Les Arcs includes not only Arc 1600, Arc 1850, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 but also the resort of Peisey-Vallandry, the village of Villaroger and the town of Bourg St Maurice. It’s a large and varied area but it’s only half of what’s an offer with a Paradiski pass which also covers all of La Plagne.
Les Arcs is a good choice for a mixed ability group, because it has skiing to suit all standards. Intermediates will love the sheer size of the Paradiski ski area that Les Arcs and La Plagne share: it’s one of the world’s largest. For advanced skiers, there are steep ungroomed black runs and plenty of off-piste for freeriders. And Les Arcs has always been a good place to learn to ski.
Les Arcs is also one if the most weather-proof Alpine resorts. It’s pretty much snowsure: the top lift reaches 3,226m, most of the skiing is above 2000m, and its more north-facing than south-facing. And unlike most other high-altitude ski resorts, Les Arcs also has excellent tree skiing, which means you can still enjoy skiing here even in bad weather or poor light.
The resort’s vertical is very impressive, too. From the top of the Aiguille Rouge cable car, fit confident skiers can descend on piste non-stop all the way to Villaroger over 2000m below. Off-piste skiers and freeriders with a guide can do an ‘off the back’ version of this, as well as other long itineraries. Across the valley in La Plagne, there are similar sized descents, on and off-piste, from the Bellecote glacier.
And there is a wide range of places to stay. The town of Bourg-St-Maurice is linked to Arc 1600 by funicular, and the ride up only takes 7 minutes. “Bourg” has a railway station with TGV services to Paris and is a major transport hub so makes a good base for skiers on a tight budget who want to explore all the resorts in the region. Above it, Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 combine modernist architecture with more recent chalet-style buildings. Arc 1950, Plan Peisey and Vallandry were developed more sensitively, jettisoning the huge brutal apartment blocks but keeping the ski-in, ski-out convenience of a purpose-built resort. And lastly, for those wanting a quiet rural holiday, Villaroger and the old village of Peisey-Nancroix both have lifts into the ski area.
Les Arcs Pros & Cons
+ Choice of a big ski area (Les Arcs) or an enormous one (Paradiski)
+ Excellent tree skiing
+ Slopes to suit all standards
+ Top lifts offer big verticals and snow-sure skiing
+ Good budget accommodation options
+ Reachable by train
– Top lifts can close in high winds
– Too many large ugly apartment blocks
– Accommodation in 1800 and 1600 can be a long walk from lifts
– Paradiski is really two ski areas linked by one long lift rather than a single integrated ski area.