Top tips for enjoying the slopes in Tignes and Val d'Isere
Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Need help with planning your day out on the slopes? Not sure how to make the most of your Espace Killy lift pass? This blog will look at the best way of tackling Tignes and Val d'Isere in a day covering a variety of pistes and without having to repeat runs. It starts in Tignes and takes in central Val d'Isere and Le Fornet at the far end of Val d'Isere. The route includes mainly reds and a few black runs so it's best for intermediate and advanced skiers/boarders.
Try to pick a blue sky day for this one if possible as it covers a lot of distance and merits a few stops along the way. If strong winds or heavy snow are forecast, save it for another day as the link between Tignes and Val can sometimes close, meaning it's best not to travel too far. It's good to start early in the day if you can, but wait until after the ski schools have set out so that you avoid any lift queues.
View towards Toviere from Le Lac
Our suggested route starts from the top of the Toviere gondola, so take this up if you are based in Le Lac, or take the Tufs chair lift if you are based in Val Claret. From Lavachet you can either ride on the shuttle bus to Le Lac or take the nursery button lift and ski down into Le Lac before hopping on the gondola. To start, take blue run Edelweiss and keeping right branch onto blue Tines which runs parallel to the bottom half of the snow park. This will take you to the Marmottes chair which marks the end of the Tignes ski area and the start of Val d'Isere. The chair takes you to the top of the Bellevarde ski area and is also where the gondola and funicular summit.
Take a deep breath before the next section as you'll be tackling the famous black run Face which has featured in many a world cup downhill race. The top section is wide and easy enough but don't be fooled...after a dog leg a third of the way down there is a steep section which can be mogly, icy or both! After this section you can branch off and take red Joseray into Val or continue on Face if you are feeling brave. Face can be icy first thing and covered in slushy moguls towards the end of the day but in the right conditions it can be a dream. At the bottom you will be in Solaise in the centre of Val d'Isere, and will be sufficiently warmed up to warrant a break on the Olympique gondola. This had a revamp a few years ago and is now fitted with heated seats! At the top there are spectacular views and you can stop for a drink at La Tete de Solaise restaurant and bar. This is also the location for Hotel Refuge Solaise, which at 2551m is the highest hotel in France! Even if you don't stop for a drink, there a free toilets which is a rarity in Val d'Isere!
From Solaise it's a short hop to the Glacier Express chair. There are great views down to the dam from the top of this lift and it's a very short ski to the next chair which is the Lessieres Express. Make sure you stay to the right as you ski down so as not to miss it. This lift is also known as the up and over lift and travels both up and downhill. It's literally breath-taking when you get to the peak and then drop down into the valley on the other side!
Looking towards Val d'Isere from Le Fornet with Face in the background
After disembarking from the up and over lift, you can take blue runs all the way down into Le Fornet. The run to the right takes you to a drag lift but it's best to keep left and continue on blue run Vallon down to the top of the Fornet cable car. You'll need a bit of speed near the top of this run as there is a flat section followed by a slight uphill incline. At the top of the Fornet cable car there is restaurant Le Signal where you can stop for a drink and admire the view, or you can continue down into Le Fornet. If you take the blue called Mangard, you will pass L'Edelweiss Restaurant which has a large outdoor terrace. Alternativley take red Cognon that branches off from the blue near village level. Both require a schuss at the end as there is an uphill slope to the Fornet cable car. This part of Val not usually busy and the tree-line skiing makes a pretty change from the rocky outcrops higher up. If you're feeling brave, there's a black run called Foret which runs through the trees following the line of the Fornet cable car. It's not especially steep but the moguls can be very big especially towards the end of the season. Factor in some ice and it can be a challenging run down!
At the foot of the cable car in Le Fornet is a self-service restaurant. It's no frills but the prices are reasonable and it's a good place to stop for lunch if you haven't done so already. If you'd prefer to lunch up on the mountain, take the James Bond style cable car followed by the long bubble Vallon, and it's a short ski down to the up and over lift. If you have time you can ski down to the Cascade chair which takes you up onto the Pissaillas glacier. There are a couple of cruising reds and a blue on one side of the chair and a lovely off-piste section on the other side which is easily accessible and not too difficult. Near the base of the Cascade chair is a small restaurant which makes a good lunch stop before starting the journey back to Tignes. From here take the very short Cema chair and ski down to the up and over lift chair lift from which you can admire sweeping views towards the dam on the downhill section. Nestled between the Datcha and Glacier chair lifts, you will find the self-service restaurant Datcha with a large outdoor terrace and the best fries on the mountain! Just across is the Tipi Bar which sells nachos and churros - a good bet if you don't fancy queuing.
View of the off-piste on the Pissaillas glacier
To start heading back to Tignes take the Datcha chair then follow the green run to the carpet lift which is enclosed in a tunnel and takes you back up to Solaise. From here you can take red Piste M all the way back to the Olympique cable car. This wide piste can get busy towards the end of the day so if you want to avoid the crowds, stick to the far edges of the piste and give the moguls a try! Alternatively you can tackle the moguls on black Piste S which starts near the top of Solaise, or branch off Piste M half way down and take black Rhone-Alps. The bottom part of Piste S is quite steep and can be icy at time. All of the runs lead to a blue which continues to the Olympique cable car. Take this to head back to Tignes and get a birds eye view of the Face on the way up.
From Olympique there is a choice of greens, blues and a red down to the famous Folie Douce bar and restaurant, or you can mix things up and try the mini border cross called p'tit cross. By now the Folie Douce will be ramping up a gear and you will probably hear it before you can see it! A great place to stop at the end of the day in the knowledge that there is just a very short ski to the Tommeuses chair and Toviere cable car if your ski legs have deserted you! If pumping music is not your thing, head straight to the Tommeuses chair which will take you to the summit of Toviere. You can buy waffles and a drink at the Restaurant Altitude de Toviere at the top and take in the panoramic views towards the Grand Motte glacier and Mont Blanc.
The famous Folie Douce Bar and Restaurant in Val d'Isere
From Toviere, there a several choices back to Tignes depending on where you are staying and how much time is left before the lifts shut! If staying in Val Claret and fancy an easy run down, head to blue run Henri but be warned that this run can be very busy at the end of the day. Black run Campanules offers a quiet alternative but the moguls can often be icy on all but very warm days. For Lavachet take either of the two red runs, Crocus or Combe Folle, or black run Johan Clarey which is steep and full of moguls on the final section. It is named after the downhill racer from Tignes, who recently won a silver medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Branch right towards the end of the black and you can cut onto the green nursery slope back into Lavachet. For Le Lac, continue on down the black and schuss the very last section to take the magic carpet up to the ski school meeting area. If time permits, you can ski the bowl back to Le Lac by skiing down Henri into Val Claret and then taking the Tufs, Grattalu and Grand Huit chair lifts. There are gentle blues all the way back into Le Lac and you can avoid the crowds on Johan Clarey. More information on these routes can be found on our previous blog.
We hope you've enjoyed our tour of Tignes and Val d'Isere, and that it's given you an insight into how to make the most of your Epsace Killy lift pass.