Summer in Tignes

Year-round activities for all ages

Tignes is located around the vast Lac de Tignes in the Haute-Tarentaise above the ski resorts of Les Arcs, La Rosière, Sainte-Foy Tarentaise and just before Val d’Isère. To reach it you’ll drive across the dam of the smaller Lac du Chevril, created when a hydro-electric project flooded the original farming village.

View of apartments and chairlifts with summer visitors in Tignes

The village

Given the epic scale of things, it’s no surprise that there’s a wide choice of village locations. Approach from Bourg Saint Maurice (a popular multi-resort accommodation base in its own right) and you’ll pass signs to Tignes Les Brevières, although the village itself is hidden from view in the valley just below the dam. It has an attractive, authentic feel with traditional style chalets and restaurants but feels a little isolated as it isn’t served by regular shuttle bus services (although there are some bike shuttles).

The other villages lie on the far side of the dam. Once across it you’re into Les Boisses and the more recently-developed Tignes 1800, whose stylish centrepiece, CGH Kalinda Village (see Where to Stay), has already transformed this previously-overlooked spot into a premium location. A few km further on comes Tignes 2100, home of Le Levachet and Le Lac. Lots of accommodation and services (including regular outdoor markets), and easy access to all the free activities on offer, make this a popular spot. At the end of the valley, Val Claret offers plenty of apartment accommodation and doorstep access to bike trails and footpaths. It’s also an excellent choice if you want to ski the slopes on the glacier in summer (check online for opening times).

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

See our Recommendations below for suggestions.

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Lakeside view of families watching fly-board demonstration at Tignes

Summer Activities

Tignes is a great place to go if you love trying different activities. The SPORTIGNES card, free from your accommodation provider, gives you access to a huge variety of sports and activities including tennis, trampolines, water jumps, archery, beach volley etc. You also get two entries to the Lagon swimming pool, one entry to the mini-golf and one to the multimedia centre where you have a free 1 hour internet access. There’s also a weekly programme of events with music, contests and demonstrations.

If you’re not sporty, there’s plenty to see around the lake which itself offers a gentle stroll around the shores, with picnic areas and restaurants along the banks.

Activities There

Attractions Walking Cycling Activities

Activities Information

Tourist Office

Tignes Tourist Information

BP 51 - 73321 Tignes cedex
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 40 04 40
www.tignes.net


Places to visit

Le Monal, Saint-Foy-Tarantaise

Le Monal in summer, snow covered peaks, village and lupins in flower

This popular walk from Ste. Foy to the remote village of Le Monal takes you through woodland to alpine pastures strewn with summer flowers. The river Ruisseau du Clou flows alongside the path for a while before its steep descent into the valley far below. The ancient stone walls near the village (which in winter mark the route for snowshoe walkers) define the settlement, whose residents live here during the summer months only, offering refreshments, a place to stay or by cheese-making. The low stone houses are clustered at the end of the valley, sheltered by the rising cliffs and their heavy lauze roofs. Springs and streams flow here and there, providing a supply for the temporary residents, their hastily-planted summer vegetables and Tarine cattle.

Start the walk from Ste Foy (signed parking) and ascend a steep wooded path signed ‘Le Monal’. This will eventually lead you to a small parking area which can be reached by following the road through Ste Foy village and up to the right. From here, there’s a relatively flat path (after a steeper start), for the 30 minutes’ onward walk to Le Monal. Return is via the same route, but it’s so beautiful you’ll enjoy it all over again.


Réserve Naturelle de la Sassière

Footpath, Reserve Natural de la Sassiere, near Tignes

Discover magnificent mountain scenery with a good chance of seeing wildlife, and in the height of summer spectacular displays of wild flowers. La Sassière lake lies at the head of a wide valley, a popular destination for walkers who can reach it easily on foot via the main path (about 40 minutes) from the car park. However, there’s a much more interesting higher footpath with better views, creating a more satisfying circular route (allow 2 hours). From the lake, there’s a possibility of continuing on a footpath to the foot of a glacier. Protected as a natural reserve, the valley is being used to study marmottes - in summer you’ll almost certainly have sightings of these creatures, or at least hear their shrill calls. 

