There is only one time during a year I enjoy the cold weather – during my ski holidays! Or rather snowboard, in my case 🙂
I have never been on proper ski holidays, so when my friends proposed Tignes, I was hooked!
First of all, our first choice, St Anton in Austria, was already quite booked in September, when we started thinking about winter break and it was getting quite expensive there.
Another reason for our choice was that Tignes is ~3 h bus drive from Geneve airport, where all of us had direct flights to and the flights weren’t that expensive. We came from 5 different countries, so having one spot that was easily reachable was our main priority.
Tignes lies in south-eastern France and is known for the highest skiable area in Europe and the longest ski season in Europe. Tignes has around 300km of slopes and 20km of ski routes. As we were skiers and snowboarders with different skill levels, we wanted a place where all of us would have something nice to do.
Also as some of my friends really like skiing/snowboarding, they have already visited many other ski resorts. Fortunately, Tignes was not one of them, so we all wanted to give it a try.
And did I mention a glacier? Yes, we even had a glacier (3456m) to have fun on! How cool is that?
How did it go?
It was my first time in a resort of such size. Just take a look at that map. It’s humongous!
Personally, I was in heaven! The first day it was snowing constantly so we didn’t see much at the beginning. But all that snow also meant A LOT of powder everywhere for the next couple of days! And I have just discovered how much fun it is to snowboard and crash on powder 🙂
All of the lifts close down before 17.00 so if you are in the mountains at that time (and we usually were), you most probably will be escorted down. The first day, one of our friends was really tired and no one could see anything due to heavy snow so it was taking us forever to get down to our place ( Tignes Les Brevieres ). When the ski patrol spotted us, one of them took our friend on a snowmobile and the other stayed with us until we reached our village. They were so super nice!
As our place was located in Tignes Les Brevieres (bottom right corner of the map), one day we decided to get to the other corner of the map 🙂 It took us 2,5 h of constant skiing with breaks only for the lifts. We were a little worried we might not make it in time for going back, but we made it! Well, except being escorted down by ski patrol, again 🙂 Doing this route, we also managed to try all of the different ski lifts. Be it a chair, a gondola, the pulling thing for one and two people, a normal rope that you had to hold on to, or a tunnel where you were standing on the moving floor, to name a few. All of those different types of transportation made the whole trip even more interesting and fun. Unfortunately, the neighborhood of Glacier Du Pissaillas (top left corner of the map) was not steep enough for snowboard and I had to walk quite a lot there. I got a lot of speed boosts from, both my friends and strangers on skis, so thanks to them I had to walk a little bit less 🙂
We also managed to get on top of the glacier – La Grande Motte! Unfortunately, it happened only once, as due to strong winds and snow the lift to the very top was closed. It was still possible to get to the station a little bit lower with a fast train and I would totally recommend it. Even when you don’t see anything (and those views were amazing there) the restaurant there serves the best hamburger ever! We loved it so much that we ate there a couple of times! It is also quite cheap (compared to restaurants on other mountains in the neighborhood).
But what about skiing/ snowboarding? There are several official off-piste areas that are marked with poles. What is great, is that you don’t have to walk a lot to get to them. It is also possible to get to other off-piste areas, but for that, I recommend getting a guide and having a detector, that can be used for searching in case of avalanches.
When it came to the level of difficulty on the official slopes, we were able to find all kinds of slopes for everyone: advanced and beginners. This place was just perfect.
Tignes Les Brevieres
We lived in a village called Tignes Les Brevieres (right at the right edge of the skiing map). I really loved this village. It was so tiny that it took us 2 minutes to get to one restaurant and 3 minutes to the other one. The shop was also 3 minutes away and the lift to a slope was 4 minutes away. So as you can see, everything was just under our nose. And believe me, after the whole day of skiing the last thing you want to do is to walk a lot to get some food 🙂
The restaurants there were really nice and we got to try really delicious food. We couldn’t resist all those cheeses so, of course, we tried Fondue, Raclette, and Tartiflette. Just take a look at the pictures!! So delicious!
How to get there?
As I mentioned before, we landed in Geneve and from there we took a bus directly to our village.
It is possible to either take a bus or a private taxi.
I have used this website to find transport. It’s really nice, just write when and where you want to go and transport companies will give you their offers, that you can choose from.
If you want some other travel options, check out this site. It has all the information you might need.
You have two choices here. You either bring it with you or rent it.
I didn’t bring a snowboard with me, as I didn’t have one at the time. Moneywise, the plane fee for snowboard and for rental in the village is almost the same.
When you decide to rent, there is one important thing. Check out where your place is located and where you rent from. Why do you ask? I was lucky enough to book my snowboard from a company that delivered it to my doorstep but my friend got it from some shop in Tignes (and that was another village than ours) so he ended up wasting quite some time commuting there (lift and bus) just to get the equipment.
The company I used was called Tignes Spirit and I was really happy with them. First of all, as I mentioned before, they delivered it to a place where I was staying. The guy brought 3 snowboards and 3 pairs of shoes for me to try out and pick the one I liked the best. He made sure everything was properly set up and after I was done with snowboarding they just came and picked it up. For me, there was no stress and I was really happy with their service. They also told me that in case of problems I just had to call them and they would come and help me with everything.
The important question, huh? It wasn’t the cheapest holiday, I must admit. When planning the holidays on your own you need to count:
- plane ticket to the airport (Copenhagen – Geneva, in my case)
- transport from Geneva to Tignes with a bus ( we paid around 100-150 € both ways for the last couple of years)
- Airbnb (we usually end up paying around 300-350 € per person, for a chalet for ~10 people. We book around the end of July)
- Ski pass (~300 €, for an extra charge you can add the insurance. We took it, helicopter ride down the mountain might be expensive)
- The equipment (150 € in 2017, now probably a little bit more)
To all those costs also add some food expenses, either for the restaurant or for the groceries. If you opt for a restaurant then it usually took ~30 € for a meal. Of course, cooking is much cheaper and the shop has all the ingredients you might need. It really depends on how tired you will be.
- Download Tignes App for your mobile. It will keep you updated about the slopes, lifts, and opening times. There is also a map of the area and believe me, you will need it.
- Get a paper map. You can either find it in the ticket office or on the slope near lifts. Snowflakes pushing buttons on the phone drove me mad! The paper map was just easier to use.
- If you want to see how the place looks, check this website. They have all the webcams there so enjoy the views.
- In a couple of places where you could get nice views, there were automatic cameras activated by your ticket. Just press your ticket against the box, and pose. Afterward, you can log in to a website and check your photo:)