Tignes le Lac is one of those places you can just fall in love with. It is teeny tiny but when the snow falls and the sun shines it is just about perfect. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not a quintessentially beautiful alpine village (hello Chamonix) but it is a far cry from your purpose build concrete jungle (I’m looking at you Flaine). And if you are in search of early or, my personal favourite, late season skiing then you are in the right place. As France goes, Tignes Le Lac is one of highest resorts which gives you the best chance for the ultimate combo – sun and snow. We spent the final week of the 2017/18 season there last April but now, at the start of the season, felt like a far more sensible time to share my travel guide. I hope you enjoy the tips and, as always, if you have any to add or any questions please leave me a comment at the end.
Scroll down for my fav places to stay and eat as well as what to do (because it is not all skiing when you have a baby and his Gran to keep happy too)…
We stayed in Le Taos, part of the reliably good Montagnettes group, and it was an absolute dream. Nestled right on the edge of the slope and literally a few steps from the centre, it is ideally situated and extremely chic with its stunning natural wood and stone interior and mountain filled picture windows. Take a closer look at my full review here.
Although Tignes le Lac may be small, it is certainly not lacking in options for dining and drinking. We tried as many as we could and yet, as tends to happen on any holiday, found ourselves gravitating towards a few favourites. And here they are…
Above we have the Coeur des Neiges, a mere two minute walk from Le Taos and everything you could hope for in a cosy alpine refuge – a vintage chairlift booth, everything in sight clad in wood and an excellent cheese fondue. By day, weather permitting, they have plenty of tables on the street, chairs lined with cosy furs and an ourdoor grill on the go. My personal experience of the barbecued meat wasn’t wonderful but the burgers are to die for I promise – big, juicy, tall and tasty.
The 2100 Alpine Kitchen, below, resides in the Langley Hotel on the not so pretty side of town. The atmosphere and the food more than make up for the location though because once you are safely cocooned inside the hotel, enjoying the lavish alpine surroundings, you will never want to leave. The kitchen was winding down by the last week in April so some of the menu was not available but everything which was, was outstanding (steak and asian salad were favourites). Top tip – perusing the wine menu might leave your eyes watering slightly but do not be deterred, ask for a carafe of the unlisted but reasonable and very good house wine.
If you don’t mind taking a little walk over to Le Lavachet (or hop on the bus) then L’Arti, below, is your final foodie stop. Decked out with all the Charlie Adam art and, you guessed it, more wood than a sauna, it is at once kitsch and elegant. The food is more adventurous than your usual ski menu (aka, everything with cheese) which makes for a really nice break and it was truly delicious – my mouth is watering just seeing that risotto again… (yeah, ok it does have a parmesan crisp on top – but who doesn’t love cheese?).
Ski of course. By the third week in April we were honestly unsure how the snow conditions would be but with a very late and generous dump we were in luck with not a single run closed. We chose to ski mornings, on the four hour pass, from 9am-1pm (although annoyingly to take advantage of the demi pass, it is required that you buy the full day pass and then return it to the ticket office for a partial refund – whilst this is a huge faff and not particularly convenient, we were able to ski into the office and then complete our journey down to Le Taos without needing another lift which was ideal). The slopes were groomed daily as you would expect and in excellent condition – quiet and stunning as you would expect. Part of the Espace Killy, you have access to an enormous network of runs and we skied regularly over to Val D’Isère for a change of scene – my advice for Val is not to go too low though as those popular runs became extremely choppy and increasingly tough on the legs to ski… By 1pm the sunny home runs in Tignes Le Lac were becoming slushy but nothing to complain about.
On the slopes in Tignes I cannot recommend L’Alpage highly enough as the perfect spot to enjoy a hot chocolate reclined in a lounger on the sun terrace. The chilled out vibe here is absolutely perfect and I would have loved the option to try Lo Soli restaurant up there too but there was some confusion over the availability of high chairs (fair enough – probably not too many babies frequenting gourmet dining establishments up the moutain). If you do make it over to Val D’Isère, then you know you have to stop at La Folie Douce, or even La Fruitière housed within – the name probably precedes them but if not, trust me, well worth a stop – Mel has some shots of both in this post if you want a nosey.
We so happened to be staying in Tignes Le Lac during the annual Live in Tignes outdoor festival which spans four nights. We stopped by a couple of times and if we were at a different stage of life (aka without a tiny baby) then maybe this would have been more our thing. As it was we were just delighted that you couldn’t hear it from our apartment, ha.
The market comes to town every Thursday and Sunday and has, yep that’s right, more cheese. But there’s cured meat too. And honestly some other great finds (as well as the usual market tat – why do French markets always sell giant knickers? Who buys them? Really?). But I found it charming and of course we bought cheese and hams because that is just what you do. And we loved it.
Saving the best for last… every single afternoon, and many a lunchtime too, we made a beeline for the outdoor terrace of Hotel le Levanna. Secreted away at the back and down some stairs, it lies directly on the beginner piste and has views right over the frozen lake, to the highest peaks and beyond. That first image at the top of the post was taken from this very spot to give you an idea. So yeah, the service is typically French (you could say abrupt or even grumpy) but the view and the big wooden sun trap mean that you really will just let it wash right over you. Come to think of it perhaps we simply outstayed our welcome… is three hours a day too much?
Undoubtedly the downside of the highest resorts in the alps is that they are not exactly a hop, skip and a jump from Glasgow. That being said, you can make the most of the journey if you choose to. And we do. Fly to Geneva for the most affordable direct flights and consider hiring a car if there are a few of you to spread the cost. We stopped for a dinner in Annecy, below, absolutely one of the most charming places in the world, and Chambéry on the return to enjoy a lunch in the baking sun. I recommend both wholeheartedly.