Top 5 excuses to make a summer visit...
#1 Free Mountain Biking
Unlike the more well known biking resorts of Les Gets and Morzine, Tignes has a lift system that is completely FREE! This isn't due to the trails being inferior. On the contrary, there are over 100km of trails of varying difficulty (designed by some world cup dude), no queues and no annoying bumps due to the world and his extreme wife's breaking. The interest in Tignes MTB is increasing every year, so it is a good time to come and reep the benefits before everyone else gets on the bike rack.
For more information, check out STARTLINE MTB. Based in the Loop bar, opposite the bike park, Nick can sort you out with some of the best equipment available and give you advice on the best trails for your ability.
#2 Summer Shred
This year, the summer park is being maintained by Tignes' fave gangsta, Pom Pom so it promises to provide some good features. The glacier isn't the mammoth beast it used to be, so slushy park fun is where you want to be getting your kicks. Having said that, there have been the odd mental day when there is a massive dump of snow in August that paints even the village white and in between the cravasses you can get some surreal summer pow pow runs. Being one of the few resorts to provide summer ski, many of the olympic teams can be found up there practising, so if it's the lycra clad slalom turns you on, you can go and spot some of the stars.
If you're interested in some park tuition whilst you're out, check out James Sweet's SUPER RAD camps.
If you're not bringing your own equipment, you can hire from Tignes Spirit.
#3 More Activites than You Can Shake a Golf Stick at!
The glacier shuts a lot earlier than in the winter due to the big orange thing in the sky beating down on it. This means you can spend the afternoon working on your sun tan and taking advantage of some of the plethora of outdoor activities. Most hotels and chalets will be able to provide you with an activity card as part of your stay. This entitles you with free access to the tennis courts, basketball courts, ping pong, volley ball, trampolines, the mental water slide (on your belly or on skis / bike), a roof jump air bag, archery and the ghetto crazy golf. If you rock the concrete board, there's also a skate park. You can get a bit oo la la French and play a bit of petanque on one of the many pitches around town. There's one outside the Loop if you want to enjoy a glass of rose at the same time and in Lavachet you can use the free pitch and hire boules from the Sherpa. Whilst in Lavachet, why not take a splash in Scotty's outdoor pool. For the pringle set, you can play golf on the highest golf course in Europe. For the less skilled, there is also a pitch n putt course. Motor adrenelin can be obtained with 4x4 buggies or the views can be accessed more sedately via the walking trails that link up with the Route National or on horse back tour. Finally if the weather fails, you've got the swimming pool and wellness centre, a climbing wall and 5-aside pitches inside the Tignes Espace or bowling in Jack's.
If that isn't enough, there are activities a little further afield. Over the mountain in Val d'Isere there are a series of via ferrata trails. This is like climbing for dummies. There is a long safety wire attached to the side of the mountain with hand and foot holes conveniently placed. I say convenient, there are still times when you have to search around desperately trying to figure out how to get around a bend. Then there are also the points where you have to walk a plank of wood to get to the next climb. It's amazing how difficult it suddenly becomes to walk a plank of wood when there is a 1000m drop on either side. The original via ferrata trails were created during the war when arms and other resources were smuggled between France and Italy. Slightly more extreme back then as they'd be doing it in the dark, without the safety rope with snipers potentially trying to take them out. Down in lower Tignes, in the trees of Les Brevieres there is a Parcours course. This is highly amusing and sometimes rather startling but even kids do it, so man up! It's kind of a cross between an obstacle course and via ferrata. There are nets and trees to climb, ropes to swing on, logs to balance on, jumps to safety and zip lines. Further down the mountain just outside of Bourg St Maurice there is a white water rafting and canyoning. Alternatively, you can have a more relaxing day and take a drive over the Col d'Iseran and take in some of the views. The route is also popular with road bikers, as this has many times been included in the Tour du France. Another great drive is over the Col du Petit St. Bernard (another Tour du France route) over to La Thuile in Italy where you have a good excuse to enjoy a cheap pizza.
#4 Wine Fair and TC's Tennis Tournament
Mid August is often the time that many seasonaires head back for a long weekend of winter type piss ups. This is when the run the annual wine fair, designed with vineyards advertising their products to the local establishments but mostly appreciated by anglo visitors embracing the free wine. It's this weekend that TC's tennis tournament is run come rain, shine or on more than one occassion snow. All abilities welcome.. well I haven't been banned yet!
#5 Sunny Eats and Drinks
Whilst summer Tignes is nothing like the madness of the winter variety, it is getting increasingly popular every year with more and more bars and restaurants opening. Without a doubt the best place for a sunny lunch stop is the Terrachu. This is run by Tignes Cuisine's Dunc and Sarah in the summer and it has a truely stunning view of the lake and the fingers. You'll see many winter familiar faces working there too. Other lunch options include the Loop, the Jam Bar for italian goodies including italian ice cream (yum!) and Brasero's. For evening beverages, Lavachet is fully open with TC's, Scotty's, Brasero and Sobar all getting involved. Le Lac is also busy with the Alpaka, Loop, Jam Bar, Marmot Arms and Embuscade open for business. Val Claret is usually quite bustling as it caters for holiday makers wanting easy access to the funicular that heads up to the glacier. Drop Zone is open all summer up there and has big parties for Nascar, the Italian snowboard camps. This activity doesn't normally start until the end of June so the hard core inter seasonaires will be propping up the TC and Alpaka bars.
Where to stay...
Cosy family run hotel with B&B and half board options.
Summer chalet accomodation.
Located on the edge of the lake with an unspoilt view of the lake and mountains.
Self catered apartments.
Owner Direct Apartments
There are loads of apartments that are empty in the summer, so if you're in the know, you can get stuff super cheap. You'll have to buy the activity card though. Try asking Christian from the Loop, as his all year status has made him a bit of key master!