Holidays in Les Arcs are perfect for...
-A brilliant range of pistes, lots at high altitude
-Winding down in a local spa complete with sauna and pool
-A lively evening scene in the many restaurants, bars and pubs
Les Arcs is a collection of four resorts, each named (not entirely accurately) for their altitude: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000. In the beautiful Vanoise National Park in the Savoie region of south-east France, Les Arcs sits within in the larger Paradiski ski area, one of the biggest and best in the world. That means wonderfully varied skiing over a wide area and great access to the slopes in an excellent lift system, including the world's fastest cable car. Paradiski is well named; this is stunning mountain scenery and world-class skiing.
Although conceived in the 1960s, the architecture of Les Arcs is pleasing, and continual development of the resorts has been high quality, mixing excellent facilities with good value prices. While having Mont Blanc on the doorstep is an added bonus!
Les Arcs has always been an innovative place, so you can expect the best facilities here, including very modern shopping malls. Arc 1950 is the newest resort, close to Arc 2000, in a bowl-shaped valley. Arc 1600, the oldest, and Arc 1800, the biggest, are on steeper slopes and have more tree cover to their slopes. Older mountain villages are also accessible from the Les Arcs.
Les Arcs has the whole gamut of skiing experiences with generous sweeping slopes higher up and challenging runs into the lower woodlands. The best skiers will find many ungroomed black runs, which is not to everyone's tastes. However, there are good quality and challenging reds, including the fantastic Aiguille Rouge-Villaroger run. Aiguille Rouge is good for sharp off-piste runs. The Grand Col has good off-piste skiing at high levels, and the woods above Arc 1600 offer challenges lower down.
Intermediate level skiers will enjoy the Comborcière run (a black), Malgovert (above Arc 1600) and Meld. The pistes around Peisey-Vallandry and Villaroger are good intermediate territory. Easier pickings are to be found around Arc 2000 and Arc 1800, but can get crowded. Beginners have plenty to keep them busy around the resort centres with free access to 10 lifts. Try the Forêt run for an easy step onto slightly more challenging territory. The Apocalypse Parc for boarders is one of the best in the Alps. Try snowcross out at Col de la Chal and Plan-Peisey.
The 425km of runs in Paradiski are spread over magnificent mountain scenery between 1200m and 3250m. It's mostly high altitude though, with 70% over 2000m, guaranteeing good snow cover, and more than 600 of the latest snow-making machines adding an extra guarantee.
There are 236 marked pistes in Paradiski, so there should be something for everyone. And money has been lavished on the skiing. Not just the millions spent on the world's fastest cable car, the Vanoise Express, but Eu210 million over the last 10 years, which includes paying for nearly 1,000 employees to make the place one of the best staffed ski areas in the world.
Around La Plagne you'll find a gentle plateau of broad gentle slopes that speed up as they plunge into the tree cover, great territory for beginners and intermediate skiers. The Bellecôte glacier is the chief attraction here for the expert skier. The south face is slightly easier than the genuinely thrilling north side. Head to Roche de Mio to start the assault. There is good cruising on blue and red runs above Peisey Vallandry, the third of the Paradiski resorts. Those looking for something different can explore 153km of cross country paths. And boarders have plenty to enjoy too with two snow parks, five boarder cross courses and two half pipes.
There is a huge variety of activities available in Les Arcs. Tobogganing, paragliding, snow-shoe walking, speed-riding, skidoos, heli-skiing, dog sledding, snake gliss, skating and more are among the outdoor entertainments. Check out the Igloo Village for something a little quieter. There is also a good swimming pool and a sport and fitness centre, and even a laser shooting hall!
Eating and Drinking
There's a huge variety of eating places serving the many thousands of skiers who head to Les Arcs. Each centre has plenty to choose from. At Arc 1600 you'll find Chalet de l'Arcelle, with an impressive French menu at good value prices. The nearby Cairn has Italian and local food. Chez Eux, in Arc 2000, draws in some crowds, as does Kilimanjaro.
Restaurants in Arc 1950 can get crowded, but Brasserie 1950 is popular due to its traditional Alps dishes. La Vache Rouge, La Table des Lys and Chalet de Luigi also have fans. On the slopes, relative new comers Chalet Grillette (Arc 1800) and Le Sanglier qui Fume (Arc 1600) are well liked. Try the Bulle for bargain pizzas!
The liveliest of the resorts is Arc 1800, where there's a buzz around the Etranger. British visitors - especially football fans who need to see the latest games - often head to Chez Boubou at Charvet. The Golf Hotel's bar is busy in early evenings, with jazz on tap, and the J O stays open late.
In Arc 1600, the Abreuvoir offers live music. Arc 2000's Whistler's Dream and Crazy Fox are popular. In Arc 1950 O'Chaud offers a taste of the ultra-luxe life that brings the mega rich to the Alps.
Les Arcs opens slightly earlier than the wider Paradiski area. In general, the slopes open on or around mid-December and will close either middle or end April.
Passes are sold for Les Arcs and neighbouring Peisey Vallandry. You can buy for an afternoon or up to eight days. Children's passes are for 6 to 14-year-olds, seniors from 65 to 71-years-old also get a discount. Paradiski passes have the same age range discounts and include lots of extras like boarding and night skiing.
Ski Equipment Hire
There are well over a dozen ski hire outlets around the Les Arcs villages and even more in the surrounding district. Most can be purchased online before you travel.
Lessons and Ski Schools
There are 10 ski schools in Les Arcs, including ESF, the biggest French ski school, which offers English-language lessons and takes in children from 3 years and above. There are a large number of other schools and loads of independent instructors and guides, both in Les Arcs and in Paradiski.
Childcare and Family Facilities
All Les Arcs resorts have plenty of child care and kiddie entertainment, and all are easily accessible from each other. You can arrange baby sitting or child-minding with Zealous Care. Cariboo Club in Arc 1950 is a nursery that takes children from nine months to 13 years. Among their services are early skiing lessons as well as lots of indoor fun and games.
Each village has its own parking regime, but most offer both street and under cover parking with a fee structure that can be quite complicated - it's worth checking the official website for details before you travel.
In Arc 2000 there is two hours free parking both under cover and in the street. You can buy seven-day passes. Traffic wardens are said to be zealous, so do make sure you're following the rules. Parking on sloping streets can be dangerous. Make sure you steer your wheels towards the curb and keep the wipers clean of the windscreen. You may be stopped by the police who will want to know that you have snow chains, as well as the other French driving essentials.
Alps, Les Arcs, Apartment Map
Alps, Les Arcs, Apartment Map
Alps, Les Arcs, Apartment Map