Ski guides to Tignes and Val d’Isère
The Tignes and Val d’Isere resort boasts one of the finest ski and snowboard areas in France and the world. Boasting more than 300 Km of marked ski trails, and nearly 100 efficient modern ski lifts, including two funicular railways, three snow parks and endless, lift-accessible off-piste skiing, the area has something for everyone.
The vertical range is from 1560 metres in Les Brévières to 3500 metres at the top of the Grande Motte cable car which remains open for most of the year to service the summer skiing and snowboarding area. Les Brévières in Tignes is served by a six-man high-speed bubble ski lift which whisks you up to 2100 metres and then on to the liaisons with Tignes and Val d’Isère.
Check out our guides below to help you get the best out of your time skiing in the resort.
A Guide to The Espace Killy: Beginner Rider Edition
Tignes Les Brevieres is a perfect gateway to the greater Espace Killy. However, the slopes and getting around can feel quite daunting for complete beginners.
We’ve handcrafted this guide for all the novice skiers among you, so you know how best to tackle the region as a newbie and where to find the best beginner ski routes.
First, we would always recommend booking into a ski school for any first time skiers. If you can afford it, private lessons are great for some personal tuition and rapid improvement. But if that’s a little more than what you’ve budgeted for, a group course will also give you a good understanding of not only the basic principles of skiing but also of mountain safety and awareness. We suggest taking an initial three sessions to give you the basic skills before heading off into the mountains.
So whether you’ve done some basic training, or you skied years ago but feel you want to go back to basics, there are some great routes in the Espace Killy which are well suited for beginners. Below is a suggested plan for the first few days of your holiday with Chalet Chardons.
Located next to the gondola station in Les Brevieres you will find a drag lift. You can hop off this onto the nursery slope and we would suggest trying a couple of runs at least from here to build up your confidence before venturing any further out of the village.
Next to the drag lift is the recently built gondola complex. This lift takes you to the next village of Tignes Les Boisses/1800 and is free of charge for beginners wanting to access the “Magic Carpet” lifts and green slopes located in Les Boisses. From here you can also get onto a long, flat sweeping blue run locally nicknamed “The Summer Road”. This is perfect for practicing control of speed and gentle turns without fear of losing control or being faced with too much traffic.
This piste does get narrower and a little steeper than the nursery slope at a couple of points but there is netting along the edge so it’s still pretty safe. These two slopes should provide more than enough terrain to try out on your first day in the resort, especially if you chose not to do a training course.
For getting food or drink while skiing around this area, there is a lovely little spot for lunch at the bottom of the hill called La Bouida. Alternatively you can venture into Tignes les Brevieres village further and try out the beautiful terrace at La Sachette or for a more relaxed option go to Le Reservoir bar. Or for those on a budget, why not just lounge in the sun with your Chalet Chardons prepared packed lunch – both yummy and hassle free!
Hopefully you had a successful day one and are feeling a bit more confident and you’re keen to head back on to the slopes for round two!
If this is the case then maybe it’s time to broaden your horizons and venture to Tignes Le Lac. Depending on your confidence and how day one went, you could get the Brevieres gondola lift to Les Boisses and then take the magic carpets into the main village. If you walk through the square you will come to a roundabout and bus stop with a regular service up to Tignes Le Lac. The bus is free and goes every quarter past and quarter to the hour.
Once in Tignes Le Lac you have a couple of skiing options. The best option at first is to walk over the bridge (to your right if you are facing the Maison de Tignes) and follow this path. Do this with your skis on so that the gentle downward hill takes you to the drag lift on the Lavachet Nursery slope.
Use this area at first to get your legs warmed up for the day – it’s important you always warm up in the morning before tackling any harder slopes! This piste is wider than the nursery slope in Les Brevieres and will allow you to practice the full radius of the turn and to practice a few turns in succession.
Once your legs are warmed up and you’re feeling good, from the top of the drag lift go straight ahead and go down the short path to the bottom of the slope under the Rosset Chairlift. Hop on the chairlift and head on up to the top of this piste.
This piste offers a steeper fall line and is good for getting used to controlling your speed and using long radius turns. Be aware that this piste will get a lot of traffic so you’ll need all your mountain senses to avoid accidents on here – but it’s great practice for understanding how to ski amongst others.
For when you’re ready to stop for lunch, there are several options around Le Lac. You can have a burger, chips and a drink at the Loop Bar or The Marmot Arms or there are two amazing local French patisseries which we would firmly recommend giving a try, including The Chevallot which is located next to Loop bar on the main strip in Le Lac. For the cheaper option you can always pop to the Sherpa or Carrefour to buy some food, or alternatively opt for the packed lunch service from your chalet.
