When we were younger we used to ski always either in Austria or in Italy (besides Slovenia). But then, at one point we went to France and went again and again and again. You get the picture. Austria, Italy and Slovenia were good for a day, or a weekend, or a ski opening, but seriously, it´s hard to compete with France! We went always for a week towards the end of March, because then the weather was normally also better, warm enough to sit outside in just a T-shirt in the sun, and yet cold enough that the snow didn´t melt. We went to Tignes a couple of times as well as to Val Thorens and other ski resorts in the region.
TIGNES ia actually A NAME FOR 5 VILLAGES (Val Claret, Tignes le Lac, Le Lavachet, Tignes Les Boisses, Tignes-les-Brevieres) which lie along the way from the bottom of the valley to around 2100 m above sea level, where you end up literally on the ski slopes. Originally there was just one village, all the other ones were created as part of the DAM CONSTRUCTION construction and to satisfy the needs of accommodation for all the visitors who enjoy the snowy slopes.
TRANSPORT & HOW TO GET THERE
It took us about 10 hours from Ljubljana to Tignes Val Claret, which is the highest of the five villages. On the way we passed Venice, Brescia, Milan, Turin and crossed the border to France where we made an obligatory shopping stop in Albertville, before we left the highway and drove the last leg of the way on a winding road. We were just one of the many with the same final destination – Saturday´s can get busy, because guests switch often on the weekends. It was a long way and we often had snowfall in the last hour of driving, but in the end it´s all worth it!
In case you live too far away to go with the car, you can fly to LYON and get a bus, or get a bus from home – there are many tourist agencies offering week-long ski holidays with organised transport. In this case, your accommodation will most probably be already included in the package, sometimes also a ski pass. Sometimes you can get a very good deal, but just don´t expect to get a really nice hotel – it will more likely be a SMALL ROOM, sometimes even with no windows.
- Book your apartment/hotel MONTHS IN ADVANCE. If you can afford one with a balcony, it can be very useful to catch some afternoon sun or to keep the beers cool if the small fridge is full with food.
Make sure your HEALTH INSURANCE pays for any possible treatment in a foreign country and have the car ready for snow conditions before you drive off.
BUY FOOD for cooking in ALBERTVILLE or bring some from home, in Val Thorens you can buy some small things, which will be expensive, but don´t expect a huge supermarket.
Check out the WEATHER REPORT before you buy your ski pass. Ski pass for a week is cheaper than buying a ticket every day, but if you see the weather will be bad for the next 3 days lets say, then rather buy tickets for less days.
Always carry a small SKI PISTE MAP with you and watch the time – don´t forget you need to come back to your village before the lifts stop operating and that might take some time if you are at the other side
Do not venture OFF PISTE if you have no clue about the current snow conditions or risks and do it only there where it´s not prohibited with a sign.
Bring ENOUGH MONEY especially if you need to eat a lot during the day or if you plan to party in the evenings.
Learn a few BASIC FRENCH WORDS because despite this being a well known ski resort, the employees in bakeries and shops might not understand what you want. “Baguette” is an easy one to start with And a very useful one also!
SKIING IN TIGNES – VAL CLARET
Once in VAL CLARET (the highest village), you will need to PARK THE CAR at one of the big parking lots, there is a big one just when you drive in the town. You will then have to walk to your apartment/hotel. The whole village is not that big though, so don´t worry and maybe your hotel offers some different options also. There are quite a few nice cafes, shops and restaurants. At the end of March you can already get good discounts and many bars have HAPPY HOUR around 5PM or so, so you can grab a cold beer after skiing. There are also many BAKERIES, so getting breakfast is easy and tasty. Book your accommodation well in advance (the latest by the end of the summer!) if you want a nice place – which might not be a bad idea, because it can also snow for days and then you are either trapped in a small smelly room or you hang out in bars for waaay to long and spend too much money on (expensive) drinks.
Waking up to this view is just unbeatable! Especially when there is new snow waiting for the first skiers to go down the slopes. There are some areas where you can go “off piste”, but even if you stay on the tracks, you won´t feel like you are missing out. Tignes forms the ESPACE KILLY SKI AREA, together with VAL d`ISERE– there are around 300 KILOMETRES OF PISTES, 9 ski lifts and 2 terrain parks, on 2 GLACIERS. Basically, you can go to a different direction every day and it will not get boring even if you spend the whole week there.
GRANDE MOTTE mountain (summit at 3,653m above sea level) offers one of the most spectacular ski slopes! Sometimes it will be a huge line in order to get into the FUNICULAR, but it´s worth waiting a while. Funicular will take you to 3,452 METRES and there is of coarse a nice PLATFORM and the view is just amazing. Try to be there amongst the first ones in the morning and you will have to view almost to yourself!
Even though we always bought lots of food in a supermarket in the valley, we always bought some nice CHEESE, SAUSAGES and small snacks on the local MARKET which is held a few times in a week. There are also enough shops selling those. And of course, WINE! Sport makes hungry so we also ate a small snack on the ski piste – it was EXPENSIVE without an exception, but hey, when the stomach makes noises there is not much you can do about it. Soups are a good choice, besides the usual French fries and desserts. You can also have scampi and wine out of y crystal glass – and you will see many people do it. After all, many really rich people come here for holidays also ;).
There are also SLOPES FOR BEGINNERS, for kids and skiing schools are everywhere. Even if you are not even a skier you might have fun here. You can spend a couple of hours in the sun in a cottage on the slopes, go paragliding, take a panoramic flight over the mountains or visit some of the temporary exhibitions.
You can ski into VAL d`ISERE and watch down the village from the top of the slope where there are annual FIS DOWNHILL COMPETITIONS. It is not seen from the photo, but it is really steep and sometimes the track is icy on purpose!
Sometimes winters come with more snow, sometimes less. In France, there is always snow at this time a year so the only worry you should have is that there will be too much of it! Love these forgotten chairs on the terrace under our apartment ;).
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