A guide to Les Arcs
Les Arcs is a purpose built ski resort, made up of a number of different villages, each at slightly different altitudes and each with their own character and ambience. It's renowned as a family friendly resort, with a good selection of beginner and intermediate pistes, however, there is genuinely something for everyone. There are hundreds of kilometres of pistes, high-altitude beginner’s areas, huge swathes of off-piste, an internationally-renowned freestyle park and one of the longest continuous runs in Europe (the Aiguille Rouge being 7km long with 2km of descent). Since 2003, Les Arcs has been connected to La Plagne by the valley-spanning double-decker Vanoise Express gondola, creating the Paradiski ski domain, and providing adventurous skiers with access to 425km of pistes.
Situated in the heart of a 300 year old Swiss stone pine forest, Les Arcs was the first resort of its kind in Europe. Arcs 1600 was the original village which opened up as a ski resort in 1968. The concept was very innovative at the time – accommodation built specifically for convenient skiing and doorstep access to the slopes, but it’s a concept that has since been replicated many times over, across the Alps and beyond. Today, Les Arcs is made up of four modern, purpose built resorts: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000, each offering direct access to the slopes. Each resort is largely pedestrianised and self-contained, and have their own bars, restaurants, supermarkets and a range of activities. You can take a shuttle bus (free with your lift pass, running every 20 minutes) between villages so you can easily enjoy the entertainments in each resort. There are also three outlying villages within the ski area - Plan Peisey, Vallandry and Peisey Nancroix. These are smaller, traditional villages that offer a more tranquil ski holiday. A big draw for families is the new entertainment complex Mille8 in Arcs 1800. It includes fun ski areas for all ages, dedicated snow play areas for small children and a swimming pool complex.
Skiing in Les Arcs
Les Arcs has 200km of pistes, a high point of 3226 metres and excellent snow-making facilities that guarantee back-to-resort skiing all season long (see the piste maps). It is a haven for intermediate skiers with over 125 pistes including 64 blue and 44 red pistes. Each resort provides access to at least one “tranquil” beginners’ area, perfect for newbies or anyone who is re-finding their ski legs, and there are 17 black pistes for the more advanced skiers and snowboarders, all accessed by over 50 ski lifts. Several snowparks offer you the chance to bonk, jib and learn new tricks, whilst the off-piste areas allow you to explore more of this beautiful region.
Les Arcs & La Plagne were joined together in 2003 by the Vanoise Express cable car from Plan Peisey, a huge double decker ski lift that boasts a capacity of 200 people, making it the biggest, longest and fastest cable car in the world. The Paradiski area gives you access to 425km of piste, 171 lifts, 2 glaciers (at over 3000 metres), 2 snow parks and 100km of cross-country ski trails. Even an accomplished skier can be hard pushed to ski from one end of the Paradiski area to the other and back again in one day.
Also see: Ski Areas in Les Arcs
Things to Do in Les Arcs
The new entertainment complex Mille8 in Arcs 1800 contains a leisure swimming pool area, saunas and steam rooms, a fitness centre and a large restaurant and lounge area overlooking the pistes. It's a good place to come once you've had enough of skiing for some relaxation time. Regular events and parties are held here, plus children-specific activities are organised during the holiday periods.
Other snowsports include snowshoeing, winter walking trails, ice skating, dog sledding, sledging, skidooing and there are ice caves to visit. In the summer there are lots of activities as well: swimming, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, horse riding, golfing etc. Hikers will love the Vanoise National Park and the Aiguille Rouge mountain with it's marked trails and gorgeous views.
Also see: Sports & Activities in Les Arcs
Events in Les Arcs
Each resort will hold a number of events during the winter, in addition to the usual apres-ski parties featuring live bands and DJ's. Take a look at our events calendar to see what's on during your holiday. A number of international freestyle and freeride ski competitions take place in Les Arcs in the winter months, whilst the summer attracts a number of trail running and cycling competitions.
Also see: Main Events in Les Arcs
Where to Stay in Les Arcs
Your choice of places to stay in Les Arcs starts on the valley floor in Bourg St Maurice. Working your way up the mountain you will find the villages of Les Arcs 1600, 1800, 1950, 2000 and, slightly off to one side, Villaroger and Peisey-Vallandry.
