Ever wondered what Tignes is like without the snow? For many it’s hard to even imagine these mountains in any other colour than white or without its bustle of skiers, snowboarders, and après bars.
But once the snow has melted, there’s a whole other side to Tignes that many never see – another world of blooming green grass, of clear blue waters, of sparkling waterfalls, and of an abundance of nature and wildlife.
While also a beautiful and peaceful place to visit during Spring and Autumn, in the mid-summer months Tignes comes alive with holidaymakers wanting to experience the Alps in the summer with all the sporting activities it offers.
Let us take you on a journey through the changing seasons of Tignes…
After the winter season has finished and the temperatures begin to rise, the snow in Tignes begins to thaw and patches of grass and rock begin to emerge on the mountain side. It is at this time that the many marmottes of Tignes begin to pop their heads out from under the ground and end their months of hibernation – and often with some new tiny members to their family who are now seeing the mountains for their first time.
After the busyness of the winter months, late spring feels a far quieter and more peaceful time, with the winter holidaymakers and the seasonnaires now having left this region of France. The only people left are now the residents who live all year around, and the groups of holidaymakers who come to experience the mountains during this quieter time of the year. You begin to see mountain bikers, road bikers, and hikers enjoying the mountains again, and as the snow continues to thaw the local French families head out on the slopes and into the forests to forage for mushrooms and snails.
As we head into July and August the temperatures reach their peaks and the sun graces our skies until the late evening hours. The grass turns from green to brown as the dryer weather hits the mountain sides, and Tignes becomes the perfect playground for sporting enthusiasts and families looking for a fun-filled active holiday.
The Tignes Le Lac lake fills up with peddleboats and paddleboards, and on the lake raft live music plays in the afternoons and evenings. Next to the lake, people play volleyball,tennis, football, petanque, basketball, and the sound of skateboards can be heard from the skatepark. The highest golf course in Europe can be found just beyond the lake, with a mini golf course just along side it. The Tignespace sports centre offers a gym, handball, indoor volleyball and tennis, basketball, hockey, tennis, badminton, squash, and trampolines, while the Le Lagon swimming pool is just across the road. Free tennis, basketball, and football courts can also be found in Tignes les Brevieres, and all the villages of Tignes offer incredible hiking paths for anyone to enjoy. Public BBQ stations are also scattered across the outdoor spaces of Tignes, meaning you can enjoy the outdoors all the way into the evening.
Up in the mountains, mountain bikers ride down an array of easy to advanced biking routes, and road cyclists have a huge number of road options to explore, including the highest paved road in Europe, the Col de l’Iseran. And above the bikes, paragliders fill the skies with a rainbow array of colours.
But while the heat rests in the valleys, snow still remains at the highest peak of Tignes: the Grande Motte Glacier. These snowy slopes welcome skiers and snowboarders at all different times of the year, including during the summer months. This offers the opportunity for skiing or boarding to those who missed out on the winter season or who prefer the lower prices of the summer months, or of course those who seek a hybrid summer and winter holiday.
While the marmottes continue to enjoy the mountains alongside the summer holiday makers, they’re not the only wildlife that can be spotted. Ibex and chamois appear on mountain tops, and you can sometimes spot alpine hares, pine martens, and grass snakes. And, if you’re quiet enough, you may catch a glimpse of the incredible golden eagles and bearded vultures which tare through the skies with their huge and silent wings.
As August turns into September, the days begin to shorten, and the summer glow begins to turn a little cooler, the mountains begin to quieten down once again. And as the mountains delve deeper into Autumn, the colours become a beautiful flush of warm orange and brown.
At this time the mountains are a great holiday destination for those who prefer tranquillity and to be able to enjoy nature without the crowds. It also remains an incredible time for biking and hiking, the forest paths now covered in a blanket of pine needles and the autumn breeze offering a less consuming temperature for sports and activities.
Besides the lakes and rivers, frogs hop along the paths and voles can be spotted in the nooks and crannies of the waterside. Marmottes can still be seen and heard on the mountain tops as they for age for food and nesting materials in preparation for their next winter of hibernation.
Later in Autumn, the rain showers transition into gentle sprinklings of snow, leaving an icing covered topping on the trees and mountain sides. Especially in the early morning, you often wake up to a breath-takingly pretty view of the mountainside with a gradient from green to orange to white as your gaze follows this gradual transition from the bottom to the top of the mountains.
Ibex and chamois can still be spotted, as can the eagles at the higher points of the mountains. The farmers bring the cows back down the mountains, their cowbells chiming as they go, and the villages begin preparing themselves for the colder winter months.
Around November time, the first proper snow fall hits the mountains, the ground welcomes back its winter layer, and the region transitions back into a lively and bustling ski resort.