Hotel Village Montana
- Rating: 4 Star
- Location: Le Lac / Les Almes
- Room Type: Hotel Room, Family Room
It’s high, it’s big and has some of the best skiing in Europe. As it sits above the tree level and is mostly modern buildings, Tignes can appear stark but in recent years much has been done to beautify the resort and with the development of new 4 & 5* hotels, chic apartments, and even Michelin star restaurants, Tignes is finally coming out of the shadow of its better-known neighbor, Val d’Isere.
Tignes is actually made up of five villages of varying altitudes (from 1,550 – 2100m) and offers some of the finest lift-accessed slopes in Europe – or anywhere else in the world. Of the five villages, Val Claret (2,100m) has easy access to the glacier and, together with Tignes Le Lac just down the road, it’s the most convenient place to stay, giving you the pick of the hotels, restaurants, and shops. The village of Tignes Le Lavachet is very slightly lower in altitude but offers ski-in / ski-out accommodation. Further down the mountain at 1,800m and 1,550m respectively are the satellites of Tignes Les Boisses (aka Tignes 1800) and Tignes Les Brévières. Both are well-linked to the ski area with their own lifts, but they’re further from the central hub of shops, bars, and restaurants. There is a free local bus service that links the different villages with the exception of Tignes Les Brévières.
Tignes is often seen as a ‘modern’ resort but actually, it has been welcoming skiers since 1936, although the area really developed after the building of the barrage, which resulted in the flooding of the ancient village – it is said that you can still hear the church bells ringing in the summer when the water level is lower. Tignes is actually made up of a number of villages that are linked by the skiing and lift system as well as by a free bus service that runs from Tignes Les Boisses to Lavachet and Val Claret.
Tignes Les Brevieres – the lowest of the villages at 1550m and perhaps the most traditional. It is the perfect place for lunch after skiing the long black, Le Sache from the top of the l’Aiguille Percee to Les Brevieres.
Tignes 1800 – a new village built around the church which was built as a replica of the one at the bottom of the flooded dam. This is a quieter area of the resort. This area is also known as Tignes Les Boisses.
Le Lavachet – a quiet, residential hamlet that is just a 10-minute walk from the busier Lac area.
Le Lac – in many ways the heart of Tignes, this area boasts a number of bars, shops, and restaurants. The main Tourist Office is here and it is also the base and starting point for most of the ski schools. It is the easier point to join the lift system for going over to Val d’Isere. Newer developments such as Les Almes have been built in recent years to provide increased accommodation.
Val Claret – this is the highest area of the resort and has the majority of the ski-in/out properties and has direct lift access to La Grande Motte, which at 11335 feet (3455 m) is the highest point in the ski area. Val Claret is the liveliest area of the resort with a host of shops, bars, and restaurants.
Tignes & Val d’Isère share the same ski area and offer some 186 miles (300 km) of varied terrain stretching from the village of Tignes Les Brévières at 1850 m at one end of the ski area to the Pissaillas glacier above Val d’Isère at the other. There is skiing for all levels with a predominance of blue and red runs but good skiers and snowboarders will love the “dark blue “runs and testing reds that sometimes seem to go on forever. The famous black run which will test even the strongest legs is the Sache which runs from the top of L’Aiguille Percee to Tignes Les Brevieres giving 1,200m of vertical descent.
The highlight of the Tignes ski area is the Grande Motte glacier, which at over 3,000m provides spectacular views and stunning descents, both on and off-piste back to the resort. The snow tends to be in great condition and there is a choice of blue, red, and black runs down to the resort. From the end of November, it’s usually possible to tackle the thigh-burning 1,350m vertical red all the way back down to the funicular station in Val Claret.
The resort has invested heavily in its lift system and from the villages of Val Claret and Tignes Le Lac, lifts travel up either side of the resort, in one direction towards Val d’Isère, and towards the 9022 feet (2,750 m) Aiguille Percée in the other. The links to the skiing over in Val d’Isere are good with a chairlift from Val Claret or gondola from Le Lac going up to Tovière, the ridge that divides the two resorts.
Tignes is home to some truly outstanding powder terrain, including a selection of steep couloirs around La Grande Balme and La Petite Balme, two rocky outcrops at the southern end of the valley. And don’t be fooled by the cute sounding ‘Mickey’s Ears’ – the run from Toviere to Le Lavachet, this is skiing for off-piste experts accompanied by a guide.
