TIGNES AND VAL D’ISÈRE
The serious skier’s mecca, the powder hound’s delight, way above average for the
intermediate, and more than just great for the beginner--these are Val d’Isère and Tignes. Superlatives
abound when describing these resorts; if vastness is the measure, they are considered to have the best
skiing in Europe. Not at all embarrassed by their individual riches, Tignes and Val d’Isère have linked
up their lift systems to form a well-coordinated kingdom of skiing. Know as L’Espace Killy or Killy’s
World, the name capitalizes on Val d’Isère’s triple Olympic medal winner and ambassador-at-large,
Val d’Isère’s reputation for death-defying chutes and off-off piste walls has not been
exaggerated, but huge extensive high-mountain plateaus and moderately tilted open snowfields offer the
less-skilled the same sun and exhilaration enjoyed by the expert. Tignes, with an infinite variety of runs
falling into one of its four towns, and with the spectacular Grande Motte at 11,152 feet promising
perfect snow, is the intermediate’s delight. A ski pass good for 100 lifts, covers all the snow from the
Pissaillas Glacier far above Val d’Isère to Tignes Les Brévières four valleys away, and even the most
dedicated skier would be hard-pressed to ski it all in two weeks.
Far up in the Savoy Alps, difficult to get to, Tignes and Val d’Isère have only recently overcome
their isolation and become popular with European and North American visitors. The ascent to the ski
towns is breathtaking, a long tortuous road tacked to the valley wall. Guard rails are seldom present
and the drop-offs to the Isère River far below are frightening. Chains are a must when roads are snow
Some 21 miles above Bourg St. Maurice, which seems like the last outpost of civilization, a
huge dam holds back the waters of the Isère to form Lac du Chevril. The original Tignes was drowned
under this lake, but the residents moved up first to Tignes Les Boisses, and then in 1957 founded
Tigenes Le Lac, one of the third-generation French winter sports stations. Several miles farther, on past
the neck of the lake, the valley widens out into a flat plain, and here the old settlement of Val d’Isère,
once the hunting village of the Dukes of Savoy, has grown into one of the world’s premier ski resorts.
The town of Val d’Isère is a classic case of urban sprawl hemmed in between high, menacing
avalanche-prone walls. It stretches along the wide street, French National Route 202, and an eclectic
mixture of alpine-style hotels, equipment shops, cheap restaurants, ski boutiques, crêperies, and
currency exchange bureaus line both sides. Nevertheless, Val d’Isère is still a skier’s town. Young,
brash, confident, it exudes a love of skiing. In the bars, cafés, and sun-soaked snow terraces dotted
with deck chairs, powder lovers and mogul maniacs are locked in the same type of epic-feat arguments
as knock-kneed cruisers and daring beginners. At night, discos and bars are lively and expensive, but
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 1
often only the locals keep the action going until early morning. Most skiers get a good night’s sleep in
preparation for the next day’s adventures.
Tignes is what the French call a “sportif” resort, which means that it’s not the best place for
nonskiers. Tignes Le Lac is well situated in an austere white desert with hills rising fairly steeply on both
sides. It’s a collection of massive apartment blocks tied to a gaggle of hotels at the lower end of its only
street. There’s little to do here but eat, sleep, and ski, and apparently the French families who flock
here feel that’s enough.
Val Claret, a half mile farther on, lies at the foot of La Grande Motte. The apartment
complexes here are built on a more human scale around a central pedestrian-only shopping circle.
Definitely the newer and smarter part of Tignes, Val Claret contains the finest grouping of sport and
fashion stores in the area. A good collection of bars, crêperies, restaurants, and nightclubs, and a bright
pleasant atmosphere are fast making Val Claret the place to stay.
The efficient and free Train Rouge shuttle bus in Val d’Isère links the bases of all the lifts and
runs. Tignes has its own bus service between Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret. The fact that the hotels
are situated near the lifts makes it extremely unlikely that a car would be anything more than an
inconvenience in either resort.
Tignes at 6,888 feet and Val d’Isère at 6,068 are high enough to ensure excellent and plentiful
snow and a long season from early December until mid-April. In fact, the high-mountain itineraries
don’t begin until April, and the skiing continues on La Grand Motte and the Pissaillas Glacier right
through the summer. The lift systems of Tignes, Val Claret, and Val d’Isère are all perfectly integrated,
and if skiing is the reason you have come to Europe, then this area may be hard to beat.
TIGNES: Although Tignes is actually made up of four villages, only the two above tree line, Tignes
Le Lac and Val Claret, are true ski resorts. Tignes Les Brévières at 5,084 feet, is a very small,
traditional Savoyard village resting rather uncomfortably beneath the concrete wall of the Tignes dam. It
connects to the Tignes complex by gondola, but the time needed to climb to better skiing and the poor
snow at this lower altitude have made its several hotels and almost nonexistent nightlife only a cheaper
Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret are situate at opposite ends of a small snow covered lake. Both
cater mainly to apartment and chalet dwellers. Tignes Le Lac consists of one long street with a huge
traffic circle at its base and a short extension on the other side. The Tourist Office, bus station, and lift
ticket office are grouped around this central circle. Shops, and restaurants are tucked under the
massive apartment block on the upper end of the street. The Casino, the town’s supermarket also sells
wine and beer. On the smaller strip on the other side of the traffic circle, some shops and a few cafés
are backed up by a group of moderately priced hotels.
Val Claret, at the southern end of the lake, is the newer area, and the architecture has softened
to admit smaller apartment units and a few Tyrolean chalet style buildings. A central pedestrian area for
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 2
shopping and strolling has attracted some excellent shops and many better restaurants, and there is a
noticeably vibrant feeling in the air. A branch of the Tignes Tourist Office is also found here.
Both Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret are superbly situated for sun and skiing. A gondola and
several chairs rise up from the center of Tignes Le Lac, chair lifts service the same hills and it has the
added advantage of being located at the base of La Grande Motte. Sundecks are everywhere, and
near the base of La Grande Motte a city of sun worshippers, wine or mineral water in hand, lounge
comfortably in shorts and bikinis to pursue the national sport.
The two villages are linked by bus service until the late evening. There is also a bus four times a
day between Val d’Isère and Tignes, a 15-minute ride.
Racers and powder freaks have given Val d’Isère a reputation for tough skiing, but it would be
unfortunate if lesser mortals were deterred by this reputation. While it is right to praise the opportunities
for the expert, both Val d’Isère and Tignes easily devote the major part of their ski acreage to the
beginner and intermediate skier. Whether you’re a high-altitude type still wearing your avalanche
beeper to bed at night, or a beginner with only a few days on your skis, there’s more than enough
variety in this white playground to satisfy your desires.
Three cable cars, two funicular railroads, and a variety of gondola systems provide the uphill
transportation to the huge snowfields above both resorts. Once there, it’s possible to ski thousands of
acres using the myriad of pomas and chair lifts without ever descending back into the valley. Solaise
and Belevarde are huge plateaus above Val d’Isère full of long gentle runs. Tignes offers more variety
on intermediate pistes.
The easier runs tend to be very well groomed; most slopes are above tree line, often as wide as
football fields and sometimes no steeper. It’s simple enough to get a little practice in the powder or
crud by slipping off into the large ungroomed mass of snow beside the runs. More adventurous
intermediates can experience the thrill of out-of-bounds skiing without a guide on some of the more
obviously accessible terrain.
When falling snow or flat light makes seeing all but impossible on the upper slopes, Val d’Isère
and its two satellites, Le Fornet for good skiers and La Daille with more gentle terrain, offer limited
skiing in the trees. Tignes, though, is a true sun bowl and good visibility is needed on those long
Although there are only a very few marked expert runs, always heavily mogulled, falling into Val
d’Isère, Le Fornet, and Tignes, it’s the accessible off-piste areas that draw raves from experts around
the globe. Most of these can be reached after short traverses from the Bellevarde, Solaise, and Fornet
cable cars in Val d’Isère and the Grande Motte cable car in Val Claret. Individually these areas are so
widely separated that the expert may become frustrated trying to get to each one, but the riches are
there; if you can ski La Spatule or L’Avancher with aplomb, you can tackle anything, anywhere. Of
course, the true daredevil looks for the off-off-piste, hiking or roping to the vertical chutes and rocky
cornices that most skiers consider mountain goat and avalanche territory.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 3
The trails here are well marked, and at the base of all the major lifts is a large board listing open
and closed runs and lifts. Even with this help, the Val d’Isère-Tignes complex presents such a vast
skiing space that many skiers never do find and experience all that’s available to them.
The eating facilities on the hills of Tignes-Val d’Isère are limited to mainly large self-service
cafeterias, and most skiers head back to restaurants in town to sip an aperitif and to lunch in the sun.
