Espace Killy, France
Espace Killy is a large ski and snowboarding resort located in the Savoie region of the French Alps. The area encompasses the towns of Val d’Isère and Tignes and is named after three-time Olympic skiing champion, Jean-Claude Killy.
Tignes is a beautiful area which contains numerous small villages. The original town was drowned in 1952 when a dam was built further down the valley but a number of hamlets have since sprung up on the banks of the reservoir. Tignes-le-Lac is considered by many to be the main town in the region and whilst many tourists will not appreciate the modern architecture and the town’s distinct lack of history and atmosphere, the resort was built with one thing in mind: snow sports.
Espace Killy will host the World Skiing Championships in 2009.
How to Get There
Grenoble St Geoirs is the closet airport to Espace Killy and British airlines, including RyanAir and EasyJet provide inexpensive flights to the city. The SkyScanner website should be your first port of call if you are planning a trip to the French Alps but you should be aware that flights to popular skiing resorts will be in high demand during the winter months.
Lyon St-Exupéry, Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and Geneva Cointrin in Switzerland are also located just several hours away from the resort by car.
London to the Espace Killy ski region is a relatively simple journey. The ideal route will take motorists through the Eurotunnel to Calais, south to Dijon and Lyon, and then directly east to Tignes near the Italian border. Make sure that you equip your car properly to allow it to cope with deep snow and sub-zero temperatures. Snow chains should always be used whilst travelling through the French Alps.
The Eurostar ‘Snowtrain’ service runs between London and Bourg St. Maurice in France. The French town is only a 30 minute bus ride from Val d’Isère and in good conditions you can be on the slopes within an hour or two. The French TGV trains are equally reliable but be prepared to make a few transfers along the way.
Who the Resort Caters for
Espace Killy offers outstanding snowboarding facilities and there are terrain parks in La Daille and Tignes. The resorts in the region are all accessible via cable-car (providing that the appropriate ski pass has been purchased beforehand), so there are numerous opportunities for sightseeing. Tignes provides facilities for disabled skiers and beginners can find their snow-legs at the Oxygene and ESF ski schools.
There are 25 black (expert) slopes in Espace Killy, including one – the ‘Face’ – which featured in the 1992 Olympics. Cross-country skiers will find 44 kilometres of off-piste runs waiting for them at the resort whilst bored skiers can try their hand at ice-diving, ice-karting, tobogganing, or glacier walking.
Children are very well-catered for and kids under 5 years of age are allowed to swim at the local leisure centre for free. The interior of the massive Grande Motte glacier has been chiselled into a frozen wonderland, complete with beautiful sculptures and endless tunnels which will have youngsters exploring for hours.
Espace Killy is definitely not a resort for skiers on a budget. Previous visitors to the resort have commented on how expensive the food is (approximately £30 – 40 for a main meal with wine), so motorists travelling from the UK should consider packing extra food to save a bit of cash.
What Accommodation the Resort Offers
Tignes and Val d’Isère are both very modern resorts. There is plenty of accommodation on offer and the hotels are located within skiing distance of the main slopes in Espace Killy.
Residence Maeva la Daille Soleil is a large, recently-refurbished hotel located in Val d’Isère. It offers a half-board service and typical three-star facilities including modern, colourful rooms with televisions. The hotel is situated close to the local cable-car service and is located within walking distance of the local shops. Maeva la Daille’s unique location at the entrance to the resort allows for panoramic views over the nearby mountains. Booking facilities for this hotel are available at the Hotels.com website.
Le Hameau du Borsat is a three-star chalet located close to the centre of Tignes Val Claret. Accommodation is available on a self-catered basis and the large studio apartments have well-equipped kitchens. The Grande Motte glacier (one of two permanently frozen glaciers in the Espace Killy region) is situated within a cable-car ride of the hotel, making it ideal for short summer skiing trips. Le Hameau du Borsat offers basic but reliable facilities and will be able to make special arrangements for disabled people or groups with children up to the age of 15. Prices begin at £254 per person per week and booking is available at the Booking.com website.
Espace Killy has 300 kilometres of downhill slopes. The resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isère offer 150 individual pistes and the correct ski pass will allow snowboarders and skiers access to all the slopes in the region. Snow cover is guaranteed until the end of the ski season (which is usually in May) but the two glaciers in the area are available for winter sports fans during the summer months. The resort is primarily an intermediate skiing region. There are 68 blue runs, compared to 25 expert and 23 green slopes.
The snow park in Tignes is the largest in the world. There is a half-pipe and a quarter-pipe which will keep adrenaline junkies happy, whilst more casual boarders can try their hand at the cross course. Skiers are also allowed to use the ramps in the snow park.
Avalanche warnings should be taken very seriously. Some of the expert slopes can also suffer from icy patches during the early hours of the morning. Espace Killy makes use of 150 snow cannons to keep the snow fresh.
|Cross Country Trails||44km|
”The Espace Killy ski season begins in November and runs until the following May’’