Pala’Fou is the latest addition to Tignes’s smorgasbord of après ski activities, and it’s not for the fainthearted. Simply put, it’s a toboggan track that runs alongside the piste from the top of the Palafour lift to the bottom of it. Having had a go on it I can tell you that it is an exhilarating, breathtaking and slightly terrifying ride!
Pala’Fou opens as the ski day closes, from Sunday to Friday, 4.30pm to 7pm. You can buy your ticket from the wooden chalet next to the Maison de Tignes in le Lac, just next to the Palafour chairlift. Once you’ve paid your 8€ you’ll be kitted out with a helmet, complete with head torch attached, and given a pass to take the Palafour lift up. Once at the top, you’re provided with a toboggan that you clip onto your leg to stop it running away from you should you have a tumble. Then there’s a brief safety talk after which you’re free to set off two at a time into the darkness. The 3km track twists and turns alongside the piste, and at one point even passes through a fairly narrow 40m tunnel underneath the piste. The track is made visible by illuminated piste markers, which are super pretty, though not always clearly visible. I’m afraid i couldn’t get a photo of the piste markers as i was too busy clinging onto the toboggan’s brakes for dear life! It’s a fast and furious ride, and a challenge to stay on the track, but oh boy, is it great fun!
Steering isn’t easy. I’m no pro tobogganer, and i struggled to remember which lever steered in which direction, and was surprised at the effort it took to get around some of the sharper corners! On some of the steeper pitches it isn’t possible to stop once you’ve committed, so the “brakes” are really there for steering and to (attempt) to gain some control.
“How much is a season pass?” Rab Bickerdike
Out of a group of about 30 of us, I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t thrown from their sled at one point or another along the track. Having said this, no-one was injured, and everyone crossed the finish line with a massive adrenaline-fuelled grin on their face. TDC ski instructors Gavin Lewis and Rab Bickerdike said that is was the best 8€ they’d ever spent in Tignes. Rab even went as far as to ask “How much is a season pass for that??” (the answer, incidentally, is that you can’t currently buy a season pass for the toboggan run, but if it continues to be this popular perhaps the STGM who run Pala’Fou will create that option?!)
.A few things to consider should you decide to give Pala’Fou a go.
- There is no age restriction, though i wouldn’t recommend this toboggan run for young children. In fact the STGM recently revised the height restriction from 1m30 to 1m50, and this they do police carefully at the ticketing office.
- Do wrap up warm. It wasn’t a particularly chilly night when we decided to give it a go, but there were members of the team with very cold fingers and toes by the time they reached the bottom of the run. Proper ski wear is a good idea. Definitely don’t forget your gloves. These are not provided and absolutely necessary!!
- Ski boots are not allowed, so be sure to have appropriate footwear with you! Snowboarding boots are permitted, as are any sturdy and warm winter boot. Snowboarding boots can be a little tricky to fit under the foot straps.
- Be careful if considering giving this a go after an après session. It has the potential to be very dangerous, and isn’t an activity for the intoxicated.
- Helmets and head-torches are provided and compulsory. You won’t be permitted to wear your own, though they will hold it for you in the Pala’Fou ticket office.
I would recommend this exhilarating toboggan ride to anyone up for a bit of an adrenaline fuelled on-snow activity. Be prepared to tumble, to laugh and to have an unforgettable experience with your friends. Don’t expect a meandering, lazy luge. That, the Pala’Fou, most certainly is not. Do prepare yourself for the toboggan ride of your life!