Wide view of skier on piste above Arêches-Beaufort ski resort

Arêches-Beaufort

Le Beaufortain, French Alps

Arêches-Beaufort lies in the Beaufortain Valley, close to Les Saisies and the underrated Espace Diamant ski area. Being close to Albertville makes road access among the easiest in the French Alps.

The skiing is on snow-covered mountain pastures, a plus for anyone looking for a traditional mountain village experience. Despite the relatively modest altitudes the Beaufortain receives heavy snowfalls.

View of three skiers descending piste among rugged mountain scenery

The Ski Area

In fact there are two – Arêches and Le Planay – with easy access from their respective villages. The Grand Mont chairlift from Arêches heads up to the Le Cuvy plateau’s ‘Espace Première Trace’ (‘First Tracks’) novice area, from which a second chairlift followed by three draglifts will get you all the way up to the Col de la Forclaz (2320m). The terrain here includes two ski/boardercross runs – the 900m-long Olympic-style ‘Bovocross’ and the slightly lower, more family-friendly ‘Woodcross’. For off-piste initiation there’s also the Red-graded ‘Trace Rouge’ permanent ski touring itinerary.

Le Planay’s two chairlifts offer quicker access to the terrain below the Col des Combettes (2130m), where the steep ‘Combettes’ draglift is avoidable for anyone not wanting to ski the red-graded ‘Belle Etoile’ and ‘Légette’ pistes. Should you decide to, then you’ll still have the ‘Pas des Vaches’ and ‘Piapolay’ Reds (plus three Blacks) to entertain you. Intermediates, on the other hand, can enjoy blue-graded cruises from top to bottom.

Linking the two areas are the Red-graded ‘Perches’ from Le Cuvy down to Le Planay, with a gentle Blue ‘Boulevard de Liaison’ between Le Planay and Arèches. There are two mountain restaurants, plus a high-altitude picnic area just below the Col des Combettes, and at the end of the day the return from Le Planay to the car park at Arèches is an easy valley cruise. Alternatively, take a short shuttle-bus ride.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1050m - 2350m
Arêches-Beaufort
Pistes Total:
50 km
2 Green
11 Blue
12 Red
4 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 13
4 Draglifts
9 Chairlifts

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Traditional Savoyard chalets in Areches village, with snow-covered mountains

The Ski Village

Arêches is an authentic, traditional village with ample car parking just a short walk from the Grand Mont chair lift serving the novice area at Le Cuvy. Further along the valley road is Le Planay, a modest ski village whose friendly atmosphere and a secure dedicated children’s area, make it a good base for young families.

Despite Le Planay’s more purpose-built look, it enjoys the same unspoilt authenticity of the delightful sheltered Alpine valley setting and has its own ‘Espace Première Trace’ (‘First Tracks’) novice area.

As a year-round working village, Arêches has independent local businesses, including ski-hire shops and several restaurants in the main street – everything you’re likely to need during your stay, in fact.

If not, then the nearby town of Beaufort-sur-Odon has an interesting historic centre plus a larger choice of shops and restaurants. The local co-operative dairy producing the celebrated Beaufort cheese offers visitors tours of the production area, and sells regional cheeses at unbeatable prices. 

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Wide view of skiers on chairlift above trees and ski terrain

Best For

The varied groomed terrain includes some surprisingly steep but wide runs on which to build fitness and confidence, along enough gentler terrain lower down for intermediates and novices. Families will love the facilities for young learners in the Espace Première Trace (‘First Tracks’) areas. Snowboarders have freestyle and boardercross areas, if long drag-lifts don’t spoil the fun.

Intermediate skiers should find enough variety and challenges for several days, after which there’s likely to be a strong temptation to head over to explore the wealth of further terrain on offer in the nearby Espace Diamant.

Finally, there are around 38km of cross-country trails to explore.

Non-skiers, on the other hand, can while away a few hours in the sunshine or set off on a wooded snowshoe walk from the sunny plateau at Le Cuvy (at the top of the Grand Mont chairlift). Either way, the mountain scenery here is fantastic in any season.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery
1 Snowparks


Cross-Country Skiing

Trails amid beautiful scenery
20km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Easy road access.
  • Clear on-mountain signage.
  • Authentic mountain village feel.
  • Accessible ski-school areas.
  • Remarkable snow record.
  • Friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
  • Arêches-Beaufort is a Famille Plus resort.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Relatively compact local terrain.
  • Too many drag-lifts for some, particularly snowboarders.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • A day spent exploring the Espace Diamant via nearby Les Saisies will expand the possibilites and open your eyes to the excellent skiing offered both in the Beaufortain and the Val d’Arly.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

Autoroute A43: exit at Albertville and follow D925 direction Beaufort. Turn right in the centre of Beaufort for Arêches and the ski area.

By air
The nearest airports are Geneva (105km),
Chambery (70km)
, and Lyon-St Exupéry (155km).

By train
TGV Paris - Albertville (3h40), with bus connections to the ski stations.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with .

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

MountainPassions heart iconBeaufort Cheese


Situated in the heart of Beaufort, the Coopérative Laitière dairy opens its doors to visitors who wish to see the production process and learn more about Beaufort cheese. The on-site shop sells the cheese at unbeatable prices.
See the Coopérative Laitière website for guided visit information and shop opening times. 0033 (0)4 79 38 33 62 www.cooperative-de-beaufort.com


For detailed information about Beaufort cheese, the AOC and recipe ideas visit www.fromage-beaufort.com


For information about visiting the beautiful Beaufortain region in the Alps see www.areches-beaufort.com



Where to stay

MountainPassions heart iconChalet de Bernoline

La Plaine de la Pierre
73270 Arêches Beaufort
Tel: 0033 (0)4 79 38 05 56
Visit website

Luc and Maryline offer a warm welcome to their renovated chalet just 7km from the ski area and a few minutes from the centre of Beaufortain. The comfortable guest rooms have been creatively furnished by Maryline who is also responsible for the delicious breakfasts and evening meals taken in the dining room which has valley views and a warming log fire.


