Tignes……..Where the English rule French territory, the off-piste is boundless, and the party never ends….
If you don’t like boarding or you’re too hungover to make it out then you’re in luck. There is also snowmobiles, jeeps, go-karts, pools, gyms, rock walls, mountaineering, bungy, shopping, bowling, and more shit than you can shake a stick at. I won’t be going into that though, I went there to snowboard and explore the off-piste. This quick little post will tell you how to get in, get out, get orientated, and I’ll mention some of my favourite off-piste areas.
Get in and out
From London: SnowExpress takes you from Victoria Station straight to Tignes, Boom! An alternative is to take a train under the English channel to Paris, then hop another train to Bourg Saint Maurice and hop on a bus to Tignes from there.
From Paris: Take a train to Bourg Saint Maurice and a Bus to Tignes.
Tignes is located in the French Alps near the border of Italy and Switzerland.
The Tignes snow resort is linked to another resort called Val Disere (Val-D), and the 2 combined, make up Espace Killy ski area.
Tignes consists of 5 villages: Val Claret, Tignes Le Lac, Le Lavachet, Tignes Les Boisses, and Tignes les Brevieres (Or you can call them VC, Le Lac, Lavachet, Boise, and Brevs; I don’t speak French).
VC, Le Lac, and Lavachet all sit close together high up in the valley and Boise and Brevs lie below (look at the map). There is free shuttle service to all villages so getting around is easy.
We stayed in Lavachet and used Chaudannes lift to get down to Brevieres; and used Toviere lift to get over to Val Disere and the other valleys.
My favourite off-piste
Let me begin with stating this: I was only in Tignes for 3 weeks and did not explore this area in its entirety. In fact, I only scratched the surface, but I probably did more than you have or will so listen up.
First of all, always check the Avalanche Rating for the day and be smart.
Here are the best off-piste runs I have found in Tignes from right to left on map:
Aiguillerouge lift: From top of lift facing downhill stay as left and high as possible cutting through the bowl, drop in the other side staying left. Keep going left until there is nothing but fresh powder in front of you, then you can drop in and continue on until you reach the bottom of Sache Lift. Be sure to cut through the trees on those switchbacks.
Parlafour Lift: Get off the lift, turn around, and follow it back down on an unmarked run called oillet. There are a few bowls and unmarked drops so look lively my dear. One of my favourite runs to start the day.
Aiguille Percee summit: hike up to the “eye” and drop in the other side towards Parlafour. Make sure you pick a good line or you will be hiking out.
Merles: Follow the red Merles run until it starts to turn back into Lac, then drop in on your right near an unmarked dotted run called Golf. From here you can make your way right towards VC or left back to Le Lac. Either way make your mind up soon so you don’t end up on the road in between the 2.
Grattalu: This is the lift to the park and can get crowded. At the top of the lift look up and you’ll see some rocky peaks about 100m up. Hike up there and you’ll see a steep narrow channel heading down towards Merles and Grand Huit. Take this if you are a competent Boarder only. Very easy to trigger a slide here if you don’t know what you’re doing. I followed a backcountry ski school up here. I don’t think they liked that.
Grand Motte: Grand Motte is epic. Anyway you go you can find some untouched powder. I liked to hang right and head down to Leisse. There’s some good terrain on this side to mix it up.
Tuffs: From the top of Toviere go around that long round about cat track and drop in to your left towards Fresse. This is a wide open area and offers some different routes. Do this one a few times to get the most out of it.
Toviere: Act like you’re heading towards Le Lac and take the red cretes run until you hit the sharp left on the ridge. Unstrap from your board hike up the ridge as far along as you’d like. Drop left and you’ll come out towards trolles and Le Lac. Drop right and you’ll link up with Tommeuses. Dropping left be mindful of the scattered bowls, some offer no way out except walking. Dropping in right, keep an eye on Tommeuses lift and don’t end up to the left of it or you’ll have a long hike out.
Alright lets skip Col de Fresse and move on over to Rocher De Bellevarde. Take Cobalt over to Grand Pre and ride her up!
Grand Pre –Fontaine Froide: This is a great run and a long one. Involves getting on a bus at the end, ha. Drop in on Grand Pre and go right of the lift. Stay right of genepy and stay right of Fontaine Froide until you see a creek bed to your left. Drop into the creek bed and ride that pipe until it spits you out in the Le Manchet valley. Gain some speed on the drop because you have to board down a road to the bus stop. Bus comes about every 15 minutes so hang tight by the restaurant.
Solaise: Oh man this one is good. Lots of different routes to take and I could spend all day here. Ride Solaise to the top and turn right. Cut across the plan piste and go back towards Le Manchet valley. Now drop in on this side. At the bottom turn right to go back to the same bus stop as before.
Glacier to Laisinant: Glacier is not that steep but lots of fun to mess around on. Ride this one a few times but when you’re ready continue on the cat track germain mattis and drop in on your left riding the valley down to Laisinant lift. You can ride this one 10x and the run is different depending on where you drop in. Mix it up and have fun.
Once you ride Glacier to Laisinant take the Laisinant lift up, go left, and drop in to your left to follow the lift back down cutting across all the cat track switchbacks. Go slow your first time so you don’t ride off a cliff, there are many and not all are marked.
Fornet: This is a tree run. Get off the Fornet lift and go left down that steep drop. At the bottom unstrap and walk left below the lift. Turn to your right, face the downhill, strap in, and go!
Those are my favourite runs. You can spend a whole day working your way to the far side of Val D from Tignes. Keep an eye on the time because Tommeuses (your lift home) closes around 1600 and there are no free busses back to Le Lac.
Be sure to stop at TC’s for a beer and a burger while you’re there. Enjoy