To reach the start of the valley, turn left off the D902 just after Tignes on a road signed to ‘Le Franchet and La Sassière’. It’s a long, winding climb with splendid views back to Tignes. Eventually you’ll reach the Barrage de Saut, where you should find ample parking. To follow the upper path, ascend to the right above the barrage (you’ll need good walking boots and plenty of water to drink). The main path is an easy walk, which finally steepens towards the lake.


Things to do

Bike Park Tignes - Val d’Isère

There are over 150km of trails and 5 MTB lifts and it’s all FREE. Just get your MTB lift pass from the Maison de Tignes Tourist Office at Le Lac or Val Claret and be ready for some serious fun.
There are trails for beginner to expert and elite plus BIKELAND, where you can practice and learn in safety, have fun on the MTB airbag or the dual slalom.


Pedestrian Lifts

Walkers can forget the hard work climbing up to the high trails. Pedestrian lifts are FREE (you’ll need to get a lift pass from the Maison de Tignes Tourist Office at Le Lac or Val Claret). The Tovière gondola (up and down), Palafour and Tufs chairlifts (up only) are open for access to trails and viewpoints.


Summer Ski 

Grande Motte glacier, restaurant terrace with ski racks, view to mountain

There are 20km of ski runs on the Glacier de la Grande Motte which is open for skiing from late June until the beginning of August (mornings only). The funicular and cable car are open for skiers and pedestrians (payable) and it’s worth the trip for the views alone.


Tried and testedLe Lagon

Tignes Le Lac

Tignes lakeside in summer, entrance to Le Lagon

You can get free entry with your skipass to this leisure centre with fitness room, sports pool, fun pool with waterslide, waterfall, bubble pool etc. plus a paddling pool for the toddlers. We liked the wellness area best - separated from the pools, and with a quiet, calming atmosphere, there are saunas, hammams and a variety of Jacuzzis, as well as invigorating showers plus sun-beds.


Tignes Golf Course

Golf course, Tignes

The golf course at Tignes is the highest in Europe and offers panoramic views from the greens which are situated between Le Lac and Val Claret. The course is open from late June until early September. Green fees cost 50€ or half fee at 35€ before 10am or after 4pm.


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icon-smileyYes please...

  • Free activities, lifts and shuttle service.
  • Walking itineraries close to town and in the high mountain.
  • Plenty of things to do for families.
  • Free mountain bike lifts and trails for all levels.
  • Summer skiing on the glacier.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Tignes is a popular destination so expect crowds during school holidays.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Use your SPORTIGNES card (available at your accommodation) to enjoy the excellent range of free activities.
  • A free lift pass (available from the Tourist Office) for pedestrians and mountain bikers.
  • Visit the Tourist Office to pick up a map and summer guide which details all the activities, lifts and events.
  • The car parking is free everywhere but there is a summer shuttle service for pedestrians and one for mountain bikers.
Jump to Insight

Jump to Insight


Practical Information

Getting there

By car
Autoroute A43 Lyon / Albertville, then N90 to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Follow the signs to Tignes, a 30 minute drive. Allow a full day to travel from Calais or take your time and stop overnight along the way.

For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

By air
In summer months it’s possible to fly to Turin, hire a car and drive to Tignes via the Fréjus tunnel and the Col de l’Isèran – or fly to Milan and drive across the French/Italian border at the Col du Petit Saint Bernard above nearby La Rosière. Alternatively, fly into Lyon or Geneva.

By train
Fast TGV trains take you direct into Bourg Saint Maurice for a short transfer to Tignes by bus, taxi or hire car.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s direct ski train with Voyages Sncf UK.


Where to stay

Tried and testedLe Télémark

Tignes Le Lac

CGH Le Telemark, Tignes

Situated at the entrance to the Tignes Le Lac village, the residence contains 52 luxury self-catering apartments.
We stayed in a comfortable 2-bedroom apartment sleeping 6 people with panoramic views ranging from the glacier right across the valley and down to the Lac du Chevril. Guests have free access to the private indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and fitness room. Numerous facial or body treatments and massages are also available at the Ô des Cimes Spa d’Altitude (payable). Underground parking is available (payable), as are limited outside spaces.

