Fuel a long day on the Alps by stopping in the village of Tignes, home to decadent French food options. 
It was the mid-1960s before development started in Tignes, making it a newcomer compared with neighbouring Val d’Isère. But since playing host to freestyle skiing in the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, this brutalist resort has become ever more assured. It shares a fabulous 185-mile ski area with Val d’Isère and, although it’s still a less expensive base from which to explore the region, it’s recently had a glossy makeover.
Diamond Rock, an angular explosion of stone and timber, is the first five-star hotel in Le Lac (one of Tignes’ five villages), tucked away in a side street. A ski route runs right past its back door, accessing Tignes’ ski area, which tops out at a whopping 11,500ft. “The high-altitude resorts have the potential to attract a high-end clientele,” says entrepreneur Didier Rivière, Diamond Rock’s designer and owner. “So why not imagine that could happen in Tignes as well as in resorts like Courchevel?” With its ‘bohemian jet-set’ style, Les Cimes, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, serves French gastronomy with panoramic views, making Diamond Rock as much a place to eat, drink and be seen as to stay.
Warm lighting and rustic wooden interiors make Tignes’ hotels, restaurants and cabins feel like a secluded cabin amid the frosted slopes. 
Tignes is also home to the world’s highest Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Panoramic, set on the glacier at 9,948ft. It’s a glorious, cathedral-like mountain hut where Clément Bouvier — whose father established it in 2011 — dominates a flaming wood grill while staff in natty berets serve up to 1,500 meals every lunchtime, including beef ribs, suckling pig, T-bone steaks and other dishes priced from around €40 (£34). And the help-yourself dessert table (€22/£19 for three) is a wonder. The adjoining, non-Michelin self-service area is still an indulgent world apart from most mountain restaurants.
Tignes’ local ski area is not to be sniffed at, with wide-open slopes on Tovière and across the valley on the Lognan ski run, where the needle-like Aiguille Percée rocks pierce the sky. Pretty runs dash down to Les Boisses, on the Lac du Chevril reservoir, and farther on is Les Brévières, at 5,000ft. But perhaps the coolest new activity here is ice-floating, where you put on a Mr Blobby-like dry suit and retire to a hole carved in the lake to gently bob about for an hour. It has a surprisingly Zen-like effect. 
Warm up at Le Queue De Cochon (the Pig’s Tail), which dates back to Tignes’ earliest days and has recently been taken over by a hip young couple. In the Lavachet area, a downhill stroll from Le Lac, it remains a dark, cosy bar with a blazing fire, but now has a rock’n’roll soundtrack, home-infused gin and food including duck burgers and rabbit curry.
Bask in the Alpine sunshine while you dine, taking in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Out on the slopes, over in Val Claret, the newly revamped Club Med resort is finally ready for this season. Meanwhile, Oxygene, the cheeriest of French ski schools, began holding lessons in Tignes in 2021 and also opened the Oxygene Café, an ethical, largely vegan spot on the slopes of Le Lac.
At the entrance to Tignes, La Ferme des 3 Capucines is a long-established restaurant and farm that makes its own cheese, including raclette, which is served for dinner in a snug, rustic setting. Its homemade Savoyarde specialities with a modern edge include fondue made with rich Beaufort cheese, and tartiflette. 
For a more refined setting, Il Savoia, in the new Hotel VoulezVous, wows with its Italo-French menu and views towards the glacier. It offers everything from a gizzard salad to an exemplary margarita pizza.
Tignes has transformed itself — and there’s plenty more on its menu year-round. Unlike many glaciers that are way out on a limb, the Grand Motte is swiftly accessible from Tignes’ centre, so there’s great skiing to be had from October until early summer.
Published in the Winter Sports 2022/23 guide, distributed with the December 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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