Hopefully by now you’ve mastered the basics and you’re ready to hit the big time slopes. There are several great areas for learners so we would recommend getting the full Espace Killy lift pass to give you access to the whole mountain.
A great starting point for your third day would be to repeat your trip up the Brevieres gondola, however this time continue on the linked gondola from Les Boisses to the Marais area. From here if you take the Aguille Rouge chairlift and head left off this at the top, you will then find a blue run into Le Lac. Be aware the first section of this from the chairlift to the Lo Soli restaurant is quite steep, however after this it flattens out quickly. Make sure you bear right when it forks in 2 directions as otherwise you will find yourself skiing back down to Les Boisses and then Les Brevieres.
For a good first run in the Le Lac area, get the Palafour chairlift up and from the top take either a left or a right. The right is a little flatter and easier so might be the better option if you’re after something a bit steadier still.
Follow this run – named “Kadjar” – all the way back to the bottom of the Palafour chairlift. There’s also a lovely and reasonably priced restaurant half-way down this slope if you’re feeling a bit peckish or in need of a drink (the hot chocolate is especially delicious).
If you manage this run and you’re feeling confident then head on up the Toviere Bubble. From the top of here you can take the blue piste – called “Henri” – down into Val Claret. You can then either get the bus back to Tignes Le Lac or you could head over to Val d’Isere and La Daille. For the latter option, take the Bollin Chairlift and then the adjoining Fresse Charlift up to the top of the mountain. From here, you can take the green run “Fresse” and then the green run “Vert” all the way into La Daille. Once in La Daille, take the funicular up and you will find the “Ski Tranquille” area with a whole number of green runs perfect for working on your riding skills.
When you’re ready to head back for the day, you need to make your way down the top section of the “Vert” piste, testing your skills on the petit boarder cross, to the Tommeuses chair lift. From here you can return to the top of the Toviere bubble. From here we would suggest getting the bubble back down into Tignes as otherwise you only have the option of a red or a black run for the way down.
We hope this gives you a handy insight into the options available for all you beginners eager to learn the ropes on the slopes of the Espace Killy.
A Guide to The Espace Killy: Intermediate Rider Edition
So you’ve got a few weeks skiing under your belt from previous years or are a regular at one of the Friday night dome sessions in the UK and you’re looking to open up the mountain and make it your playground for the next week.
We at Chalet Chardons have compiled an easy guide to skiing the Espace Killy for intermediate riders for you to make the most of your holiday in the Alps. Below is a suggested three day plan, based on our experience in the Espace Killy, for you to feel both safe and challenged as an intermediate rider in the region. It’s not an exhaustive list but might be a good place to start especially if you’ve never been to the resort before.
First, we recommend taking the Brevieres gondola lift out of Les Brevieres to do a couple of runs of the blue run “Meleze” which blends into “Myrtilles” for a nice long warm up. This run does have some steeper points and some trickier parts on the narrow bends so it’s a great loosener to get all the joints working in unison again.
Once you’ve done a couple of runs on here you can take the Brevieres gondola up to the top again and from here head to the Aguille Rouge chairlift.
From the top of the Aguille Rouge you have two options to get into Tignes Le Lac. You can either take the red run “bluets” which is nice early in the morning but can get a little chopped up as the day continues. There are a couple of steep pitches in here but the run is fairly wide all the way which balances out the steepness.
Alternatively, if you’re not quite feeling confident enough for a red, you can turn off on to the lovely “Petit Col” blue run which is great for cruising down and will take you all the way into Tignes Le Lac to the bottom of Palafour. However, bear in mind that this run is not so good for snowboarders because there is a long flat at the end.
Depending on how many laps you did in the morning, this should bring you to about lunch time and you’re in the perfect spot to stop for a bite to eat. You have several spots to choose from around Le Lac. One recommendation would be the Patisserie du Palafour. A hidden gem, the Pattiserie is almost solely frequented by ski instructors and seasonnaires. To the left of the ESF office is a door which seems as if to nowhere. Walk through this door and on the left you will find the patisserie, where cakes, coffee and sandwiches (hot and cold) provide a perfect little snippet of French lunch.
Alternatively, the large white building you can see from the piste is the Escale Blanche where you can get traditional French cuisine or freshly made pizzas with wine and beers, all for a reasonable price (by mountain standards). Or you can go to L’Arbina which has a lovely big sun terrace and again serves traditional Savoyard cuisine. If you see the big Bernese Mountain dog outside you’ve got the right place.
