Val Thorens Or Tignes, Which is Best For Your Next Ski Trip?

by Robert Stanley | Updated On: September 26th, 2022
Val Thorens Resort

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For skiers, it’s always a tough call to choose between resorts. But when you’ve narrowed it down to two, how do you know which to choose?

The Tarentaise Valley in the Alps attracts hundreds of thousands of skiers to its mountains and pistes each year. Located in the valley are two of the most popular and iconic resorts, Val Thorens and Tignes.

Here we take a look at everything you need to know about each of these landmark destinations.

Val Thorens vs Tignes – What do you need to know?

For decades, Val Thorens and Tignes have been two of the most popular ski resorts, attracting visitors from all over the world. Val Thorens first came into operation in 1971 and is the highest ski resort in Europe.

Since its inception, Val Thorens has become the most popular resort destination in the Alps. Tignes goes back further with skiing starting in the mountains in 1930, with the first ski lifts in the resort becoming operational in 1936.

Val Thorens and Tignes Piste Breakdown

Tignes Piste
Photo by gbsngrhm under CC BY-SA 2.0

If it’s purely skiing you are after then Tignes could be the resort for you. Tignes is a resort stacked with runs. It has 57 more runs than Val Thorens and it’s not just the vast quantity of runs that Tignes possesses; it also has a larger variety of pistes.

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Tignes has four more runs of medium difficulty, eleven more runs that are advanced, and forty-two easier runs. It seems that Tignes has something for everybody and could be ideal for the family, as there is a wide mix of abilities on offer.

What Resort Should I Choose If I’m A Beginner?

Val Thorens Skiing
Photo by Annie and Andrew under CC BY 2.0

With Val Thoren’s high altitude you can be guaranteed that the nursery and beginner slopes will be well covered throughout the season. In Val Thorens, there are 11 green runs and 29 blue runs, while in Tignes, there are 22 green runs and 61 blue runs.

And If I’m A More Advanced Skier, Where Should I  Choose?

Val Thorens Snowpark
Photo by Guille Moraleda under CC BY 2.0

As with beginner skiers, if you are more of an expert skier there is still something for everyone regardless of which resort you choose. Across the entire Val Thoren resort, there are 107 red runs and 30 black runs. In Tignes, you will find 46 red runs and 25 black runs. 

Tignes Most Famous Runs

In Tignes, its most respected and legendary run is La Sashe, you can be sure that a run down La Sashe will have your legs burning by the time you reach the bottom. In Val Thorens, the most iconic run is Combe de Caron, which starts out at 3,200 meters, Combe de Caron requires technical mastery of the highest order.

Val Thoren’s Most Famous Runs

How Big Is Each Resort?

Tignes covers an area of 300km, so to service such a large area, the resort employs 88 ski lifts. In Tignes, you will find 3 Terrain Parks, 9 cabin lifts, 45 chair lifts, and 34 drag lifts.

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Val Thorens is double the size and covers an area of 600km. In total there are 176 lifts dotted all around the resort. Skiers can take advantage of 6  Terrain Parks, 37 cabin lifts, 65 chair lifts, and 51 drag lifts. 

Does Each Resort Have A Ski School?

As you would expect from resorts the size of Val Thorens and Tignes, there is a great selection of ski schools and you can choose between English and French.  In Tignes, there is the option of women-only classes and even off-piste sessions.

What About The Après-ski?

apres

In resorts the size of both Tignes and Val Thorens, the Après-ski is varied and packed with fun. Tignes has become renowned for its Après-ski, in particular its Folie Douce sessions, which start at 3 pm each day, and where revelers are encouraged to dance on tables and party the afternoon away.

Each afternoon is accompanied by DJs and party-goers can either ski back down the slope or catch one of the nearby gondolas. Val Thorens also takes part in the famous Folie Douce sessions and also boasts the largest underground nightclub in the Alps.  If it’s the Après-ski that you are after, both resorts really do offer something for everybody to enjoy!

How Do I Get To Each Resort?

Val Thorens Ski Resort
Photo by Gerrit Quast under CC BY-SA 2.0

Val Thorens is approximately 200km from Geneva Airport, with the drive from the airport taking just over two and a half hours to complete.  Due to the superb infrastructure of Europe’s motorways, the resort can be reached by both coach and car.

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Skiers can also reach Val Thorens by train, with Eurostar and high-speed trains from Paris stopping at Moutiers which is an hour away from the resort. To get to Tignes, Geneva is the most popular airport but transfers from either Chambery or Grenoble are actually closer. Like Val Thorens, Tignes can be accessed by road and rail with the nearest train station being Bourg St Maurice. 

Could I Ski Between The Two Resorts?

Quite simply yes! You can also take the bus to travel between the resorts. It’s advised that despite a skiing route being in existence, any travel between the two resorts should be done by either bus or car.

Where Can I Stay?

Both resorts have every kind of accommodation you could think of.  Hotels, self-served chalets, serviced chalets, or even houses to rent. Both resorts are packed with accommodation options many of which are slopeside.

In Conclusion

Tignes
Photo by James Preston licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whatever type of winter trip you are planning, both Val Thorens and Tignes are more than well equipped to deliver it. With a superb range of skiing, accommodation, and a bustling social scene, Val Thorens and Tigne have it all. 

Whatever resort you choose, you will be in for a fantastic holiday and hopefully one which provides memories that will last a lifetime!

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