Robert Thorne

07 Jan 24

Top Times in Tignes

Robert Thorne

07 Jan 24

The current season is shaping up to be one of Tignes’ best in recent years.

I arrived on December 19th to the news that French freeskier Candide Thovex had jumped Tignes’ iconic Aiguille Percée. The atmosphere was electric: pisteurs, waiters, press officers, and ski guides were all keen to show me the video which has now amassed over 580,000 likes on Instagram. Thovex’s death-defying feat is a good omen for the resort after several poor seasons across the Alps. “Réchauffement climatique” is on the tongue of everyone in French snowsports.

Fortunately, snow conditions at Tignes were excellent as we hit the slopes the next day: four metres deep at the Grande Motte Glacier, and 3.15m at base camp. Unlike previous winters, no rainfall has been recorded at the summit. There was a large dump of powder the weekend before we arrived, and another one forecast for the following Saturday.

Below you’ll find all the information you’ll need for an unforgettable Alpine holiday. Thanks to its great snow conditions, its hotel and dining experiences, and a plethora of activities for all ages and abilities, Tignes remains a solid choice for families and snowsports enthusiasts, and a world-class ski resort.

Coming Up This Winter

Tignes has long had a reputation for being a “sporty” resort. This is largely thanks to its altitude (the second highest in Europe), which ensures decent snow coverage and an excellent training ground for athletes in the summer (including France’s Olympic handball team). Thanks to its partnership with neighbouring Val d’Isère, the Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area is one of the largest in the Alps, offering a wide range of skiing experiences, from beginner to backcountry.

Top Times in Tignes

While keeping this reputation alive with the upcoming FIS Slopestyle and Big Air World Cups in March 2024, the resort has moved towards a family-friendly approach in recent years. Between Christmas and New Year’s, thousands of French families will arrive by train at Bourg St. Maurice. The resort is similarly popular for students at English universities; we arrived at the same time as a combined trip from the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, one week after a similar trip from Oxbridge.

A Tignes spokesperson described the new resort philosophy as “convivial”, emphasising community and sustainability. Indeed, Tignes is one of the most welcoming resorts in the Alps, offering free lift passes for under-eights, a special discount for under-eighteens, and a free beginners’ chairlift for adults. For even greater affordability, Tignes-Val D’Isère operates a “seven days for the price of six” lift pass, with an adult daily rate of €66. Against a middle-aged market, the resort is trying to attract more young people to the slopes, as they are the “future of snowsports”.

Top Times in Tignes

On-piste, you’ll get fantastic views of Mont Blanc and the entire Tarentaise Valley. The run down from Grande Motte is sublime, and with the Tignes-Val d’Isère combined pass, more adventurous skiers can try their hand at La Face, Val d’Isère’s iconic downhill racecourse. For those wanting to save on lunch, a newly built picnic terrace at the top of Aiguille Rouge provides stunning scenery. The resort’s many blues and reds are varied, well-groomed, and easily navigable, and have plenty of off-piste potential. Since the COVID pandemic, ski touring has become increasingly popular in Tignes.

Regarding Tignes’ base villages, Val Claret and Le Lac remain the resort’s central hubs. However, Les Boisses (Tignes 1800) has recently opened several five-star residences and chalets, offering a quieter stay away from the main dining and apres-ski district. Les Brévières (Tignes 1550), the resort’s oldest section, is quieter and constructed in the classic chalet style. For authentic Savoyard cuisine (fondue, raclette, tartiflette etc.), it offers the perfect slopeside dining experience. Each village is well-connected by a free and regular shuttle service.

Top Times in Tignes

A unique stay at Résidence Ynycio

Complementing our trip was a spacious apartment at four-star Résidence Ynycio (pictured above and below) which opened in December 2022 to celebrate parent chain Montagnettes’ thirtieth anniversary. The latest addition to Tignes Val Claret, Ynycio offers luxury accommodation for large groups wanting direct slopeside access.

Inspired by Salta, Argentina, Ynycio’s interior design sets it apart from the Swiss chalet and French modernist styles dominating the Alps. Cowhide patterns, tribal art, and mesa colour palettes create a refreshing gaucho aesthetic, providing an Alpine experience like no other.

Ynycio contains a total of thirty-three open-plan apartments, accommodating two to eight guests in each. Six apartments have built-in saunas, while five offer VIP services. Built with families in mind, the Résidence’s emphasis is on personal space, so that even two-person suites need not be pokey.

Top Times in Tignes

Guests are welcome to Ynycio’s spa facilities, comprising a swimming pool (above), sauna, hammam, salt room, and terrace jacuzzi. A la carte amenities include fresh pastries delivered to your door, spa treatments at the massage parlour, and daily housekeeping. Ynycio is also partnered with ski rental shop Sport Glisse-Sport 2000, a five-minute walk from the hotel, providing guests with a 25–35% discount when booking their snowsports package with their accommodation.