Several outdoor cafés right at the base of La Grand Motte provide good value; check the menu and
choose between table service or drinks on a lounge chair. In Tignes, try Le Refuge, which is justifiably
famous for its large portions of french fries and delicious omelets. Val d’Isère has a line of cafés facing
the nursery slopes, and any one that you can reach through the crowded sun terraces is fine. We enjoy
the extensive salad bar of the Brussels Hôtel. If you ski the face of Solaise or Bellevarde, lunch inside
or on the sundeck of Les Boulons in Le Joseray.
SKI SECTORS: We’ve divided the skiing into seven distinct areas; each provides a wide variety
of terrain for all levels of skiers.
Some 2,296 feet above Val d’Isère, this area is primarily for beginners and experts. A 50-
passenger cable car provides access to a huge slightly tilted snowfield. Pomas and chair lifts stretch off
into the distance, sometimes running up and sometimes down, opening up for the beginner hundreds of
acres of groomed unintimidating skiing. This is just the area to practice uncrossing your skis and to build
There are some intermediate runs back down into the valley. Le Manchet appears very short
on the ski map but in fact drops 1,968 feet on wide, open uncrowded slopes (continue past the base of
the Le Mancet lifts to cruise the long valley back to Val d’Isère. On the north-facing ridges just above
and beside the Tête de Solaise, two trails begin a long descent and finish halfway between Le Fornet
and Val d’Isère at Le Laisinant. Ski either the ridges or a huge gully, filled with moguls, that is definitely
not the beginner trail indicated. The shuttle bus will bring you back to Val d’Isère.
Experts can find a dozen different on- and off-piste routes down from the Tête de Solaise into
Val d’Isère. The two marked runs begin under the cable car. “S” is steep and narrow, for experts
only, and although Solaise is marked intermediate, the waist-high bumps of Le Plan leading to the poma
will tax good skiers. Move farther off to the right coming down and the unmarked L’Avancher will
challenge even the best. Les Marmottes above Le Joseray is a wide expanse of gullies and walls,
most very steep and exciting, where you can spend a full day and never repeat the same route. Note:
Beginners should take the cable car down from Solaise. There is no easy, safe way on skis.
Food on the Slopes: The restaurant at La Tête de Solaise, the Datcha, is a large and modern
self-service with the standard fare of spaghetti, steaks, fries, cheeses, and desserts. There is a large
sundeck. Come early to get a seat outside; even the indoor tables fill up by 12:30 p.m. One other small
restaurant serving simpler dishes, is buried in the snow in the middle of the Solaise snowfields. Rest
room facilities here leave a lot to be desired.
2. Le Fornet
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Le Fornet cable car and gondola lead to the Pays Desert, the wide open Pissaillas Glacier in
the Col D’Isèran. Often cold and windy because of its 11,150 foot height, it provides long cruising runs
that gladden the heart of beginners and low intermediates. A chair lift can take you up and over into the
Solaise area and back again for a breathtaking panorama of mountain peaks and plateaus. You may
return from the Solaise using the poma; it brings you to the entrance of a tunnel that leads the razor-edge
ridge separating the two areas. Be warned that once through the tunnel into Le Fornet area there is a
short, steep, often icy section.
Intermediates and experts forgo the bowling alleys of the glacier and take the Signal poma
available at the exit of the top Le Fornet cable-car station (ride the one on the left or you’ll be let off
short of the top). Intermediates continue straight on from the end of the poma high up on the ridges, and
either drop into the first valley or over the next ridge into the second valley to experience a long safe off-
piste itinerary back to Le Fornet. Le Grande Vallon is well traveled and there is little danger. Experts
cut back sharply along the ridge beside the poma, behind a small peak, and end up on the exhilarating
steep face above the restaurant at Le Fornet (top of the cable car). This open slope leads to the difficult
runs in the trees from the restaurant down to the base station at Le Fornet, at total of 3,280 feet on non-
stop thrills. Note: During stormy weather, the best place to ski in the whole valley is in the forests and
bowls below the Le Fornet cable-car station.
Food on the Slopes: The restaurant at the upper cable-car station has superb atmosphere.
Downstairs it’s self serve, small and plain, with a lower and upper sundeck. Upstairs you step back a
century into the small hunting lodge of the dukes. Chamois skins and horns decorate the walls, and an
excellent fixed-price menu is complemented by an open hor d’oeuvre table featuring several pates,
artichoke hearts, berries, fresh fruit, and vegetables. On slow days, expect your waiter to offer you a
little marc de Savoie, a potent digestif, in your empty coffee cup.
A huge lump of granite, Le Rocher de Bellevarde hang 3,280 feet above Val d’Isère directly
opposite La Solaise (the cable car leave from the Solaise station). You could ruin your reputation trying
to ski the mean face of Bellevarde. The ice, narrow gullies, and bumps, not necessarily the steepness,
make it absolutely off-limits for anyone but an expert. After a storm, though, there are an enormous
number of wide-open pitches where you can lay down tracks into Val d’Isère or Le Joseray.
Even the marked novice run can be tricky; and if the ice doesn’t get you, the crowds in the gully
will. If you do decide to take the cable-car descent at the end of the day there’s a ten minute walk
straight uphill to the station. It’s over the same difficult terrain that you probably detested when you had
to ski down it earlier in the day.
The rest of the skiing on the Bellevarde plateau is no more than novice to intermediate in
difficulty. An easy off-piste tour around the Rocher du Charvet is crowded with skiers heading back
to Val d’Isère. Experts with more stamina climb the Rocher du Charvet and snake down the vertical
chutes. The restaurant at the top of the Bellevarde cable car is pretty basic. Stop here for a juice only.
4. La Daille
La Daille is primarily an intermediate area. A two-stage gondola feeds skiers right up to the
Bellevarde where they can follow the wide open slopes back down to the tree line above La Daille. A
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 5
chair parallels the first stage of the gondola to just above the tree line. Classic Eastern American-style
trail skiing is the attraction here, and trees and bumps give definition to slopes in this protected area.
La Spatule has fine off-piste powder and crud skiing on a steep face. To reach it, you ski
partway down the top leg of the gondola, then cut back under the Rocher de Bellevarde.
An interesting adventure is La Piste Perdue , the closest you’ll ever get to river rafting on skis.
It’s down a narrow gully, up the sides to slow down, around corners and though rock tunnels. A local
will probably have to show you the entrance to this lost hill.
Food on the Slopes: Two large self-service restaurants provide standard fare with a “plat du
5. La Tovière
This area is Tignes’ connecting link to Val d’Isère, a high steep face over-looking Tignes Le
Lac. Down the face under the ten-person gondola you’ll find some very good, steep mogulled hills. A
winding traverse is usually machine-cut to bring beginners back to Tignes Le Lac at the end of the day.
The easiest ways down for the novice and intermediate are the long gentle slopes to Val Claret, although
the drops into the long gully under La Petite Balme provide an excuse to ski the steeper powder slopes.
On the Val d’Isère side of Tovière there are several relaxing intermediate runs down to the La
Daille mid-station under the chair lifts.
Food on the Slopes: The small mountain restaurant at La Tovière has an old mountain-hut
rustic character. There’s a downstairs self-serve and an upstairs table-service restaurant with prices
The runs in the main Tignes Valley, especially those in the Palet and Palafour sections (know
locally as the Chardonnet and L’Aiguille Percée respectively), are long and not difficult. Always with
good snow, these are the perfect spots to learn the arts of off-piste skiing. The slopes are broad, and
between the packed trails are easily reached areas of tracked and untracked powder falling into Tignes
Le Lac and Val Claret.
The Sache run from L’Aiguille Percée into Les Brévières is a popular 3,936 foot vertical
intermediate-expert trail. First, climb up to the large rock sandwiched between the chair lifts where the
wind has blasted out a hole the size of a man (this is the origin of the name L’Aiguille Percée). Begin
down, either staying with the trail or shortcutting down the steeper slopes to intercept the Sache again as
it winds below. The Vallon de La Sache presents some very good off-piste skiing, but it’s wise to
take a guide in order not to get caught in the dead-end valleys.
Food on the Slopes: Le Brévières has some small restaurants where you can enjoy an
inexpensive lunch; otherwise head back to Tignes to catch a bite.
7. La Grande Motte
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The spectacular Grande Motte towers above Val Claret in the Tignes Valley. It promises more
skiing than some full resorts, and many skiers think that it’s so good for variety and snow conditions that
they spend the entire week on its broad north face.
