The Espace Killy, named after the former French World Cup ski racer Jean-Claude Killy, is advertised - via its distinctive logo - as “le plus bel espace de ski du monde” (“the most beautiful ski area in the world”). This isn’t a label that should be taken lightly - the Espace Killy has some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps, from the Aiguille du Percee (‘Eye of the Needle’) rock formation to the views of the lake and dramatic dam in the Tignes valley. 300km of linked and easily accessible pistes form a vast ski area which can take skiers of all levels from glaciers to hidden valleys to mountain top bars in one day.
With the Grande Motte glacier reaching 3653m and the main area of Tignes sitting at an altitude of 2100m, the Espace Killy is a difficult area to beat when it comes to snow reliability. The season is long and when the winter is over, skiers can enjoy the glacier well into the summer.
The good times do not stop on the pistes, as Val d’Isere is highly regarded as one of the best resorts for eating, drinking and having fun. It is home to the famous Folie Douce and has après bars and traditional Savoyard eateries in abundance.
Tignes is widely considered as one of the finest ski resorts in the French Alps. The oldest of the five villages that make up the resort – Tignes Les Brevieres – has been in existence since the 13th century, with the other four coming after the local council received funds from the government for the famous dam built at the foot of the valley.
Tignes is linked with Val d’Isere to create the expansive Espace Killy ski domain. The main areas of Tignes – Le Lac, Lavachet and Val Claret - sit at a high altitude of 2100m and each provide great access to the slopes. From Tignes Val Claret you can directly access the Grand Motte glacier via the impressive funicular. The glacier reaches a summit of 3456m and receives enough snow to be open for skiing in the summer.
This combination of enviable snow quality, impressive terrain choices to please everyone and a lively après ski culture makes Tignes one of the most desirable ski locations in Europe.
In Tignes’ ski area beginners will have their own free spaces at the bottom of the slopes and then once a bit more confident on their skis, they will have the opportunity to try the green and blue runs and even go all the way to Val d’Isère ski area. For intermediates and confident skiers and boarders there are great challenging red and black runs towards the Grande Motte glacier as well as some amazing off-piste for freeriders and powder lovers.
Tignes is also well equipped for freestylers and its terrain park offers units for both experts and novice. There is also an air bag to practice tricks safely, border cross for all levels and a half pipe where freestyle champs realize their runs during major competitions.
To join the ski area of Val d’Isère you can either take “Tovière” gondola from Tignes Le Lac or the lifts from Val Claret; “Tufs” and “Fresse”.
Val d’Isère is a world class resort, located just next to Tignes. The town is car free and made up of beautiful chalet style accommodation. The resort is very elegant and offers a range of services for everyone, from traditional family restaurants to more gastronomic establishments, pubs and shops-it is a very pleasant place to stay and is one of the British favs.
The resort is also famous for organising trials of the ski world cup and for its summer skiing thanks to the glacier. You can access the pistes by lifts from every part of the resort, from “Le Fornet” to “La Daille”, and a free ski bus shuttles between the different areas.
The ski area of Val d’Isère offers some areas for beginners at the bottom of the slopes near the resort as well as one at the altitude accessible by the “Solaise” gondola.
However, the resort is really enjoyable if you are intermediate or expert. Some blue runs are actually quite challenging for beginners and may be just fine for intermediates. Plus there are really challenging red and black runs such as the “Face de Bellevarde” known for being skied by the best skiers in the world during the Alberville Olympics in 1992. Of course there are off-piste opportunities for confident skiers which require being equipped to go off-piste and hiring a guide is always better for a safer experience. Regarding terrain parks Val d’Isère is not last. Its park has rails and bumps to suit every level, three boarder crosses and is served by its own ski-lift which it shares with the “Stade de Slalom” just next to it.
So all in all Espace Killy is the place to be to make the most of your time in the French Alps!
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
If you are not a big fan of skiing or boarding or if you just wish to try out some other things during the winter, the Espace Killy has everything you need.
If you are into sport then go snowshoe hiking, cross-country skiing or even ice climbing. There is also ice skating, several sledging areas offering different way of riding down the slope, dog sledging and snowmobiling. All perfect ways to have loads of fun with family or friends. Thrill seekers will also have their fair share of adrenaline, they will be able to try paragliding, speed-riding, ice driving, ice diving as well as the bun J ride in Tignes which can be described as a mix between bungee jumping and ski jumping. After a long day of enjoying what the mountain has to offer in winter it is quite likely that you will want to relax, in that case, why not head to the cinema or a wellness centre like the one in Tignes “Lagon”. No doubt you will enjoy your time in Espace Killy!
SUMMER IN THE ESPACE KILLY
Summer in the Espace Killy has become as popular as the winter. Tignes is host to a number of excellent summer activities including – but not limited to – 18 hole golf, tennis, mountain biking, , hiking, climbing, paragliding, archery, water sports or simply take in the breath-taking mountain scenery that surrounds Le Lac. It also has a wealth of kids clubs. Add to that the range of activities available in Val d’Isère, via ferrata, Adventure Park, skate park, horse riding and winter skiing to mention a few and you are ready to enjoy the most exciting summer in the French Alps.
EVENTS IN THE ESPACE KILLY
Espace Killy is the host of sporting events, concerts, shows, and other local festivities. If you want to have a brief insight on what is going on throughout the year in the resorts here’s e few examples of the major events!
Let’s start with Tignes and its festivities on the 31st of December - a great way to start the New Year with a torch lit descent, some good music and the midnight fireworks! Some freestyles competitions such as the SFR Freestyle Tour will also be hosted in the resort. In April don’t miss the “Live in Tignes” music festival by Francofolies, four days of concerts by international artists.
On to Val d’Isère which has hosted the Winter Golf Cup for five years now as well as the “Criterium de la Première Neige” which is a ski competition by the FIS. It also organises The International Adventure and Discovery Film Festival around April and in July the “High Trail Vanoise”, which is a race for all level lasting for 3 days.
The nearest airport is Chambéry which is about 2 hours away from Espace Killy, then you have the airports of Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva all of which are located between 2h30 and 3h from the resorts.
If you decide to get to Espace Killy by car then please make sure your car is equipped to drive in the snow during winter time. From Calais you should expect a 9 to 10 hours’ drive if you take the motorway. This does not include stops or traffic.
By train the nearest station is Bourg-Saint-Maurice, from there a bus or a taxi will drive you to your resort in about 40 minutes.