Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wildlife of the Vanoise National Park

The Vanoise National Park is an extensive protected area in the Tarentaise region and is a must see for those visiting. Popular in both the winter and the summer, it is one of the most popular outdoor areas in France, receiving more than 360,000 visitors each year. Whether outdoor sports such as mountain biking are your thing or exploring the area on foot is more to your liking, the Vanoise National Park is a haven for wildlife, access is free and it is open all year round. 


If wildlife spotting appeals to you, then you will be happy to know that all of the creatures most commonly associated with the Alps are well represented in the Vanoise National Park. If you are quiet and have luck on your side chamois, marmots, Ibex (also known as bouquetin) and eagles can be seen here. A part of the reason for the creation of the park was to provide a protected area for the ibex. Other animals to look out for include snow voles, alpine hare, alpine newts, pine martens, grass snakes, squirrels, natter jacks and foxes. If you are hoping to spot wildlife of the feathered variety, then you may see golden eagles, bearded vultures, ptarmigans, rock thrush plus many other rare species. For the keen bird enthusiasts, the three toed woodpecker has only ever been seen in the Savoie and Haute Savoie region so is definitely one to watch out for.
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
For many visitors of this area, the main highlight is spotting a chamois or a marmot as they are the two most symbolic animals of the alps. Although high in population, a sighting is not guaranteed. Marmots tend to be funny creatures ambling around between 1000 and 3000 metres. They are known to look a little like overgrown guinea pigs that live in underground burrows called galleries. Although hard to spot, if you do spot one there is the chance you will spot more close by as they live in large family groups. You are more likely to hear a marmot before you see it as they make a peculiar high pitched whistling noise.

Marmot on Tignes Golf Course
Marmot on Tignes golf course
The Vanoise National Park definitely has enough wildlife for everybody, boasting:

  • 2000 Ibex – The largest population in France, making up a third of the total national population
  • 5500 Chamois 
  • 120 different species of breeding birds
  • 20 pairs of resident golden eagles

So get out there and see what wildlife you can spot while in the Vanoise National Park!

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Val d’Isere redevelopment

Val d’Isere has been undergoing a major redevelopment since May 2015. Our friends over at Ultimate blogged about it last summer. 
If you skied here last season you may have noticed the renovation of the Tête de Solaise area with magic carpets ‘PimPam’ and ‘Poum’ appearing in place of the old chair lift, button lift and rope tow, creating a new beginners area, and allowing 3000 people an hour to head back towards Val. The renovation will also include a new café and tubing area. Part of this development is the replacement of the Solaise Express chairlift with a new 10 person gondola, similar to Tovière bubble in Tignes.
Picture courtesy of Ficap, who made the Funbelt
This summer we have seen the Solaise chair taken out, and preparations for the new gondola going in, ready for this winter. It will be interesting to see where all those old chairs end up, I’m sure some of the local bars will have some new outdoor seating for next winter…
Val d’Isere Téléphériques has exclusive use of the ski lifts and snowmaking facilities in the Municipality of Val d’Isere, and with a huge turnover of 40 million Euros it is able to fund it own investments. Luckily, as this redevelopment is costing 16 million euros. 
The old Solaise Express chairlift that is being replaced
Solaise Express chairlift
The Solaise Gondala will be on a monocable circulating ropeway, with a carrying capacity of 3600 people an hour, 40% more than the 4 person high speed chairlift that was previously there, you will be at the summit of the Solaise in 7 minutes. Each 91 bubbles will be fitted with heated seats and Wifi, and due to the large size of the bubbles you will have the choice to enter the bubble with your skis, or use the storage on the outside. 

Currently there are large pylons in place, but no bubbles yet. As soon as it is in place we will let you know!

You can watch the official redevelopment video from Val d'Isere Téléphériques here

Courtesy of Tete de Solaise facebook page, the Solaise cable car pylons coming down

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Upcoming Events and Activities in Tignes!

With there only being a few days left for skiers to take advantage of the Tignes glacier, many of you will be wondering what to do to fill your days while here in Tignes. If this is you then fear not, here is a guide detailing some of the best activities and upcoming events in Tignes in the month of August.

If taking it easy and meandering about town is your kind of thing, Tignes is holding various fairs in Le Lac center in the first few weeks of August. These include a clairvoyance and wellbeing fair from 05th-09th of August, a children’s fair also on the 09th of August and a French wine fair from 11th – 15th of August. Another fair expected to be popular with those in Tignes is the lac Fair. Held on the 14th of August it has promised XXL fireworks.

If you want a bit more excitement but not necessarily wish to take part in an activity to achieve this; the Flyboard show happening on the 10th of August may be just for you.  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Flyboarding propels individuals into the air using only the sheer force of propulsion from the water.  The show is here for one day only performing at 3.30pm and 4.30pm and is one not to be missed. Head down to Tignes Lake to enjoy all the show has to offer and for the best spot, position yourself behind Le Lagon.

Enjoy cycling, enjoy watching the Tour De France? Well the Tour De L’Avenir, a cycling race created by and still supported by the Tour De France is heading to Tignes. For its 53rd edition, the Tour de L'Avenir is stopping in Tignes on August 25th 2016, after passing through the Cormet de Roselan, Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Villaroger so why not go and cheer them on.

If this is still not enough excitement for you, don’t worry. Tignes can one hundred percent be all about action and adventure. If staying in Tignes one or more nights, you will be entitled to a Sportignes card offered by your accommodation provider. This will give you free access to more than 26 activities nestled in the Tignes District. This includes activities such as the crazy airbag, mountain biking, hiking, archery, paddle boarding, blob jump and water slide into the lake. For those of you still missing the snow, pedestrians can access the glacier via the cable car until the 12th of August and after that via the funicular until the 28th. For up to date daily activities click here.