The Funiculaire Grande Motte, travelling inside the mountain, takes you up to Côte (9,892 feet),
where you transfer to a cable car to climb another 1,476 feet, a total of nearly 4,600 vertical feet. The
top is cold and windy, but a novice or intermediate dressed warmly can enjoy many days cruising on the
wide open slopes. The snow is invariably excellent, even on the warmest days it doesn’t melt one
afternoon and freeze into concrete the next morning. Expert off-piste runs, steep and criss-crossed by
crevasses, lie on a narrow slope underneath and to left of the cable-car lines looking down.
From Côte there is a difficult intermediate run facing east beside a chair. It’s possible, in good
weather and snow conditions, to ski past the base of the chair to the Col de Fresse and then join up to
the Tour de Charvet back to Val d’Isère, a long but not arduous high-mountain journey.
The marked runs down to Val Claret are intermediate in quality. Experts veer left partway
down to ski the huge open snowfields leading to the Wall, 984 feet of snow balanced on a wide cliff,
and then continue through a narrow entrance to a very steep mogul field back to the marked trail.
A thin ski track leads west from Côte past the base of the draglift. This is the start of the Tour
de Pramecou, but most skiers are heading to the Rocher de la Grand Balme to takle the long, steep
chutes. Avalanche danger here is acute, as is in many of the off-piste runs, so check with the guides.
Food on the Slopes: A huge chalet-like wooden structure covers the whole flattened peak of
Côte. This self-serve restaurant has a large selection, from steaks, roast pork, and spaghetti to cheeses
and pâtés, and a boutique selling sunglasses and suntan lotions. The inside area is broken up into
circular bar areas and small seating spaces, and a gigantic sundeck is crowded with sun worshippers on
lounge chairs. Keep some two-franc pieces handy. Both here and at many of the mountain restaurants
there is a charge to use the toilets.
Off-piste? Hunters of white gold pure and light, will find paradise in the Gorges de Malpasset,
along the seductive roundness of the burning white Pissaillas glacier, or the chiseled curves of the
Charvet. However beware of this fascination for off-piste, there are rules and safety regulations.
Before flying off into the distant powder, which isn’t patrolled or made safe beforehand, the
following advice should be heeded, even if you are an expert skier. Find out about recent and future
weather and snow conditions (fresh snow, winds and warm temperatures are usually the recipe for high
avalanche risk). Never ski alone. Always wear avalanche search devices (BIP), a small radio device
which could save your life. Always inform others of your itinerary. Last but not least, take a
professional guide or instructor with you. Only they know the ski area well enough and know how to
predict Mother Nature’s whims.
4. INTERNATIONAL VILLAGE
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Visitors remain faithful to Tignes/Val d’Isère from one year to another. The French are the
resort’s main clientele representing 55.5% of the winter population. Of the 44.5% foreigners, the British
represent 28.1%, the Dutch 21.5%, the Belgians 12.6%, the Germans 11.7% and the Spanish 6.8%.
Americans are definitely a minority here.
Tignes Val d’Isère
Resort Height 6,888 Feet 6,968 Feet
Highest Skiing 11,152 Feet 10,824 Feet
Vertical Drop 6,058 Feet 4,756 Feet
Tourist Beds 29,570
6. WHO’S WHO (*visited Tignes before)
Adrian Butter Terry Hartzell
Deanna Campbell***** Joe Huttemann*******
Frank Campbell***** Lyn Huttemann*******
Karl Flesch*********+ Bill Rees****
Christina Gregory*** Raul Valcarcel*********+
7. THINGS TO PACK
Passport Be sure NOT to pack this in your checked in suitcase!
Calculator Good for calculating the cost of that souvenir in US dollars.
Wine Bottle Opener France is the land of good wine. You may want to imbibe in your room.
Please pack in your checked in luggage.
Fanny/Back Pack Handy for goggles, sunglasses, hats, camera, film, etc. while skiing.
Dictionary Good use for striking up a conversation or figuring out a menu.
Camera & Film Take plenty and be sure to carry these in your carry-on.
Bathing Suit There is a heated indoor/outdoor pool.
Exercise Clothing There is a small fitness center at the hotel.
Wash Cloth Considered personal in Europe, so bring your own
Pack casual clothes to wear. There is a self-serve laundry at the hotel.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 8
You are allowed 2 checked pieces, the individual dimension (w,l,h) of which does not exceed
62 inches. One pair of ski with poles and ski boots are defined as one piece of baggage. Maximum
weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds. Excess checked baggage charge is $110. One unchecked
piece of carry-on luggage, the total dimension not to exceed 45 inches and not to exceed 45 pounds.
One small personal bag is allowed. It is suggested that you label your luggage and skis inside and out.
Adventures on Skis has provided luggage tags for outside the bags.
DO NOT LOCK your luggage. Due to security reasons, if your luggage needs to be
inspected, the lock will be broken.
Your best exchange rate is on a credit card (American Express, Visa, or Master Charge) or a
bank debit card that has the Visa or Master Charge logo on it and uses a 4-digit numeric PIN. If you
use a debit card, check with your bank for your maximum daily limit, what the rules for a weekend are,
and also if there is a charge (Sovereign Bank charges $5 for each foreign/international transaction).
Debit cards withdraw from your checking account. Note that while using one in Europe, you will not be
able to transfer funds from one account to another or inquire about account balances. As for
exchanging cash or traveler’s checks into euros, the rate of exchange will not be as favorable: either the
exchange rate will be very poor, there will be a flat service charge fee, or the service charge will be a
percentage of the transaction. What is not included in the trip are: lift ticket, lunch, alcoholic beverages
at the resort, ski rentals, ski lessons and any other personal expenses, such as souvenirs, post cards,
10. PLANE TICKETS
Check your tickets carefully. Airport arrival (i.e. check-in) should be at least 2 hours before
departure. You must present your passport when checking in. Seat assignments will be made at
check-in. Note: frequent flyer options are: Delta, Continental, Northwest or Air France.
Date Flight # Departs Arrives
Friday 1/13 DL8379 7:05 pm Philadelphia 8:25 am 1/14 Paris
Saturday 1/14 DL8414 9:35 am Paris 10:45 am Lyon
Sunday 1/22 DL8341 11:00 am Lyon 12:10 noon Paris
DL8342 1:20 pm Paris 3:45 pm Philadelphia
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 9
11. CUSTOMS (ON THE RETURN)
For large purchases, the VAT (value added tax) can be refunded and the savings can be
substantial. Check with the store for details.
On returning to the US, individuals are allowed up to $400 of purchases, tax-free.
12. OUR HOTELS
Hôtel Village Montana: Telephone 011-33-479-400144
Les Almes, Tignes Le Lac Fax 011-33-479-400403
Boscolo Grand Hôtel: Telephone 011-33-472-404544
11 Rue Grolee Fax 011-33-478-375255
Lyon, France http://www.boscolohotels.com/page.cfm?SectionId=993
Time difference: 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time
Tignes is at 6,888 feet elevation; the top of the Grande Motte is at 11,152 feet. Remember that
the weather at the top of the mountain can be quite different from what you see at the bottom.
Sunscreen and lip block with sunscreen are a must. It works well to put it on before leaving in the
morning and reapply frequently during the day. Remember the ears and under the nose. You will know
if you miss a spot! Pocket size containers are readily available in the shops.
Drink lots of water. Tignes has excellent water. However, do not drink the tap water in the
high elevation restaurants found on the slopes. They probably will not serve tap water to you anyway.
Bottled water (with or without gas) is found everywhere.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 10
14. SKI LESSONS
For 1 to 5 people per instructor
Full Day 7 hours 261.00 euros
5 consecutive hours 191.00 euros
4 consecutive hours 157.00 euros
3 consecutive hours 123.00 euros
2 consecutive hours 87.00 euros
5 half days 3 hours 119.00 euros
5 full days 6 hours 175.00 euros
15. ABOUT THE TRIP TO TIGNES...
The trip to Paris is 7 hours and 20 minutes, and as it is a long flight, so be sure to take your
shoes off; walk about the cabin to prevent swelling problems and drink lots of non-carbonated
beverages. Diner will be served just after take off, with a breakfast served prior to landing. Upon
arrival in Paris at 8:25 a.m. local time (it will feel like 2:25 am) and after a quick 70-minute layover, we
will be boarding an approximate 1 hour and twenty minute flight to Lyon. In Lyon we will be met by
our bus for a 3½-hour ride to the resort.
There are a few interesting things along the way to see (if you can stay awake). First, we’ll be
passing the town of Albertville, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics. After that, Moutiers, not very
interesting, but a major hub to go to the other French ski resorts, such as Mèribel, Courchevel and Val
Thorens to mention a few. Bourge St. Maurice is the last major town, prior to getting to Tignes. Here
we change to a narrow mountain road with lots of hairpin turns, dramatic alpine scenery and guardrails
that are really “a state of mind” or abstractions.
