Tignes summer chair lifts
For a lift-served alpine holiday that won’t cost the earth, we recommend Tignes. No idea what there is to do there? Nor do many other people, which means it’s much less busy than neighbouring Val d’Isere (which it happens to be handily linked to...) So here’s what’s on offer in Tignes: a smorgasbord of free activities ranging from full-on adrenalin to family fun, including completely free lifts for mountain-biking and hiking, all set in one of the largest areas of national park in Western Europe, which happens to have open ski and snowboard pistes 10 months of the year.
That’s right, thanks to the Grande Motte glacier in Tignes, you can access some of the highest pistes in Europe and ski or snowboard even in summer. Tignes funicular train takes just seven minutes to deposit you amid 20km of slopes, a terrain park, and 12 lifts; including a cable car that whizzes you right up to 3456m. While you’re rather unlikely to find fresh powder, the freeze-melt can give flattering conditions if you catch it right. It’s a great time to hit kickers, rails and pipes in soft slushy conditions. La Grande Motte itself is the highest summit in the famous Espace Killy ski area, which joins Tignes with Val d’Isere, and the panoramic mountain views are spectacular, stretching out to Mont Blanc in the distance. Head there early for best conditions: It’s open from 7.15am till 1pm in summer.
Free mountain bike park
It’s free to access the five lifts and over 90km of man-made and natural trails in Tignes bike park. With mountain and cross-country tracks graded from green to double black, an airbag for practicing tricks, and links to Val d’Isère, you can eat fresh dirt every day. There’s even a free shuttle bus to get you around them. Get on the popular flowy blue trail ‘Jump Around’ early or late as it’s popular. ‘Moustache’ is a rampage of a black with spectacular views over Tignes Lake, which leads to the super-gnarly ‘Black Metal’ trail that drops to the village below. Alpine giddiness is guaranteed, so find your level on green, blue and red ‘module lines’ before getting your free MTB lift pass at the Maisons de Tignes welcome desk in Lac and Val Claret and heading up.
A certain amount of faith is required to launch yourself off a precipice with your instructor or guide, who will steer the flimsy canopy above you, and cruise around in the air seeking out invisible thermal updrafts that will allow you to gain height. You’ll be totally exposed to the elements and weightless, with a real birds-eye view down on Mont Pourri, the ridges of the Grande Sassiere, the Grande Casse (which is the highest point in La Vanoise at 3,856m) and Mont Blanc in the distance. You don’t need any experience of skills to take a tandem paragliding flight; and if you take to it you can also book lessons and instruction from beginner to advanced level in Tignes.
Hiking Western Europe’s largest area of national park
Tignes lies in the Vanoise National Park, which, when lumped together with neighbouring Italian Grand Paradis National Park, is one the largest protected area in Western Europe. Head to the Maison de Tignes le Lac and Val Claret to get a free lift pass for three lifts. A ‘Summer walks guide’ is available there for 10 euros. Some ideas for walks: a perfect 1.45 hour walk for families winds through Bois de la Laye’s woodlands, waterfalls and streams. The Aiguille Percée (Eye of the Needle) provides a great photo opportunity and a longer walk: (9km and 3 hours) and, finally, this 2-hour Nazonde walk leads the way through the most unspoilt part of Tignes.
Over 26 FREE activities
Check before booking that your accommodation provider can offer you a Sportignes card, which accesses 26 free sports in Tignes, including:
- Acroland waterpark
- Beach football
- Beach volleyball
- Air rifle shooting
- Crazy airbag jumping
- Mini golf
- Swimming pool
- Stand-up paddle-boarding
- Catamaran sailing
Other things you can do in Tignes in summer...
- Helicopter rides