Arc 1600 was built amongst the trees and enjoys stunning views along the valley towards Mont Blanc. It has a compact centre and a reputation for being the “friendliest” of all the villages to stay in, although it does have a decidedly quiet nightlife. For anyone travelling by rail, Arc 1600 makes a convenient choice as it is directly linked from Bourg St Maurice by funicular railway in only 7 minutes. The convenience of the resort facilities also makes it a particular favourite with families.
Arc 1800 is the largest and liveliest of all the resorts. It is made up of four sectors: Le Charvet, Le Chantel, Les Villages and Charmettoger, although the boundaries between them are indistinct. Dominated by large apartment blocks, there is always something going on in 1800 and it is a great place to stay if you have a mixed ability group. Children and beginners are well catered for on the wide, easy nursery slopes and there are also some 'pay as you go' lifts for first timers, whilst intermediates will love the blue and red runs just above the resort. It is also the most conveniently located of the Arcs resorts for access to the Vanoise Express and the La Plagne ski area.
Arc 2000 is the highest of all the resorts, situated on the other side of the mountain to 1600 and 1800 in its own secluded bowl at the base of the Aiguille Rouge (3226m). What it lacks in charm and nightlife, it makes up for in its swift access to the highest and most demanding skiing in the area, including the Varet glacier.
Arc 1950 is the new kid on the block and has brought some much needed architectural charm to the resort as a whole. Built by North-American resort developers Intrawest, Arc 1950 is a ski-in/ski-out, landscaped pedestrian village comprising a number of luxury apartment residences, the last of which was completed in 2008. There is also a concentration of high-end shops selling the most prestigious clothing, equipment and gifts.
Villaroger (Le Pré) is a charming, traditional village that lies at 1200m and is joined to Arc 2000 by a series of 3 chairlifts. With a skiing population of around 100, there is no need to worry about long queues in the morning or noisy parties at night. However, the runs back to resort are all graded red or blue, making it a difficult choice for beginners.
Peisey-Vallandry comprises a series of 5 smaller villages (Peisey, Plan Peisey, Vallandry, Nancroix and Landry) that form part of the Les Arcs ski area, and are also in the vicinity of the Vanoise Express cable car, which takes you to La Plagne. All of the resorts are small and quiet, but recent development has resulted in some very good quality chalet and apartment accommodation becoming available. Peisey is the original village in the area. Dating back over 1000 years it was originally a small farming community, attracting only those skiers for whom lack of lifts and mountain restaurants was considered part of the challenge! You can now take the Lozagne 'lobster pot' lift from the village up to the ski lifts in Plan Peisey and Vallandry. Both Plan Peisey and Vallandry have a nice selection of shops, bars and restaurants and some lovely accommodation options. Plan Peisey is the departure point for the cable car connection to La Plagne.
Also see: Where to Stay in Les Arcs
Restaurants in Les Arcs
Each village has it's own selection of restaurants serving tourist-friendly fondue and raclette, burgers and pizzas. Arcs 1800 is the largest village so has the widest selection of restaurants, but you can find some excellent traditional French cuisine in all of the resorts. For a special meal, try L'Ancolie in Peisey Nancroix, La Table des Lys in Arc 1950, or Le Savoy in Arc 2000. Most restaurants open at 7pm for dinner service although there are some all-day eateries on the mountain and in resort, such as L'Adress in Vallandry, La Vache in Plan Peisey, and Bar King Mad in Arc 1800.
Also see: Where to Eat in Les Arcs
Nightlife in Les Arcs
Each of the villages of Les Arcs has its own mix of bars, apres ski venues and places to go for live music. Arc 1800 is probably the liveliest, with late-night/early-morning clubs to complement the bars, but each of the villages offers its own selection to choose from.
Also see: Nightlife in Les Arcs
Travelling to Les Arcs
Les Arcs is located in the Savoie region of France, in the Tarentaise valley. Bourg St Maurice train station at the bottom of Les Arcs is the finishing point for the Eurostar “snow train” that travels directly from London. The most convenient airport to Les Arcs is Chambery, situated 144 kms (2hrs) away. From here, you have a number of different methods of transport to choose from to get you up to resort. If you can’t get a flight to Chambéry, the next best options are Grenoble (211kms), Lyon (222kms) or Geneva (225km), all of which are serviced by a number of the major airlines and are approximately 2.5-3 hours drive away from Les Arcs.
Also see: How to Get to Les Arcs