Tignes—which is currently open for summer skiing—will be the most obvious ski area along the route of the 2021 Tour de France, but there is a slew on the schedule between the Alps and the Pyrenees. TdF Ski Areas highlights the majority of ski towns and resorts that the tour will pass by this year. Be sure to join Outside+ to learn more about the skiing that the cyclists are riding by way too quickly.
On Sunday, July 4, the Tour de France will continue deep into the French Alps and end at the iconic ski resort village of Tignes. In 2019, the race was scheduled to arrive there but was called off because a mudslide occurred on the course. The organizers promised to return as soon as possible, and, after a winter of closed ski resorts, Tignes’ summer ski operation is finally open, meaning skiers can ski in the morning and head down the funicular for the Tour de France finish.
Before the cyclists arrive, however, they will pass through a number of beautiful French ski villages, including Combloux, Megève, Les Saises, while passing by Les Arcs. After 90 miles of mountain passes, the riders will finish after the category 1 climb to Tignes.
Combloux and Megève
These two French resorts are a part of the Evasion Mont Blanc super pass, which also includes Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, La Giettaz, Cordon, and Saint-Nicolas-de-Véroce. The riders will face a category 2 climb up the Côte de Domancy before arriving at Combloux, a place that Victor Hugo described as “the pearl of the Alps in its glacier setting.”
The Evasion Mont Blanc ski pass includes access to 220 designated ski trails and 108 ski lifts. Combloux’s share of that total includes 64 trails and 29 ski lifts, including one gondola. The main draw to Combloux is a very beautiful view of Mont Blanc, plus plenty of family-friendly skiing.
Megève is a much more storied ski resort in France, and a very large one as well. It was the setting of the 1963 film Charade, starring Audry Hepburn and Cary Grant, and the 1969 film Downhill Racer, starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman. It has always drawn a more affluent tourist crowd than many of the other ski resorts in France. There are 89 ski lifts at Megève that service 184 designated trails.
Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Les Saises, and Col des Saises
From Megève, the Tour de France continues climbing until the Col des Saises, the first category 1 climb of the day. Before arriving at this leg-crushing climb, the cyclists will ride through Praz-Sur-Arly (sprint points available here), Crest Voland, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, and the resort village of Les Saises. These ski areas are a part of the Espace Diamant collective, along with Cohennoz, Flumet, and Hauteluce.
Between the six villages that form the Espace Diamant are 192 kilometers (119 miles) of designated trails serviced by 81 ski lifts. There is also terrific Nordic skiing throughout these villages, and Les Saises hosted the biathlon events of the 1992 Albertville Olympic Games.
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While the Tour de France won’t pass through the actual ski area of Les Arcs, it will go through the towns of Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Séez, two of the primary villages tied to the ski area. Les Arcs—when combined with Peise Vallandry and La Plagne—is the third largest ski area in the world, and well worth a long visit when touring French ski areas.
Check it out: The 10 Largest Ski Areas in the World
Tignes is one of the few French ski resorts that the current SKI Magazine editorial staff has visited, and is one of the few ski areas in France that was able to open in 2021 (but only for summer skiing operations). The town is excruciatingly beautiful and French, and riding the funicular to the toe of La Grande Motte glacier any time of year is a unique experience for any mountain lover.
There is an unbelievable amount of terrain to ski here as well. Tignes and its neighbor Val d’Isere can be skied on one pass, and together form the eighth largest ski area in the world. They were formerly known as L’Espace Killy—named after Jean Claude Killy—but it now just goes by Val D’Isere-Tignes. There are 159 designated runs that cover 300 kilometers (186 miles) of trails serviced by 75 lifts.
The Tour de France riders will certainly have their work cut out for them to get to Tignes with a 21-kilometer (13 miles) climb averaging 5.6 percent before a flat finish in town. It’s the second category 1 climb of the day, and will set the tone for the biggest contenders early as the following day is a rest day.
Get Fancy While Skiing in the French Alps: From One to Eleven
Before getting to the Pyrenees, the riders will have to climb Mont Ventoux twice next, which is equal to the number of ski areas on that windy peak. Expect to read about them next Tuesday.