Many of us are well familiar with winter holidays in the French Alps offering endless kilometres of snow-covered fun, but have you ever considered one of the world famous ski resorts as a summer holiday destination? When all the snow has melted away, beautiful mountainous surroundings are revealed along with infinite possibilities for outdoor fun.
This year we decided we’d check out the summer scene in Tignes and let you know all about it. Think endless outdoor activities, lots of adrenaline in the saddle, stunning views, ideal weather and a much smaller price tag than the winter equivalent.
It was an article in Outdoor Fitness magazine on mountain biking in Morzine that peaked our interest and inspired us to find a suitable European destination for an adrenaline filled week of downhill. The options seemed endless, many winter resorts in the Alps transition to Mountain Biking as temperatures rise and days lengthen.
Morzine, Alp D’Huez, Les Deux Alps and Les Gets were on our shortlist, all with a crazy number of trails, massive vertical drop and all the facilities needed for a great week in the mountains. An article on Worldbikeparks.com listing their top 10 bike parks in the world offered several European options, including our eventual destination.
Interestingly, the uplifts are free in Tignes, all you need to do is pick up your lift pass in town. This is not the case in most areas in the Alps and a welcome difference from the winter prices!
We visited Tignes in April for a snowboard holiday, so there was a real appeal to exploring the same area in a different season. Interestingly, the uplifts are free in Tignes, all you need to do is pick up your lift pass in town. This is not the case in most areas in the Alps and a welcome difference from the winter prices! So we went ahead and booked an apartment in the centre of Tignes Le Lac for less than half its winter cost (£400 in summer vs. £1200 in winter for a week in a 4pers. chalet).
Same person, same location, different season, but both rad t-shirts!
On arrival, in a heartbeat, we knew Tignes was the right choice with a breathtaking view from the chalet. You can’t get a more relaxing start to your holidays after a day travelling South in the car. We were immediately surrounded by mountains, green landscapes and a distant view of the glacier.
Looking for a summer break that didn’t drain us financially, we bought food and drinks in the UK and prepared a few meals before departure. The shops in the mountains can be a tad pricey, so this way we knew roughly what we were spending and allowed some of our budget for post ride drinks and treats.
Protection is essential; don’t skimp on it, your face and body will be grateful. Plus, you don’t want to cut your holiday short for something you could’ve prevented.
We also got additional protection and padding and it is fair to say these were essential. We wore elbow pads, knee pads, snowboard crash pants and a helmet. After a few days of growing in confidence and racking up speed, we upgraded to a full-face downhill helmet and a chest and back protection vest. The helmet was only €10 per day to hire and is not a high price to pay to spare your head around rocks and bumps. Protection is essential; don’t skimp on it, your face and body will be grateful. Plus, you don’t want to cut your holiday short for something you could’ve prevented.
A backpack with a waste strap is definitely a must for holding water, spare tubes, a small pump, lunch, any energy bars or bananas; allowing you to stay out longer and it doesn’t bounce up and down when you hit the jumps.
Tignes offers a good variety of trails, they’ve got 5 lifts running from early July until the end of August with 30 trails, covering 150km, including options for Beginners (green) to Advanced (black), cross country, enduro and downhill. A note of caution that the greens are much trickier than in the UK; they still get you from the top of the mountain to the bottom and there is no super easy way down.
On our 1st day we started off with care on a green trail and already felt like that wasn’t hugely straightforward. With an inkling of doubt about our level of experience, we went on to the blue and noticed that this was much better flowing. The green trail had sharp turns with no features and gradual descent, making it harder to get going and less interesting. Overall, the blue trails offered sufficient opportunity to pick up a few red obstacles and jumps so it was possible to gradually improve your skills.
Our favourite trail was definitely 'Kangooride'. It included feisty bermed corners, numerous and varied jumps, good distance and decent speed. The trails on the 'Tufs' side of the mountain were also less gravelly than the ones near the 'Palafour' in the centre of town.
We came down a full on red trail one day returning home, and the increase in difficulty was definitely noticeable with a few gap jumps, a steeper descent, more gravel on a rocky base and a few scary drops off the edge of the mountain. We managed to arrive fairly safely despite a full body flip over the handlebars.