Or you can opt for more of a pub lunch. You’ve got two really nice pubs for lunchtime meals: try either The Moose or The Marmot Arms, both located just up and left from the Palafour lift. These pubs are both English run and are nice spots for something a bit more substantial to eat, and good for a lunchtime beer!
So you’ve finished lunch and are ready to get back on the slopes. My recommendation would be to take the Toviere bubble up to the top of Tignes Le Lac (take a look at the stunning view from the top here). From here you have several options to get into Val Claret. You can take the blue piste “Henri”, which is one of the classic blues of the Espace Killy, or the top half of the Red “Crocus” which then joins “Henri” further down. Follow this all the way into Val Claret.
From Val Claret take the Tichot lift and then the Grattalu lift. Here you can take either a blue or red run under the Merles chairlift and down to the Grand Huit lift. Pay attention to the area to the left of the lift – this is a classic off-piste area: The Chardonnet Bowl.
From the top of the Grand Huit you have two options: the blue “Pierce Neige” or the red “Ancolie” down to the Aguille Percee lift. This will take you to the highest point on this side of the hill – ‘the Eye of the Needle’ – and the entrance to the Sache Valley. From here you have one full run all the way back to Tignes Les Brevieres. The blue “Cornice” blends into “Rhodedendrons” and then into “Melezes” and you’re back home in Les Brevieres in good time for a bit of apres at Le Reservoir!
After some good exploring of the Tignes side of the mountain yesterday, try heading over to the other side of the mountain for your second day. So put on your tightest trousers, grab your fur hood, and prepare the Moet: we’re heading to Val d’Isere.
To get there, jump in the Brevieres bubble and then from the top head to the Aguille Rouge chairlift, and then from the top of this lift head down into Tignes le Lac, either taking the red or the blue run.
Once in Le Lac, hop on the Toviere bubble and head on up. From the top of the Toviere, take the “Fresse” green run down to the Marmottes chairlift. The restaurant just up from here is another lovely place to stop. It’s called Marmottes and has cheap hot chocolate and self-service beer.
At the top of the Marmottes chairlift you have two options and both are absolute classics. “OK Orange” (the K coming from Mr Killy himself) is a steep, rolling red run. Here you will often find race gates set up on one side for the young French elite teams training but stick to the other side of the piste and you’re in for one of the best and most committing red runs in all of Europe. This run can take you all the way into La Daille but the top section is where the thrill really lies.
The other option is a classic blue – “Diabold” – which follows a similar line to the “OK Orange” but on slightly more forgiving terrain. Whichever option you go for, follow it all the way down to the bottom and into La Daille.
From La Daille you can either get the bus to Val D’isere for the quick option or you can go back up the Funicular from La Daille and ski the famous red “Santons” run. If you get to the top and the Santons is closed, I would recommend heading down into Val town centre using the Olympique bubble.
Once in Val d’Isere have a look round, take it all in, and if you’re feeling a bit peckish there’s a lovely little panini shop on the face of the nursery slope which is very reasonably priced and also a fun place to sit and watch all the skiers as they come down the mountain!
We probably need to start heading back towards Tignes now, so hop back in the Olympique and up to the top. From here follow “Diabold” or “OK Orange” back down – passing the famous La Folie Douce apres bar and head for the Tommeuses chairlift.
Once at the top, if you’re feeling really adventurous and feel like you’ve been skiing well, you can ski down the black “Trolles” run to Lavachet to get the Chaudannes lift. However, this run is quite a steep and narrow and a real bottle neck, so for young families we would recommend getting the Toviere bubble down instead, then following the path round to the right of the Maison de Tignes down to the Chaudannes chairlift. Once at the top of the Chaudannes, follow the blue or the red run all the way back to Les Brevieres and that’s another great day on the hill completed.
For the third day of the guide we’re going to head to the highest point of the resort first, so use the quickest way you’re comfortable with to get into Tignes Le Lac. Our suggested route would be the Brevieres bubble, followed by the Aguille Rouge chairlift and then take the red run into Le Lac.
Once in Le Lac, head up the Palafour chairlift. You then have two options from the top of Palafour. We would recommend going right and then when it straightens out at the bottom, cross straight over both junctions and head for the Merles chairlift. From the top of the Merles you can make your way on to the “Grattalu” run. Here you will find the beginners snowpark if you wish to have a little go at getting airborne. Or if not, you can just take the nice long piste which runs into “Carline” all the way into Val Claret.