Boarders and freestylers are well served with a number of freestyle terrain parks and boardercross areas. The resort’s terrain park is accessed by the Grattalu and Merles chairlifts towards the Col du Palet and has lines for all abilities; the main boardercross course is also here, along with an easier extension. There’s a halfpipe – the largest in the French Alps – at the foot of the Carline piste in Val Claret. The beginners’ Gliss’Park, reached by the Les Almes four-person chairlift or the Palafour chairlift, has a mini boardercross course and parallel slalom course.
|Skiable Terrain||300 km of piste. 24,700 acres (Ski area with Val d’Isere)|
|Vertical||1,900m (6,233 ft)|
|Top Elevation||3,455 m (11,340 ft)|
|Base Elevation||2,100m (6,890 ft)|
|Average Snowfall||5.25 m (207 in / 17 ft)|
|Trails||154 (Green 20, Blue 68, Red 40, Black 26)|
|Winter lifts Total||39 in Tignes / 88 with Val d’Isere|
|Gondolas Trams||5 in Tignes|
|Chair Lifts||21 in Tignes|
|Surface Lifts||13 in Tignes|
|Longest Run||10 km (La Sache)|
Geneva 3 hrs
Lyon 3 hrs
Chambery 2 hrs
Grenoble 2hrs 45
There are many options for flying, with the greatest number of flights available going to Geneva. There are various transfer companies operating from all of the airports to Tignes with a greater frequency at the weekends. There is also a public bus to and from Geneva several times each day. It is also possible to rent a car and drive to the resort however you should be prepared to drive on mountain roads in winter conditions. Parking charges apply in the resort. Once you are in resort, there is no need to use a car as there is an excellent, frequent bus service running between the different villages that make up the resort all day and until late at night.
The closest train station is at Bourg-Saint-Maurice (45 mins), which offers an excellent and frequent service including high-speed rail options (TGV, Eurostar, Thalys).
There are regular bus or private transfers (multilingual taxis) from the airports and train station in Bourg-St-Maurice.
There is a single ski pass that covers the resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isere This gives you access to 186 miles (300 km) of piste across both resorts.
Children under 5 years can get a free pass and there is a reduced price for children ages 5-13 years ( and for those aged 65-74). There is also a Family Pass which is available for 2 adults and 2 or more children up to the age of 17 (or up to age 20 if they are in full-time education). Proof of age is needed for all passes with reductions and a student card for those between 17-20 studying full time). Family passes are available for the duration of 6 or 7 days.
It is worth noting that a 2 to 15-day pass gives you one free entry to the Lagon swimming pool (available during your ski pass validity).
There is a pedestrian pass for non-skiers available as a 6-day pass allowing unlimited trips on any accessible lifts (there are 9 lifts with pedestrian access – 2 of which are free to use) or you can just pay per trip. The lifts are available for pedestrian use are: Tovière gondola – Brévières gondola – Boisses gondola – Chaudannes chairlift – Tichot chairlift – Bollin chairlift (Free) – Funicular – Grande Motte cable car
You can add ski insurance to your lift pass to cover you in case of accidents but you do need to check against your holiday insurance to see if you need this additional cover.
There are several ski schools in Tignes and you can arrange everything from group lessons to private instruction and off-piste guiding.
Group lessons usually start on Sunday or Monday and will typically run for 5 or 6 days on either morning, afternoon or whole day basis. In the busy weeks, it is advisable to book well in advance for both group lessons (particularly for children).
There are English speaking instructors in all the main ski schools and most also offer to teach in other languages but be aware that in group lessons tuition will be given predominantly in French or English.
The French Ski School (ESF) and a number of other ski schools now offer lessons for children from ages 3 and 4 as an introduction to the sport.
Ice Skating & Ice Walking – Every year, when the lake freezes over, a path is mapped out so you can walk over it from Le Lac to Val Claret. This tranquil walk takes approximately 30 minutes to each village. You can also ice skate on the lake next to Le Lagon. Skates hire is available and you can even rent nets for a game of ice hockey.
Pala’Fou – This is an exhilarating toboggan run just perfect for adrenaline junkies. Try this 3km tobogganing slope which goes through a 131 feet (40-meter) tunnel. Head for the amidst the Palafour chairlift in Le Lac. It is open from around 16:45 to 19:30 and you can hire all the equipment including a head torch.
Ice Diving – The lake at Tignes le Lac is a natural frozen lake with ice 1 – 2 meters thick which reforms every day to create incredible patterns and shapes seen from the icy water below. Dive for sessions of 20 mins with professional guides to experience this other world.
