Welcome to the ultimate guide to french ski resort Les Arcs. One half of the enormous Paradiski area it shares with La Plagne, Les Arcs provides genuinely entertaining and varied skiing all season long. Designed for convenience, a trip to Les Arcs offers near limitless skiing to all levels, at very reasonable prices.
Les Arcs - The Ski Resort
Thrown up on a fresh site in the 60s (a busy decade for resort building), Les Arcs has always had an air of cool about it. Four modern and distinct villages make up the resort, so ask your free travel concierge which is likely to suit your group best.
Named for their approximate altitudes, Arcs 1800 is home to the liveliest après scene, with neighbouring 1600 (or Arc Pierre-Blanche) having a more traditional village feel. Across and up the valley, 2000 and 1950 offer the best slopeside access.
The largest village is Arc 1800, which is itself split into four areas: Charvet, Villards, Charmettoger and Chantel. Right in the heart of the action, you’ll find the bulk of the evening entertainment and a full range of accommodation types here. Arc 1950 is the most recently built and its clever, ski-in ski-out design makes access to the slopes, retail and restaurants all an easy stroll from your door.
For the environmentally friendly, the greenest and arguably most relaxing possible route to the slopes is via The Eurostar, which carries you from London St Pancras all the way to Bourg St Maurice, from which the Arc-en-Ciel funicular railway whisks you straight up to Arc 1600. Les Arcs is therefore the only ski resort that can be accessed by pedestrians from London.
The Slopes of Les Arcs
On the piste is where Les Arcs really packs its punch. 70% of the slopes are above 2000m, with Glacier du Varet providing consistently reliable snow conditions. Top to bottom descents and picturesque tree-lined routes lower down create variety and the link to La Plagne gives experienced skiers the chance to clock some serious miles.
The great Vanoise Express double decker cable car was built across the Tarentaise Valley in 2003, combining Les Arcs with La Plagne to create the great Paradiski area, securing its place on the global podium as the third largest ski area in the world. The journey between the two is a schlep though, and visitors will tend to make it only once or twice during a week’s stay. With over 200km itself, Les Arcs has plenty to keep you busy.
A whopping 135 blue runs make Les Arcs is an intermediate’s mecca, with the central areas above Arc 1800 and 2000 having a concentration of wide cruisy runs. For the experts out there, Aiguille Rouge and Grand Col Blacks have it in them to test for the best, including a spectacular 1700m off-piste descent into Planay Villaroger from Col Blacks.
Après Les Arcs
Après is a fairly laid back affair in Les Arcs, although there’s no need to go thirsty. On the mountain, L’Arpette Restaurant, with its large, sun-drenched terrace is a great spot for a beer and the food is respectable as french self catering goes. Towards the latter stages of the afternoon, as the DJs come on and the lights go down, revellers rise up and on to their tables, where they often stay until 9pm. Before a final run down by starlight.
Arcs 1800 is the liveliest destination when, hopefully, you return safely from the piste. The main square at Villards is where you’ll find the thick of it - Red Hot Saloon is the biggest bar in resort with live music, friendly staff and sport on big screens. The burger and frites also go down a treat. Bars are the main feature of the evenings throughout Les Arcs and there are a host to choose from in Arc 1800 at both ends of the village. Later on, two clubs: Club 73 and Apokalypse both stay open until 4am.
Arcs 1950 and 2000 are both more family orientated but again, each offers a range of bars to while the evenings away in. The Crazy Fox at Chalet Altitude Arc 2000 is a nice spot for a few relaxing evening drinks. Down in Arcs 1600, Chalet de l’Arcelle, accessed from the slopes via the Combette trail, is a pretty converted sheep’s barn whose homely ambience and excellent food keeps regulars returning year after year.
Resort altitude: 1600m
Highest point: 3250m
Best spot for…
Après: L’Arpette Restaurant
A quiet drink: The Crazy Fox at Chalet Altitude Arc 2000
A lavish meal: Chalet de l’Arcelle
A rave: Apokalypse
Casual meal: The Red Saloon
1hr 50 - Chambery
2hr 10 - Grenoble
2hr 50 - Geneva