- Easy access to 225km of pistes
- Good value accommodation with plenty of choice
- A fantastic range of activities, from husky sledding to Olympic bobsleigh
La Plagne is a collection of village resorts forming part of the Paradiski area, one of three massive ski areas in the beautiful Tarentaise Valley in the Savoie region of south-east France. It has 225km of pistes, with another 200km in its Paradiski twin, Les Arcs. High altitudes up to the 3417m peak of the Bellecote make for good quality snow across a large area that's very suited to intermediate skiers and families, but which has some plunging challenges for expert skiers. The large number of resorts may rob La Plagne of a true centre, but provide a great choice of places to stay that can be tailored to the most suitable slopes.
There are 10 villages in the La Plagne complex. Four of which are traditional mountain villages lower down the mountain, with six purpose-built resorts at higher altitudes, offering what the resort calls the three atmospheres of valley, village, or high altitude. The two largest villages are Plagne Centre and Belle Plagne, both of which are purpose built and have lots for families to do. Champagny-en-Vanoise and Montchavin are more traditional settlements and look the Alpine part. Aime La Plagne has a ski-friendly altitude of 2000m, but is built in tower block fashion.
Good value and plenty of accommodation choices have made La Plagne very much a family resort. It's not the place to come if you want exclusive luxury or wild hedonism, with restaurants and nightlife at the less expensive and gentler ends of the aprés spectrum. There's no reason to be bored though, with lots of dining, drinking and entertainment options, not least the 1.5km bobsleigh track left over from the 1992 Winter Olympics.
La Plagne's valley has everything among its 225km of slopes served by 105 lifts. The towering Bellecote mountain provides some extremely tough off-piste skiing. A gentle central plateau is a playground for beginners, but has steeper sides that provide some good challenges for intermediates and experts. The high altitude means good snow cover, helped by average annual snow fall of 6m, backed up by 127 snow canons covering 50km of the pistes in the valley.
The higher villages have excellent slopes for beginners who are ready to tackle wide, gentle slopes. Intermediates have a lot of slopes to choose from, but there is a lack of really satisfying long runs. Although La Plagne is well known as a beginners' resort it actually has some of the best and most difficult off-piste skiing in the whole Alps towards the top of the Bellecote. This demanding terrain demands a guide, who will usually start clients off on the slightly easier south face of the mountain before opening up the often dangerous and truly thrilling coulours of the northern slopes.
Boarders will enjoy the slopes and also a terrain park at Belle Plagne with its beginners' and experts' sections, a boardercross course and an air bag.
The neighbouring resort of Les Arcs completes the Paradiski area with 425km of runs. Around Les Arcs, another multi-centre resort, you'll find lots of good slopes for intermediate skiers at lower levels with tree cover helping to keep the snow in good condition. Beginners will do best at higher levels around Arc 2000 with big, wide, gentle runs. The Aiguille Rouge is a fantastic run for better skiers, with more than 2,000m of descent making it one of the best in the whole Alps. There are also good off-piste runs around Aiguille Rouge, including a famous descent from the Grand Col, which, like much of the off-piste skiing in Paradiski, shouldn't be attempted without a local guide.
Elsewhere, experts will enjoy the runs at the top of the Arpette lift and around Arc 1600. Arc 1600, as well as Arc 1800 and Peisey-Villandry also have good off-piste runs, again requiring a guide. Les Arcs has a lively boarding scene, including the Apocalypse Parc, and there are an astounding 453km of cross country ski routes in the whole Paradiski area. The cable car that links the two areas to form Paradiski isn't spectacular. But it's the only link and doesn't even take skiers to the best slopes in each resort limiting the extent to which visitors can and do pick and choose where to ski.
La Plagne has the usual range of alternative snow sports, including trekking, ice climbing, and kite skiing. Most thrilling is the bobsleigh track, a 19-bend, 1.5km hurtle down 14.5% gradient slopes that can see sleds getting up to 120km-per-hour. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, but it's not the most budget of activities! For gentler fun, try the bowling alley in Belle Plagne. There is an indoor swimming pool at Plagne Centre, and an heated outdoor one at Plagne Bellecote, as well as several spa, wellness, and beauty centres, and a couple of gyms. If you're feeling artistic, try the Grotto de Glace where the ever-changing Plagne Belleôte glacier is being carved into ice sculptures.