Seen, tried and tested.Hotel-Restaurant La Ferme du Chozal

73620 Hauteluce
Tel: 0033 (0)4 79 38 18 18
Visit website

Beautifully styled, welcoming and warm hotel with truly panoramic views. Direct access to the Espace Diamant ski area but is only 14km from Arêches.


Where to Eat

MountainPassions heart iconRestaurant La Table du Berger

Grande Rue
73270 Beaufort
Tel: 0033 (0)4 79 38 37 91

A small restaurant serving traditional and local dishes, but with some contemporary touches.


Insight: Arêches-Beaufort

Wide view of ski area in sunshine from chairlift at Areches Beaufort

Insight: Arêches-Beaufort

Arrive from the Albertville exit on the Lyon-Geneva autoroute and almost before you know it you’ll find yourself entering the Beaufortain. But drive, as we did, from Les Saisies and Hauteluce, and you get the bonus of a buzzard’s-eye view of the deep valley spread before you. After the Val d’Arly, the Beaufortain looks altogether deeper and more mysterious. But spend a little time here and you’ll find that the local people are just as welcoming as the ski terrain. Much of the latter is located on Alpine pastures at the opposite end of the valley from Les Saisies, Hauteluce and Les Contamines, and beyond the historic villages of Beaufort and Arêches. The Arêches-Beaufort ski area has no unwelcome through traffic – each winter heavy snowfalls ensure that the road ends here, rather than head up to the Lac de Roselend.

“…the Beaufortain looks altogether deeper and more mysterious. But spend some time here and you’ll find that the people are just as welcoming as the ski terrain.”

View from ski lift of snowy landscape with pine trees

Ski area piste sign at Areches Beaufort, French Alps

Skiers on piste above Areches Beaufort, French Alps

Skiing below the Col de la Forclaz

We begin our first day’s skiing by taking the Grand Mont chairlift up to Le Cuvy (1710m) then transferring to the Bonnets Rouges chair. Heading any higher than this means taking drag lifts, which top off at the 2320m Col de la Forclaz. The reward, not surprisingly, is that the higher we go the better the snow quality becomes. The views all around are fantastic, too, culminating in the unmistakable summit of Mont Blanc (4810m), whose nearby presence accounts for the Beaufortain’s exceptional snowfalls. From up here there’s the option of a combined vertical drop well in excess of 1000m during the run back down to our starting point, but for now we spend some time getting our bearings and soaking up the winter sun on a few gentle exploratory runs below the Col de la Forclaz. The snow here is hard-packed, but due for a welcome top-up overnight.

Sure enough, next morning things look radically different. Even down on the valley floor the fresh snow which swept in overnight is lying as deep as the now-familiar snowy silence. There’s reduced visibility, too, shifting our attention from the snow-clearing efforts of our nearest neighbours on the valley floor to the surrounding mountains, and to where exactly our skis might take us today.

Arêches-Beaufort ski terrain above Le Planay

This time we head to the end of the valley at Le Planay, a second ski area accessible in good snow conditions (like today’s, if things are stable enough) via a Red-graded run down from Le Cuvy. After taking the more direct road approach we park below the Piapolay high-speed chairlift, which hauls us up through the trees to Les Arolles (1908m). If the first afternoon’s skiing had been mostly on reassuring Blue pistes, over here things are noticeably steeper, the runs below the 2130m Col des Combettes, for example, being mostly graded Red. To get there you have a choice of the Grand Combe drag-lift or the Combettes fixed chair.

We take the chair, and discover that there’s nothing sinister up above, making this probably as good a place as you’re likely to find anywhere in which to graduate from Blues to Reds. Alternatively, the Blue-graded Grand Combe piste now connects seamlessly with its lower counterparts le Papillon and l’Echarté to create a memorable scenic cruise all the way to the valley floor, clocking up an impressive combined vertical drop of some 930m.

For now, though, we plan to stay high. It’s a real away-from-it-all experience, with the reassurance of sheltered return runs through the tree-line, should conditions deteriorate.

ESF ski instructor with young skiers above Areches Beaufort, French Alps.
Chairlift passing traditional mountain chalet at Areches Beaufort, French Alps.

Fortunately for us they don’t, and we pass a memorable morning simply blasting down the mountain for fresh hauls straight back up for more of the same. Sometimes, when the snow’s this good, that’s all it takes – and as we discover, there’s potential for incorporating a few entertaining variations along the way. Better still is a sense of low-season, low-pressure calm, which makes it feel like we’re skiing on our very own mountain. If only…
When play finally has to end we schuss back down to the car park area at La Planay on the Boulevard de Liaison link run which takes us gently and all-too-soon through a charming assortment of ancient-looking chalets, rows of beehives and other timeless features of working mountain communities. It’s the perfect antidote for anyone looking for a more natural environment than the more frequently-tracked pistes of the larger, more familiar-sounding ski areas. When you ski in Arêches-Beaufort you really are getting right back in touch with the essential spirit of the mountains, and increasing numbers of skiers are discovering that this, after all, is just what they’ve been looking for. MountainPassions heart icon

Skiers passing mountain chalets at Areches Beaufort, French Alps.