We will know we’re getting there when we see a dam with a painting of Hercules on it holding
back the water. The dam creates the Lac du Chevril and was built in the 1950’s. The original village of
Tignes is buried underneath the water and the only original structure that remains is a church, which was
dismantled piece-by-piece and reassembled at Tignes Les Boisses. After that, on to Tignes Le Lac and
our hotel. Hopefully, there will be plenty of powder when we get there.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 11
16. LYON, FRANCE
Lyon and Marseille both claim to be France’s “second city.” In terms of size and industrial
importance, Marseille probably grabs that title. But for tourist appeal, Lyon, 287 miles southeast of
Paris is the clear winner. Its scale is human. It has historic buildings and quaint traboules, passageways
under buildings dating from the Renaissance (in View Lyon) and the 19th century (in Croix Rousse).
(During World War II, these traboules were used by the French Resistance to elude German street
patrols.) The city’s setting at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône is spectacular. And it has more
good restaurants per square mile than any other European city except Paris.
Lyonnais are proud that their city has been important for more than 2,000 years: Romans made
it the capital of Gaul around 43 BC. Its name derives from the Roman Lugdunum or “Hill of the Crow.”
In the middle of Lyon is Presqu’île, a fingerlike peninsula between the rivers, only half a dozen
blocks wide and about 6 miles long, where modern Lyon throbs with shops, restaurants, museums,
theaters, and an opera house. Across the Saône is Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon); above it is the old Roman
district of Fourvière. To the north is the hilly Croix Rousse district where you will find more museums.
Across the Rhône to the east are a mix of older residential areas and the ultramodern Part-Dieu
business and office district.
Vieux Lyon and Fouvière
Vieux Lyon has narrow cobblestone streets, 17th and 18th century mansions, small museums,
and the city’s cathedral. When the city developed as an important silk weaving town, Italian merchants
and bankers built town houses in the area; the influence of Italian Renaissance architecture still
dominates. Above Vieux Lyon, in the hilly Fourvière district, are the remains of Roman theaters and the
Basilique de Notre-Dame, visible from all over the city.
A Good Walk
Start your walk armed with free maps from the Lyon tourist office on Presqu'île’s place
Bellecour. Cross the square and head north along lively rue du Président-Herriot; turn left onto place
des Jacobins and explore rue Mercière and the small streets off it. Cross the Saône on the passerelle
du Palais du Justice (foot bridge); now you are in Vieux Lyon. Facing you is the old Palais de Justice.
Turn right, and then walk 200 yards along quai Roman Rolland to No. 36, where there is a traboule that
leads to rue de Trois Maries. Take a right to get to the small place de la Baleine . Exit the square on
the left (north) side and go on your left is the Loge du Change church. Take rue Soufflot and turn left
onto rue de Gadagne. The Hôtel de Gadagne is home to two museums: the Musée Historique de
Lyon, with medieval sculpture and local artifacts, and the Musée de la Marionnette, a puppet
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 12
Walk south along rue du Boeuf, which runs parallel to rue St-Jean. Just off tiny place du Petit-
Collège, at No. 16 is the Maison du Crible, with its pink tower. Use the traboule at No. 1 rue du
Boeuf to lead you to 24 rue St- Jean. Turn right and then left onto rue de la Bombarde to get to the
Jardin Archéologique, a small garden with two excavated churches. Alongside the gardens is the
solid Cathédral St-Jean, itself an architectural history lesson. The ficelle (funicular railway) runs from
the Cathédral to the top of Colline de Fourvière (Fourvière Hill). Take the montée de Fourvière to the
Théâtres Romains , two ruined Roman theaters. Overlooking the theaters is the semi subterranean
Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine, a repository for Roman finds. Continue up the hill and
take the first right to the mock-Byzantine Basilique de Notre -Dame-de-Fourvière.
Return to View Lyon via the montée Nicolas-de-Lange, the stone staircase at the foot of the
metal tower, the Tour Métalique . You will emerge alongside the St-Paul train station. Venture onto
rue Juiverie, off place St-Paul, to see two splendid Renaissance mansions, the Hôtel Paterin at No. 4
and the Hôtel Bullioud at No. 8. On the northeast side of place St-Paul is the church of St-Paul.
Behind the church, cross the river on the passarelle St-Vincent and take a left on quai St-Vincent; 200
yards along on the right is the Jardin des Chartreux, a small park. Cut through the park up to cours
du Géneral Giraud and then turn right to place Rouville. Rue de l’Annonciade leads from the square to
the Jardin des Plantes, botanical gardens.
Sights to See
Basilique de Notre -Dame-de-Fouvière. The pompous late 19th century basilica, at the top of the
ficelle, is unfortunately, the symbol of Lyon. Its mock-Byzantine architecture and hilltop site make it a
close cousin of Paris’s Sacré-Coeur. Both were built to underline the might of the Roman Catholic
Church after the Prussian defeat of France in 1870 gave rise to the birth of the anticlerical Third
Repbulic. The excessive gilt, marble, and mosaics inside underscore that the church had wealth if not
political clout. One of the few places in Lyon where you can’t see the basilica is the adjacent terrace,
whose panorama reveals the city, with the St-Jean cathédral in the foreground and the glass towers of
the reconstructed Part-Dieu business complex glistening behind. For a yet more sweeping view, climb
the 287 steps to the basilica observatory. pl de Fourvière. Observatory admission charged. Nov.
– Easter, weekend 10-noon and 2-5. Basilica daily 9-noon and 2-6.
Cathédral St-Jean. No soaring roof or lofty spires can be found here. Solid and determined - it
withstood the sieges of time, revolution and war - the cathedral's stumpy facade is stuck almost
bashfully onto the nave. Although the mishmash inside has its moments - the fabulous 13th century
stained-glass windows in the choir and the varied window tracery and vaulting in the side chapels - the
interior lacks drama and harmony. But it is an architectural history lesson. The cathedral dates from
the 12th century and the chancel is Romanesque, but construction continued over three centuries. The
14th century astronomical clock in the north transept, is a marvel of technology. It chimes a hymn to St.
John on the hour at noon, 2, 3 and 4 pm as a screeching rooster and other automatons enact the
Annunciation. To the right of the Cathédrale St-Jean stands the 12th century Manécanterie (choir
school). 70 rue St-Jean
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 13
Hôtel Bullioud. This Renaissance mansion, close to the Hôtel Paterin, is noted for its courtyard, with
an ingenious gallery (1536) built by Philbert Delorme, one of France's earliest and most accomplished
exponents of classical architecture. He worked o the Loir Valley châteaux of Fontainebleau and
Chenonceau. 8 rue Juiverie, off pl. St-Paul.
Hôtel Paterin. This splendid Renaissance mansion is one of many notable buildings in the area. 4 rue
Juiverie, off pl. St-Paul.
Jardin Archéologique (Archaeological Garden). This garden contains the excavated ruins of two
churches that succeeded one another on this spot. They were discovered after apartment buildings,
constructed on the spot after the churches were destroyed in the Revolution, were undergoing repairs.
When the apartment buildings were demolished, the foundations of the churches were unearthed. One
arch still remains and forms part of the ornamentation in the garden. Entrance on rue de la Bombarde.
Jardin des Chartreux. This garden is just one of several small, leafy parks in Lyon. It's a peaceful
place to rest and eat a sandwich while admiring the splendid view of the river and Fourvière Hill.
Entrance on qual St-Vincent.
Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden). In this peaceful, luxurious Botanical Garden are remnants of
the once huge Amphitheatre des Trois Gauls (Three Gauls Amphithéâter) built in AD 19. Entrance on
rue de la Tourette. Dawn to dusk.
Loge du Change (Money Exchange). Germain Soufflot (architect of Paris's Panthéon) constructed this
building in 1747. pl. du Change.
Maison du Crible. This 17th century mansion is one of Lyon's oldest. In the courtyard you can
glimpse a charming garden and the original Tour Rose - an elegant, pink tower. The higher the tower in
those days, the greater the prestige; this one was owned by the tax collector. 16 rue du Boeuf (off tiny
pl. du Petit-Collège). Admission charged. Daily 10-noon and 2-6.
Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine (Gallo-Roman Civilization Museum). Since 1933,
systematic excavations have unearthed vestiges of Lyon's opulent Roman precursor. The statues,
mosaics, vases, coins and tombstones are excellently displayed at this semi-subterranean museum next
to the Roman Theaters. The large, bronze Table Claudienne is inscribed with part of Emperor
Claudius's speech to the Roman Senate in AD 48, conferring senatorial rights on the Roman citizens of
Gaul. 17 rue Clébert. Admission charged. Wed-Sun 9:30-noon and 2-6.
