Les Arcs itself comprises over 200km of ski runs (1 green, 53 blues, 33 reds and 18 blacks), all connected by an network of lifts and gondolas. Les Arcs has 49 ski lifts, these lifts marked on the piste map using straight black lines are of four types; button tow/drag, chair, telecabine and telepherique. They have the corresponding abbreviations:
For télécabine think bubble car and for téléphérique think cable car. Anything prefixed/suffixed with “Express” means a 6 person modern fast chair lift.
Many of the lifts are also open during the summer; giving access to hikers, mountain bikers, climbers, paragliders and those who simply wish to enjoy the incredible view. In this section we hope to keep you up-to-date with the latest lift and piste info.
Les Arcs Piste Map & Lift Map
These maps are useful for printing off and taking up the mountain, allowing you to see how the resort is laid out and which lifts and pistes lead where - indispensable for organising where to stop for lunch! Alternatively paper copies can be found in resort at the Tourist Office, lift pass offices, hotel receptions, etc...
There are a few restrictions to the lift system in Les Arcs. Make sure you check these restrictions before heading up the mountain in the winter or the summer.
Wheel chair access is restricted to the funicular, Transarc Tc, Varet Tc and Aiguille Rouge TPH only. Please be aware that access to the Varet gondola and Aiguille Rouge cable car is via a 1km track. People with disabilities may need assistance.
Mountain bikes have little restrictions in the summertime, they are allowed on the funicular, Transarc TC, Varet TC , La Cachette TS, Cabriolet TC, Les Plagnettes TS the only restriction is the Aiguille Rouge TPH. See our Mountain biking guide on tips and routes in Les Arcs.
Paragliders and parapentes also have very few restrictions in summer and winter. Allowed on the funicular, Transarc TC, Varet TC , La Cachette TS, Cabriolet TC, Les Plagnettes TS; the only restriction is on the Aiguille Rouge TPH where paragliders do not have access. The Cachette chairlift and Transarc gondola are the most common lifts for paragliders to use as they lead directly to the popular take-off sites. Please see Les Arcs Paragliding for more information.
Pedestrains have access to the Funicular Transarc TC, Varet TC , La Cachette TS, Cabriolet TC, Les Plagnettes TS and the Aiguille Rouge TPH.
Dogs are allowed on the Funicular, Transarcs TC, Varet TC and the Aiguille Rouge TPH. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Babies are allowed on the Funicular Transarc TC, La Cachette TS, Cabriolet TC, Les Plagnettes TS and the Aiguille Rouge TPH. It is not recommended to expose babies to sudden changes in altitude or temperature - if lift staff consider your child too young to travel on certain lifts they reserve the right to refuse you entry. The Aiguille Rouge cable car climbs to an altitude of 3220m, you are advised not to take children under 3 years old on this lift.
NB Les Arcs is a high altitude resort and the lifts can take you as high as 3220m. Please consult your doctor before arriving in resort if you have heart problems or any other medical problem that may be exacerbated by a change in altitude.
The Vanoise Express
The Vanoise Express is the “one of a kind” cable car that links the ski areas of Les Arcs and La Plagne. Opened in 2003, the lift can carry 2000 people per hour in its 2 huge double decker cable cars. Travelling at a speed of 12.5 km/h, it only takes 4 minutes to span the 2kms between Plan Peisey (1612m) and Les Coches 1548m) and when it first opened, it was the biggest, longest and fastest cable car in the world!*
The final design of the lift was created from a set of demanding specifications that aimed to maximise capacity whilst causing the least impact on the surrounding environment. The designers, POMA, and the investors, SELALP (Societe d’Exploitation de la liaison Les Arcs La Plagne), opted for a link with no interim towers; stretching in a single span from one station to the other and therefore minimising the areas that required development. By using double decker cabins, their volume is significantly reduced which consequently limits their impact on the natural surroundings. The aesthetics of the lift stations was also taken into consideration by POMA, and their resulting streamlined shape and larch cladded exteriors blends in well with the local surroundings.
Each car can hold a maximum of 200 people (over two levels) and they run independently of each other on two separate cables. This means that in the event of a technical hitch on one side, service can continue as normal on the other. The aerodynamic shape of the cabins and their dual-cable technology also ensures that they have good wind stability for a more comfortable journey. Customer surveys conducted at the end of its first winter revealed that, of the 400000 skiers that had used the lift, over 95% of them were delighted with the service provided, comfort and above all the views of the new installation.
In the summer, hikers, bikers and sightseers still flock to use the cable car; if only to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding peaks or down into the Ponthurin valley, 380m below.
Costing €15 million, the Vanoise Express is the largest aerial lift of its kind ever built.
* The record breaking Vanoise Express has since been beaten by the “3S” gondola that connects Kitzbühel/Pengelstein and Jochberg/Resterhöhe in Austria, when it opened a year later for winter 2004/2005. This lift has a span of about 2,500m between towers and crosses up to 400m above the Saukasergraben valley. However, the Canadian resort of Whistler is opening a new gondola in December 2008, linking Whistler and Blackcombe mountains that will surpass both in terms of distance between towers (3.024km) and height above the valley floor (415m). Trust the North Americans to be the biggest!