In the first of a series of ski resort guides for this winter, we’re looking to France – and the Espace Killy.
This monster ski area is home to two world famous ski resorts; Val d’Isere and Tignes.
These two big boys are linked by 300 kilometres of fantastic skiable terrain – here you’ll find high altitude skiing, 2 glaciers and 158 ski runs of varying difficulty.
Whatever ability you are, the Espace Killy has bucket-loads for you to do.
Here’s our Ski Espace Killy resort guide for this much-loved French ski area.
Val d’Isere or Tignes?
The resorts themselves are very different in style and design.
Val d’Isère is a traditional alpine village – here’s where you’ll find the rich and beautiful people of Europe staying in boutique hotels and 5 star properties, including beautiful chalet and luxury apartments. Unsurprisingly then, there’s plenty of trendy restaurants and bars in addition to a whole host of designer shops.
But look around and you’ll see this is only one side of Val – there’s also some great value apartments and a banging nightlife that draw in a younger crowd who are committed to spending more time on the hill and less money in Louis Vuitton.
Tignes on the other hand is purpose built, designed with the skier in mind.
Much of the accommodation here is right on the piste or within sliding distance of the nearest ski lift – the whole village is very much thought out around skiing and boarding.
You’ll find chalets, apartments and large hotels ranging in style and star rating to cater for just about everybody’s needs. Tignes is seen as a fun loving resort with a fantastic party atmosphere and a huge choice of activities on offer.
Skiing The Espace Killy Ski Area
Three reasons to ski in the Espace Killy:
- The skiing is simply brilliant – with 300km of piste split over 2 resorts providing a great range and variety to suit just about everyone.
- It’s a high altitude ski area and home to 2 glaciers with skiing up to a height of 3,456 meters (meaning there’s always plenty of good quality snow).
- For beginners and skiers who just want to take it steady, full advantage can be made of the 4 ‘ski tranquil’ areas. These marked out areas are specifically designed to group together the easier runs resulting in a steadier more relaxed pace.
Top tips for skiing in the Espace Killy
- To beat the queues at the busy times, head over to Le Fornet in Val d’Isere. You’ll find practically untouched pistes, limited queues, a brilliant glacier and the best chair lift you’ve ever seen. You can also head over to the right hand side of the Tignes valley to the l’Aiguille Percée area; here you’ll find wide red runs, fun blues and again, lots of uncrowded slopes.
- If you’re a confident skier try taking the first lifts of the morning to the top of the men’s Olympic run ‘le Face’ in Val d’Isere – definitely not to be missed for something a little more demanding. Or for the ‘Adrenaline Junkie’, a great run is the 10km long ‘Le Sache’ from the top of Aiguille Percée down the valley to Tignes-les-Brévières. Both of these are marked on the piste map above.
- Visit the two large snow parks, easily accessible in each resort. They are brilliant fun and cater for everyone. There’s even a green run complete with mini jumps and boxes running to the side of the larger half pipes, jumps, boxes and rails for the snow-park novices. The Tignes snow park has a giant inflatable air bag to land on which is great fun and even beginner park-goers can give it a try without the fear of hurting yourself if you don’t quite get things right. And best of all, it’s free to have a go.
The après ski in Espace Killy
At the foot of the slopes of both resorts you will find some fantastic bars to enjoy a bit of après, but when it comes to mountain après locations you will fail to find a place better in the Alps than the Folie Douce.
The simplest way to describe it is a club up the mountain, on the side of the piste. It’s a brilliant experience where pretty much anything goes – DJs on the roof top and saxophone players dancing and playing on tables with the end result being one huge party. An experience not to be missed!
Things to do in the Espace Killy
When it comes to activities and entertainment both resorts really do have it all.
The Aqua leisure centre in Val d’Isère has a swimming pool and a leisure pool with currents, water cannons, massage jets and a paddling pool. There’s also a climbing wall and sports centre within the complex.
The Val calendar is packed with all sorts of events going on at the foot of the slopes which is great fun for everybody.
There are weekly events including their Air Star night where village centre is beautifully illuminated and filled with traditional market stalls.
The ESF have a weekly moonlight decent from top to bottom on the ‘Le Face’ black run which is an absolute must-see.
And if that isn’t enough, Val d’Isère likes to celebrate pretty much everything with fireworks displays galore.
New Year is also celebrated in style in Tignes. It is host to the biggest piste party in the Alps with an amazing line up of bands and DJs to bring the New Year in with a bang.
Tignes has a brilliant leisure complex called the Lagoon centre with a swimming pool and leisure pool area – a great place to visit after a day on the slopes. There are so many activities to choose from for everybody in Tignes; Ice skating, bowling alley, cinema, husky dog sledding, ice driving, bungee trampoline, snow-kiting, paragliding and more.
Tignes also plays host every year to one of the most famous events on the ski calendar, The Winter X Games, where the world’s best free style skiers and boarders compete against each other.
The Espace Killy really does have it all, a world class ski area, two fantastic resorts and just about everything you could ever need to make this area an exciting winter playground.
Share your experiences
Have you skied in the Espace Killy?
What did you enjoy about your trip to Tignes or your time in Val d’Isere?
Leave us a comment and share your experiences.