Dog Sledding – Take part in one of the daily expeditions either as a passenger or leading the pack of huskies.
Wilderness Evening – Trek on foot and by sled into the mountains to a camp near Boisses and enjoy an aperitif and a Savoyard meal around a campfire.
Scenic helicopter flights & Paragliding – See Tignes from the air either by helicopter or on a tandem paraglide.
Multi-sports center – There is a climbing wall, bouldering wall, indoor football, trampolines, as well as indoor badminton & squash courts
Swimming Pool – The Lagon swimming pool in Tignes Le Lac, has magnificent views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The Lagoon has three pools: a baby pool, an interactive pool with bubbles and slides, and an athletic pool. There is also a wellness area with a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room as well as a gym.
Spas and massage – There are a number of hotels and apartment complexes that open their spa/wellness areas to non-residents. You can also book a massage and other treatments for a complete pampering and relaxing experience.
Although heliskiing is not permitted in France, due to Tignes’ proximity to Italy, it is possible to arrange a day’s heliskiing over the border
Eating out in Tignes used to be a rather sad affair and the best advice was to head to Val d’Isere but recent years have seen a major turnaround in the restaurants both on and off the mountain. Foodies visiting Tignes will not be disappointed – the choice ranges from the new high-end Ursus, with its shiny new Michelin star to rustic, locally produced products in try Savoyard style
On the mountain, if you’re looking for a quick, well-priced option head for the Aspen Coffee Shop at the bottom of the Grande Motte, in Val Claret where you can get hearty portions of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and omelets – including the substantial farmer’s omelet.
Or for something truly local head for Lo Soli which means “barn” in the local Tignard dialect It is on L’Aiguille Percée next to the Chaudannes chairlift and has a blazing log fire on snowy days and impressive views from the terrace when it’s warmer. It serves typical Savoyard fare including local cheesy dishes as well as hearty steaks and burgers.
But if you’re looking for the ‘full works’ at lunchtime head for the waiter-service restaurant in Le Panoramic at 3,032m at the top of the Grande Motte funicular. Comfortably full of sheepskin rugs – over the chairs and even used as curtains, this is altitude fine dining – try the hot creamy cheese in a box cooked on the wood fire, with boiled potatoes and lettuce, or an XXL burger with grilled foie gras, pickled onions, bacon, tomato, and lettuce, served with homemade chips.
Or try the sister restaurant next door, the Cantine de Bouvier – a lovely self-service which is offering roasted meats, pasta, pizza, and a selection of homemade desserts at a shared refectory style table
In resort you have everything on offer from Tex/Mex, to pizza, burgers and fine dining, Try a retro diner in Val Claret with an American/Tex-Mex menu, Daffy’s Cafe serves everything from nachos, burritos, and fajitas to tapas, chicken wings, ribs, steaks, and burgers, plus classic desserts and milkshakes.
Or head to L’Armailly next to the Sache cable car in Tignes Les Brévières, there’s pickled raw beef with Parmesan as a starter, char fish fillet with white wine sauce as a main, and tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream to finish. For a special occasion head for Ursus where there are just 12 tables set in a magical ‘forest setting’ in Hotel Les Suites.
For a more regional experience head for La Ferme des 3 Capucines, a lovely restaurant in an old Savoyard farm building that serves great food using local ingredients and traditional recipes with a modern twist. A lot of their produce comes from their own farm on-site.
The main bars and après-ski venues are in Val Claret and Le Lac areas of the resort. The Loop Bar in Le Lac has DJs & live music at the end of the ski day and the Val Claret Le Grizzly and the more sophisticated Le Whitney Bar are great places to relax after a day on the slopes. If you still have the energy after a day on the mountain, you’ll be pleased to know that there are 3 nightclubs in Tignes that will happily keep you occupied ’til the early hours of the morning.
Tignes is very much a skiers’ resort and so if you’re looking for new ski clothes or to update your ski kit, you’ll find a plethora of shops offering the very best ski brands. The biggest ski shops are in Le Lac and Val Claret areas of the resort. However, if you’re in the market for new clothes, you may be disappointed! If that is the case, we would recommend a trip over to Val d’Isere – for non-skiers there is a regular bus service.
There is a local weekly market in Le Lac which is great for local produce and you will find a number of souvenir shops. It is usually on Thursdays and Sundays.