Musée Historique de Lyon (Lyon Historical Museum). This museum is housed in the city's largest
ensemble of Renaissance buildings, the Hôtel de Gadagne, built between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Medieval sculpture, local furniture, pottery, paintings and engravings are on display. Also housed here
is the Musée de la Marionnette (Puppet Museum), tracing the history of marionettes beginning with
Guignol and Madelon (Lyon's Punch and Judy, created by Laurent Mourguet in 1795). 1 pl. du Petit-
Collège. Admission charged. Wed.- Mon. 10:45-6.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 14
Place de la Baline. This small square is lined with 17th century houses once owned by those who
became rich from the silk trade.
Place Bellecour. Shady, imposing place Bellecour is one of the largest squares in France and Lyon's
fashionable center, midway between the Saône and the Rhône. Classical facades erected along its
narrower sides in 1800 lend architectural interest. The large, bronze equestrian Louis XIV, installed in
1828 is by local sculptor Jean Lemot. On the south side of the square is the tourist office.
Rue du Boeuf. At the corner of place Neuve St-Jean and rue du Boeuf is one of Vieux Lyon's most
famous signs, portraying the bull for which rue du Boeuf is named; it's by renowned French sculptor
Jean de Bologne (1529-1608), trained in Renaissance Italy.
Rue St-Jean. Once Vieux Lyon's major thoroughfare, this street leads north from place de la Baleine
to place du Change, where moneychangers operated during medieval trade fairs. Its elegant houses
were largely built for illustrious Lyonnais bankers and silk merchants during the French Renaissance.
No. 27 has an especially lovely courtyard. The houses once had just four stories; upper floors were
added in the last century. Many area streets were named for their shops, still heralded by intricate iron
St-Paul. The 12th century church of St-Paul is noted for its octagonal lantern, its frieze of animal heads
on the chancel and its flamboyant Gothic chapel. pl. St-Paul.
Théâtres Romains (Roman Theater). Two ruined, semicircular Roman built theaters are tucked into
the hillside, just down from the summit of Fourvière. The Grand Théâtre, the oldest Roman theater in
France, was built in 15 BC to seat 10,000. The smaller Odéon with its geometric flooring, was
designed for music and poetry performances. Colline Fourvière. Free. Daily 9-dusk.
Tour Métallique. Beyond the Fourvière Basilica is this skeletal metal tower built in 1893 and now a
television transmitter. The stone staircase, the Montée Nicolas-de-Lange, at the foot of the tower, is a
direct but steep route from the basilica to the St-Paul train station. Colline Fourvière.
Presqu'île and Croix Rousse District
Presqu'île, the peninsula flanked by the Saône and the Rhône, is the modern center of Lyon with
fashionable shops, an array of restaurants and museums and squares with fountains and 19th century
buildings. This is the core of Lyon, where you'll probably want to wander the streets from one
riverbank to the other and explore the area place Bellecour to place des Terreaux.
The hilly district north of place des Terreaux, the Croix Rousse district, is flanked by the Jardins
des Plantes on the west and the Rhône on the east. It once resounded to the clanking of looms churning
out the silk and cloth that made Lyon famous. By the 19th century, more then 30,000 canuts (weavers)
worked on looms on the upper floors of the houses. So tightly packed were the houses that the only
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 15
way to transport fabrics was through the traboules, which had the additional advantage of protecting the
cloth in bad weather.
A Good Walk
Armed with a detailed map available from the Lyon Tourist Office, you could spend hours
"trabouling" in the area, which is still busy with textile merchants despite the demise of the old-style
cottage industry of silk weaving. In the very northern part of the Croix Rousse District you can see old
time looms at the Maison de Canuts. For an impromptu tour of the area, walk along rue Imbert-
Colomès. At No. 20, turn right through the traboule that leads to rue Ides Tables Claudiennes and right
again across place Chardonnet. Take the passage Mermet alongside St-Polycarpe church; then turn left
onto rue Leynaud. A traboule at No. 32 leads to the Montée St-Sébastien. Here is a transfixing
trompe l'oeil on the Mur des Canuts, a large wall painted with depictions of local citizens sitting and
walking up a passageway of steps. Exit the Croix Rousse District by taking rue Romarin down to place
The sizable place des Terreaux has two notable buildings: on the north side is the Hôtel de
Ville, the Town Hall; on the south side is the elegant Musée des Beaux-Arts, the art museum. To
reach the barrel-vaulted Opéra de Lyon, walk west across place des Terreaux and through the ground
floor of the Hôtel de Ville (go around if it is closed). For a look at Lyon's fashionable shops, walk
down the pedestrian-only rue de la République and cross place Bellecour. Continue 300 yards farther
(now rue de la Charité) to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Decorative Arts Museum. Next door
is the Musée Historique des Tisus , the Fabric History Museum.
If you’ve seen all of Lyon's main cultural sights, take the metro from Perrache train station to
Massena, to the Parc de la Tête d'Or. If you're an architecture buff, take the metro from place
Bellecour to Monplasir-Lumiere (it's a little bit of a long trip) and walk 10 minutes south along rue
Antroine to the Musée Urbain Tony Garnier, usually referred to as the Cité de la Création.
It will probably take you an hour to explore Presqu'île and the Croix Rousee District.
The Musée de Beaux-Arts deserves at least two hours; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Musée
Historique des Tissus another couple of hours.
Sights to See
Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). Architects Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte redesigned the
very impressive facade of Town Hall after a 1674 fire. The rest of the building dates from the early 17th
century. pl. des Terreaux.
Maison des Canuts (Silkweavers Museum). Despite the industrialization of silk and textiles
production, old-time "Jacquard" looms are still in action at this historical house in the Croix Rousse. 12
rue d'Ivry. Admission charged. Weekdays 8:30-noon, and 2-6:30, Sat. 9-noon and 2-6.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 16
˜ Musée de Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts Museum). Housed in an 18th century mansion,
this museum has fine collections of silverware, furniture, objects d'art, porcelain and tapestries. 34 rue
de la Charité. Admission charged (joint ticket with the nearby Musée Historique des Tissus).
Tues.-Sun. 10-noon, and 2-5:30.
Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum). In the elegant 17th century Palais St-Pierre, once a
Benedictine abbey, this museum has one of France's largest collections of art after the Louvre, including
Rodin's Walker, Byzantine ivories, Etruscan statues and Egyptian artifacts. Amid old master,
Impressionist and modern paintings are works by the tight-knit Lyon School, characterized by
exquisitely rendered flowers and overbearing religious sentimentality. Note Louis Janmot's Poem of the
Soul, immaculately painted visions that are by turns heavenly, hellish and downright spooky. Palais St-
Pierre, 20 pl. des Terreaux. Admission charged. Wed.-Sun. 10:30-6.
Musée Historique des Tissus (Fabric History Museum). On display is a fascinating exhibit of
intricate carpets, tapestries, and silks, including Asian tapestries from as early as the 4th century, Turkish
and Persian carpets from the 16th-18th centuries, and 18th century Lyon silks. 34 rue de la Charité.
Admission charged (joint ticket with Musée des Arts Décoratifs). Tue.-Sun. 10-noon and 2-5:30.
Musée Urbain Tony Garnier (Tony Garnier Urban Museum). Also known as the Cité de la Création
(City of Creation), this project was France's first attempt at low-income housing. In recent years the
tenants have tried to bring some art and cheerfulness to their environment. Twenty-two giant murals
depicting the work of Tony Garnier, the turn-of-the-century Lyon architect, painted on the walls of huge
housing projects built in 1920 and 1933. Artists from around the world, with the support of UNESCO,
have added their vision to the creation of the ideal housing project. To get there, take the metro from
place Bellecour to Monplaisir-Lumière and walk 10 minutes south along rue Antoine. bd. Des États-
Opéra de Lyon. The barrel vaulted Lyon Opera, a reincarnation of a moribund 1831 building, was
built in the early 90's to a tune of 478 million francs. It incorporates a columned exterior, soaring glass
vaulting, neoclassical public spaces and the latest backstage magic. High above, looking out between
the heroic statues lined up along the parapet, is a small restaurant, Les Muses. pl. de Comédie.
Parc de lat Tête d'Or (Golden Head Park). On the banks of the Rhône, this 300 acre park has a
lake, pony rides and a small zoo. It's an ideal for an afternoon outing with children. Take the metro
from Perrache train station to Masséna. pl. du Général-Leclerc, quai Charles de Gaulle. Free.
