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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Tignes Val Claret
Country: France
Domain: Espace Killy
Author: Shello
Date: 24th to 30th Dec 06
Our holiday: A week away with the wife to explore an area we had not been to before. With the Espace Killy reputation for off-piste and the SPOT zone, we were hoping to have a few off-piste lessons with Evolution 2 and check out some the more easily reached ungroomed but due to conditions (see below), settled on a couple of improver clinics instead and enjoying what skiing there was to be had. There were 3 booked on the clinic we attended so the instruction was very attentive and I can recommend Arnoud, not only his knowledge but also his good humour which made it a lot of fun.
Website : http://www.tignes.net/ http://www.evolution2.com/tignes/
Basics : Booked a late deal early December with Crystal and although they were pretty good for a major TO, check which airline they have you flying with. We travelled out with Astraeus (eventually a day late and only then to the wrong airport!) and the experience was so bad that in future, I will honestly never travel with this airline again. Coming back was with Excel which was much better.
Lift system : Lifts were mainly fast and modern – a few old bangers (literally on the back of the legs) towards L’Aguille Percee above Les Boisses and towards Roche De Bellvarde above Val D’Isere. Very few drag lifts in the area and the only drag lifts we used were the T’s on the glacier when the cable car was not running.
The terrain : Terrain to suit all levels although most of the pistes would be better suited to those more confident with a few weeks under their belt. Quite a few pistes were shut due to the lack of natural snow but by and large those that were open were holding up OK given the conditions. Highlights were around the Grand Motte, particularly the Leisse run and some softish stuff off the side of Grand Pre. The one grumble was that they kept the Cyclamen run open yet it was nigh on impossible to avoid the rocks coming through (as my ski bases testify). The links between the various sectors were open with generally minimal waiting time.
The snow : Given the general snow cover in the rest of Europe it was better than I thought it would be. With little over the autumn and no new snow for a couple of weeks there was little to be had off the groomed runs but these were generally OK with few rocks/stones that could not be avoided (note exception above) and the pisteurs did a fine job backed up with artificial to preserve what was there.
Off-piste : Very little and even when it did look inviting, it was pretty crusty.
The resort : Val Claret was OK (it looked better in the flesh than I thought it would) with a few shops/bars/restaurants around – enough going on with out being overly rowdy.
Food : Best place we found for a decent lunch was the Evolution 2 café (we ended up there 3 different days) in Val Claret. There are a few places opposite the Evo2 Café which were OK but nothing special as was the place next to L’Olympique cable car in Val D’Isere (so memorable I can’t remember any of the names) for a quick omelette or baguette – can’t comment on the places up the mountain as they did not look inviting enough to fight the crowds so we did not stop - it was quicker and far more fun to blast back to the bottom. For a top meal and night out La Caveau, also in Val Claret, was very good, if a little pricey choosing a la carte but was worthy of a blow out – also played live late night Blues.
Accommodation : Stayed at the Hotel Curling which is owned and run by Crystal. It’s appearance was a little tired but the rooms were a good size with bath, shower and balcony and the food and service pleasantly surprised me – the only thing they struggled with a bit was getting their act together for breakfast by not keeping the food/drink topped up.
Costs: Got a deal on the accommodation – prices below is based on two of us. Lift passes with Carre Neige was 360 euros, two 3 hour afternoon ski clinics was 140 euros, reckon around 25/30 euros for lunch per day and then as deep as your pockets go for eating and drinking out in the evenings (as with any other major ski resort!)
Conclusion: Would definitely go back – the skiing was good considering little natural snow so would like to sample the area with decent coverage. Our experience with the instruction with Evolution 2 was good and we both felt we learnt something as well as had fun. Val Claret was a convenient base with good links for the whole area and had enough going on to keep us amused in the evenings whilst still getting a good nights sleep. Not sure about paying full peak season price for the Hotel Curling but is certainly worth considering if you go low season or get a good deal.

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