It’s been a particularly good year for snow in the French Alps, the best for six years.  Already, Les Arcs has enjoyed over 4 metres of snow, double the snowfall for the whole of last season – and it’s still only mid-February.

Last week I had a great time skiing in Les Arcs with my son.  It was the first time we’d been to this resort and were looking forward to the variety that comes with a large ski area.  It didn’t disappoint.

Les Arcs was built in the late 1960s and has 200km of pistes over 113 runs.  But since the Vanoise Express cable car was completed in 2003 it now forms part of the much larger Paradiski area, connecting Les Arcs and neighbouring Peisey-Vallandry to La Plagne to give 256 pistes and 435km of skiing.  During the week we didn’t even ski all of the runs on the Les Arcs side of the valley, far less venture over to La Plagne.


A mix of runs above and below the tree line

Our week got off to a great start.  While some of the highest mountains were draped in cloud at the beginning of the week, the snow was plentiful and in perfect condition.  It was cold, bright and sunny.  There were two almost cloudless days midweek: great conditions for cruising long runs, both above and below the tree line.

Les Arcs is actually a collection of seven, largely purpose-built resorts set high above the town of Bourg Saint Maurice.  We were staying in Plan Peisey, just beside the Vanoise Express, which at 1600m is one of the lowest villages and just below the tree line.  While there are some great high-level runs above the newer resorts of Les Arcs 2000 and 1950, we actually preferred the fast red runs through the trees at Peisey-Vallandry.  On days where low cloud covers the high peaks, and it’s difficult to discern sky from piste in flat, white light, this is definitely the best place to be.  Some may prefer the ‘mountain village’ feel to Les Arcs 1950 but if you want variety and the flexibility to choose between Les Arcs or La Plagne for your day’s skiing, then I think Peisey has the upper hand.


A superb tree-lined red run


The snow-covered basin above the resorts of Les Arcs 2000 and 1950

We took the cable car to the highest point in Les Arcs, Aiguille Rouge which stands at 3,226 metres.  The peak gives an absolutely stunning panorama across the French and Italian Alps and on a still, clear day this is a place to stop and marvel for a while.

After we soaked in the views we skied down towards the little hamlet of Villaroger, a descent of almost 2km.  Not only did we want to try out the longest continuous run in Les Arcs but we wanted to go for afternoon drinks and cake at Chalet Sollier, arguably one of the best mountain restaurants in the entire resort.  The hot wine and tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry pie) were definitely worth skiing down for, and the view just divine.

The cable car ascending Aiguille Rouge (3226m)


The view from the top of the Aiguille Rouge


Les Arcs has had over 4 metres of snow so far this season


The Aiguille Rouge red run, descending down to Villaroger


Le Chalet Solliet had arguably the best view of all the mountain restaurants we ate at

It was a week of two halves though.  After the glorious midweek sunshine a low pressure heralded rising temperatures, low cloud and — horror! — drizzly rain.  The temperature in Peisey reached 8 degrees by the end of the week and combined with the rain, meant that the deep, powdery snow had become heavy.  It’s not much fun skiing in damp cloud either.  Along with the return of my son’s fluey virus he’s been battling over the last month, we spent much of the last half of our holiday holed up in our apartment.

Still, we’d had a great trip and these photos bring back memories of great skiing in a fantastic resort.  With so much of the Paradiski area still to explore it’d be great to go back.

9 Comments on “Skiing the slopes of Les Arcs

  1. Hi Ewan, we were there 1st week in Feb, as usual stayed at Belle Plagne but used our full area pass to the full. Glad you enjoyed it, it is one of our favourites.



    • Hi Stuart, I remember you went to La Plagne last year – glad you enjoyed it again. We’ll need to return and explore both sides the valley next time.

  2. That looks gorgeous 🙂 Over 30 years ago I had a season working in La Plagne and we’d regularly pop over to Les Arcs on our day off. Suspect I’d hardly recognise the place now, although I do remember the lovely long run through the woods down to Villaroger – it was a narrow little track back then

  3. Hi, loved reading this as we’ve never been to Les Arcs. It looks great, we may have to think about that next year. We’ve just come back from a week in Austria and the snow was awesome and we’re extra lucky this year as we’re heading out to Canada next week too (she say’s very excitedly :-)) Love the ski season, (well we’re boarders :-)) Great post!

  4. As a non-skier, really enjoyed your photos – all that wide open space and fresh clean air. New blog layout stands out well too! M

  5. I’ve just got back from a week in Morzine in France and we were able to ski over to Switzerland. Morzine is a low resort and we had a lot of rain in town, luckily it fell as snow on the mountains, so conditions were excellent. Happy days.

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