Tignes is one half of the Espace Killy ski area, which also includes Val d'Isère. Together, they offer 300 kilometres of pistes at altitudes of 1550 to 3450 metres. Alone, Tignes is made up of several small lift-linked hamlets. A cable car, 24 chairlifts and 19 drag lifts get skiers to the top of the pisted slopes-150 kilometres in all.
The ski resort is split into four areas: La Grande Motte, Palet - l'Aiguille Percée, Tovière, and Les Brevières.
La Grande Motte is the highest, and can thus be skied pretty much year round, thanks to its glacier. There are also several blue runs here, more suited to less experienced skiers.
Palet-l'Aiguille Percée is home to Tignes' S.P.O.T. area, where skiers can learn how to off-piste in the safest conditions. There are also some easier pistes here, especially the blue runs around the Palafour lift.
If you are planning to head to Val d'Isère, you will do so from the Tovière area. If you are staying in this sector, though, you will find intermediate and advanced runs, ranging from blue to black.
At Les Brevières, skiers will find the some of the resort's most challenging runs, like the black Sache piste, often ridden with moguls. There is however two red escape routes if you decide that Sache is too difficult once you begin.
In Tignes, advanced skiers can head to the Le Palet - Aiguille Percée area, which tends to be less crowded and offers access to plenty of off piste areas. You can go directly there via the Tichot and Grattalau lifts from Val Claret, via the Boisses lift, or by taking the Sache and the Marais lifts.
The glacier, with an assortment of red and black runs is also well worth skiing, especially the black Leisse. This one tends to be less crowded in the mornings, so you may want to start your day here and work your way down the slopes to the other areas of the mountain. Ski the red Double M down to Val Claret, for example, where you can get the Tichot then the Grattalau lift towards Le Palet or the Col des Ves lift to ski down the black Pramacou and the ungroomed Guerlain Chicherit, which is full of moguls. Be warned, however, that the Col des Ves lift is Tignes' slowest, where you'll spend 22 minutes in the air.
Tignes also proposes nine naturides, which are marked black pistes that are left ungroomed. The goal is to give skiers the same sensations as off-pisting skiing, but with a greater degree of security. These runs are ideal for advanced skiers looking to train before freeriding in the wild.
Groomers and Family
Tignes offers plenty of opportunities for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as families with young kids.
The Tignes ski area includes special "ski tranquil" zones with wide pistes that are not very steep. These are either green or blue, and offer the ideal area for learning to ski, skiing with kids, or just getting you ski legs ready for something more challenging after many months away.
Absolute beginners may prefer to stay on the green runs around Le Lavachet, where they will find two pistes - Digues and Lavachet - for comfortable, easy skiing.
Another suggestion is to take the Palafour lift from Tignes le Lac and then choose between the three blue runs at the top. All of them are wide and gentle and would be good for anyone with just a little ski experience.
For longer blue runs, take the Bollin chairlift out of Val Claret. It will take you all the way to the edge of Tignes, where you can choose to ski down the green Fresse run into Val d'Isère or back into Tignes on the blue Prarlond run.
The Tufs chairlift also leads out of Val Claret to the blue Piste H. However, this one can get quite busy at the top, as two other lifts also drop skiers here. If you are afraid of running into other skiers as everyone makes their way to their slope, you may want to avoid this one, at least in the afternoons. By midday, the piste becomes bumpy as well, so this is definitely a better morning run.
Tignes hosts two snow parks - The Nissan Gliss'Park and the Swatch Snowpark.
The Nissan Gliss'Park is located near Tignes Le Lac and is accessible either by the Millonex drag lift or by the Palafour chair lift. This park is reserved for freestylers who are still learning their tricks. It includes a mini boardercross, an obstacle course, a parallel slalom, whoop gap, and a jump and rail area.
The larger Swatch Snowpark is located beneath the Col du Palet and Grattalau lifts and is directly accessible from the latter. The park is divided into colour-coded levels with green, blue, and red zones to help riders find modules best suited to their skills. In 2011, the green zone included three tables and four hoops. The blue area included seven rails, three tables, and a Swatch mogul with table. The red area offered one rail and three tables.
At the Swatch Snowpark, skiers and boarders also have the opportunity to film their exploits thanks to the Shoot My Ride system. When you head through the park, a video camera records your jumps and the video is sent to the Swatch website, so that your friends can see your jump from anywhere in the world. Then at the end of each week, the best jumper wins a Swatch watch.