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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Bastille Day

With towns and cities all over France celebrating Bastille day today, Tignes will be enjoying the festivities this day brings, while hoping it will be a day to remember. For those of you who do not know what Bastille Day is, here is everything you need to know about the French holiday...

On July 14, 1789, a crowd of angry Parisians stormed Bastille prison. This groundbreaking act demonstrated that the ordinary people of France would no longer submit to the power of the king and signaled the start of the French revolution, which in turn forced the creation of the modern French republic.The July 14th “Fête de la Federation “marked the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and in 1880  it became a French national holiday which has been observed ever since. 

Bastille Prison by Jean – Pierre Houel 
While the main event takes place in Pars on the famous Champs Elysees and later at the Eiffel Tower with a firwork display, many other villages, towns and cities in France host their own celebrations with Tignes being one of them. If you would like to make your way to Les Brevieres, there are activites on all day with fireworks and a DJ set from 19.00. A shuttle service is being run, free of charge until 23.00 for people to get to and from Tignes Le Lac, Tignes 1800 and Les Brevieres. 

If you don't fancy visiting Les Brevieres, you could always visit Val d'Isere to celebrate Bastille Day, as a firework display is also on show there. Celebrations in both locations are generally free of charge so why not celebrate your Bastille day in Tignes.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

Fancy a ski this summer?

Tignes summer 2016Tignes summer 2016
With a wealth of summer activities in Tignes you would be forgiven for packing your skis away until next winter. On the other hand... if you fancy carving a few summer turns or even working on your technique a little then the Grande Motte glacier is the place to head. And after a bumper winter conditions are set to be pretty good up there!
Piste map for summer skiing
There are approximately 20km of pistes including a snowpark to hone freestyle skills and cross-country skiing area for those feeling of you feeling a little more energetic!

Grande Motte opening dates: June 25th to August 7th (7:15 to 13:00 each day).

Summer Ski Courses
Snoworks instructor on the Grande Motte glacier
If you're interested in fine tuning your technique during the Summer then check out the courses on offer through Snoworks -

Be it in the saddle on the skis, we will look forward to seeing some of you out there this summer.

Bon été à tous!

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

First of June snow report...

It's that time of year again when our attention switches away from the Alps of Europe to the snowy peaks of the southern hemisphere...

Piste bashers busy at the Remarkables, NZ (Image: NZSki)
New Zealand has recorded a good start with the Southern Alps getting a good covering of snow ahead of opening of most resorts over the next couple of weeks.Despite this good start some predictions suggest that this winter could be below average down in NZ due to the 'La Nina' weather effect which usually brings warmer and wetter conditions set to come into play.

Snow making at Mount Hotham, Aus (Image: Hotham)
Things are a little more tense in Australia with opening day on the horizon. On the whole they have received a light dusting of snow in addition to that created from snow-making. Similarly to New Zealand, they are also expected to have a wetter and warmer winter season in Aus but there is also the chance that they could get some big dumps of snow with plenty of weather coming through.

Forecast for La Parva (Chile) at mid-mountain (Image:
Snow is also beginning falling across the Central Andes of South America with some Chilean resorts predicted to receive huge amounts of snowfall over the next few days. The resort of Valle Nevado in chile is expect to receive somewhere in the region of 2.5 metres of fresh snow at the the top of the mountain. We can't wait to see the pictures if this materialises! 

Meanwhile in the European Alps we are still recovering from an exceptional winter with snow falls well into May! This means that authorities are busy clearing snow from the high mountain rods such as as Col d'Iseran, which you can usually take from Val d'Isere over into Italy during the summer. At the moment it's covered in snow and impassable, but those concerned are working hard to get the road ready for summer.

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Friday, 27 May 2016

15/16 Winter Catch-Up

Well, what can we say about the Winter of 2015/16…

Excellent staff.  Epic snow. Great guests. An amazing season enjoyed by all!

After mother nature once again took a bit of a lie in during the early months of November and December, we were left wondering if this season would ever get going.

First staff ski day - Col de L’Iseran  (23/12/2015)
Final staff ski day - Bottom of Genepi piste (27/04/16)

The fireworks of New Year seemed to be the wakeup call for mother nature, and she duly provided us with a much needed delivery of the white stuff with seemingly continuous dumps of 10cms or more throughout January.
That set the tone for the rest of winter, and from then on there was no shortage of snow.
By the start of January the staff had settled into their roles nicely and we were receiving glowing reviews from guests. January disappeared in a flash amongst the excitement and enjoyment of fresh snow and before we could say ‘school holidays’ it was February Half Term Week.

Staff ski day- hiking the Toviere ridge
Staff ski day- bubbles in the Sache valley

After half-term we managed to get together as a team once again. We enjoyed excellent conditions despite poor visibility, we even treated ourselves to some well earned bubbles on the hill and some melted cheese at the bottom in Les Brevieres!

Last staff day out of winter 2016 - 27th April - The TCC from Ultimate Snowsports on Vimeo.

We cruised through the remainder of February and into March, continuing to enjoy fantastic conditions.
The final staff ski day was arguably one of the best days of the season. It was the 27th April, and we had received about a foot of fresh snow in resort and almost 30 cm's of fresh cold powder above mid-station. We had a week of unseasonably cold weather which resulted in an amazing end of season conditions.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our staff and all of our guests that come to enjoy the winter with us, here’s to more of the same next season!

Last Supper
First Supper

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