Motivational Mountain Mummy (MMM), Joanne “Jojo” Marro has kindly helped me put together this insider’s guide and top tips to family-friendly holidays in Tignes.
If you are looking for a holiday that is both parent & child-pleasing Tignes is a great option, and a true paradise for outdoorsy, adventure loving families…summer & winter alike…Who better to give us the “lowdown” than Motivational Mountain Mummy (MMM) Joanne Marro, aka Madame Jojo. Joanne has found a few minutes in her rather hectic schedule to give us her insiders tips on Tignes.
Before we dive into Tignes, let’s get to know Joanne a bit better. Originally from Wales, Joanne, 42, (although she looks much younger and seems to have energy to burn) enjoyed a successful career as a Marketing Director in London (after a spell in LA, Hong Kong & Amsterdam) before falling in love with local mountain man, ski instructor and restaurateur Alex Marro & moving to Tignes 9 years ago. Now a mother of 4 beautiful, active kids (Giorgio 7, Emilio 6, Sophia 4 & Sienna 2) Jojo is still as active as ever. Currently in training for the Paris marathon this April (having completed New York and Berlin marathons last year, as well as some local trail runs across the beautiful Alps). Tignes is the perfect place to train at an altitude of 2,100m and the perfect place to raise her children.
JoJo has founded a company with Jill Carling (owner of the Alpaka Hotel in Tignes Le Lac) called ALPAKA LOCATIONS, which, provides seasonal accommodation for employees of Tignes, predominately working with UK Tour Operators to help them lodge their staff for the winter season. She currently has 33 apts and is actively expanding this business due to high levels of demand. JoJo also founded a company called GOTCHAkids (www.gotcha-kids.com) which is a safety vest/gilet to help both parents and children be safer and more confident on the slopes. The idea of designing this gilet came from having two boys 16 months apart who wanted to ski at the same time, taking the 2 together proved somewhat challenging. The gilet allows children to carry their skis independently (the handle on the back partially designed for this reason), it enables you to snow plough with children without breaking your back and the D-rings at the bottom of the gilet means that you can use a harness to steer the children when they become more confident, also for getting on and off the lifts the GOTCHAkids vest is a MUST for security. Alex, a qualified ski instructor, was instrumental in helping with the design of the gilet. I did an article on this a few years ago …
JoJo also helps with the marketing and recruitment for the family run restaurants La Pignatta (www.lapignatta.fr) and OH LA VACHE (www.ohlavache-tignes.fr) (both in Tignes Val Claret). If you are looking for somewhere wonderful to eat that uses fresh local produce, then look no further!
So then Jojo reaveal all your family secrets :
Why should parents plan a family holiday in Tignes ?
Tignes really is an exceptional family destination, both in winter and summer. From skiing the vast pistes of the Espace killy, to the numerous adventure activities on option… Husky rides, to night sledging with headlamps (140m height requirement) to skiing, ice-skating (from toddlers up to night discos for the grown-ups), snow-tubing (a great new addition to Val Claret, where you take a rubber ring and throw yourself down the piste, ice-diving, paragliding, cross country skiing, ski mountaineering, indoor tennis, trampolines, squash, climbing walls, badminton, a great cinema with 18.00pm films for the kids, a fantastic swimming pool, with baby swimming days, slides, aqua classes, fitness classes, a top of the range gym, you name it Tignes has it! And that is just in the winter….
I have lived in Tignes for 10 years this March and I have come to love the Summer even more than the winters.
Summer in Tignes is exceptional, for kids and adults. The Lake offers pedalos, hobby cats, SUPs, a crazy high slide into the lake (wetsuits obligatory), rolling inflatable balls, amongst other activities (www.tignes.net). Tignes is well known for VTT or mountain biking, the pistes are amazing and all free! I have done VTT with the boys several times, the famous Palafour run and it really is a great experience, even taking the Toviere or Funicular up to the Grande Motte and stopping for a picnic or taking a walk is wonderful with breath-taking views of the mountains. I like to walk from Tignes le Lavachat to Val D Isere with the children, there is a wonderful trail that leads you to La Daille, which is easy enough, then we take the free bus to the centre of Val D Isere and spend the day zip-lining which is like go-ape, and has levels for all the family from 4 years old (height dependant) the children certainly sleep well after this days activity! During high summer there is also an inflatable park, outdoor trampolines, tennis courts, basketball courts, archery, horse-riding, shooting, bike courses, mini-clubs, the Lagon swimming and fitness centre… just so much to do.
What are your top tips to enjoying a family holiday in Tignes.
As with all holidays, always try to do a little research before your arrival to get the best of your trip. If you are renting an apt (my sister in law Celine has an agency AppartàTignes, www.appartatignes.com) Always ask the agent if they will provide a tignes carte sportif, they generally do and this allows you access to most activities (archery, air bag jumps, pedalos, SUPs, all water activities and much more), completely free in the summer and an access to the Lagon water sports centre in the winter! http://www.tignes.net/activites-gratuites-a-la-carte.
Any top tips on the best ski schools, child care options for little ones?
