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Ski Area in Tignes

Discover the best of the Tignes ski area

Updated

The Espace Killy is located in the Tarentaise area of the Savoie department in the Northern Alps, and is the name given to the combined ski domain of Tignes and Val d’Isere. 

Named after France’s Olympic downhill skiing champion, Jean Claude Killy, the ski area offers over 300kms of piste skiing and some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery. The 300km of piste in Tignes and Val d'Isere are accessed by 90 ski lifts and funicular railways to reach the glaciers. There are 20 green pistes, 67 blues, 41 reds and 26 blacks, and 2 snowparks, making it popular with skiers of every level of ability (see the piste maps). 

Due to their location against the peaks of the Italian border, the Tignes and Val d'Isere ski area's record of snowfall is exceptional. Whilst benefiting from the same Atlantic depressions as other French resorts, it often receives heavy falls of snow from the Mediterranean low pressures which dump their snow on the Italian Alps. The snow coverage tends to be one of the best in Europe, and conditions normally facilitate good skiing right to the end of the season (end of May).

Tignes ski area

Tignes is one of the best ski resorts to come to for a long, snow-sure season. The main resort on the edge of Le Lac sits at an altitude of 2100 metres above sea level and the lower villages still boast altitudes of 1550 and 1850 metres. Above all of this is the Grande Motte Glacier which rises to a lofty 3450 metres and is accessible not only during winter but in the summer too - yes you can come summer skiing in Tignes. This resort is always popular and a good place for beginners, families, groups and both piste fans and advanced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy. As and when the snow is falling in real-time, there's still fun to be had.

Val d'Isere ski area

The SeeTignes.com Ski area

Val d'Isere has to be one of the most beautiful French ski resorts, nestled in a valley at the foot of the mountains with its chocolate box chalets and hotels, spread between the central town and its outlying villages. It remains a firm favourite with both British and French holidaymakers many who come here year on year, offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world during the winter. 

Val d'Isère is located in a steep valley and it is these steep slopes that have attracted the hardcore skiers since the resort opened for downhill skiing in the mid-1930's. There is a vast choice of slopes in the high Alps where intermediate skiers and boarders can sample the stunning views and learn from those on the steeper pitches, on the bumps and in the snowpark. With various different beginner areas and the challenging steep & deep runs there is something for every level of skiing ability.

The ski area in Val d'Isere can be broken up into three areas, namely Le Solaise, Bellevarde and Le Fornet, all varying in style and complexity.

Le Solaise
This is the resort's central skiing area and it is very popular meaning at times it can be the busiest. Overall, it is the best area for beginner and intermediate skiers and it can be divided into 3 smaller sections. The “Glaciers’ bowl, “L” and “Mattis” areas offer easy skiing on sunny wide slopes. The Madeleine, Arcelle and Manchet pistes are comprised of beginner and intermediate level slopes and often busy with groups under instruction. The Tete de Solaise/Plan - this is generally the run down to the village but it is recommended for intermediate to good skiers so beginners or tired skiers would be wise to take the Solaise cable car or chairlift down to the village.

The Solaise is easily accessible from the town centre by the Solaise cable car or the Solaise Express high-speed 4-man chair and most of the ski schools meet at the bottom of this area. It is possible to cross over from Le Fornet to the Solaise on the Leissières chairlift.

Bellevarde
This area offers a wide range of skiing because it has slopes facing three different directions in a triangular shape bowl. The East facing slopes face Val d’Isere itself and include Epaule du Charvet and the ex-Olympic Face which are steep pistes reserved for good skiers only. Santons is classified as a blue run for intermediates but be careful on this slope as it runs through a narrow valley and can get extremely busy and full of moguls by the end of the day.

The South/ South West facing slopes (Grand Prè) which are at the top of the Bellevarde area are fairly shallow but increase in steepness as they get lower down. Finally, the West/North West facing slopes offer an excellent view of the Grande Motte, Grande Casse and the Mont Blanc. This area includes many long and gentle slopes which lead down to La Daille (Diebold and Verte) as well as more difficult options for intermediate skiers (Ok, Orange).

