La Plagne Ski Area
One of La Plagne ski area's great strengths is that almost all of its summits can be skied north, south, east and west.
One of la Plagne's great strengths is that almost all of its summits, spread over the eastern valley of Les Bauches, the central bowl comprising most of the accommodation centres, and the western valley of Montalbert, can be skied north, south, east and west. Some of these routes are off-piste but for any skier able to exploit them, the resort has great flexibility and ensures that you can always find good snow conditions whatever the weather.
Montalbert and La Roche
Starting on the right of the map, to the west, the pretty, gentle, tree-lined slopes of Montalbert and la Roche are often underused and are a great option in flat light and high winds. The runs mostly face North so generally hold their snow well but there is likley to be some slush or ice as you approach Montalbert at just 1350m or La Roche which is only 50m higher. The new bubble up from Montalbert reaches the top of Le Fornelet (1970m) much faster than the old chairlifts. From there you either ski back down to Montalbert, or take the red or blue piste to the Envers lift which is the quickest route into Plagne Aime 2000 and the rest of La Plagne's skiing. If instead you carry on down the mountain on the Cornegidouille piste, you can either swing left to Montalbert or right to La Roche, where the eponymous lift takes you into Aime. Underneath this lift is the Emile Allias piste - a lovely red through the trees. All the above runs and lifts are covered by the local Montchavin village pass as well as the 'normal' La Plagne and Paradiski passes.
Plagne Aime 2000 (Aime La Plagne) and Biolley
Plagne Aime 2000 is the new name for Aime La Plagne. Above it is Le Biolley (2350m) - a great skiing area for advanced skiers, but to reach it you first have to get to Plagne Centre then take the Becoin lift, and if you want to go higher still, the . Cretes lift as well. From there you can choose from four 'Natur' black runs (and several unmarked off-piste trails) which all descend into the valley separating Plagne Aime 2000 from Le Fornelet. All of them justify their black grading, at least in sections, although the longest one, Etroits, is little more than a traverse in places. You return via the Envers piste. Alternatively from the top of Becoin and Cretes you can descend into the main bowl above Plagne Centre. There is another Black natur run here but there are red and blue pistes as well.
Les Verdons and La Grande Rochette North face
Les Verdons and La Grande Rochette (2505m) are the peaks forming the main North-facing bowl above Plagne 1800, Plagne Centre, Plagne Soleil and Plagne Villages. To descend skiers have a choice of mildly steep Black runs which flatten out at the bottom, meandering blue runs, or the red Carina piste - a sculpted motorway which used to race down between the two peaks all the way to the Plagne Centre but now ends abruptly at mid mountain, near the top of the Colorado chair, to make way for a Luge run, although there are blue runs on either side of this. There is also some gentle off-piste around here known as the Grand Canyons. Experts wanting tougher challenges should keep an eye out for off-piste couloirs between the cliffs near the top when they ascend the Verdons Nord and Funiplagne lifts, but be careful, these can be very dangerous and if in any doubt, take a guide and let him/her decide what is safe for you to do.
Champagny (Les Verdons, la Grande Rochette south face)
The high ridge line between these peaks also allows you to drop down onto the south-facing slopes of Champagny. The red and blue pistes are not too steep and and are piste-bashed regularly, so generally they are in good condition higher up, but get slushy as you approach Champagny. It's a descent of approximately 1250m, so you may want to take a break and sample some of the splendid views over the valley towards Courchevel. When conditions are right (generally straight after a fresh dump of powder but a guide will give you more accurate advice) this area has some wonderful off-piste to skier's right of the Mont de la Guerre (2290m) peak.
Belle Plagne-Plagne Bellecote bowl
This is the gentle bowl which surrounds Belle Plagne and Plagne Bellecote and which separates the central North facing bowl above Plagne Soleil, Plagne Village, and Plagne Centre from both the Roche de Milo sector and the Les Coches-Montchavin sector. For a beginner or a very timid intermediate it's great, because there are plenty of easy blue runs in all directions. For everyone else, challenges are few and far between and it's best skied through fast. There is some off piste directly below the Roche de Milo bubble just above Belle Plagne which can be nice but it's not always safe to ski or easy to reach without crossing rocks.
