The combined resorts of Val d'Isère and Tignes produce a formidable ski area which stronger skiers and snowboarders will get the most from. The region is named after the celebrated Jean-Claude Killy, who grew up in Val d'Isère, dominated skiing in the late 1960s and won three gold medals at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics. Val d'Isère, with its picturesque “old quarter”, 16th century church, bustling town centre, and lively nightlife, was once a small hunting village owned by the Dukes of Savoie. Skiing started here in the 1930s, and it gradually acquired a reputation as one of the finest ski areas in the world. Tignes, much more recent, is purpose-built (there was once a much older village, but it was ‘moved’ above the treeline in 1952 to make way for the familiar huge dam that you drive past on your way to the resort. Each resort has a funicular and at least three main base areas.) Both resorts have summer skiing, but the Grande Motte glacier at Tignes is the area which dominates as a summer skiing destination. Although the Espace is a vast domain with 300km of pistes, it’s the off-piste opportunities, including itineraries like the Tour de Charvet and Col Pers in Val d'Isère, Tignes’ glacier, and some challenging couloirs in both resorts that many skiers and snowboarders come for. A high mountain guide is advisable for some routes. Each December, Val d'Isère traditionally hosts the opening World Cup downhill races in the Criterium de la Première Neige on its OK piste. The La Face run, built for the 1992 Albertville Olympics, was also used for the 2009 World Championships. For those who enjoy bumps, Solaise in Val d'Isère and the run down Tovière into Tignes should keep them more than happy.