La Plagne

La Plagne’s high snowsure central bowls are perfect for beginners learning to ski and novices wishing to improve. For intermediates, the main appeal is the huge size of the Paradiski ski area which includes Les Arcs, and there is also excellent guided off-piste freeriding for experts.

Even if you ignore its Paradiski link to Les Arcs, La Plagne has a big ski area just by itself: 11 different villages, about 225km of ski slopes, more than 60 lifts, a 3000m high glacier, two large high-altitude bowls, and plenty of treelined runs which become invaluable in bad weather. And there is skiing for everyone, no matter what their standard.

In the main bowls, beginners benefit from nursery slopes that are close to the villages and free to use. There is also a good choice of ski schools and a network of gentle blue runs that criss-cross the bowls and spill out over the top, providing easy routes down to most of the lower villages.

There are fewer red runs, but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality: Combe, Inversens, Kamikaze, Sources, Emile Allais and Mont de La Guerre are all excellent reds.

Advanced skiers have scattered short, sharp black runs like Coqs, Morbleu and the top sections of Mio and Chiaupe. They can also ski all the way from the top of the glacier down to Montchavin mostly on black runs, with a vertical drop of nearly 2,000m (6,600 ft). Strong skiers, however, should also spend at least one day off-piste with a guide, because Bellecote is one of the best freeride mountains in the Alps.

Of course, no ski area is perfect, and La Plagne’s has its faults. Its terrain has too many dull flat sections; the journey to the main bowls from Montchavin, Les Coches or Champagny en Vanoise involves far too many slow lifts; and the central pistes can get very crowded.

The 11 different villages vary hugely. At an elevation of 2050m, Belle Plagne, Plagne Villages and Plagne Soleil are convenient, attractive, high-altitude resorts. Plagne Aime 2000, Plagne Centre and Plagne Bellecote are similar in altitude and convenience but not nearly as attractive. They can be good value though.

Just below them is Plagne 1800, a sprawling chalet-dominated village, like a mini Meribel or Verbier, but without their expensive nightlife. Les Coches (1450m) is one notch down in elevation and looks, but is more compact and has a nice family-friendly vibe.

At the bottom of the ski area are the traditional villages of Montchavin (1250m), Plagne Montalbert (1350m) and Champagny en Vanoise (1250m). None of them are totally unspoiled but they have all retained some of their rural character.

And finally, just one lift away from La Plagne’s ski area, is Les Arcs. How often you visit this other half of Paradiski depends on your ability, keeness and where you’re staying in La Plagne, because the connecting cable car is easy to reach from Montchavin, Les Coches, Plagne Bellecote or Belle Plagne, but a long way from Montalbert or Champagny en Vanoise. Yet even if you never use it, just knowing it’s there reinforces a mindset of always having new slopes to discover – which is definitely one hallmark of a world-class ski resort.

La Plagne Pros & Cons

+ Choice of a big ski area (La Plagne) or an enormous one (Paradiski)
+ Two high, snowsure main bowls
+ Good tree skiing in bad weather
+ Charming lower villages, convenient higher ones
+ Long runs with 2000m verticals in La Plagne and Les Arcs.
+ Excellent resort for beginners
+ Excellent off-piste freeride with a guide
– Still some lift queues and slow lifts
– Some ugly higher villages
– Quieter nightlife than other big ski resorts
– Only a few scattered steep pistes
– Paradiski is really two ski areas linked by one lift, rather than a single truly integrated area.



La Plagne Resort Stats

Base: 1250m
Peak: 3250m
Vertical: 2000m
Ski Area: 225km
Longest Run: 6.5km
Beginner: 62% %
Intermediate: 26% %
Advanced: 12% %
Number of ski lifts: 74
Lift Capacity: 136000
Ski Season Starts: Mid Dec
Ski Season Ends: End April
Nearest Airport: Chambery
Transfer Time: 1 hour 30 mins

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La Plagne Resort Ratings

Ski Area star rating
Lift System star rating
Snowsure star rating
Beginner star rating
Intermediate star rating
Advanced star rating
Scenery star rating
Charm star rating
Apres Ski star rating
Other Activities star rating
Getting There star rating

Total Ratings = 11

Ratings sum = 39

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