A GUIDE TO THE ESPACE KILLY

Categories France
Val d'Isere

Deep in the Tarentaise Valley sit Tignes and Val d’Isère, two (very different) resorts that make up the world-renowned Espace Killy ski area. It’s named after the French Olympic downhill skiing champion Jean Claude Killy, and links 300km of slopes.

With five villages under its belt, Tignes is pretty versatile. First is the quintessentially French village of Les Brévières, followed by Tignes 1800, which is dotted with stylish apartments that make it ideal for families. Peaceful Le Lavachet is next, with easy access to the slopes. And then there’s Le Lac, distinguished by its bustling centre and frozen lake. Walk across the ice to Val Claret, the most lively of the villages, for plenty of bars, restaurants and underground nightclubs.

Tignes
Tignes

Just a quick ski over the mountain will take you to Val d’Isère. This charming resort has an exclusive reputation – and it’s not hard to see why. First-class hotels, designer shops and trendy restaurants line its main street, and celebrity-spotting isn’t uncommon either. But with plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets, you don’t have to be rich or famous to visit.

With so much to love, it’s not unusual to see some familiar faces around town, heading to their favourite bar for a pint or two. But don’t follow the crowd. Dig deeper and tuck into some of Tignes and Val d’Isère’s hidden magic.

What’s the skiing like?

With 300km of high-altitude slopes, some as high as 3,550m, the resorts share some incredible skiing. Super steeps, beginner progression zones and cruisy blues span 158 runs, meaning all types of skier will feel at home on the mountain.

Grande Motte Glacier, Tignes

This emblem of Tignes peaks at 3,656m. To get to the top, jump on the funicular from Val Claret, followed by the Grande Motte cable car. You’ll get fantastic views over the Vanoise National Park and the iconic Mont Blanc, plus a choice of blue, red and black runs.

L’Aiguille Percée, Tignes

Hop off the Aiguille Percée lift to get a few snaps of the famous ‘Eye of the Needle’ rock formation that dominates the skyline before taking the lovely, long and gentle Corniche blue piste down the mountain.

Aiguille Percée
L’Aiguille Percée

Bun J Ride, Tignes

Combine ski jumping, bungee jumping and zip-wiring for a total adrenaline overdose. Harnessed in at the waist, you’ll ski 30 metres down a ramp before flying across a 40-metre void and ziplining back to the ground.

Things to see

Lady of the Lake  

You wouldn’t think it, but submerged under Chevril Lake is the original village of Tignes. It was flooded in 1952 to make way for a new dam, but when the residents were told to leave, one lady stood her ground and drowned. In 2003, a memorial statue was built on the road to Val d’Isère. It’s an unmissable viewpoint, so take a few minutes to admire this beauty among the mountains.

Lady of the Lake
Lady of the Lake

Ice sculptures, Val d’Isère

Tick off the unique ice sculptures that line Val d’Isère’s Avenue Olympique. Freshly carved each December to resemble different people and objects, their impressive detail is definitely worth a look (and a photo). Who knew ice could be so artistic?

Where to eat

Chevallot Patisserie, Tignes & Val d’Isère

Since its opening in 1965, this family-run bakery has opened five shops across both resorts. With a mouth-watering display of homemade savoury and sweet treats – think raspberry and walnut brioche, chocolate-cream eclairs and mini pizza breads – you’ll know where to head for lunch on the go.

Chevallot Patisserie
Chevallot Patisserie

Le Couloir, Tignes

Bar down, restaurant up – the food here is lip-smackingly good. Climb the stairs to the intimate upper mezzanine to tuck into gourmet dishes at seductive prices. Start with a slate of arancini, followed by cod fillet on a bed of puy lentils, and finish up with a tangy lemon cheesecake.

Nightlife in the Espace Killy

Tignes and Val d’Isère have some of the best après scenes in France – choose from over 60 restaurants, bars and clubs that are renowned for their liveliness.

Average drink prices in Tignes and Val d’Isère
Small beer €4
Bottle of house wine €20
Mulled wine €4
Glass of Coke €2

Best bars in the Espace Killy

Marmot Arms, Tignes

At the foot of the Palafour chairlift in Tignes Le Lac, this is everyone’s favourite mountain pub. Expect live music that’ll soon have your feet tapping, and great wallet-friendly snacks. We hear the burgers are delicious.

Grizzly’s Bar, Tignes

Escape the cold in Val Claret and take a seat on one of the faux fur-lined bar stools. The cabin-like setting and its unique bear-themed décor gives this bar a warm, cosy feeling making it hard to leave. There’s an open fire outside too, so you can snuggle up under one of their fleecy blankets and look up to the mountains.

Where to party in the Espace Killy

Coco Rico, Tignes & Val d’Isère

With not one but two locations, the party most definitely doesn’t stop at Coco Rico. Watch the sun set behind the mountains from the huge open-air terraces as you bust some moves to live bands and psychedelic strobe lights.

Coco Rico
Coco Rico

Doudoune, Val d’Isère

Roll up, roll up – the team behind Tomorrowland festival brings you elephants and fairy lights in this colourful, circus-themed club. It’s got the best sound system in the Alps, and with DJs like David Guetta and Pete Tong entertaining the crowds over the years, it would be hard not to enjoy yourself.

Where to stay

Tignes 2100, Tignes

Modern and stylish inside and out, it’s not a surprise this 3-star hotel is owned by a Swedish company. The rooms are cosy, and the outdoor hot tubs overlook the frozen lake. And if you fancy a post-ski mojito, the bar does a daily happy hour from 4-5.30pm.

Tignes 2100
Tignes 2100

Hotel Le Samovar, Val d’Isère  

All the bustle when you want it, and none of the busyness. Practically ski-in, ski-out, this smart spa hotel sits on the edge of Val d’Isère, in a quiet spot at foot of the La Daille slopes.

Kalinda Apartments, Tignes

Chic, spacious and stylish – these apartments are warmly decorated and well equipped with multiple bathrooms and spacious kitchen areas. And with hot tubs, saunas and two hammams, you’ll be feeling rested in no time. 

Kalinda Apartments
Kalinda Apartments

La Daille Apartments, Val d’Isère

Opposite La Daille gondola, these great-value apartments are all you need for a budget-friendly mountain getaway. Each one has cosy bedrooms and its own private balcony, meaning you can wake up each morning to views of the mountains.

Ready to check them out for yourself? Get planning your next winter holiday to Tignes or Val d’Isère now.

Writer for Crystal Ski Holidays.

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