The Beginning of Tourism in Tignes
The first boom in mountain tourism happened around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. During the Belle Époque, city dwellers came to enjoy the fresh mountain air, but only in summer. The first hotel catering for this summer clientele opened in 1872.
From 1914, the railway line was extended to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and the road to Tignes was equipped with, among other things, an avalanche protection system.
In addition to summer tourism, the development of winter sports in Tignes began between the first and second world wars. In 1925, the first chalet refuge opened its doors. It would become a hotel refuge in the 1930s and still exists today.
In the winter of 1931 to 1932, Tignes received a boost from the weather with 90cm of powder at a time when snow was sorely lacking in Chamonix and Mègeve.
During the 1930s, the development of tourism in Tignes took a major step forward with the opening of the first private ski schools, its first sports shop, tourist office, ski club and nine hotels. The most important development was, however, the installation of the first ski lift in March 1936. At 600m in length and with a vertical gain of 70m, the new Rhonas drag lift was the world's longest ski lift at that time.
Ski competitions were becoming more numerous, but the rural economy was still resistant to the development of tourism. Indeed, the location of Tignes, in a basin with abundant sunshine, made it particularly favourable for high mountain agriculture.