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What to expect as a beginner in Tignes

If you've never been to a ski resort such as Tignes before it can be difficult to imagine yourself there and what to expect. We've put together a comprehensive guide to help you decide what to take, what sort of lessons and lift passes to buy and everything you need to know about your holiday as a beginner skier or snowboarder in Tignes.

Getting to and around Tignes

If you are flying to Tignes, the closest airports from the UK are Geneva, Grenoble and Lyon, all of which are approximately three hours drive from Tignes. From the airport you can either hire a car or choose a private or group transfer to get to resort. The cheapest option is a shared bus transfer and the fastest option is a private transfer or taxi. We can help with quotes for transfers to resort. Driving from the UK is an environment friendly option which allows you the flexibility to stop when you want to and to pack a little more than you would when flying. The Eurotunnel takes 35 minutes or Dover to Calais ferry crossings take around an hour and a half. The third option is travelling by train from London St Pancras - Paris Nord - Gare de Lyon - Bourg St Maurice and then a bus or taxi to resort.

Once in resort the easiest way to travel around is by the free resort shuttle bus. This operates regularly between the three areas of Lavachet, Le Lac and Val Claret. You can also walk between the three. It takes around 15-20 minutes to walk from Lavachet to Le Lac and 30-40 minutes from Le Lac to Val Claret. Tignes is a car free resort so if you are arriving in resort by car you will need to park it in one of the resort car parks bookable in advance online. You are allowed to park on the road for a limited time to unload and take luggage to your accommodation. Some accommodation options offer a free parking space so do check before booking your space online.

What to take

It can be daunting packing for a ski trip for the first time but with careful planning and a comprehensive list it should make life a little easier. Aside from a ski jacket and trousers, other basic items you will need include thermal tops and bottoms, a few pairs of ski socks (the thinner the better), goggles, sunglasses and layers (think a few short-sleeve and long-sleeve t-shirts). A thin fleece under your jacket can be great on colder days, while on warmer days you can probably get away with a short and long sleeve t-shirt. You can hire helmets, boards, boots, skis and poles in resort if you don't have you own (we offer a 40% discount booking via the following link on our website: ). Water-proof boots or snow boots are great for walking around resort when you aren't out on the slopes especially if there has been a big dump of snow! While out on the slopes make sure to take sun cream with you, even on a dull day the sun's rays are really strong at altitude. It's also a good idea to take water and a snack in your pocket as it can be thirsty and hungry work out on the slopes. If the forecast is really cold you could also pack some hand and foot warmers, especially useful if you are travelling with little ones.

Food can be expensive in resort so we also recommend taking some basic supplies with you if you have space. Cereals and dried food such as pasta are good options as well as snacks for on the slopes such as energy and chocolate bars.

Lift passes and lessons

For the first couple of days you won't need a lift pass as you will be learning and practising on the nursery slopes which offer a safe and defined area for you to progress. The nursery slopes are served by the following free lifts:

  • 4 carpets - like an escalator but without stairs (Val Claret, Le Lac and Les Boisses)

  • 2 teleskis - button lift (Lavachet and Grande Parei)

  • 3 chairlifts - (Bollin, Almes and Rosset)

Your instructor will let you know when you are ready to progress to green and blue slopes which will mean buying a lift pass. Green and blue runs are the easiest followed by reds and blacks. Lift passes can be bought at the kiosks at Maison de Tignes in Le Lac or at the kiosk near the funicular in Val Claret.

As a beginner you will need lessons in resort. It's a good idea to book ski and snowboard lessons in advance especially if you are travelling in school holidays when availability will be limited. Most people book 5-6 group lessons on a half day basis. Morning lessons which are slightly more expensive run from 9-12am and afternoon lessons from 2-5pm. You can also book private lessons which usually run over lunch time. We can put you in touch with our contacts in resort to arrange lessons for you and more information can be found at the following link on our website: If time and money permit, booking a few lessons at an indoor ski slope before your trip can help familiarise you with your equipment and give you the basics which will save valuable time in resort.

Shops and restaurants

There is a good range of supermarkets and bakeries in Lavachet, Le Lac and Val Claret. Most supermarkets open from 07:30am to 9:00pm including bank holidays. There are also a number of gift shops and specialist food shops such as Fromagerie du Lac which sells cheeses, salamis and local wines. They can make up a fondue pack for you to cook at your accommodation and also rent out fondue and racelette sets.

You are spoilt for choose when it comes to restaurants in Tignes. There is a wide selection from high end to local family eateries and take-away options. For more information please see our blog on where to eat in Tignes:

On the slopes

Tignes is a high altitude resort so many of its slopes are above the tree line, the exception being if you ski down to Les Brevieres or the lower slopes in Val d'Isere. This allows for dramatic scenery and amazing rock formations such as the Aguille Percee (or needle) which can be seen from the top of the Palafour chair lift. Tignes is served mainly by chair lifts and gondolas so you won't find many button lifts or drag lifts in resort. There is also a funicular that takes you up to the Grande Motte glacier from where there are great views over Tignes. There are lots of mountain restaurants where you can stop for a drink or bite to eat or a toilet stop. If you are learning on the nursery slopes in Le Lac there are public toilets inside the Tourist Information Centre and at the base of the Toviere gondola. In Val Claret there are toilets just at the bottom of the nursery slopes across from where the bus stops near the Bollin chair lift. Ski lifts open from 09:00 and shut between 16:45 and 17:00. There are exceptions though such as the Grande Motte glacier where the last ascent is at 15:30 so do check before you set out. Piste maps are great for finding your way around and can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre. You can also download the Tignes App which will give you real time information on lift and pistes openings. Note that in bad weather lifts and pistes can sometimes shut at short notice so it's a good idea to stay close to the resort you are staying in and not venture too far afield.

Off the slopes

There's plenty to do in Tignes when you're not out on the slopes skiing or snowboarding and also if you are a non-skier. Le Lagon in Le Lac has three swimming pools, a gym and a wellness centre which includes saunas, jacuzzis and a steam room. Also in Le Lac Tignespace is a sports centre offering badminton, squash, table tennis, simulator golf and a climbing wall. Val Claret has a cinema often showing films with English subtitles. If you're after an adrenalin hit, Expedition Cobra in Le Lac is a high speed sledging course which runs down from the top of the Palafour chairlift. Sledges and helmets can be hired from the hut near the chairlift after the slopes close to skiers from 5pm. For a gentler option you can try tubing on the slopes just as you enter Val Claret. Other activities such as dog sledging, snow-shoeing and ice-diving are also available, please see the following link on our website for more details:

If you want to sample the apres-ski in Tignes there is plenty of choice, Val Claret offering the most in the way of bars and live music. Please see our blog on the five best apres-ski bars in Tignes for more information:


Skiing and snowboarding are incredibly physical activities and require a decent level of fitness. Cycling, running and swimming are all great ways to build up your fitness and we found that online HIT workouts really help in the weeks running up to your holiday, especially squats! When you get to resort be sure to do some stretching before heading out onto the slopes, it can really help loosen up your joints. A long hot bath can be great too for aching muscles at the end of a long day on the slopes.

We hope that you have found this blog useful and that it has given you some insight into what to expect when you arrive in Tignes. If you have any question or if there is anything we have missed out, do get in touch and we'd be happy to help.

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