Snowy heart of Arc 1950 ski village at dusk with families

Les Arcs

Paradiski, Savoie, French Alps

In the Tarentaise above Bourg Saint-Maurice, and part of the protected Vanoise National Park, Les Arcs is linked to La Plagne by the Vanoise Express cable-car for skiers with Paradiski pass.

Road accesss is among the more convenient of the Tantentaise resorts, despite congestion on Saturday change-over days.

A greener, more relaxing alternative is the TGV rail service direct to Bourg Saint-Maurice, for transfers up the mountain via the Arc-en-Ciel funicular.

Two young skiers on wide piste above Les Arcs.

The Ski Area

Les Arcs has been a firm favourite with a whole generation of French family skiers. The British, too, have taken it to their hearts in increasing numbers, particularly since the liaison with La Plagne opened things up still further. Even without the Paradiski lift-pass, this is a major ski area.

Not surprisingly, the primary focus is the intermediate skier. While the central areas above Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 have quite a concentration of wide, relatively undemanding groomed pistes, heading off among the slightly steeper tree-lined runs around the edges - e.g. Peisey, Vallandry and Villaroger - can be rewarding.

The advanced terrain includes Aiguille Rouge and Grand Col Blacks, plus an exhilarating off-piste route which plunges from the 2935m Grand Col into Planay de Villaroger, in the Tarentaise valley - a vertical drop of almost 1700m. There’s also a heli-skiing service based between Arc 1950 and Arc 2000, accessing terrain across the nearby Italian and Swiss borders.

This season's big news is the opening of s, Arc Panorama, the new all-inclusive Club Med resort. Open winter and summer, the 433 room premium family destination comes hot on the heels of recent developments at Valmorel and Samoëns.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1250m - 3230m
Les Arcs
Pistes Total:
200 km
3 Green
64 Blue
44 Red
17 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 51
4 Magic Carpets
11 Draglifts
27 Chairlifts
2 Cabriolet
4 Gondolas
2 Cable Cars
1 Funicular
Paradiski
Pistes Total:
425 km
12 Green
135 Blue
77 Red
37 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 128
6 Magic Carpets
42 Draglifts
59 Chairlifts
2 Cabriolet
14 Gondolas
3 + Vanoise Express Cable Cars
1 Funicular

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The Ski Village

Conceived as the model of efficiency for family skiers, the innovative styling of the villages of Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 was cutting-edge when they were created in 1968, 1974 and 1979 respectively. A return to more traditional Savoyard themes (if not scale) was adopted for Arc 1950, developed between 2003-2008 by the Canadian Intrawest Corporation, whose stake in the development later passed to French leisure giant Pierre et Vacances.

Arc 1600 (or Arc Pierre-Blanche) has the ‘Arc en Ciel’ funicular connection from Bourg St Maurice and the trend-setting spacious apartments and a new s resort opening in December 2018. It’s connected to the ski terrain and the other villages by chairlifts and free shuttle buses; naturally, you can ski back.
Arc 1800, largest of the villages, is subdivided into four areas: Charvet, Villards, Charmettoger and Chantel. Not surprisingly, Arc 1800 has a heart-of-the-action feel, focused on the broad (and slightly elevated) front-de-neige area where the ski-schools assemble and from which the lifts depart.

Arc 1950 is fully ski-in/ski-out and is connected with Arc 1800 by a free cabriolet (open gondola) lift. The world-of-its-own personality has its detractors, but the cheerful, upbeat (and upmarket) mood is infectious, and the volume accommodation is in a different league from that in the other villages - and not merely in Les Arcs.

Arc 2000 was developed with serious skiers in mind, offering rapid access to the highest skiing and the best ski quality. To date its treeless, above-it-all setting has made it less popular than its lower-altitude neighbours, but its fortunes might just turn around if climate-change influences skier choice.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Skiers beside signs to liason with La Plagne, with ski-lifts in background.

