 300km of pistes and several snowparks there is terrain suitable for everyone. Val d'Isère is connected to Tignes with a modern, interconnected ski lift system, and it is quick and easy to explore the whole area.
There is one snow park in Tignes and a further park in Val d'Isère. The snow park in Tignes has an Easy Park for beginners, with green and blue tables and rails. For more advanced riders, Easy Park 2 has red and black jumps. There is also an air bag, a boarder cross and an excellent half pipe which hosts competitions throughout the season.
The Val Park in Val d'Isère has something for everyone, no matter what your ability. From small whoops for beginners to boxes and rails for more advanced riders. A boarder cross run can be found at the top of the Bellevarde. There's no way your experienced teenagers will get bored here!
Activities for families
During the winter, if the kids are only skiing for half a day, then there are plenty of other activities available in Tignes to keep them happy.
On the snow
Staying on the slopes, the Pala'Fou tobogganing run is a 3km dedicated sledge run that you can access from the Palafour chairlift in Tignes le Lac. Open in the afternoon until early evening, there is a charge which includes a sledge, helmet and head torch for your descent. Minimum height of 1m30 applies. Also new in Tignes Val Claret is a snow-tubing run, open in the afternoons. Slide down a special track on an inner tube! Prices are per hour and it is suitable for children (and adults!) from aged three and over. During the week you can try Snake Gliss (like a big communal sledge) with the ESF ski school.
There are dedicated sledging zones at the bottom of the Tovière cable car in Tignes le Lac, and opposite the car park in Tignes le Lavachet.
The outdoor ice skating rink is right in the centre of town too, and it's free to use. There is a charge for skate hire unless you have a 2-15 day Espace Killy ski pass, in which case you can hire skates for free. It's open from mid-afternoon and holds regular 'disco nights'.
Within the centre of Tignes le Lac, there is the Sports Centre which is home to indoor tennis courts, a climbing wall, trampolines, gym and a sports hall. The Lagon Aqua Centre has an indoor 25m swimming pool, fun pool area with waterfalls, caves and a water slide, and a dedicated children's pool. Next to the Lagon is an outdoor bungee trampoline area, suitable for everyone over two and a half. Other winter activities include the cinema in Val Claret (look out for VOST for films in English), Ten-pin bowling in Tignes le Lac and husky dog sledding. You can find out more about Non-Skiing Activities in Tignes in our guide.
For adults that aren't quite so sure of the skiing, there are a number of spas you can visit for some indulgence, as well as fitness classes, or perhaps some snowshoeing. Pedestrian ski passes are available at a reduced rate so you can join the rest of your group up in the high mountains for lunch and spectacular views. There is a local market on Thursday and Sunday afternoons in Tignes le Lac.
During school holidays, the tourist office organises plenty of events designed for children such as torch-lit descents, fireworks and live music. Over Christmas you can expect street parades, lantern processions, shows, and Santa Claus. Check our Events Calendar for details.
Summer holidays in Tignes are all about being active and there are a wealth of activities on offer here for all ages and members of the family. Our dedicated guide to activities in Tignes includes a section specifically on kid's activities with information on horse riding, short family hikes, high ropes courses, where to go swimming, nature parks, and numerous other fun things that will help make your family holiday as unique and memorable as possible!
It is possible to hire baby equipment in Tignes - items such as high chairs, pushchairs, cots and playpens can be rented in resort. Check with your accommodation provider for high chairs and cots especially. Some of the sports shops offer a kids ski pack rental with skis starting at a length of 67cm and boot size 23EU. Some will also provide you with sledges and snow shoes.
There are a couple of specialist tour operators and chalet companies who cater for families and have in-house nannies to help with the childcare. Children under three are generally too little to try skiing so some help with childcare is essential if you plan on skiing yourself. Independent nanny agencies are also available, and should be booked well in advance of your holiday. Have a look at our childcare listings page for more information or you can contact the local tourist offices for a list of available babysitters.
You may find that the main sports centre of each town host a kids club during the summer holidays, normally from 1st July to 30th August, with activities such as swimming, climbing, tennis, basketball, ice-skating, etc. and organised hikes and picnics.
School holiday dates
France divides its school holidays into a regional timetable to ensure that the entire country doesn't go on holiday at once - however, this staggered system can mean that some months (particularly February) can be busy from beginning to end as one region after another arrives in resort! Chamonix is in Zone A.
- Zone A - Ain (01), Isère (38), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74) Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse
- Zone B - Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg
- Zone C - Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris and Versailles