La Plagne’s high snowsure central bowl is 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 before La Plagne linked with Les Arcs to create Paradiski, it had a big ski area. Its 11 different villages are separated by huge woods, high mountains and deep valleys.
And yet on the slopes, La Plagne somehow seemed smaller than on the map, and a bit second-rate when compared to other resorts in the Tarentaise like Val d’Isere. The terrain had too many dull flat sections; the lifts were old and slow; the higher villages were ugly and the lower ones cut-off; and there was no buzz to the nightlife wherever you stayed. La Plagne became the resort you learnt to ski in (it’s always been a great resort for beginners) but then moved on from.
Linking with Les Arcs did not solve all these problems at a stroke, but it spearheaded much needed further investment in La Plagne. New lifts were built easing some of the old bottlenecks and speeding up connections with the outlying villages. The pretty village of Montalbert is now only two lifts away from Plagne Centre. A new piste enabled fit, confident skiers to make 2000m vertical descents all the way down to Montchavin. Attractive buildings were built in the higher villages, especially Belle Plagne, Plagne 1800, Plagne Villages and Plagne Soleil. None of them have the nightlife of Val d’Isere, Chamonix or Meribel, but they are less expensive and have much more slope-side accommodation.
These improvements made people remember that La Plagne’s ski area always had its strong points. The main bowl is high and snowsure; the woods around Plagne Montalbert and Les Coches have excellent tree skiing; the freeriding on Bellecote is superb; and anyone who likes cruising in sunshine will enjoy the long runs down to Champagny en Vanoise.
The link to Les Arcs via the Vanoise Express also doubled the number of challenging pistes that strong skiers based in La Plagne could access. Above all, it instilled a mindset that no matter how hard you ski throughout a week-long holiday, there will still be new slopes to discover – and that’s definitely one hallmark of a genuine world-class ski resort.
La Plagne Pros & Cons
+ Choice of a big ski area (La Plagne) or an enormous one (Paradiski)
+ Snowsure main bowl
+ Good tree skiing in bad weather
+ Pretty lower villages, convenient higher ones
+ Long runs with 2000m + verticals in La Plagne and Les Arcs.
+ Excellent resort for beginners
+ Excellent off-piste freeriding with a guide
– Still some lift queues
– Some ugly higher villages
– Quiet nightlife
– Only a few scattered steep pistes
– Paradiski is really two ski areas linked by one lift, rather than a single truly integrated area.