Roche de Mio
The summit of Roche de Mio (2700m) is a crossroads reached by four major lifts: the Bellecote bubble coming from the Bellecote glacier; the Inverses chair, the Carella chair, and the Roche de Milo bubble which starts from just above Plagne Bellecote but has a stop in Belle Plagne. And there are great pistes running under or close to all these lifts except the Bellecote bubble. There is no piste here: if you want to get to the glacier from Roche de Milo, you either ride the Bellecote lift down to Col de La Chiaupe from where it starts to ascend again; or brave the big cliffs and steep powder and pick your way down through the rocks towards the Chalet de Bellecote lift. Whether you should do this or not depends on both your ability and the prevailing snow conditions, so it's not recommended unless you are with a guide. Safer adventures can be found alongside the Inverses red piste (but don't stray too close to the rocks), or on the Mio black piste, the start of which is genuinely steep.
Bellecote and Les Bauches
The Bellecote glacier has lifts rising to 3250m, and from the top you can now descend entirely on marked runs all the way to Montchavin 2000m below, although some of the pistes will be ungroomed 'natur' runs, so don't expect smooth motorways. The red runs at the top face West and are not very steep: one of them, Le Diversoir, used to be a blue, but it's now ungroomed and it can be icy, so it's not for novices. The higher blacks all have sections which justify their grading. Below them the Derochoir ("rockslide") run has always been a popular route connecting Bellecote and Roche de Milo with Les Coches but it only became a piste as late as 2012. It is not steep but it's never groomed, so expect moguls. There are also three deservedly famous off-piste descents starting from Bellecote: the south facing Cul du Nont glacier; the banks of Friolin, leading back down into the valley of Les Bauches; and the awesome north face itself. None should be attempted without a mountain guide.
Montchavin and Les Coches
This is another tree-lined area similar to Montalbert, but the slopes face North East rather than North West and tend to be slightly steeper. Too many skiers race through it on their way to or from Les Arcs because the connecting Vanoise Express lift is situated here but it's a great area for anyone who likes skiing in trees, with blue, red and black pistes to choose from. At the top around the Carroley, Crozats and Dos Rond lifts is an open bowl criss-crossed by blue runs, with some gentle off-piste to the side. More adventurous off-piste can be found by picking a route down from the top of Arpette through firstly the rocks and then the trees until you reach the Cross Country track that circles the whole mountain from Plagne Bellecote to the top of the Plan Bois lift above Les Coches.
La Plagne is a big ski area but remember there are many more runs available to skiers with a Paradiski pass in Les Arcs.
La Plagne Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
La Plagne's ski areas are well linked and the bottlenecks of old have largely been dispersed.
In general terms the lift system in La Plagne is pretty good. The areas are well linked and the bottlenecks of old have largely been dispersed though queues build during the French holiday season in February. Recent investment has brought two new high-speed six-man chairs above Montchavin, exactly where needed to improve access to the ski area for Paradiski visitors from Les Arcs.
La Plagne Beginner Skiing
La Plagne is an excellent place to learn: all of the high-altitude resort centres have their own nursery slopes.
Beginner Skiing in La Plagne
La Plagne is an excellent place to learn: all of the high-altitude resort centres have their own nursery slopes and quick learners will swiftly develop a taste for exploring as they will be able to move across the mountain very easily.
There are lots of gentle motorway blues in the central area with a particularly good area being under the Arpette chair. The quieter slopes leading down to Montalbert are also a good option for beginners.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in La Plagne
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La Plagne Intermediate Skiing
La Plagne is a great resort for intermediates, particularly now that the link to Les Arcs gives you more options for day tours.
La Plagne is a great resort for intermediates, particularly now that the link to Les Arcs gives you more options for day tours. As many of the connecting runs are scenic blues, even early intermediates can explore most of the mountains but there is enough challenging and varied terrain to keep stronger skiers entertained; the wide expanse and different expositions guarantee a good sense of travelling through the mountains.
The slopes of La Grande Rochette offer some of the most challenging intermediate skiing though all the reds off the back of Les Verdons are great, particularly the wonderfully long Mont de la Guerre.
From the top of Roche de Mio, Le Clapet is a well-groomed red that develops some bumps when it joins Les Crozats. Lower down, L'Esselet is a great run down through the trees. A gentler option from the top is the blue of Les Inversens which is a lovely run which winds down through a tunnel back into Belle Plagne.
La Plagne Advanced & Expert Skiing
La Plagne's main appeal to expert skiers is its off-piste. But even sticking to the marked runs there are scattered challenges: its reds are often left to develop bumps, the blacks have genuinely steep sections and you can descend over 2000m without stopping.
We cover the off-piste in more detail in our separate La Plagne Off-Piste section. But even if you don't want to stray far from the official trails, there are challenges.