We never thought we’d be able to shred the European slopes in July and actually didn’t want to believe it until we were there with both feet strapped to a snowboard. The presence of a glacier in an Alpine resort, where you’ve got snow throughout the entire year, is such a key selling point.
The passes were €35 per person per day, giving you access to 7 lifts running from 7am until 1pm. You need the early morning start because under the hot sunshine and blue skies the snow quickly softens.
We never thought we’d be able to shred the European slopes in July and actually didn’t want to believe it until we were there with both feet strapped to a snowboard.
The slopes are pretty icy at dawn, so we’d advise to give it maybe half an hour or 45mins after opening hours, because that’s all it takes to let it soften up a bit. It wasn’t busy up top, with a few good runs and even a snow park. As soon as the icy cover vanishes, we had comparable riding conditions to back in April on the lower slopes and made the most of it.
Gradually we could feel the snow getting stickier so by 12pm we’d had the best conditions and realised it was only going to deteriorate from there. It left us enough time and energy for a few trails on the bike that afternoon after a relaxing lunch at the apartment.
Making the most of the mountains like a true #tignaddict - snowboarding in the morning, mountain biking in the afternoon. All day we ride! Check out @daveb22glower 's air time. Welcome to paradise. #mtb #mountainbiking #mountainbikelife #downhill #downhillmtb #mtbtrails #vtt #thealps #thefrenchalps #alpineriding #snowboarding #snowboard #snow #snowboardlife #boardlife #tignes #tigneslelac #snowinsummer #justride #thinkoutside #mountains #airtime #feelathome #summer #sunshine #thegoodlife #outdoorsisfree #paradise #outdoorsradar
Visiting Tignes with a group of people who love their time active and outdoors promises to be a great holiday. The resort has endless activities and entertainment on offer during its summer season besides the downhill riding. It’s extraordinary what was hidden under the layers of packed snow from back in Spring.
Happy Weekend! Forgot to share this last week (so much rad stuff happening) - Tignes is also the perfect place for water madness & idiocy. This slide can make you look like either an incoherent clumse or a very stylish launchee. Let's dive into the weekend! Thank you @boomerangfrominstagram #boomerang #boomerangapp #weekend #happyweekend #friyay #lakes #tignes #tigneslelac #waterslides #waterfun #slide #outdoors #outdoorlifestyle #summer #lakejumping #travel #mountains #airtime #fly
We discovered a basketball field, skate park, football field, sandy beach area for volleyball, football or Frisbee, a petanque lane, slack line area, mini golf and of course the lake with all that it has to offer including SUP-boarding and lake jumping.
The resort has endless activities and entertainment on offer during its summer season besides the downhill riding. It’s extraordinary what was hidden under the layers of packed snow from back in Spring.
As part of our welcome at the apartment, we received a Tignesport-card that gave us free access to all the activities above and more.
The French Alps are a stunning destination for a summer holiday. The area wasn’t too busy, the people there are really friendly and it’s very good value. We were absolutely stunned about the variety of activities available – you’re either on the board, in the saddle or by the lake, always feeling close to nature and enjoying the sunny outdoors. It was amazing to have all of this available so close to home.
The opportunity to get out the snowboards in summer was an excellent experience. After tucking them away in April, counting down to the next winter joy, it felt rather cheeky to strap the boards on for a few hours of cruising.
...you’re either on the board, in the saddle or by the lake, always feeling close to nature and enjoying the sunny outdoors. It was amazing to have all of this available so close to home.
Next year we’d like to organise a similar trip with Glower, so let us know if you’re interested and we’ll take care of making it all happen.
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If you’re keen to avoid the winter blues that left you feeling unfit and uninspired as you lethargically emerged into the bright Spring daylight, here are some ideas to help you make the most of this beautifully crisp season of fresh air, snow and stunning outdoor scenery.
Last year's Red Bull Hardline absolutely blew us away. We left feeling truly inspired after the weekend in Wales, having been in awe of the epic jumps and descents that established this event. Two new full suspension bikes, a trip to Bike Park Wales and a downhill holiday in Tignes later, it's fair to say Red Bull Hardline was the instigator of our love for the descent! Let our pics and videos from the 2016 event spark your appetite as well.