For the first time, this season, Ynycio’s restaurant and bar Barzuto will be opening for lunch. Headed by award-winning French TV chef Juan Arbeláez, Barzuto is a bold reimagining of traditional Columbian cuisine. Exquisite fish dishes meet zesty herbal sauces, fresh empanadas, sautéed langoustine, and of course, a healthy round of tequila. The attached mood-lit cocktail bar is open for guests from lunchtime to 2 am: perfect for apres-ski on the terrace or a cosy cocktail nightcap.

For more info, Ynycio’s customer directory can be found here. Apartments at the Résidence are available for a minimum one-week stay, starting at €1200.

Top Times in Tignes

Making first tracks at Grande Motte

Tignes’ first tracks programme is a must for those wanting to ski the freshest runs of the day and to go behind the scenes of the ski resort. Long before the resort opens for skiers at 9:30, expect a member of Tignes’ ski patrol to meet you at the Funiculaire Perce Neige in Val Claret to guide you down the freshly groomed Glacier run. For only €16 per person, adventurers receive breakfast 3,600m above the world, and an insight into the work of pisteurs. Grande Motte is the ultimate mountain terrain, where the earth meets the sky: making first tracks, the snow is exceptional.

On our trip, we met with pisteur and lifelong freerider Julien Lange: famed in the resort for straight lining several couloirs. Lange explained the extensive training ski patrol members must undergo and the resort’s advanced avalanche protocol. We met the team at HQ, many of whom were Australian (Tignes currently runs a seasonal exchange programme with resorts in the Australian Alps). While the varied weather conditions of climate change have created many challenges for avalanche prevention, Lange and his colleagues are hard at work using the latest practices and technology.

Lange stressed the behaviour of off-piste skiers at Tignes as the most important factor behind avalanche prevention. Although Tignes has a very accessible off-piste, Lange advised any newcomers to the resort to consult a guide and observe sensible safety precautions—no stranger to the backcountry himself.

Fondue, apéro, and après-ski

No ski resort is complete without its wine & dining experiences. Fortunately, Tignes has a huge variety of venues, ranging from the Columbian fusion food of Barzuto to pizzerias, French haute cuisine, and classic Savoyard fare.

Our group was lucky to sample several of Tignes’ best offerings. In picturesque Les Brévières, we stopped off at L’Armailly: a beautiful Alpine eatery in the classic drystone and wooden style. With long trestle tables and outdoor seating, the restaurant is perfect for large groups looking for a cauldron of cheese fondue, accompanied by delicious Savoyard white wine.

For an evening meal at Ô 1800 in Les Boisses, the French classics of escargot, cordon bleu, and foie gras appeared with exquisite presentation. Traditional Savoyard cuisine was also available: we found ourselves eyeing up the raclette grill on the neighbouring table as we enjoyed the wide selection of wines.

At Le Coeur des Neiges, a short walk from the slopes in Le Lac, the chef tempted us with home-baked tartiflette and wild mushroom gnocchi, washed down with some hearty pints of bière blanche. Large, outdoor tables around stylish fire pits provide for groups wanting to soak up some winter sun.

Finally, for après-ski and beyond, a trip to Tignes would be incomplete without a visit to Cocorico at Val Claret. After a full day’s skiing, we arrived at an all-singing, all-dancing outdoor bar, just as the sun was setting and a local rock band was finishing their set. Cocorico is immensely popular with partygoers of all ages, though it was mostly students dancing on the tables as a DJ took over for the night. As the après-ski ended around 20:30, we headed to Strike! in Le Lac to sample their new apéro menu and check out the chic bowling alley turned music venue.

Off-Piste fun

Recognising changing climactic conditions and customer demands, Alpine resorts have widened the scope of off-piste recreation. As well as the classic pursuits of sledging and dog-sledging, we had the chance to try at Tignes two more unusual activities: night-time snowshoeing and ice-floating.

From a small office in Tignes Les Boisses, an experienced guide took us on a snowshoeing adventure through tall larch forests and up the snowy hillside. Clear conditions meant the sky was awash with stars: every constellation was perfectly visible over the moonlit snow. While walking, the guide gave us a brief history of the resort, including the building of the Chevril Dam in 1948: both a literal and historic watershed for the area, providing water and electricity for the entire Savoy region. For a truly magical experience, you can find a list of Tignes’ snowshoe guides here.

Top Times in Tignes

Ice-floating was an alien sensation, but perhaps one of the most relaxing activities Tignes offers. Starting four years ago, Evolution 2 has allowed tourists to brave the frozen waters of Lac de Tignes without risking their safety. In large, bright-orange dry suits, we took the plunge into a 5m x 5m ice hole. For the next half an hour, we floated on our backs watching the night-time clouds, perfectly warm and dry. Our guide provided herbal tea in metal flasks and left us to drift into a calming sensory deprivation. Evolution 2 also offers scuba-diving below the frozen lake during the daytime: for more information on both activities, click here.


For the latest snow forecast and updates on where is best to ski now, as well as ski news, gear reviews and resort spotlights, you can check out our regular podcast here Apple | Spotify | Podcasts or search The White Out on your chosen podcast directory.