Bellevarde is accessible via the Olympique cable car or the high-speed Bellevarde Express 4-man chairlift from the town centre. From La Daille, the Funival, La Daille bubble or the Etroits chairlift will take you there. It is also linked to Tignes by the Tommeuses and Borsat chairlifts.

Le Fornet
The Le Fornet area is a quiet part of Val d'Isere and has some easy long, open and often empty pistes and is guaranteed some good snow since it offers glacier skiing up to 3,456m. The area offers 1,500m of vertical descent along blue runs all the way from the top of the glacier to the bottom of the resort at 1,930m.

Le Fornet also offers some of the most easily accessible and best off-piste in the Espace Killy, with runs like Point Pers and Col Pers offering nearly an hours off-piste skiing for less than a twenty-minute walk. Off the side of the piste under the Cascades Chairlift, there is a gentle wide open powder pitch that due to the altitude and quiet nature of Le Fornet stays fresh longer than most other areas in Val. Connections to this area are via the Fornet cable car from the Le Fornet village, or on the Leissières chairlift from the Solaise area.

Best Pistes in Tignes

Skiers on the piste in Val d'Isere

Tignes
If you fancy some wide and rolling pistes then the place to head to is the Tignes Le Lac/ L'Aiguille Percée side of the mountain in Tignes. With a host of fantastic blue runs that can either be made into a long rolling piste by heading all the way back down to Le Lac or slightly shorter by doing a few loops of a chairlift higher up. Taking the Grand Huit chairlift up and heading down the Percee Neige blue piste you will find this run to be quieter than others in resort and with stunning views over the Tignes Valley it is one to head to. For spectacular views head up the Aiguille Percee and enjoy the famous 'Eye of the Needle' rock formation and take the lovely long Corniche blue piste down to the top of the Chaudannes chairlift.

Val d'Isere
If you want to enjoy some gentle rolling pistes to get the legs warmed up then head up the Bellevarde side of the mountain and take a few laps of the beautiful green Grand Pre piste and the blue Club des Sports pistes off the top of the Grand Pre chairlift. Normally with fantastic snow and only a few skiers (including some beginners) with nice conditions all day long it can be the perfect place to start or end the day. 

For something a little steeper and more challenging on the Bellevarde side of the mountain try the OK/Orange piste which can be accessed from the top of the Olympique bubble or from the top of the Funival from La Daille. If you love moguls then the best piste in Val d'Isere to head to is the Epaule du Charvet. This steep black ungroomed piste has the biggest moguls in the Val d'Isere valley and is definitely a leg burner. 

For quiet pistes and fantastic snow the Le Fornet glacier has a lovely combination of red and blue pistes that remain quiet even in peak season. The Cascade red piste (off the top of the Cascade chairlift) is a particular favourite of ours and always seems to be in top-notch condition. 

Another favourite of ours is the gully Piste L. Accessible from the Solaise Express and just a short ski away from the bottom of the Glacier chairlift this lovely blue piste is a gully all the way down to the Laisinant chairlift and can be great fun with kids. 

Best Pistes in Tignes

Beginner areas in Tignes

Windy and cold on the way up Grattalu (but a great view)!

Tignes
Tignes has 4 different nursery slope areas, one in Val Claret, one in Tignes Les Lac, one in Tignes Le Lavachet and one in Tignes Les Brevieres. Across these Nursery slopes there are various beginner specific lifts ranging from drag lifts to chairlifts and even a children’s beginner ski area with a carpet lift in Tignes Val Claret. All these lifts are easily accessible from the villages.

If you are a complete beginner, then it is likely that you will be joining ski school for most of your stay – it is worth discussing with them which pass option is best suited for you. 