Place des Terreaux. The four majestic horses rearing up from a monumental 19th century fountain in
the middle of this large square are by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who also sculpted New York's
Statue of Liberty. The two noble buildings on either side are the Hôtel de Ville and the Musée des
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 17
˜ $$$$ Léon de Lyon. Chef Jean-Paul Lacombe's innovative uses of the region's butter, cream and
foie gras put this restaurant, in an old house, at the forefront of the city's gastronomic scene. Dishes
such as fillet of veal with celery and leg of lamb with fava beans are memorable; suckling pig comes with
foie gras, onions and a truffle salad. Alcoves and wood paneling add to the atmosphere. 1 rue Pléney.
04-78-28-11-33. Reservations essential. Jacket required.
˜ $$$$ Paul Bocuse. In this culinary shrine north of Lyon in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, the grand
dining room makes a fitting backdrop for the creations of star chef Paul Bocuse. Elegantly dressed food
lovers throng here to feast on his truffle soup and sea bass, although he is often away. 50 quai de la
Plage, Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or. 04-72-27-85-85. Reservations essential. Jacket and tie.
$$$-$$$$ Orsi. Orsi's lavish restaurant, a pink stucco wonder, is by a tiny tree-lined square. Marble
floors, brocade draperies, bronze nudes and gilt-framed paintings make it glamorously festive. The foie
gras ravioli with truffles and the mesclun with goat cheese are hare acts to follow, though the dessert of
sliced figs with pistachio ice cream holds it own. 3 pl. Kléber. 04-79-89-57-68. Reservations
essential. Jacket and tie.
$$ Brasserie Georges. This inexpensive brasserie at the end of rue de la Charité is one of the city's
largest and oldest, founded in 1836 but now in a palatial Art Deco building. Meals range from hearty
veal stew or sauerkraut and sausage to more refined fare. 30 cours de Verdun. 04-72-56-54-54.
$$ Café de Fédérations. For 80 years this sawdust-strewn café with homey red checked tablecloths
has reigned as one of the city's friendliest spots. Raymond Fulchiron not only serves deftly prepared
local classics like boudin blanc (white-meat sausage) but also chats with you to make you feel at home.
8 rue du Major-Martin. 04-78-28-26-00.
˜ $$ Les Muses. High up under the glass vault of the Opéra de Lyon is this small restaurant run by
Philippe Chavent. Look out the glass front between statues of the Muses to the Hôtel de Ville. The
nouvelle cuisine makes it hard to choose between the dishes, but don't pass up the salmon in butter
sauce with watercress mousse. For price, the best value for dinner is the prix fix menu. Opéra de
Lyon, 04-72-00-45-58. Reservation essential.
$$ Le Nord. Should you want to keep some change in your pocket and still sample cooking by Paul
Bocuse-trained chefs, lunch at his bistro in downtown Lyon. Be sure to order the frîtes (fries) - they are
some of the country's best. 18 rue Neuve, 04-72-10-69-69.
$$ Le Vivarais. Roger Duffaud's simple, tidy restaurant is outstanding culinary value. Don't expect
napkins folded into flower shapes - the excitement is on your plate, with dishes like lièvre royale (hare
rolled and stuffed with truffles and pate). 1 pl. du Dr-Gailleton, 04-78-37-85-15. Reservations
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 18
$-$$ Anticipation. A new restaurant on the Lyon scene, Anticipation is the venue for light, creative
dishes using the region's famed specialties such as poulet de Bresse. The homey feel makes it a place
where you can settle in for an evening of good fare and fun. rue Chavanne, 04-78-30-91-92.
$-$$ Maison Villemanzy. A former cook form Leon de Lyon has opened this delightful restaurant on
the Croix Rousse hills. There are outstanding views from the balcony. The cuisine is a modern, lighter
version of Lyonnais fare, though you should still expect veal and chicken cooked in butter and cream to
be on the menu. 5 montée St-Sébastien, 04-78-39-37-00.
$ Brunet. Tables are crammed together in this tiny bouchon (tavern) where the decor is limited to past
menus inscribed on mirrors and a few photographs. The food is good, traditional Lyonnais fare; besides
the mandatory andouillette sausage and tripe, there is usually excellent roast pork on the 98-franc menu.
On a busy night expect it to be crowded - but it's all part of the fun. 23 rue Claudia, 04-78-37-44-31.
$ Hugon. This typical, tiny bouchon with red-checked tablecloths is behind the Musée des Beaux-
Arts. The owner drinks with patrons while Madame chops away in back. Go for a hunk of homemade
pâté and stewed chicken in wine vinegar sauce o a plate of ris de veau (sweet breads) - good,
inexpensive food and plenty of it. 12 rue Pizay, 04-78-28-10-94.
$ Maison Rousseau. Located in Lyon’s main food market, Halles de Lyon is a modern building near
the Part-Dieu station. For oysters, Maison Rousseau is numero uno. Founded in 1906 and now run by
the fourth generation, Rousseau has a small dining room behind its market stand. By 12:30 every table is
taken. A good choice would be a dozen sparkling fresh oysters -- Marennes d'Oleron a ''pot'' of dry
white Macon, giant shrimp with a mustardy mayonnaise and country bread. Add to this a shared plate
of snails sizzling in a garlic, butter and parsley sauce followed by a properly weeping St. Marcellin
cheese from Renee Richard. The tab for two $46. Open Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.;
Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Monday. It accepts Visa only. Cours Lafayette, 102, Third
Arrondissement (33-4) 78-62-37-65.
Frommer’s Dollarwise Skiing Europe, 1989 - 1990 by Catherine and Peter Foreht
Fodor’s 98 – France
New York Times “A Meal in the Market”, 12/31/2000
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 19
17. SOME USEFUL EXPRESSIONS
I’d like to hire/buy J’aimerais louer/acheter
ski boots des chaussures de ski
ski poles des bâtons de ski
skis des skis
What length poles/ Quelle longueur de bâtons/
skis should I have? skis me faul-it?
Can you adjust the bindings? Pouvez-vous règler mes fixations?
Can you wax my skis? Pouvez-vous farter mes skis?
Can you sharpen the edges? Pouves-vous aiguiser les carres?
I am a Je suis un(e)
intermediate skier skieur (skieuse) de niveau moyen
advanced skier skieur (skieuse) avancé(e)
I weigh ...kilos Je pèse ...kilos
These boots are Ces chaussures sont
too big/too small trop grandes/trop petites
My skis are too long/too short Mes skis sont trop longs/trop courts
My ski/pole has broken Mon ski/bâton s’est cassé
The clasp on my boot is broken La coucle de ma chaussure s’est cassée
My boots hurt me Mes chaussures me font mal
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
goggles lunettes de ski/goggles
one-piece suit combinaison
polo-neck sweater pull à col roulé
ski pants fuseau(x)
sun glasses lunettes de soleil
lip salve stick protecteur (pour les lèvres)
sun cream crème solaire
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 20
LIFTS AND LIFT PASSES
Could I have a lift pass holder? Pourrais-je avoir une pochette
cable car téléphérique
chair lift télésiége
drag lift téléski
Where’s the end of the line? Où se trouve la fin de la queue?
Can I have a trail map, please? Puis-je avoir un plan des pistes, s’il vous plaît?
ON THE PISTE
Where are the beginner slopes? Où sont les pistes pour débutants?
Which is the easiest way down? Quelle est las descente la plus facile?
It’s a(n) ...run C’est une piste...
gentle/steep en pente douce/escarpée
green (very easy) verte (très facile)
blue (easy) bleu (facile)
red (intermediate) rouge (Moyennement difficile)
black (difficult) noire (difficile)
The trail is closed La piste est fermée
The trail is very icy La piste est très gelée
mogul (bump) bosse
Watch out! Attention!
I can’t move my... Je ne peux pas bouger...
My ...hurts ...me fait mal
back le dos
finger le doigt
knee le genou
leg la jambe
neck la nuque
wrist le poignet
I’ve pulled a muscle Je me suis claqué un muscle
Please get help Allez chercher de l’aide, s’il vous plaît.
Don’t move Ne bougez pas
avalanche danger danger d’avalanche
rescue service équipe de secours
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 21
swimming pool piscine
french fries frites
dish of the day plat du jour
mountain restaurant restaurant (de montagne)
(mulled) wine vin (chaud)
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 22
by John Fry
If you were to create a perfect place to ski for a week, you'd want terrain so vast you'd never retrace
your tracks. All around you would be stunning vistas of glaciers, domes, deep valleys and dazzling white
In this magic space, it is seldom bitingly cold. The lifts are cleverly laid out so that you always seem to
be skiing down to a place where it's easy to find your way up to new terrain. A typical run takes 15
minutes or more...a result of jaw-dropping verticals. Everywhere are small, charming chalets operated
by individual owners who serve superb French cuisine. The trails are groomed daily, yet you can access
thousands of acres of ungroomed deep snow from the lifts, without having to duck under a rope.