For long, steep runs, head towards the Bellecote glacier. Chiaupe, Rochu and Bellecote all deserve their black run status at least in places. Combe, Deversoir and Lanche Ronde are graded red which is a fair reflection of their overall steepness (parts of them could be blue and often in the past they were) but they are also Naturides that are allowed to keep their bumps, so they are no place for nervous intermediates. And if you're fit enough, you can keep descending down the mountain all the way to Montchavin without stopping, a vertical of over 2000m. Once you're below the Chalet de Bellecote chair, there is nothing steep, so the main challenge is likely to come from moguls on Derochoir (another black Naturide) and sheer exhaustion.
Roche de Mio
The red Inversens and the black Crozats more or less justify their grading, and when taken together without interruption are an excellent pipe-opener for La Plagne-based advanced skiers heading over to greater challenges in Les Arcs. If you enjoyed Crozats, you can dally a little longer in the area, by stopping at Bauches and taking a small detour to take in the Maltray black naturide as well.
Roche de Mio is also the starting point of the black Mio piste which takes you over to the the Champagny side of La Plagne. The first section of this is short but genuinely steep and it can be icy (it's West-facing) and heavily moguled. If you're fresh off the lift from Plagne Bellecote or Belle Plagne and it's your first run of the day, you might be grateful that there is a blue run alternative.
Les Coches and Dos Rond
This wooded area immediately above Montchavin and Les Coches and below Dos Rond faces North and North East, and holds its snow well. Although it's mostly an intermediates' playground, the two black runs, Les Murs and Perlees both have testing sections (Les Murs is another Naturide so expect moguls as well).
In poor visibility, the whole area is a popular detination because of its tree cover. But don't ignore it in good weather, particularly mid to late morning, when it's at its best and usually gloriously uncrowded as long as you keep away from the main routes to the Vanoise Express. As well as the blacks mentioned above, the red runs snaking through the woods also have their challenges and are usually deserted enough to be skied fast (but watch out for ski schools). If you enjoy the experience, you can repeat it after lunch by taking the Vanoise Express over to Plan Peisey and skiing the black Ecureuils and its neighbouring reds, which are West and North West facing and at their bet in the afternoon, and are almost a mirror image of the slopes you skied in the morning.
The main bowl
The on-piste challenges here are few and far between, but if you are in the area anyway, Mercedes and the top half of Rochette are worth skiing.
Just outsside the main bowl, under the Colosses chair linking Plagne Bellecote and Plagne Villages is the moguls stadium, used for international competition, but open to good skiers when competitions are not taking place.
Le Biolley and Plagne Aime 2000
If you like short steep black runs, head to Le Biolley mountain above Plagne Aime 2000 (the new name for Aime La Plagne.).
The blacks off the back leading to the Envers and Adrets lifts are the highlights - Coqs and Morbleu are probably the steepest. There are also East-facing Naturides heading in the opposite direction, back to the main bowl above Plagne Centre. And whilst you're in the area don't forget the red Emile Allais down through the trees which gets better and better as you descend.
La Plagne Mountain Restaurants
As most of La Plagne's villages are ski-in/ski-out, their restaurants are very convenient for lunch.
La Plagne is one of the best resorts in France for mountain restaurants. As most of the villages are ski-in/ski-out, their restaurants are very convenient for lunch. Try Le Refuge, Chaudron or Baryllon in Plagne Centre, Le Petit Chaperon Rouge in Plagne 1800 or Le Matafan in Belle Plagne. The Forperet is a charmingly rustic old refuge above Montalbert but is very small, so book your table. On the other side of the valley the Friolin is another cracker, situated at the end of the Les Crozats red. Le Verdons Sud is the place to eat on the Champagny side.
La Plagne Villages
La Plagne has 11 villages. Plagne Centre, Plagne Aime 2000, Plagne 1800, Plagne Soleil and Plagne Villages are all high resorts in the main bowl, and Belle Plagne and Plagne Bellecote are just one lift away. Montchavin, Les Coches, Champagny en Vanoise and Plagne Montalbert are the lower villages surrounded by woods.