Best For

Intermediates and families hoping for seemingly-endless Blue-graded cruising will not be disappointed. Those with a desire to get some mileage under their skis while remaining on-piste will likewise find this a good choice. On the other hand, Les Arcs is also a great place in which to learn, and made quite a name for itself with the ‘Ski-Evolutif’ teaching system. The concept starts raw beginners on short, easy-to-handle skis, then progresses via mid-size skis towards the normal length, throughout the course of a week’s lessons. Finally, Les Arcs has quite a buzz to it, with a good range of services designed to cater for most requirements.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Head for Arc 1600 where there is a well-designed course at Blue, Red and Black levels.
1 Snowparks


Cross-Country Skiing

Trails mainly at Peisey-Vallandry though there are circuits at 1800 and Arc 2000.
73km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Near-limitless, high-altitude skiing.
  • Modern, efficient lift system.
  • Excellent ski schools.
  • Children under 6 get to ski free.
  • Eco-friendly funicular to Arc 1600 from Bourg St Maurice TGV station.
  • Eco-disaster heli-skiing into Italy.
  • Non-skiers have plenty to do, including hotel fitness suites/spas.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Premium skiing like this doesn’t come cheap.
  • Saturday traffic exodus can swamp the valley below in peak season.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • If you don't really need a 6-day lift-pass for the entire Paradiski area, enjoy exploring all Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry has to offer and cut your outgoings. You still get one day access to La Plagne via the Vanoise Express (min. 3 day skipass required).
  • Arrive by train and avoid peak season traffic chaos.
  • Download the Paradiski LUGE app for iPhone or Android. Highly personalised and intuitive to use, YUGE will tell you where you and your friends are located, help you avoid the queues, track your performance, log all your photos and more. There will be a desktop version for 2016/17 so you can top up your ski pass and prepare for your Paradiski adventure.

Practical Information

Getting there

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

Autoroute A43 Lyon / Albertville, then N90 to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The D119 (signed to Les Arcs from the town centre) will take you up the mountain. All the Les Arcs stations are signed from this road.

By air
Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc airport is the nearest to Les Arcs and there are plenty of transfer options available.

Jet2.com offers low fares to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

By train
Ski trains run from late December to early April and takes you direct into Bourg Saint Maurice. There are bus services to the ski stations and for those staying at Arc 1600 you could transfer via the funicular.

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

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


Things to do

Vanoise Express

Skiers boarding the Vanoise Express, La Plagne

Take the Vanoise Express cable car to La Plagne from Peisey-Vallandry to experience skiing the second largest linked domain in the world.

You will need a Paradiski lift pass or a minimum 3 day Les Arcs/Peisey Vallandry lift pass which gives one day access to La Plagne.


Where to stay

Hotel Taj-I Mah

Arc 2000

This brand new 5* luxury hotel, opening in December 2016, enjoys an exceptionally convenient ski-in/ski-out position at the top of Arc 2000, adjacent to the Cabriolet gondola linking with Arc 1950, and offering wonderful views over the resort and the valley.

For information and booking:
Ski Collection
023 9289 0960, reservations@skicollection.co.uk


Tried and testedLe Hameau du Glacier

Arc 1950A luxury residence in the heart of the pedestrian village with doorstep skiing, and shops and restaurants just a few steps away. All guests have free access to sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, swimming pools and fitness facilities. Apartments are cosy, beautifully furnished and well-equipped, plus a balcony or terrace. Ski lockers are on the ground floor with access to the slopes.

Visitors arriving by car should note that underground parking is obligatory - and pricey.


Tried and testedChalet des Neiges Cimes des Arcs

Arc 2000

For those arriving by car there’s easy access to these refurbished piste-side chalets with stunning views. We stayed in a one-bedroom self-catering apartment on the 4th floor, with convenient lift to access the ski lockers and spa. The apartment is comfortable and attractively furnished with an adequate kitchen diner/lounge area and a wide balcony. The bathroom and toilet are separate, which is convenient if more than one couple will be sharing the apartment. There’s plenty of storage for clothes and the ski lockers are spacious enough for boots and skis. The underground parking is convenient (the cost is 95 euros for the week) and guests should note that a 500-euro refundable deposit will be required upon arrival.
There is free WiFi in reception, which has comfortable seating, TV and pool table. We enjoyed a great view over the slopes, although some apartments overlook the neighbouring building.