Naturally, you'd want to give such an extraordinary place a special name resonating the best. So why
not name it after the world's most famous skier? Of course, you'd have to get Jean-Claude Killy's
permission. As it happens, that's not difficult. The guy grew up here.
The vast, scenic ski terrain I've described is n fantasy. Espace Killy is a five-mile-long stretch of
ridges, valleys and peaks that rise as high as one vertical mile above Val d’Isère, France, and its
neighbor, Tignes. These two ski areas within Espace Killy, each the size of a big U.S. resort are linked
by cable cars, tunneled funitels, gondolas, detachable high-speed chairs...more than 100 lifts in all.
Right now I'm sitting in Val d'Isère with Jean-Claude, 6,000 feet above sea level, in the clubby alpine-
motif lounge of the Blizzard Hotel. We're a couple of blocks away from the house where he grew up
from childhood to become the world's greatest ski racer at the age of 24. Killy, now 57, drove four
hours from his home outside Geneva to visit his ailing father and to enable me to interview him for this
article. He would have piloted himself in his own helicopter, but the winds en route were too strong.
Needing to return home the same day, he's unable to join us on the slopes.
The day before, my wife Marlies and I, with an instructor/guide, spent seven exhilarating hours skiing
less than a quarter of Espace Killy's 25,000 acres; five times larger than all of Vail. Much of it
ungroomed, yet reached from the lifts; lies in the Vanoise National Park.
"It's so huge," remarks Killy. "You make a mistake if you don't hire a guide to show your group around,
at least for the first couple of days." Killy speaks in a soft voice, which rises only as he gesticulates to
make a point. His excellent English is mostly self-taught. The sharp, sly humor is still there. He seems
taller than I'd remembered him...lean, fit, seemingly without an ounce of excess weight, and not looking
much older than when I last saw him six or seven years ago. He is assured, commanding, not shy as
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 23
he'd been as a 20-year-old wonder, but reserved in the way that successful people are to guard their
"I hear you don't ski any more."
"It's true. I snowboard some days when the sun is shining. In the spring, I like to snowshoe or cross-
country ski...a wonderful, neglected sport.
"I had to give up downhill skiing. The job of organizing the Games Killy was in charge of the 1992
Albertville Winter Olympics left me with no time to ski. Seventeen hours a day I worked, for five years.
I had back problems that required surgery. Afterward, I didn't return to skiing." Killy went on to another
big job, running the Tour de France bicycle race and the Paris-to-Dakar auto rally; equivalent in
America to doubling as commissioner of the National Football League and the Indianapolis 500.
Killy's last day on skis was in 1988 when he was inspecting the Olympic downhill at Val d'Isère with its
designer, former Swiss downhill star Bernhard Russi.
"After the classic Hahnenkamm at Kitzbühel," Killy says, "it is my favorite course. From the bottom, you
can see the racer come down the whole of the Bellevarde Face." Some of the Olympic racers thought
of it as unrelieved mayhem. Yet the wide, groomed trail is regularly skied nonstop today by good
The day after I interview Killy, Marlies and I set out on a trip from Val d'Isère across the expanse of
Espace Killy to the farthest end of Tignes. The trip begins with a chairlift ride up the Bellevarde face
with our guide, Clare Burns. Born of Irish parents, Clare, 31, is the only American woman to have
earned the demanding diploma of a French National Ski School instructor at Val d'Isère. She grew up
skiing in New York's Catskill Mountains.
From the top of Bellevarde, Clare leads us down intermediate terrain parallel to the OK piste, the
World Cup downhill that is raced every December. The OK is an acronym for Val d'Isère native Henri
Oreiller, France's most famous speed racer in the early Fifties, and for Killy, slam-dunk winner of the
first World Cup of alpine skiing.
Passing the snowboard terrain park, we reach Tommeuses, a busy junction of lifts coming up from La
Daille. From here, we begin to head in the direction of Tignes, riding the Tovière lift. On top, we stop
for mineral water and coffee. Inside the mountain restaurant, guides and clients are raptly watching the
world championship women's downhill from St. Anton, Austria, live on television. In America we prefer
to ski rather than watch races; at Val d'Isère, a favorite resort of hardcore skiers, the priorities differ.
Val regulars are serious skiers and serious race fans.
Now, we spin long arcing turns down a marathon intermediate run to reach Val Claret. It's the highest of
five mini-villages that make up modern Tignes. The original village of Tignes lies at the bottom of a
reservoir created by a dam built 50 years ago. Treeless and facing the sun, Val Claret was the venue
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 24
for the freestyle competitions during the 1992 Olympics. The hotels and condominium apartments are
sleek and contemporary in architecture.
From Val Claret, a long high-speed chair ride takes us to the bottom of the funitel that goes up to the
Grande Motte. We're in luck! Just 20 minutes before, the cable car opened. The wind has died down.
The day's first skiers are on the way up to 11,400 feet, and soon we are at an elevation equal to the top
of Vail Mountain. The difference is that we're 2,000 feet higher above our hotel room than if we'd been
at Vail. The conditions look perfect.
The trick to skiing Val d'Isère, Killy says, is to be in the right place at the right time. Because we're in
the mountains and the terrain is so vast, weather in one part of Espace Killy can be sunny, while in
another part it can be snowing or blowing.
"It's all linked to the sun and the temperature and weather, visibility, type of snow, the time of the
season; whether December or March or May," Killy says. "Some days you should be the first on the lift
in the morning; other days it pays to wait."
We're fortunate. The previous night, 3 inches of moderately light powder fell on the Grande Motte
glacier. Outside, on the terrace of the cable car's upper terminal, we view the mountains studding the far
horizon. East is a string of jagged, black and ochre peaks in Switzerland and Italy, striped with brilliantly
white glaciers and snow. Behind us, unseen, are the Trois Vallées of Courchevel and Méribel, an even
larger lift- connected assemblage of resorts. And to the north we can spot the spectacular Grand
Jurasses and the white crest of the Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco, the highest mountain in Western
Europe, looming above Courmayeur, Italy.
To prevent the fresh snow from blowing off the treeless piste, grooming machines have rolled it to the
smoothness of a merino wool blanket. Our skis turn effortlessly. It's one of those magical moments in
skiing, known to aficionados as "going on automatic pilot." The shaped ski's sidecut, edged on the
forgiving snow, allows the skis to turn themselves. Clare floats down the mountainside like a character in
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We're dancing on top of Europe.
On and on our skis spin in wide arcing turns, past the entry to the cable car, down and down, 4,000
vertical feet back to Val Claret. And so the day proceeds. We're lifted up to the Col du Palet, and after
a short ski down, we find ourselves at the Grand Huit lift. I look up and see the track of a snowboarder.
Below it is the debris of a massive morning avalanche that carried tons of snow off a cliff, scraping it
People waiting in the liftline discuss what must have been the unknown rider's close brush with death.
His track indicates he had luckily veered off to one side above the slide, probably a split second after he
Such incidents are not uncommon in Espace, where you are free to ski wherever you want; down
couloirs, across snowfields, into ravines; at your own risk. If the patrol is called upon to help, you must
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 25
pay...from a couple of hundred francs ($30) for a toboggan rescue to a $1,000 or more for a complex
helicopter evacuation. For that reason, everyone buys the Carte des Neiges, an insurance card offered
whenever you buy a lift ticket. It covers the cost of carrying you down when injured or rescuing you if
The Grand Huit lift carries us to the Aiguille Percée, or Eye of the Needle, an unusual hole piercing a
jagged limestone arête (a narrow ridge). We follow a route behind the Aiguille, a descent of two-and-a-
half miles down 4,000 vertical feet. We transition from powder to wet spring snow before arriving in the
old village of Tignes les Brévières, the lowest point of Espace Killy.
Since morning, we've skied for four hours across half of the six-mile breadth of Espace and worked up
a hunger. Clare leads the way into La Sachette, a low-ceilinged restaurant with dark and honey-colored
beams and walls. Swiss Heidi would have felt at home. I order a Salade Savoie; melted cheese on
goose gizzard on a bed of fresh green lettuce dressed with balsamic vinegar. I end the meal with an Irish
coffee. It's 2:30 in the afternoon, and the place is empty.
"Maybe it will fill up later with guys," Clare remarks. "You walk into some bars around here and
wonder if you're in a gay place! But no, you're not. It's just that the ratio of men is so high. If you're a
single woman in Val d'Isère it's a paradise; but only if you're a good skier."
A legion of jocks, Scandinavians, Brits, Aussies, a scattering of Yanks; save enough money to spend
the winter skiing and snowboarding Espace. A few wealthy guests do the same, staying in a four-star
hotel, the Blizzard or the Christiania, and skiing with a guide each day. In their different styles, rich and
poor share Espace Killy.