Tignes has also developed a three-step "Ski Start" progression programme located on the gentle snow fronts in Val Claret, Le Lac, Les Boisses and Les Brevieres, These dedicated beginner areas have been designed so that you can learn by yourself or with an instructor (recommended!) on slopes suited to mastering new sensations and building your confidence.

The "Ski Start 1: Discover" and "Ski Start 2: Learn" areas will allow you to get used to the feeling of sliding on snow and discover the beginner areas of the resort. Lifts here are free. Once your confidence grows, you can try the "Ski Start 3: Practice" areas which consist of a series of gentle blue runs where you can work on your technique and style. Ski Start 3 zones require a Tignes local area ski pass (1/2 or 1 day).

In a nutshell, if you are taking to skis for the first time in Tignes, it is unlikely you will need to buy a ski pass for at least the first day or so.

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Beginner Ski Areas in Tignes

Advanced areas in Tignes

Beautiful ‘clean’ snow on the bottom of the Face du Charvet

Tignes
Tignes has a number of extremely challenging and advanced pistes. With a host of "naturide" (un-groomed) black runs, steep pisted blacks and some reds that are verging on blacks you can test skiing and enjoy some of the challenges Tignes has to offer. Tignes boasts the area's longest run, an exhilarating 10km black run called La Sache, that descends from the top of the L’Aiguille Percée and 'the eye of the needle', through a spectacular valley to Tignes Les Brévières.

In the afternoon, ski to Tignes les Brevieres on Sache, probably the most challenging black run in the resort, as it is usually full of moguls! Providing the snow conditions are good, it can be a fantastic run. There is an escape route on Echappatoire and Pavot if it does prove too tricky. Alternatively, try the Silene black naturide piste under the Marais lifts, it is not always open so if it is, it is definitely one to try.  Head back to Le Lac and Val by taking the Sache bubble, Aiguille Rouge, Bleuets run, and Aeroski back to Val d’Isere.

Val d'isere
The Espace Killy has a fabulous range of terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers, with 25 black runs to test yourself on, you are not short of finding a challenge in this ski area.

Val d'Isere has a number of challenging steep & deep pistes that are great for the advanced skier. There is the world-renowned 1992 Winter Olympics downhill run called 'The Face' (pronounced 'fass'), which took Patric Ortlieb a mere two minutes to ski from top to bottom (we don’t recommend you try and match it!). You can challenge yourself with the Epaule du Charvet, the Face or the S.

Advanced Ski Areas in Tignes

Off-piste areas in Tignes

Exiting the Vallee Perdue on Friday

Tignes
Tignes Les Brevieres has some lovely off-piste skiing and can be especially handy when it is a white out as you can pick and choose some lines in between the trees. From the top of the Aigulle Percee chairlift if you head to the right there is some off piste that you can tackle- but be warned the mountains can leave you stranded at the bottom not knowing which way to go so make sure you have a mountain guide with you or plan your route extremely carefully.

There are also plenty of off-piste sections to slide down by the side of the marked runs and pistes, and normally from the lifts you can spot the best off-piste snow next to the runs. 

The Bellevarde side of the mountain has the most off-piste skiing to offer, with 3 particularly well known off-piste slopes. The Banana, this is a very large vertical drop. The snow here heats up early so aim to ski this section in the morning. Go down the start of the Face from the top of the Olympique cable car and at the first bend to the left, continue straight on past an obvious rock on the right-hand side. The first slope is very easy and leads to a level area with rocks at the end. Go left of these rocks down to another level section before taking the slope right down to the bottom of Santons.

Val d'Isere
In La Daille you can enjoy a few off-piste tracks and fresh powder. There is also extensive off-piste around this area which involves no walking or climbing, simply powder practice. In addition, just off the top of the Tommeuses lift, to the side of the Creux, is a pitch of moguls which come and go throughout the winter season. There are also the ‘naturide’ runs (Paquerettes at the top of the Tommeuses), which are left un-groomed for skiers and boarders to negotiate more difficult terrain.

