If you’re a thrill seeker looking to mountain bike or hike in the fresh mountain air. Then get planning a Trip to Tignes in the Summer. I can’t recommend it enough!
However, as it is technically out of season getting yourself there and staying there if you are on a budget (especially if you are travelling alone) it can be expensive. If you are looking for some tips on how to get there, find somewhere cheap to stay and make sure you do as much as you can for as little as possible, keep reading.
If you are planning to travel by air then makes sure Skyscanner is your first port of call. It’s the largest flight search engine, doesn’t charge you commission and it’s never let me down yet!
The closest airport is Chambery, however in the summer flights can be very expensive and limited.
The other airports are all around 3 hours drive from Tignes.
Geneva – This is the airport I would recommend as there are lots of flights all year round making flights cheaper. The public transport route is easy between Geneva and Bourg St Maurice. As a bonus Switzerland, it’s also outside of the EU you can get Duty Free!
Lyon and Grenoble – During the summer there aren’t so many flights so flights tend to be more expensive and transport on isn’t as easy as it is from Geneva.
Travel from Geneva to Tignes
Catch the train from the airport to Bourg St Maurice. If you arrive during the day then there is a bus up to Tignes, there is only 1 or 2 per day. If you don’t arrive in time for one of the two busses then your only other options are a taxi from the station which costs around €90 or I’m assured by the locals that it is quite safe to hitchhike. It’s really common and most of the locals I spoke to (my sister included) often pick people up and give them a lift up the mountain.
If all of that sounds a bit too much like hard work for you then make sure you check blab la car. Many locals who commute between Geneva and Tignes post on there to offer lifts cost is around €20 euro making it a really cost-effective way of travelling and as an added bonus you get to spend 3 hours in a car with a local whose brain you can pick of information about what to do when you arrive.
If you have the budget or are travelling in a group then an Airport transfer is around 400 Euro
Another idea would be to hire a car for the week and drive yourself there and back. If you plan on doing some day trips and travelling around a bit then this would be the best option.
Helicopter – yes that’s right if you have the money you can get a helicopter transfer! This would hands down be the quickest way up the mountain but you would undoubtedly pay a substantial amount for it.
Where to Stay
The best place to find reasonably priced accommodation is on Airbnb or booking.com. Many locals leave after the Ski season ends and put their apartments up on there. Most of the apartments are small but have everything you need including a kitchen so you can eat in to save money. To rent an apartment it will cost you between €200-300 euro per week. Most of them sleep 3/4 minimum so the more people in your group the more cost-effective.
The hotels are lovely however not great if you are on a budget. I think my Dad paid €84 per person per night half board to give you an idea. For that, they also got a complementary activity pass and access to the Spa. Skyscanner also lets you search for accommodation and they include booking.com so it’s worth looking there first.
Things to do
I have written a whole post on things to do in Tignes in the Summer so take a look at that here.
To save money make sure you get yourself an activity pass and use it. If you book a hotel it will be included, if you don’t you will need to buy one from the tourist information centre. Cost is from €27 for 3 days. It covers everything from canoeing to archery.
Sun Cream – make sure you bring some high factor with you. It really is a must as you can burn very easy up there. My whole family burnt to a crisp in a matter of about 30 mins and suffered for a few days because of it. It may not feel very hot because of the cool wind but the sun is strong.
Weather – The weather can change very quickly so if you are planning on a day hiking make sure you pack for all eventualities, it’s wise to also pack some emergency supplies just in case as the rescue helicopter can’t get you in a thunderstorm. Don’t get caught on a hike unprepared, check the weather before you leave.
Hiking – If you are planning on doing some hiking then I’d recommend bringing walking sticks. Mostly for the decent. I’m pretty agile but I would have appreciated the extra balance as I was bounding down the mountain!
Altitude – Mostly people don’t notice much difference but do be careful when drinking as you will most likely get drunk quicker. Also walking uphill and doing anything when you might need to breathe heavier (like running) could be a strain. It doesn’t matter how fit you are it’s just how you are built. I found I was fine, I went running and didn’t notice much difference apart from when I ran uphill. Then I thought I might die for a minute or two…
Travelling up and down the Mountain – Take care when Cycling or driving up between Tignes and St Maurice as local drivers can be impatient and drivers who don’t know the roads often misjudge them. Take care on the corners and just pull over to let people overtake you at the passes.
English – Most locals speak English. There is an expat community living here all year round so although knowing some French is advisable it’s not a deal breaker.
Where to Drink
If you want to hunt out the Expat Community then head to:
TC’s bar which is open all round they do a wicked Saturday morning fry up from 10 am (you will find my sister in there most nights of the week propping up the bar, if you see her say hi and buy her a vodka and coke as she gave me all the information for this post).
Marmot Arms is a very friendly bar, the staff are always up for a laugh. It’s a sports bar so you will always find some kind of sport on the TVs and they do a wicked burger.
Embuscade is a French bar but there are lots of English-speaking people who go there. They do cocktails and lot of deals at happy hour. If the weather is nice they have a lovely terrace where you can relax with your cocktail.
Loop Bar is another pub with English-speaking staff. They have a big sunny terrace and younger chill out vibe to it.
Where to Eat
There are loads of shops spotted all overall about the same price where you can buy food to prepare yourself.
There are also lots of taking aways offering deliver (you can even get Raclette and Fondue delivered)
Cheap places to eat out:
Pizza and Crêpe snack bar
Ron de Vous – reasonably priced range of French food and pizza and pasta
Or you can eat in any of the bars mentioned above for a reasonable price.
Parking and Travel around the resort
There is a free local bus that you can get to take you around the resort that runs throughout the day.
Parking is free all over the resort
There are local taxis but everywhere is the walking distance within the resort so you shouldn’t really need it.