The main bowl: Plagne Centre, Plagne 1800, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Villages and Plagne Aim 2000
Accommodation in the resorts in the main bowl is almost entirely ski-in, ski-out. Plagne Centre is the biggest village, the most central, the liveliest at night (although that is not saying a lot) and has the most shopping and other facilities, but it is probably the ugliest too, with its huge box-like apartment blocks. Just below it, but developed in a much more pleasing style is the chalet-dominated resort of Plagne 1800, which was based on an old mining village. Plagne Soleil and Plagne Villages are both small, quiet and quite pretty in an artificial 'Disney meets the Alps' sort of way. Plagne Aime 2000, once called Aime La Plagne and now usually referred just as 'Aime' is the highest Plagne village at 2100m and is home to the Club Med complex. Like Plagne Centre it consists of huge modern apartment blocks, but they look slightly nicer from the outside, because they are less box-like and more colourful.
Plagne Bellecote and Belle Plagne
These are two modern, high, ski-ski out villages which are just one lift away from the main bowl. Arguably they are even better located than the main bowl resorts because they are on the way to both Les Arcs and La Plagne's highest, and most challenging, skiing on the Bellecote glacier and Roche de Mio. Plagne Bellecote is another big apartment block complex, similar to Plagne Centre and Plagne Aime 2000 (see above), sharing their ugliness but also their convenience and many facilities. Belle Plagne which is just above Plagne Bellecote and shares its lifts, was once regarded as just its pretty smaller sister, but it has now grown up to be a sizeable resort, whilst keeping its looks. It can be slightly more expensive than the other Plagne villages, partly because its hotels and apartments have larger rooms and more luxury add-ons like swimming pools and saunas.
Montchavin and Les Coches
Montchavin is a traditional Alpine village. It's low at 1250m, but its runs are North-facing and shaded by trees and hold their snow well for their altitude. Les Coches is the purpose-built ski station that was created 200m above it, and is therefore slightly more conveniently placed in terms of getting to the other villages and is slightly more snowsure. It also has more slope-side accommodation, but it has less rustic charm. Both Montchavin and Les Coches are family friendly with traffic free centres, have tree-lined slopes that suit all standards and have the added attraction of being close to the link to Les Arcs. The disadvantage to them both is that you have to take a series of short chairlifts and bubbles to reach either the main bowl or the Roche de Mio and Belelcote galcier skiing.
Usually just referred to as 'Montalbert', this is another low (1350m) outlying village with its own tree-lined, North-facing slopes but it's a long way from Montchavin and Les Coches and the Les Arcs link. It has however been the beneficiary of a huge investment into the nearby ski lifts, reducing the time it takes to reach its own summit (le Fornelet) to less than 7 minutes, and making it feasible to reach the main La Plagne bowl in under half an hour from when you set off from your accommodation. There is now also a much wider range of places to stay and restaurants in the village which has been expnded from its rural core (praticularly around the lift station), but for the most part, sensitively.
Champagny en Vanoise
This is sometimes the forgotten village because it's on the other side of La Plagne and so has a different section of the ski map. Again there is a core of a rustic village here, with orchards and woods, and it has been sensitively developed. It also has reasonably quick access to the main bowl, which is only a couple of lifts away, and to Roche de Mio and the Bellecote glacier. But this is the La Plagne village with low south-facing slopes, which means you often can not ski back to the resort, or iit's unpleasant to do so. On the upside, Courchevel is only a short taxi ride or car drive away, so you can stay here and easily ski two of the biggest and greatest ski areas in the world, Paradiski and the 3 Valleys.
Ski hire and equipment rental in La Plagne.
There are plenty of ski hire options in all the villages, but equipment rental prices can be expensive if you simply walk into shops when you arrive. Some hotels and tour operators recommend shops and in return these shops give their customers a small discount (usually just 5% or 10%), but these are not always the best value. Generally if you want to save money, you're much better off booking in advance.
Pre-book with Skiset and save up to 50%
Skiset has an excellent reputation for hiring out good modern equipment and has multiple outlets covering all the La Plagne villages including the outlying ones like Montalbert, Les Coches, Montchavin and Champagny (if you use the link below they are all listed under Plagne). You can check the exact location of shops within each village using the online maps, choose equipment suitable for your level and secure a discount of up to 50% by booking in advance. You will also save time when you arrive in the resort, because your rental equipment is reserved, fully prepared and ready and waiting for you.
Check Skiset shop locations in La Plagne and book online >>>
La Plagne Bars & Restaurants
Several restaurants in Plagne Centre offer typical French food at reasonable prices. Belle Plagne has the best nightlife in the valley.
A lot of the restaurants recommended for lunch should be also be considered for an evening meal. In Plagne Centre Le Chaudron, Le Bec Fin, Le Metairie and Le Refuge (the oldest restaurant in town) offer typical French food at reasonable prices. Le Matafan, in Belle Plagne, is very popular and is usually packed. Gourmets should try La Mine where the food and prices are a level above.