Le Fornet tends to be the quieter side of the Val d'Isere mountains, so the off-piste here can often be left untouched, providing fresh powder and plenty of fun. The Shoulder of the Petit Signal, from the top of the Signal lift, go over the col and traverse immediately to the left. Go along the crestline and ski down to the foot of the rock tower at the top of Petit Signal. Traverse to the right of this block, and then ski down a few metres, across a cornice to a wide hilltop. From here, head to the top of the Fornet cable car which you can see easily.

Off-piste Ski Areas in Tignes

Snowparks in Tignes

Val d'Isere snowpark

Tignes
In Tignes, the snowpark can be found at the top of the Grattalu chairlift. The park here is on a long flowing run with a good high-speed chair at the bottom or you can also use the Col du Palet drag lift. The features here are better suited to beginners and intermediates as the kickers are not that big. If you are new to the slopes you may find it easier to use the Grattalu chairlift to access the park as the drag tow that runs up its side is long and maybe a little tricky if you are still finding your balance.

Probably the best freestyle feature that Tignes has to offer is its halfpipe. This sits at the base of the Les Lanches chairlift at the top end of Tignes Val Claret. The pipe itself is impressive, not many resorts in France have one.

Val d'Isere
Snowboarders and freestyle skiers have access to the Val Park in the Bellevarde area via the Bellevarde or Olympique cable cars or the La Daille funicular. If you are coming over from Tignes you can take the Bolin Express from Val Claret or the Aeroski. The Val Park, as it's known, lies in the centre of the Bellvarde bowl just under the Mont Blanc chairlift and is serviced by the drag tow that runs up the side of the slalom course. 

Snowparks in Tignes

Bad weather areas in Tignes

Bad Weather Skiing in Val d'Isere

Tignes
If you do fancy heading out on the slopes (despite the bad weather) then one of the best areas to head to in poor weather conditions in Tignes is the bottom of the Les Brevieres area, as the trees running down the sides of the lower pistes will provide much better visibility. Alternatively, you can try tackling some of the lower pistes of the Grande Motte where the cloud may be thinner and might provide better visibility. 

When the weather closes in and you are up the mountain the best thing to do is to head slowly down as safely as possible. Usually, when there is a whiteout up top on the slopes the lower you go the more visibility you will get as the clouds will become thinner. Another alternative is to stop at a restaurant to see if the weather clears, but make sure you have an obvious route down as the weather could get worse, not better. If you are in L'Aiguille/Le Palet area then you can stop at the top of the Chaudannes lift at the Lo Soli restaurant. If the weather doesn't pass then head down the lift back to Le Lavachet. If you are up the Grand Motte area head to the Panoramic restaurant at the top of the funival to wait the weather out or take the funival back down to Val Claret. 

Val d'Isere
The best thing to do when the weather closes in once you are up the mountain is to head slowly down as safely as possible. Usually, the lower you are on the mountain, the more visibility there will be as the cloud starts to get thinner. Another alternative is to stop in a restaurant, but make sure you have an obvious route down as the weather could get worse, not better. If in the Le Fornet area, Le Signal is just at the top of the Le Fornet cable car so is a good stopping point to see if the weather will pass. In a similar way, Tete de Solaise sits at the top of the Solaise Express chair and the Solaise cable car for an easy descent and you can get straight down from Folie Douce on the La Daille bubble.

If you fancy heading out on the slopes (despite the bad weather) then one of the best areas in Val d'Isere during poor weather conditions is the top of the La Daille area, as the trees running down the pistes will provide much better visibility. Alternatively, head to the lower slopes of the Solaise like 'Piste M' which are also treelined but can often be busy. Another great area to head to is Le Fornet as again, there are plenty of trees lining the pistes from the top of the cable car, giving better visibility and definition.

Bad Weather Ski Areas in Tignes

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