Once the Tour was over we headed back to Tignes. We could finally start to relax properly.
After one night next to the lake we drove to Val Claret, the highest part of the resort, where during the summer campervans can stay for free in the car park. We are already starting to realise that staying in random car parks is part of van life. This one will be hard to beat.
We spent nine nights there and it was the perfect place to unwind after weeks of packing, general upheaval and sleep deprivation.
We had been to Tignes about 16 years ago and it’s where I first learned to snowboard. I had only ever thought of it as a ski resort, but in summer it transforms into the ultimate outdoor activity destination.
There’s kayaking, paddle boarding and pedalos on the lake, as well as astro pitches, tennis courts, trampolines and outdoor gym equipment everywhere you look. Many activities are either free or included in the ‘My Tignes’ pass which is only €10 per day.
The pass also includes access to the gondola and chairlifts and the amazing mountain biking trails.
As well as the trails the resort itself is very bike friendly.
Both children were in their element. Eden did lots of skateboarding and learning new skills on the pump track.
It was like real life Paw Patrol for Ivan with all the mountain rescue vehicles.
They both agreed that Tignes has The Best Ever playpark. (So far.)
One of my favourite things was go for a run (slowly thanks to the altitude) around the lake first thing in the morning. The reward was incredible views like this.
It was on our family bucketlist to snowboard on the Grand Motte glacier, but sadly due to the heatwave the pistes were closed for safety reasons the week before we arrived. We still took the funiculaire up to the glacier and it was worth it for the views at 3,456m.
Some days we just explored the town and made friends with local wildlife.
Or had picnics by the lake and went on the pedalos.
And of course, Jim did lots of this.
It sounds like an idyllic start to our adventures. But don’t be fooled into thinking it was all sunshine and rainbows.
We had more rain. Heavy rain that makes you question why you have decided to live in a tin box on wheels (and praise whoever invented Lego).
We adjusted to our new compact living space. We learned not to leave a full glass of red wine on a slightly unlevel table in close proximity of an unpredictable four year old.
We remembered how expensive mountain supermarkets are.
We experienced the joy of van life laundry and trying to decipher French washing machine instructions.
There were tantrums and tears (mainly mine and Jim’s). The euphoric never-ending-holiday feeling gave way to the stark realisation that we are living in a confined space for the next 50+ weeks.
Despite this, the overwhelming sense of freedom and knowledge that we can experience all this and more on our doorstep every day, confirmed that we are doing the right thing.