Tignes – a world class ski resort for everyone
Tignes in Savoie close to the Italian border is a classic skiing area that has been a magnet for skiers ever since 1936. This skiing paradise is made up of five villages at 1,500 – 2,200m above sea level.
It includes 159 pistes, plus large, varied and easily accessible off-piste areas. There are 35 black runs to challenge advanced skiers and 90 green and blue runs that make Tignes the perfect destination for beginners on shaky legs. As an added bonus, you can easily ski to the neighboring ski resort of Val d’Isère.
Bon viveurs wishing to round off the skiing day with a well-earned après ski drink or two or enjoy a five-course meal at an upmarket restaurant will have no complaints about Tignes. There are plenty of bars and over 80 restaurants here dotted around the five villages that make up Tignes, including the exclusive Michelin-starred Ursus.
In other words, it's not without reason that many people consider Tignes to be the world's best ski resort. And no surprise that top professional Alpine skiers choose Tignes as their training camp.
If there's anyone who can review a ski resort, it’s Mattias Hargin, a former member of the Swedish Alpine Ski team, who won the world cup in Kitzbühel in 2015. Hargin, who now lives in Engelberg, Switzerland, is very particular when it comes to where he wants to ski and has very clear criteria when choosing a ski resort:
“It's the skiing that decides it. I check how big the skiing area is, if snow is guaranteed, the drop, the extent of the lift system, the variations on the mountain slopes between on and off-piste and the location of the resort.
Even though he's skied all round the world, he still has many skiing destinations on his wish list.
“When I was competing, I never had the chance to experience and research the different locations. Tignes is one of the few places I've wanted to return to because I saw the potential. There's a large ski system here with plenty of wonderful areas to ski in, and Tignes is a great location in terms of logistics, weather and altitude. They get plenty of snow here, it's a long season with guaranteed snow.”
Hargin has been to many training camps here in the past. Now, he’s able to explore the entire ski system – and the many advantages Espace Killy has to offer. The large system is easy to navigate thanks to good signs, most hotels are ski-in and ski-out and it’s easy to travel between the villages on the free buses.
If you’re going to explore Tignes with a pro skier, expect to stand in the lift line before the lifts open.
“I always investigate the lift system ahead of time so I know where I should ski, and try to ski as high up as possible straightaway to gain an overview of the area. Tignes has a good app with piste map and updates on lifts and the weather.”
And as you can ski on all sides of the mountain, you can catch the sun all day. A factor that really appeals to Hargin.
“One big advantage is that the pistes suit everyone - from beginners to competitive skiers and off-piste skiers. The mountains here offer everything from easy to more challenging runs, where you might need a guide.”
While skiing is the main focus for Hargin, a well-equipped gym, delightful coffee places and good restaurants on and off the slopes are also important for him.
“There should be good places to eat on the slopes, where you can grab a quick lunch, and cozy restaurants to choose from in the evening.”
There’s plenty of choice in Tignes. They range from a value for money lunch tray to an exclusive lunch at the upmarket Panoramics restaurant, while in the evening, you can choose between a simpler Galette meal or five-course French fine dining. Afternoon coffee and croissants are consumed at the top of Grand Motte, a 3,653m high glacier that offers year round skiing. Even though it's coming to the end of the day, many north facing slopes are still in excellent shape.
“You can enjoy good skiing all day here,” says a delighted Hargin, who gives the ski resort ten out of ten:
“As it's less than three hours by car from Geneva Airport, Tignes is easy to access and offers something for everyone - whether you’re looking for good skiing and partying, good skiing and good food or good skiing and a gym pass before going to bed.”
Published: January 10, 2020