Tignes - the best Alpine mountain biking resort you've never heard of?
Not just because it's totally free
Photos: Pascal Leeau and Tristan Shu
Sponsored by Chalet Chardons
Riding in the Alps is amazing fun. The trails offer a steepness and intensity you simply can’t find in the UK and with so many resorts now opening their lifts to mountain bikers, your tyres can taste fresh dirt each day, every grain of it on world class trails.
However, if you head to one of the popular resorts it’s far from perfect - the chalets are expensive, the lift queues can be longer than a game of cricket and the braking bumps will leave you unable to straighten your fingers until winter. That’s why we think it could be time to look a bit further afield for your Alpine summer holiday needs.
We reckon that the top of your list should be Tignes. Tignes lies about 100 miles south of Les Gets and is partnered with the Val D’Isere resort that hosted a round of the World Cup in 2012. It offers a myriad of man made and natural trails, similar to any other Alpine resort, but it has one trump card hidden up its sleeve… It’s totally free.
Yep, that’s right, this is a lift-accessed Alpine holiday that won’t cost you the Earth, especially if you book your flights well in advance and stay with a chalet company like Chalet Chardons, who offer a week’s stay for £330.
The region is home to 30 trails covering 90 kilometres of riding, four of which are pro difficulty with 10 reds and 12 blues to get your teeth into. As we said, use of chairlifts that access the bike parks is totally free and there’s also a free shuttle bus that can allow you to access even more riding.
Jump Around is the longest blue trail in the park. It boasts 12 km of flowy descending and, as the name suggests, plenty of opportunity to get your wheels off the ground. It’s probably the most popular trail in the resort though so make sure you take it on in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the traffic
Moustache is a black that feels a bit like a Rampage run as it cuts through rocky outcrops with stunning views over the Tignes Lake. It leads you into the super steep Black Metal trail that fires you down sheer drops to the village below
Unfortunately the Val D’Isere World Cup track is not rideable all year round but there should be more than enough challenging terrain to keep you on your toes. You can view a full trail map here.
It’s not just the mountain biking that’s free, Tignes provides a further catalogue of 20 amazing activities that won’t cost you a penny. The list is pretty exhaustive but includes a water sports centre, trampolines, archery, an airbag, a ski jump into the lake, a swimming pool and sports facilities.
Of any resort we’ve seen, this probably makes Tignes the most family friendly. You can go and have your fun and they won’t be able to complain you’ve dragged them to a barren mountain town where all they can do is eat overpriced croissants – winner!
We would recommend giving Chalet Sophia, one of Chalet Chardons’ properties in Tignes les Brevieries, serious thought if you’re looking for an affordable, yet quality, place to rest your weary forearms after a day smashing it on the trails.
The chalet is fully catered by a professional chef (including a five course dinner with canapés, a cheese board and free flowing French bottled wine in the evening) and equipped with wi-fi ,a sauna and a hot tub overlooking the lake and mountains - the perfect place to soak your sore muscles! Other guests in the chalet are quite likely to be mountain bikers meaning more people to share your battle stories of the day with.
The fixed price for a week’s half board is £330 per person (£280 for children) and includes your free activity pass for all the MTB lifts and 20 other sports in Tignes, considering this is a ski town, we reckon that’s pretty awesome value.
The easiest way will be to drive or fly to Geneva and then use one of the local shuttle services (roughly a two and a half hour ride)