High up in France’s Tarenataise region, Tignes and Val d’Isere are renowned as world class ski resorts. But when the summer comes, there’s just as much downhill fun to be had – only this time its on some of the best mountain bike trails in the Alps (which you may well have skied down in the winter).
1. It’s free! Yes, you read that right – the mountain biking in Tignes and Val d’Isere is FREE! Well, let’s qualify that, ‘cos you don’t get free beer and accommodation too, but all the lifts are gratis so you can ride all day long without spending a penny. And the two resorts are linked, providing well over 100-km of world class riding for nowt.
2. It may not be free for ever, so grab it while you can. Rumour has it that the powers that be may start charging in the future. We shall see, but in the meantime best make the most if it just in case…
3. The area has some of the finest trails known to man or woman. Tignes and Val d’Isere’s purpose-built bike trails are some of the best you’ll find. I speak as someone who has been fortunate enough to ride in the Rockies, the Alps, the Pyrenees and all over the UK and nowhere have I encountered anything better.
4. There’s something for everyone. Beginner to pro, you won’t get bored, with an eclectic selection of downhill, all mountain and cross-country trails for every level of ability.
5. Don’t believe me? You should try riding ‘Popeye’ above Val d’Isere then. It’s a 12-km green run with 850-metres of descent and you’re thinking “Pah, who wants to ride a mere green?” Anyone with any sense, that’s who, because the trails are so well designed that whilst a novice can have fun on them an expert can absolutely blast them and have just as good a time as the newbie.
6. But if you really do have to give you and your bike a hammering try the black Kamasutrail, which morphs into the equally black Black Metal – 590-metres of descent over four challenging kilometres (there’s an even tougher challenge in the double black ‘Elite’ category Scarefresse trail which I will happily admit I haven’t ridden).
7. Most of the time you’ll be riding in sunshine on dusty trails; no rain, no mud. Perfect.
8. When you’ve finished riding, there are free bike washes at strategic points around both resorts so you can clean the dust off your pride and joy.
9. And if you have a mechanical, tools are available at the top and bottom of the lifts to help get you rolling again.
10. And there are marmots. Everywhere. Who doesn’t like watching a marmot whistle and do other funky stuff as they sail by on a chair lift?
There are probably a hundred other reasons to ride Tignes and Val d’Isere, and the best way to find out what they are is to go and ride there…
Bike Park Tignes-Val d’Isere is open every summer from late June – late Aug. Trails are accessed via four chairlifts, a cable car and a free shuttle bus between the two resorts.
Bike and equipment hire is available at:
Duch Sports in Tignes Val Claret and in Tignes Le Lac
Intersport at various locations in Tignes and Val d’Isere.
Photos by Tristan ShuLast updated on Oct 9, 2019
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