Once in Val Claret, take the Grande Motte Glacier Funicular up the hill. Then jump on the cable car to the very top of the Grand Motte which is the highest point in the resort.
From the top of the Grand Motte you have a red and black option. We would recommend the red “Glacier” – a long, sweeping red which carries you all the way into “Double M”. This is one of the quickest red runs in the resort but it’s relatively open for the most part and is great fun – another Tignes classic.
Once back in Val Claret, take the Bollin then the Fresse chairlift and head towards Val d’Isere again for a few more runs. Ski down from the top of the Fresse lift to the Borsat chairlift, which will take you to the top of a lovely cruisey green “Genepy” which you can use to get to the Grand Pre chairlift. Take this chair up and then it’s time for you to find out who’s who with a quick boardercross!
This course has some great little rollers and some big banked turns: a test of skill and confidence to find out who’s top of the game. From the bottom of the course you can follow “Santons” down into Val d’Isere and to the Solaise bubble.
The little café at the top of the Solaise is a perfect spot for a lunch stop. Here there is cheap coffee and cakes with a free table football and cinema area – the perfect place to stop and refuel before tackling “Piste M” back into Val town centre.
From here feel free to make your way back home using any number of the different routes we’ve explored over the last couple of days.
This is how we think you should spend your first 3 days in resort if you are an intermediate skier or boarder.
A Guide to The Espace Killy: Advanced Rider Edition
It’s far from your first day on the mountain and you’d consider yourself a very competent rider who is more than able to take on most conditions the mountain has to offer. Maybe you’ve done a season before or you’ve been a steady 2/3 week a year skier for a long time. Either way, this guide will give you a rough idea of our favourite pistes to visit in the Espace Killy.
This region does also have access to some of the best off pistes routes in the world, but we’ll leave that up to you to get a local guide who can really advise you on this. And of course we would strictly advise to have all the appropriate advice and equipment for any off-piste riding you plan to do.
However, we have some great advice for advanced skiing on the pistes in the Espace Killy, so below is a suggested three-day plan for you to make the most of your first few days on your holiday with Chalet Chardons.
Starting off in Les Brevieres, take the Brevieres bubble car to get up and out of Les Brévières, given that you’re more than comfortable skiing blues and reds. From the top of the two gondolas, take the Aguille Rouge charlift up and then the red run down into Le Lac. Once in Le Lac, take the Palafour chairlift up and head on over to the Merles chairlift.
From the top of Merles, again keep right and head for the Grattalu lift, and from here take the run under the lift. Break left and head for the top of the “Stade De Lognon” (provided there isn’t racing on). This is the primary competition piste on this side of the resort and perfect for working on technique, with long sweeping bends and rollers in the top section, which turns into a steep slalom test piste at the bottom. Attack this how you will, but be careful – make a mistake and this piste will punish you!
You should find yourself in Val Claret with a short pole across the flat from the bottom of the race piste to the Tichot lift. Take this lift and head across to the Col Des Ves chairlift. You’ll need a good weather day or this lift will likely be closed. If it is closed, take the Grattalu lift and run all the way back into Val Claret. If the weather gods are shining and the Col des Ves is running you have your first black challenge of the day.
From the top of the lift, tuck in and straight line it to make it across the flat and back up the hill. You will see a fairly identifiable but un-pisted black, named after Les Brevieres very own hero and chalet owner “Guerlain Chicheret”. Be wary of hidden rocks, but on a good day this can be a great test for the advanced skier or boarder. From the bottom of here join back onto “Carline” and head into Val Claret.
Now take the Lanches lift towards the Grande Motte, with the village of Val Claret behind you. From the top of Lanches quickly head down to the Vanoise lift and make your way up again. Once at the top, you have access to one of the longest sweeping runs in the resort and a personal favourite of many of the Chardons team.
Now take the “Dahu” red which runs straight into “Double M”. Avoid the moguls, use the edges, and burn it all the way down to Val Claret.
This should’ve been a good morning warm up and should also have provided a good chance to stop and have a quick coffee or snack. The Sherpa in Val Claret is a good cheap option for coffee and cakes or you could take advantage of Chardons packed lunch service so you can eat as you sit on the mountain side admiring the view.
I would recommend using the rest of the day to fully explore this area and get your bearings / legs sorted. When looking to return back to Les Brevieres, I would suggest taking the “Tichot”, “Grattalu”, “Grand Huit”, then “Aguille Percee” chairlifts route home, leaving you with the “Sache” iconic black run all the way from the top back into Les Brevieres.