La Plagne Après-Ski
Belle Plagne has the best nightlife in the valley and the cable car between there and Plagne Bellecote runs until 12.45am. La Tête Inn is a great bar with old milk churns for seats, the Saloon bar keeps it swinging doors open until 4am and the Cayenne is a lively Tex-Mex restaurant and bar. The Cosy Bar and Showtime Café are worth visiting in Bellecote; No'Bleme (which serves good home made rum) and the Luna are your best bets in Plagne Centre. Most of the late bars also run their own courtesy buses which will drop you back to whichever village you are staying in. For nightclubs try Oxygene in Montchavin and Galaxy in Champagny en Vanoise
La Plagne Activities
The most famous non-ski activity in La Plagne has to be the bobsleigh.
The most famous non-ski activity has to be the bobsleigh. The 1992 Olympic run is an adrenalin rush through 19 bends which pull as much as 3 G's. You can either go down in a four-man "taxi-bob" at speeds of up to 108 kmph, a driverless "bob-raft" at a more sedate 80 kmph or even try the 100 kmph "mono-bob". There is also the largest ice climbing tower in the world in Champagny. Non-skiers would be best advised to stay in the lower resorts. There are cinemas in Montchavin, Bellecote, Plagne Centre and Aime and a bowling alley in Belle Plagne.
La Plagne Off-Piste
La Plagne is seldom described as an off-piste mecca and it lacks the kudos of nearby Val d'Isere and Tignes. But the North Face of Bellecote has challenges that more than match theirs, and La Plagne's powder tends to stay untracked for longer.
Thanks to its black Naturides, La Plagne has scattered challenges for advanced skiers who prefer to stay on marked runs but for most expert skiers, its off-piste is the real draw.
The Bellecote glacier has some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. As a starter you can explore the terrain between the West-facing pistes from the top of the Bellecote, Traversee and Glacier lifts (all of which ascend to over 3000m). And further down there is more beneath the Chalet de Bellecote lift and on either side of the Derochoir black Naturide.
For the more adventurous, the next step is Friolin, which is best explored with a guide. From the Traversee chair, take the Bellecote back Naturide and stay skier's right at the top. A five-minute walk opens up the vast tracts of Friolin.
The north face of Bellecote is formed by a 6km ridge line. Do not even think about going here without a guide. There are over 20 recognised routes down, ranging in difficulty from the classic Petite Face Nord to the most beautiful Gros Glacier which involves abseiling, walking and a system of fantastically narrow couloirs - and it's all too easy to stray onto an itinerary which is way above your abilities. Most of the routes join in the middle of the valley and lead down to the village of Nancroix well over 2000m below where you started. From there a short free bus ride gives you access to the Les Arcs lift network and a return to La Plagne via the Vanoise Express.
But whilst Bellecote is undoubtedly the highlight, La Plagne's off-piste is not just a one trick pony. There is great lift-accessed between-the-trees-skiing on both wings of the resort, above Les Coches and Montalbert. On the Les Coches side, one of the most popular runs comes down from Arpette, first on open bowls, then through the gap between the rocks, and lastly through the tightly packed trees until you reach the Nordic ski track, which, if you turn right on it, will take you to the top of the Plan Bois lift. If there is excellent snow cover, and you have a guide, there are several great itineraries which lead beyond the confines of the lift system to the small village of Macot at 800m, from where you can take a taxi back.
The Black runs on Biolley towards Montalbert are genuinely steep, but if you look around you can see even steeper alternatives beyond the piste markers in the same area. In the main bowl above Plagne Centre there are also couloirs down from La Grande Rochette and Les Verdons which you can inspect when you ride the lifts up, but be warned: they are not always skiable, so a guide is recommended. Similarly there are great off-piste routes down from Roche de Mio in almost all directions, but there are also dangerous cliffs and dead-ends.
Guides can also show you more testing terrain heading North towards Champagny off the back of most of the peaks, including Bellecote, with verticals of well over a 1000m. If you want to head towards Champagny without straying so far from the pistes, after a recent snow-fall there is usually nice powder near the top of the Mont de la Guerre red run.
And of course, all this amounts to just half of the freeride and backcountry opportunities available in Paradiski. Across the Nancroix valley in Les Arcs, there is plenty more off-piste, including several more uninterrupted 2000m descents, and they are all easily accessed from La Plagne via the Vanoise Express.