The ski lockers have access onto piste level and is directly in front of the Lanchettes ski lift. It’s easy to ski into all sectors of Les Arcs from here, and returning to the apartment is straightforward if you follow the ‘Arc 2000/Villaroger via Lanchettes’ signs.
There are several ski hire shops close by. Food shopping is at a Sherpa superette. There’s also a boulangerie selling freshly-baked bread and local specialities including fondue or tartiflette to take away – and you can also have pizzas delivered to your apartment.

For Les Arcs (Paradiski) accommodation and packages:
Ski Collection
023 9289 0960, reservations@skicollection.co.uk


Insight: Les Arcs

Overview of chalet-style mountain restaurant at Les Arcs

Insight: Les Arcs

Whichever way you look at it, Les Arcs can hardly be called a slave to convention. Conceived as one of a new generation of high-altitude French ski stations, the setting among the alpages above Bourg Saint-Maurice turned out to have been inspired, not least since it also allowed the creation of a funicular for swift tansfers direct and from Bourg’s TGV terminus. British skiers can now travel overnight direct from London, courtesy of a weekly Ski Train service which runs throughout the winter.

…ask people why they ski here and you’ll realise that everyone has their own favourite places, usually several. And they’re passionate about them.
Signage, skiers, Les Arcs
Intermediate cruising, Les Arcs

The evolution of Les Arcs

Arrive by road and you can see the various phases in the development of Les Arcs, starting with the distinctive sloping apartment facades of Arc 1600. Next come the larger, more assertive lines of Arc 1800, long favoured by tour operators for its skier capacity, services and ski-schools. The final development was Arc 2000, conceived to provide younger, more committed skiers with rapid access to the highest terrain well above the tree-line. Or so it seemed. After Savoyard developer MGM added some premium accommodation above Arc 1800, the massive Canadian Intrawest Corporation went one better and created a whole new village just below Arc 2000. Arc 1950 is an excellent, ski-in/ski-out base for exploring the mountain. But the ski domain is just so varied as to offer something, somewhere for just about every type of visitor. There’s no doubt that this is one of the keys to Les Arcs’ remarkable success. Another is continuous heavy investment in lift infrastructure, making getting around a breeze.

Les-Arcs-28275hd
Forest piste, Les Arcs

Skiing Les Arcs, from top to bottom

Which brings us to the skiing. Trying to be objective is to miss the point; ask people why they ski here and you’ll realise that everyone has their own favourite places, usually several. And they’re passionate about them. Take the cable car from Arc 2000 to Aiguille Rouge(3226m) and you can start the day in style, on the famous red run which fires you into a wealth of possibilities. If conditions are good you could cruise over to Arc 1800 and continue down through the sheltered forest glades to Peisey for coffee or a vin-chaud. En-route you’ll cover some mileage, get your bearings and, like us, discover a few places to which you’ll want to return.

Still feeling more adventurous? Well, take the nearby Vanoise Express cable-car across to La Plagne, and you could do the whole Paradiski experience. On the other hand, from Aiguille Rouge you could take a combination of black and red pistes all the way down to Villaroger (1200m). Or you could get away from it all by heading over to the Grand Col to begin a breathtaking off-piste guided tour high above the Tarentaise valley which will eventually take you to the same destination point. Now take the chair-lift haul back up to Arc 2000 while trying to take in what you’ve just done.

Not that those of more modest aspirations are overlooked; Les Arcs knows its main market and provides intermediate skiers with plenty of well-prepared blue-graded cruising, along with safe, reassuring débutant areas. Its wide choice of ski-schools is another factor which has made it one of the most popular of all French ski stations for family skiers.MountainPassions heart icon