It’s the second day in resort and your legs are fully warmed up and you’re acclimatised to the conditions. Today is the day to get out and cover some more of the resort. Using whichever way you see fit, make your way to the Funicular for the Grand Motte. Try and get here as early as you can, as the best conditions up here are normally early morning.
Take the Funicular and follow up with the cable car to the very top of the resort – the highest point in the Espace Killy. Here you will likely see some people with ABS bags and harnesses, likely heading off to “The 3500 Couloir”. If you can get a guide and the kit we would highly recommend this route, as long as you’re happy with a couple of hours skin out at the other end. While this is a great route, for this guide we’ll be staying on the piste. Pick whichever route you want, as long as you find yourself back in the village of Val Claret and ready to take the Bollin then Fresse chairlift – we’re heading over to Val d’Isere!
From the top of the Fresse, take the “Col Des Fresse” run down to the Marmottes chair lift. Hop on this lift and head straight up to the top, from where you can scoot across to the top of the “Coup De Monde”. This run has to be one of the best in the Espace Killy: it has rollers, bends, steeps and flats! Use every ounce of race pedigree you’ve got to navigate this high-speed wonder. (CAUTION: People sometimes stop under blind rollers so be cautious – you can clear head height quite comfortably from some of these rollers and which could spell disaster if there’s someone stopped just over the other side). You can take this all the way into La Daille, where you need to hop on another Funicular back to the top.
At the top of the Funicular you will see the sign for the “Face de Bellevarde”. This Iconic run is the pinnacle of Val d’Isere – first you’ll be lured into a false sense of security with a relatively easy flat section at the top into some nice rolling bends which will leave you wondering what the fuss is all about. You’ll soon drop over the lip after the thin path and find yourself in true expert territory. Sometimes icy, sometimes moguly, sometimes both. You’ll need to use a variety of techniques to make your way down this true Espace Killy test piece.
Depending on the conditions under foot, your legs have probably taken quite a beating for today, so make your way back to Les Brevieres using the Tommeuses lift and then take whichever run you’d prefer in order to head back for a well-earned drink and some glorious evening food cooked by your dedicated Chardons team.
You’ve tried some of the most iconic runs in the Espace Killy already and you’re now keen to try a bit more that the resort has to offer. So get yourself over to Le Lac and get the Toviere bubble up. From here, for a nice little warm up, you can go down the black “Trolles” run. No doubt you would’ve experienced this run on your way back yesterday evening when it was cut up and icy – so not so nice – but first thing in the morning it can be an absolute beauty.
Do one or two laps of this and then make your way up the Toviere lift to drop over into the Val d’Isere side of the mountain again. Now make your way down to La Daille on whichever run you wish – if you’re looking for a little tree adventure with some moguls to test your bumps skiing then “Trefoillet” can be a great option providing the snow cover is good.
Take a short bus journey from La Daille to the centre of Val d’Isere and jump on the Solaise Express gondola. From the top of the Solaise, look for the Madeline chairlift, which will take you to the top of a run called “Marmottons”.
Arguably the quickest piste you will find in resort, “Marmottons” is often empty and sits in the shade for a vast majority of the day. It is steep, hard packed, steep and icy. I’d advise a well serviced pair of GS/Super G planks, a helmet and a serious amount of bottle. This is a true test for those who say they like it quick, but don’t blame us if it goes wrong! Providing you make it down in one piece, take the Manchet Express back up, then take Glacier Express lift and you’re on the up and over towards Le Fornet.
Once in the wonderful playground of Le Fornet, you’ve got everything you could want: steeps on the glacier, trees, and bumps. Here we would recommend making your way to the un-pisted black run “Foret”. This wonderful little tree lined adventure is great in the fresh and leads you to the Fornet bubble where you can either lap the area again or get the bus back to Val D’isere to head back over to Les Brevieres.
This guide is by no means a definitive guide to the area, it is just a few cool areas that we at Chardons have come to love over the years spent in this wonderful area. There is of course plenty more to try out and the off piste here is brilliant, but for that you’ll need to get yourself a local guide.
We also don’t want to give away all the best riding in resort – for that you’ll have to get out and explore for yourselves! One of the best things about this resort is there is something for everyone, so get yourselves booked in to one of our beautiful chalets and come and find out which part of the Espace Killy is your little piece of heaven.
Stay safe, ride hard, enjoy your time, and please, please respect the mountain – leave nothing but tracks!
If you would like more information about skiing in Tignes then please get in touch with our Reservations Team who have been skiing in Tignes for over 5 years so can provide you with more advice. Contact us at email@example.com or +44(0)1600 800 300