There are a variety of school schools available for children, depending on their ages and abilities. When my children started to ski, we put them all with Marmottons www.lesmarmottons.com . The Marmottons cater for children from 3-8 and are perfect for beginners to early intermediates. The team are friendly, they split groups according to their level, they make skiing fun, breaking it up with other activities and always end the week with little show to reward the little champions with their medals, you have the choice of mornings or all day, so you can ease the little ones in gently. However, there are many ski schools to choose from and all offer similar packages, either mornings, afternoons or full days. Here are a few:
www.skinewgen.com (all British instructors)
If you are adults travelling alone to Tignes to improve on your skiing there are some great courses that offer all inclusive stays where you can ski with like-minded people to improve on your technique or maybe just do an off-piste week
If your little ones are too small to ski check out T4 nannies. They have amazing nannies.
Any tips on hiring ski equipment and ski passes?
There are many places to hire your ski equipment, some people do this in advance online, which is a good idea, especially during busy times and to get a better deal. Here are some ski rental websites:
Tignes offers many free lifts for beginners to alleviate having to spend money on a weekly pass, these free lifts are all over resort so do not book a lift pass on-line if you anticipate spending a few days learning, this will save a bit of money. Ski-passes can be bought on-line or at ticket offices all over resort, you have the option of buying a Tignes pass or a Tignes/Val D’Isere pass which gives you access to the liaison with our neighbour Val D’Isere and over 300 km of pistes. Yet again if you are a beginner opt just for the Tignes pass once you’re ready.
Can you tell us your best child-friendly ski kit? You launched your brand Gotcha in 2014. Tell us more about your inspiration for this & how it helps you.
GOTCHAKIDS VESTS (£40, gotcha-kids.com) are for children aged three to eight. As the name says it’s basically an activity vest that you pop over your child’s ski outfit with a reinforced strap on the back so you can help them on and off things such as chairlifts, buses etc. or help them up when they fall over The vests have been developed to appeal to children and of course to maintain maximum visibility from a safety point with bright colors and fun features. Available in dinosaur (green and blue) and butterfly (yellow and pink), the vertical strap on the back of the highly visible, adjustable vests makes for a sturdy handle for guiding your little one on the slopes and helping get them on and off chairlifts. Larger tots can also use it as a ski carrier. The GOTCHAkids vest can also be used for Ice-skating, learning to ride a bike, roller-blading and pony riding. You can buy the gilet on www.gotcha-kids.com or at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=gotchakids
Where is your favourite place to take kids in Tignes?
I love the ice-skating in the Winter, as we can all participate, even Sienna at 2 as they provide little bench sledges. I also adore the indoor and outdoor trampolines and of course the snow-tubing in Val Claret. In the summer, we literally leave the house at 9 and return exhausted at around 6, there are so many activities to get through, the mini golf is always a winner! Outdoors and fun for all!
Where are your kids’ favourite places in Tignes to hang out?
They love to go to Daddys restaurants (La Pignatta & Oh La Vache), once a week we order Pierade and Fondue and spend about 2 hours just eating, cooking and chatting. The children also love to go to the Cinema, we are so often outdoors doing physical activities that we all enjoy a treat trip to the local cinema in Val Claret just to relax!
What is the best free activity to do with kids in Tignes?
I would say the sledging in the Winter, there are many safe-places to sledge and it is something that all of the family can enjoy regardless of age
Something special…if someone is planning a special mountain treat?
Husky rides, ice-diving and Parapenting… these activities can be booked via Evolution 2 there is also ice-karting which is great fun!
Where is the best place to take kids in Tignes when the weather is bad?
If the weather is very cold or snowy, there is lots you can do… swimming in the Lagon (baby pool and slides for the kids), go to the TignesEspace where you will find Badminton, squash, climbing walls, running track, trampolines, etc….
Where are your top places for family-friendly meals in Tignes?
La Pignatta or OH LA VACHE Val Claret (between us we have 7 children)
La Creperie Bretonne (Le Lac)
Café Flo (Le Lac)
In Val d’Isère: Sur la Montagne (book a table downstairs where there is a little play area for younger kids)
Where can you find the best hot chocolate in Tignes?
Café Flo Rue de La Poste does the BEST hot choc
Where can you find the best crepe in Tignes ?
Chez moi (just joking)
Skiset in Tignes Le Lac or Creperie Bretenne in Le Lac
What are your tips for kids’ shops in Tignes (clothing & toys)
Skione in Tignes Val Claret – for clothes
Tabac in Tignes Val Claret – has a GREAT selection of toys for kids
Which is the best place family friendly accommodation in Tignes?
Mark Warner, Espirt, Total…Most tour operators provide child care but the above are probably the best. If you are booking a private apt there is a great childcare agency called T4 nannies as previously mentionned http://www.t4nanny.com/
Anything other services/facilities we’ve missed that could make life easier?
If you are self-catering. A new service has hit Tignes this winter called Hu:Ski. They provide great quality food and drinks! They can either deliver directly to your door (bliss) or you can pick up from their shop in Bourg Saint Maurice on the way up the mountain. For more details check out their website: https://hu.ski/
WOW…What can we say Jojo…this is the ULTIMATE family friendly guide to Tignes…Thank you sooo much!
If anyone does have any comments, feedback or recommendations to add please do…THANK YOU Jojo & your gorgeous kids !