What’s so good about Tignes, the seasonaire’s view
After finishing my studies I spent several months working in Tignes during the ski season, it really opened my eyes into the life of a ski resort and what goes on behind the scenes, as you get to know the place intimately.
First and foremost, the Tignes ski area
Sharing 300km of slopes with its neighbour Val d’Isère, this is one of the finest in the Alps. The vast range of pistes for all levels of skier are snow-sure and well-maintained. I can safely say that throughout my whole season I never got bored of the skiing on offer there, such is the extent and variety of it. In my opinion, this is hugely important for prospective property owners. And Tignes is rarely short of snow, even when other resorts are. The lift system is continually upgraded, queues are seldom a concern except the Grande Motte funicular in peak periods. All levels of skier will find what they are looking for in Tignes, from experts to the youngest beginners at Club Piou Piou.
My favourite run in the area is the Génépy, because of its amazing length and width, allowing for long and fast flowing turns from the top of Grande Motte all the way back down into Val Claret. If your legs are up to it, continue all the way down to Les Brévières, via the Aiguille Percée for a team photo – it’s a vertical drop of nearly 2,000m! The Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area is famous for the extent of lift-accessible off-piste skiing and I can testify to that, hopping off the Tufs lift with a long and challenging run down Trolles, followed by après-ski refreshments in Le Lac, is an experience I will never forget. Other renowned off-piste runs include the Tour de Pramecou from the top of Grande Motte, and Vallons de la Sache, a famous descent down the back side from Aiguille Percée to Les Brévières.
A well-fed skier is a happy skier
Refuelling on the mountain is essential, whether it’s a quick coffee and a snack or a long leisurely lunch in the sun. Two places are memorable for me: Le Panoramic at the top of the Grande Motte funicular has a superb terrace and views as far as the eye can see, but it can be chilly up there; the self-serve restaurant has a high-quality selection and the restaurant itself is classy, although a little expensive for a seasonaire. Igloo, the enormous resident St. Bernard is always there. My other favourite is the Lo Soli at the top of the Chaudannes, or the adjoining Alpage which has good value self-service. I recommend you book a table, or go for an early/late lunch….the sunny terrace with its panoramic views is very popular.
Après-ski in Tignes
The lifts are closing, it must be après-time. This may even start on the slopes, Val d’Isère is of course the spiritual home of Folie Douce, but keep an eye on the time as it’s a long journey home if you miss the closing of the Tommeuses chairlift to bring you back to the Tignes side of the Tovière ridge. Cocorico and Loop Bar at the bottom of the slopes, both are popular with good music and a fun atmosphere. The party can continue all night with the numerous night clubs and bars around the resort such as the Saloon Bar, Melting Pot, Blue Girl, and Grizzlys Couloir also in Val Claret; in Tignes Le Lac there is Loop and Marmot Arms; Le Moose is another, tucked away in Les Brévières.
What if it’s a bad day for skiing?
Is there such a thing? For most of us, from time to time yes there is, and Tignes caters especially well for families off the slopes. Tignespace is the impressive sports complex with team sports, tennis and squash courts, a 34m high climbing wall and beginners’ area, a 900m² athletics zone and even a golf simulator. Nearby is the Le Lagon aqua and well-being centre with its 25m swimming pool, spa facilities, yoga and gym areas. Meanwhile, you can leave the kids to enjoy the amazing staff at Club Piou Piou.
First time to Tignes?
First time visitors to Tignes might find the layout a little confusing, the place is made up of 5 different villages. What I found impressive is how easy it is to get around, the 24hr free bus service takes you up and down the mountain and between the villages. This accessibility extends equally to the slopes, most of the lifts are fast chairlifts or gondolas, and the Val d’Isère sections from Val Claret or Le Lac are only one ski lift away, and back. It may take longer to get there from most airports, but it’s worth it and once here it’s easy and well organised, nearly everywhere is close to the pistes or a short walk. There are plenty of supermarkets, all well stocked. And as you’d expect, no shortage of good restaurants, for all budgets, this is France after all!
I would not hesitate to buy a property in Tignes
Most properties and places to stay are next to the pistes or a short walk which makes a big difference compared to other resorts, whether you are on holiday renting in Tignes, or looking to buy a property in Tignes. Tignes’ popularity means property owners benefit from reliable rental income when they can’t be there. It is also good to see that many of the apartment blocks are being refurbished with more emphasis on the aesthetics. And you certainly see more chalets and smarter chalet style buildings there now than ever before. I would not hesitate to buy a property there. And if you own a property in Tignes, request a valuation, you might be pleasantly surprised.
One more thing to add, if you come to Tignes in the summer you will find superb mountain biking. The Val d’Isère and Tignes network with 40 tracks stretches all the way to Les Brevières, and as high as Borsat at 2800m.
Tignes is a vibrant resort, it attracts a young and international crowd, the skiing is world class. I enjoyed every moment of my season there. I’m sure you will too!
By George Barrow: Alpine Property intelligence