About half the skiers around Val d'Isère are French. One in four is British. Liftline behavior, compared
to other European resorts, is surprisingly civil. Lift attendants are young and cheerful. Killy explained it
to me: "We went to the States to see what you were doing. It took us 20 years to catch up; same thing
with snowmaking and grooming."
The trip back to Val in the afternoon proves shorter, and, wonderfully, Clare never lets us recross our
morning tracks. By 5:30 we're back in our hotel, the Blizzard. The hotel proprietor's Labrador retriever
and a couple of the guests' dogs are sniffing about the four-star's lobby.
In the comfortable, warmly lit lounge, I meet guests from Toronto, who've been Clare's clients. They
should have kept her. Michael Waring wiped out on the Bellevarde Face and sports an ugly bruise over
his eye. He wears his wound proudly, like a Purple Heart. "If I skied as fast at Whistler or Vail as I do
here," he exclaims, "I'd get my ticket yanked."
I order a glass of champagne and chat it up with Waring's buddy, Eric Feige. Val d'Isère, Feige
observes, "is the kind of place North American heliskiers would enjoy. It combines the ambience of a
sophisticated upscale European ski resort with the rugged off-piste experience of a Whistler Mountain."
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 26
Before dinner, I interview Barry Stone, Olympic fund-raiser from Burlington, Vt., and a Stowe skier.
"I'm a powder hound, and Val d'Isère is definitely the best in Europe," Stone says. "You can clearly see
75 percent of the powder possibilities when you're riding up the lifts. You look at a single bowl and
realize you could fit four Stowes into it."
A frequent Espace skier, Stone cautions, "If there's a whiteout or a snowstorm and you've never been
here, no matter how strong a skier you are, unless you plan to stick to the groomed pistes, you don't
want to be without a guide. Never follow a set of tracks if you don't know where they lead."
We eat in our hotel with Marty Heckelman, Val d'Isère's resident American expatriate, ski video
producer and instruction author. Heckelman arrived here from Brooklyn 20 years ago and never left.
He invites us to ski with him the next day. He wants to take us in the opposite direction from our Tignes
trip with Clare, aiming to explore the terrain above Fornet, at the other end of Espace Killy.
Promptly at 10 in the morning, Heckelman meets us at the huge rectangular snow-covered square that
joins the center of town seamlessly with the slopes. After a short bus trip to Fornet, we ride the cable
car and then a gondola that takes us to the 9,115-foot Col del'Iseran; in summer one of the highest
automobile crossings in Europe. The road descends to Bonneval, near the Italian frontier. In winter, on a
day when conditions are good and there's no avalanche threat, Val d'Isère guests ski over to Bonneval
and helicopter back.
With Heckelman, we explore the intermediate Pissaillas terrain, a summer skiing venue. I can see that
the instruction author is making mental notes of my flawed technique. Clearly, I offer a rich case history
of common errors that could be fodder for his next book. So be it. The weather is sublime. The snow,
phosphorescent, sparkles in the glittering sunlight. It's a day, I imagine, when Henry Kissinger or even
Puffy Combs could manage a smile.
Suddenly Heckelman does a hockey-stop turn and whips his cell phone out of his parka pocket. "I'm
calling Le Signal restaurant to make a lunch reservation," he explains. "It's just a couple of kilometers
away, at the top of the Fornet cable car. In my opinion, our best mountain restaurant."
Le Signal does not disappoint. I order rognons (kidneys) blanketed in a rich wine sauce, perfect to go
with a bottle of Gamay, the inexpensive Savoie red that most locals drink. Marlies orders the
restaurant's prize specialty; a half-round of the famous Savoie cheese, Reblochon, placed on egg
yokes, coated with crumbs and fried, then set on a bed of potato salad with onions, lettuce and
tomatoes. Heckelman chooses salmon. Dessert is Tarte Tartin, an upside-down apple carmelized on
crisp pastry with vanilla ice cream. We end the meal with small glasses of Genepi, a digestif distilled
from a local mountain flower. For three of us, the bill comes to $55.
Fueled by the lunch, we ride the gondola up, then take an unusual up-and-down lift over a sharp ridge
to Solaise, a ski area within Espace Killy that's about the size of Snowmass, Colo. By five, we're back
in our hotel, with time to rest before dining with Squaw Valley Olympic medalist-turned-travel-packager
Penny Pitou. She's leading 40 Americans and Canadians on a ski week at Val d'Isère.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 27
Pitou recalls that her sons and Killy's had been students together at the Holderness School in New
Hampshire. I remind Killy of the fact when I meet him the next morning. During the discussion, I learn
that Jean-Claude donated the site of the children's ski school in Val d'Isère to the town. In Europe, gold
medalists are typically given a piece of land by the village where they live. Killy gave his land back to
Val s’Isère; an act of generosity unmatched, I suspect, by any ski champion.
"In Austria, you could have used the land for your own gasthof," I remark.
"Yes, the Karl Schranz gastfhof," he laughs, referring to his longtime Austrian rival, the anti-hero Karl
Schranz, now a St. Anton hotel owner. In 1968, Schranz was disqualified in slalom, giving Killy his third
Olympic gold medal at Grenoble, making him only the second skier to win three golds in one Winter
We look out the window at Val d'Isère's main street. "The look of the town is changing," I remark.
Alpine-style pitched roofs are being placed on the flat-topped, uninspired buildings built 20 and 30
years ago. The town recently banned parking on its main street. Contrary to fears of storeowners, retail
business has soared. With fewer cars, there is now more room for shoppers and strollers to walk
around. "Yes, it's good," Killy responds. "They're planting trees. We are impatiently waiting for the day
when they close all traffic on the main street. It has to happen."
"You once said that you could have gone back to Val d'Isère to be a ski instructor and been happy. Do
you mean it?"
"Inside me are opposing forces. What I have become famous, successful, and what I was supposed to
be a local ski instructor. Truthfully, it didn't matter much to me 30 years ago.
Then I discovered that to be something other than an ex-ski champion, you have to show success with
your bank account. "OK, it was pleasing to see the bank account go up. But it would have been as
pleasant to have remained in Val d'Isère and become what I was supposed to have become. My
original destiny was to be here."
We end the interview. Killy and I, and his younger brother Mick, who runs the family's shops and a
restaurant in town, stroll over to the wooden chalet where the boys grew up. A photographer is there.
Killy poses, affable, standing in the snow in front of the house. Finished, we shake hands and exchange
au revoirs. He's smiling radiantly. He's truly at home.
The amount of slope groomed daily above Val d'Isère and Tignes is three times larger than North
America's largest ski area, Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. On the treeless terrain, the machines roll
ribbons of piste. On the lower forested trails, the skier traffic becomes a problem. At the end of
the day, for example, avoid skiing directly down into Val d'Isère from Bellevarde and Solaise.
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 28
WHERE TO START? First-day Espace Killy skiers typically head straight up the Bellevarde Face
in its revolutionary new 26-passenger sit-down gondolas. On the other hand, you might
acclimate better on the slopes above Fornet. After a cable-car ride, a gondola takes you to the
Col de l'Iseran, at 9,115 feet, one of Europe's highest auto roads in the summer. From here you
can lift access the gentle slopes of the Glacier de Pissaillas. In the afternoon, ride the unusual up-
and-down chairlift that transports you over to Solaise, a ski area with a dozen lifts. No tour of
Espace Killy is complete without skiing over to the Aiguille Percée and down to Tignes les
Brévières for lunch.
OFF-PISTE For accessible, ungroomed, demanding terrain (think Jackson Hole, but bigger), few
places in the world can match Espace Killy. No fences bar the way to scores of steep chutes and
broad powder fields. If you or your group haven't skied here before, it's foolish to proceed
without a guide. And look for postings of the day's avalanche risk, rated on a scale of 1 (least) to
5 (most dangerous).
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 29
TRIP EVALUATION Name: __________
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = highest) rate all questions by circling a number.
1. Rate the service on Air France.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2. Rate your room at the Hôtel Village Montana.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3. Rate the food at the Hôtel Village Montana.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
4. Rate the service at the Hôtel Village Montana.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5. Rate the amenities at the Hôtel Village Montana.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
6. Rate the skiing at Tignes/Val d’Isère.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
7. Rate the town of Tignes.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
8. Rate the stay in Lyon at the Boscolo Grand Hôtel.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
9. Rate the overall trip.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
10. Interest in returning to ski Tignes in 2007.
scale - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Return to: Karl Flesch, 519 Aspen Woods Drive, Yardley, PA 19067
Tignes 1/13/2006 – 1/22/2006 30