Guests might like to take advantage of the bread delivery service. It’s a 10 minute uphill walk into the village centre and the lake where most of the activities are centered. In summer, there are regular markets where you can sample and buy local products.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
0844 576 0170 (UK)
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Food and Drink

Tried and testedLe Panoramic

Glacier de la Grande Motte
Tignes

Michelin starred chef Jean-Michel Bouvier opened the superb Panoramic restaurant at the top (3032m) of the funiculaire above Tignes Val Claret in autumn 2011.

In summer, as in winter, the views are stunning and you can lounge a while on the sunny terrace with a drink or light meal from the snack bar which is open from 11am - 4pm (the restaurant and self-serve are closed in summer).


Producers’ Markets

Cheese stall, market Tignes Le Lac

Visit one of the regular producers markets in Tignes Le Lac. Here you’ll discover and taste local cheeses and charcuterie as well as other fresh produce. There are also crafts and gifts and clothing. For dates of these and other local events, visit the Tourist Office.



Insight: Tignes

Wide view of Tignes le Lac village beyond lakeside golf course

Summer in Tignes

As you’ll see from our ski resort review, we came to feel quite at home here during the ski season but had no idea how it might look and feel once grass and wild flowers had replaced snow and piste markers on the mountainsides. Experience has taught us, though, that just about anywhere in France which possesses a good-sized lake and a generous supply of tourist accommodation just has to be worth seeing. We headed off in mid-July to do just that.

Our base for a week’s stay is an apartment at CGH Le Télémark, in Tignes Le Lac – a good choice, as it turns out, not least for the hypnotic views which greet us each morning from our balcony. To our left are the wild peaks of the Réserve Naturelle de la Grande Sassière, and the Franco-Italian border, while ahead and much closer are the high-rise apartment blocks of Le Lavachet. To our right, shimmering in the far distance, is the Glacier de la Grande Motte, whose cable-car climbs and descends like a spider patiently constructing a web.

“…shimmering in the far distance, is the Glacier de la Grande Motte, whose cable-car climbs and descends like a spider patiently constructing a web.”
Tignes le Lavachet, summer general view
Walker on footath near Tovieres gondola, Tignes

Walking in the air

The sunny weather isn’t due to hold, however, but the forecast didn’t include rain, so we decided to use the cooler temperatures to our advantage and explore one of the high mountain footpaths.

A few minutes’ walk brings us to the Tovière gondola lift, which powers us rapidly from Tignes Le Lac up to 2695m, where the footpath is plainly visible. A gentle stroll down to 2650m brings us to the departure point for a near-circular route which takes in the Col de Fresse (2576m), then makes a 180° turn to head over to Val Claret, then around the Lac de Tignes and back to our starting point. The stated time for the full 9.2km route is around 2h20min – 1h40min if you take a free shuttle bus from Val Claret back to Tignes Le Lac. Aware of our Day One fitness levels, we take the shorter option. It proves to be a wise decision, since the path includes some quite steep climbs and descents to follow a succession of mountain crests. In winter skiers on the pistes whose outlines remain clearly visible on the now-grassy slopes below will be wondering what surprises the next valley might hold, but when summer comes walkers on top of the peaks can see it all, with genuinely panoramic views. To identify features like the source of the Isère river and the northern (Italian) face of Mont-Blanc there’s an orientation table along the way.

Back down to earth

After passing the melancholic top station of the Bollin chairlift we reach the Col de Fresse (2576m), whose sense of wild remoteness reminds us that we’re at the gateway to the vast Parc National de la Vanoise. From this point the path begins a gentle and more or less constant descent, and is soon joined by a stream which has eroded a small valley. The path winds its way down towards another meeting with the idle chairlift we haven’t seen since the col, while mounds of vividly-coloured wildflowers bask in their sheltered setting. By now the sun has returned, and the colours around us take on a heightened intensity as we tackle what for us will be the final section of our itinerary.

Minutes later we’re in another near-silent world, among the outermost apartment blocks of Val Claret, below which we await a shuttle bus in the company of skiers fresh from their morning exertions on the snow-covered glacier.