Families can eat well, at good value prices and take in some good local cuisine in all of La Plagne's villages and on the slopes. Of the mountain restaurants, Le Sauget is a good traditional Savoyard diner with a fine terrace. Above Montalbert you'll find Le Forperet serving homemade, filling food. Near Champagny, Le Chalet des Verdons is another cosy, tasty slice of mountain-style cuisine.
The resorts themselves tend to be even better value, with Belle Plagne probably the best to try for a quick lunch at the likes of Le Hors Piste. For dinner, La Cloche in Belle Plagne, is built around an attractive fireplace. Probably the culinary highpoint of the whole resort is the same village's Hotel Carlina, run by chef Thibault Schach.
In Aime 2000, Le Montana has French and international food and Au Bon Vieux Temps is atmospheric. Le Refuge and La Metaire are the pick of the Plagne Centre restaurants, both serving hearty Alpine food. The Legend Café is the best value restaurant of them all.
This is a quiet family resort and the best of the nightlife tends to be in Belle Plagne and Plagne Centre with perhaps a quiet bar or two in the smaller centres. In Belle Plagne, try Le Cheyenne Café and La Tete Inn before heading to Le Saloon for late-night fun. Plagne Centre's Igloo Igloo is an Eskimo-themed place with live music and DJs and competes with le Luna as the resort's liveliest spot. Spitting Feathers in Plagne-Bellecote will put you on a free bus home at the end of the night; Plagne 1800's La Mine has a mining theme; Monica's Pub is the best bet in Plagne Soleil, as is The Last One is in Les Coches.
The La Plagne season runs from early-to-mid December to the end of April. In 2015-16 the lifts started opening from December 12th and were due to close on April 23rd. The Paradiski dates were from December 19th to April 23rd.
La Plagne offers passes for four hours, single days or six days. Passes are available for either La Plagne or the whole Paradiski area. Families get a discount and there's a loyalty club called Edenski with bonuses for regulars. Contact Madame Vacances for discounted lift passes ahead of your visit.
Ski hire shops were built into the plan for this purpose-built resort. Skiset outlets are everywhere, including four in Plagne Centre. There's a Boudu Sport branch in Plagne 1800 and three in Plagne Soleil.
La Plagne is a major centre for ESF, the largest French ski school, which has a branch in every village. There are English-language schools too, but many are tied in with accommodation providers. There's no shortage of independent schools and instructors around this skiing honeypot though, many of whom also offer extras like off-piste guiding. Oxygene, Evolution 2, Les Coches and Reflex are said to be good.
La Plagne has plentiful childcare facilities, but do book ahead if you are relying on nursery care. Nursery Les Bambins in Plagne Montalbert takes children from 18 months to six years. In Montchavin Les Coches, the Chat Bleu looks after children from 12 months to three years. Most of the ski schools offer ski gardens for children from about the age of four or five.
There is very limited free parking in La Plagne, all open air. Street parking is pay and display. There are large covered car parks in most of the villages, with from under 100 to over 1,000 spaces. Hourly, daily, weekly and longer tickets are available and you can book ahead at some of them online.
Alps, La Plagne, Chalet Map
The Chalets des Alpages are south and west facing, and are built in a traditional wooden style. They are located in a quiet area of La Plagne, in the village of Plagne Soleil, overlooking the beautiful mountains and the resort. The perfect location to explore the central square of Plagne Soleil and its small selection of shops, bars and restaurants on your doorstep
Alps, La Plagne, Chalet Map
The Chalets du Praz are south and west facing, and are built in a traditional wooden style. Ideally located on the slopes, (300m from the chalet) the chalets enjoy a beautiful landscape. The central square of Plagne Village, with its small selection of shops, bars and restaurants is on your doorstep
Alps, La Plagne, Apartment Map
Only 20m from the slopes, ideally situated on the mountainside, view over the valley, located in the resort centre. Well equipped apartments with large rooms, balcony and comfortable and cosy interiors. Perfect for families and groups.