More and more of us are looking for multi-discipline active holidays & the French Alps ticks all the boxes and more.
For only the second time since 2012 there was no British winner of Le Tour de France this summer but it’s unlikely that will tapper our national interest in cycling. In fact, according to our own Consumer Research, the most popular non-winter sport for snowsports lovers is cycling (including road, downhill and mountain biking). As such, we went to Tignes and Courchevel to see what two-wheeling, and other alpine, activities were on offer.
We arrived into Tignes the day before Stage 19 of Le Tour was (supposed…) to finish in Tignes Val Claret with caravans hugging the mountain road and hundreds of road bikes parked outside of restaurants. However, it was the downhill variety of bike we were to experience first.
The closest thing to skiing
You get a chairlift up. You get down under your own steam. The runs are colour coded green, blue, red and black. Your guide is probably a ski instructor in the winter. But what are the differences between skiing and snowboarding compared to downhill biking? Well for one, you don’t have wide-open pistes to carve down; they’re more single tracks that traverse the mountain. I also found the adrenaline to be elevated compared to when I ski, but that’s maybe because I’m pretty much a beginner on the downhill bikes.
With our lift pass provided for free by our accommodation, Fred our guide, gave us three main tips. Don’t go too slow; if you trickle down the mountain your wheels will collide with every stone in your path but with a little speed you tend to glide over them. Enter a ‘berm’, or a banked corner, high to get the best possible line (this will also mean you avoid all of the debris at the bottom of the turn). Finally, when entering what he called a ‘tip-tap’, a series of sharp turns, always look a few metres ahead and twist your whole head into the turn.
Cruising on the green trails allowed us to test our newly-found ‘skills’, arcing through berms and even managing to hop over small bumps. The group soon found our competitive side and persuaded Fred to take us onto a blue, and even a red, trail. With the sun on your back and the wind running through your helmet the sensations are extremely similar to wintersports. As in the winter, it’s a real workout too: standing up the whole time and with your hands juddering on the handlebars, it’s definitely a muscle-toner for both arms and core.
Summer is substantially quieter than winter and the warm temperature means you can regularly pause and really appreciate the scale and beauty of the mountains (but that’s only once you’ve stopped; as soon as you’re away all you’re thinking about are the 4 metres in front of you!). Like the winter, Tignes links its trails with those in Val d’Isere to give you a whopping 160km to explore.
Ski Club members can claim a free basic membership to British Cycling, or up to 50% off other membership tiers, here
- If your accommodation is a ‘My Tignes’ partner (most are) your liftpass is FREE, as are two other activities per day (such as Aqualand, climbing wall, swimming pool etc.). Otherwise it’s €10 for a day.
- It opened on the 26th June and will close on the 1st September.
- A bike (and all the protective gear) costs between €60- €80 a day.
- There are 6 green runs, 12 blue runs, 11 red runs and 11 black runs across 160km