Tignes, lake with mountains, distant view of Val Claret
Flyboard demonstration at Tignes Le Lac with spectators

Around the lake

Running against the stopwatch on a 2350m-long footpath around the perimeter of the Lac de Tignes is a popular activity here, and if you’re really fit you can do it in eight minutes (which equates to an average speed of 17.6kmh). However, the glorious weather we’re fortunate enough to enjoy is better suited to a gentle walk with frequent stops to take in the constantly-changing views. While transfixed by the assertive outline of Val Claret and its mountain backdrop rising from the opposite end of the lake, it’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago we were walking right across the centre of its frozen surface.

The ski-lifts are barely visible in the now-grassy landscape, although at this altitude a fresh dusting of snow remains a possibility at virtually any time of year, and of course there’s always much more than that on and around the glacier and some of the more shaded high peaks. For us the occasional reminder of the wild, untamed nature of the mountains only adds to the appeal of visiting the high places in summer, something which can soon become just as addictive as ski trips.

In winter the mountains here remain a paradise for hardcore skiers, while in summer it’s the turn of adrenalin-fuelled downhill mountain-bikers, for whom several chair lifts have been adapted to carry bikes up to a selection of high-altitude trails. The Lac de Tignes is similarly transformed. An expanse of snow-covered ice enjoyed by walkers and dog-sledders becomes what is clearly the resort’s most valuable asset. For sunbathers, picnickers and people-watchers its timeless appeal is irresistible.

In recent years, however, the steady growth in activity-based holidays has added a whole new dimension to Tignes’ tourism offer – during July and August visitors get free access to a wide range of activities, including use of chair lifts for walkers and mountain-bikers. On the water the traditional, slightly genteel pleasures of taking out a canoe or pedalo have been joined by new arrivals like paddle boarding (known here as ‘stand-up paddle’), hot-jumping (freestyle acrobatics from a ski-jump style flume), blob-jumping (which involves being fired off the end of a floating airbag by someone else dropping onto it from a height) and the spectacular fly-board. This involves strapping on a wetsuit and a jet-pack attached by a flexible tube to a powerful jet-ski, which propels you up to 6m out of the lake on a column of water. It’s spectacular when demonstrated by an expert, and provides a different kind of entertainment when first-timers try it.

At the far end of the lake the footpath passes the greens of the Lac de Tignes Golf Club, a far from typical 18-hole course, where the local marmots are among the regular onlookers. Among the more demanding features are an assortment of lakes and gullies, plus the obvious distractions of its sensational high-altitude setting said to make this the highest 18-hole golf course in Europe.

Eventually the path begins a climb to skirt the Acroland water activity area, where we pause for a few minutes to take in some of the action unfolding below. For a closer look there are amphitheatre-style tiered seats, but we press on to Tignes Le Lac, to complete our relaxed circuit of the lake.

Tignes Grande Motte cable car in summer
Glacier summer skiing, Grande Motte, Tignes

Summer skiing on the Grande Motte glacier

Until you’ve taken the Perce Neige funicular and re-emerged into daylight at the panoramic observation deck (3034m) at the foot of the Grande Motte glacier you’ll struggle to believe that for most of the year there are groomed pistes up there. What’s more, as we discovered, each morning brings fresh waves of people of getting their mid-year fix of Alpine skiing.

We join them and cram into the cable car for the vertiginous haul (at 10m/sec) 150m or more above the glacier – a distance of 1696m, with just one pylon for support along the way. We alight at the 3456m top station and step smiling onto the kind of snow we hadn’t expected to see until next winter. Then we look back at the lake far below, and beyond it the now barely-visible villages.

It’s surprising how much snow still covers more sheltered areas, and not merely above Tignes – you can see a long way from up here. As the skiers and snowboarders trudge determinedly towards the departure points for the pistes we’d skied ourselves during the winter season, the cable car slips away and all but vanishes amid the vastness below. Even if you’re not skiing the trip and the views make the highest point in the whole of the Espace Killy well worth seeing in any season.

The kind of fine, sunny weather we’ve enjoyed for almost the whole of our stay encourages us to spend most of our time outdoors. Tignes certainly has a lot to offer, not just as a family destination in its own right but also as a base from which to explore the mountain areas nearby. See our separate pages on our visits from here to the sensational Lac de la Sassière and to the Monument Historique mountain hamlet of Le Monal, near Sainte-Foy Tarentaise. We’ll certainly be returning to Tignes – both in winter and in summer.

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