Apres Ski in Les Arcs
Arc 1800 has the liveliest apres-ski and late night clubs. The Cabriolet lift between Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 keeps running till late at night so they effectively share the same restaurants and bars. Arc 1600 and Peisey-Vallandry are much quieter and more family oriented.
Apres Ski in Arc 2000 and Arc 1950
Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 effectively share the same apres ski and early evening nightlife thanks to the Cabriolet lift. This currently closes at 11:30pm (and also for 30 minutes at 9pm) but check times on the Les Arc app before you set off for the night. Of course you can also walk between the two resorts along the blue piste: this only takes about 15 to 30 minutes, but don’t attempt this if you are drunk, alone, or don’t have the right gear (thick coat, hat and boots, plus a phone) and watch out for the pistebashers. At this altitude, temperatures are usually well below freezing and easily cold enough to kill you if you spend too long on the mountain. There is also a longer walk via the road between the two resorts but this is further, just as cold and more likely to experience small avalanches. There is no bus service and taxis will be expensive because they will have to drive up from Bourg St Maurice.
Inside Arc 2000, but located close enough to the piste to be able to offer skiers lunch, this bar-restaurant sometimes has live music in the late afternoon on its terrace to start off the apres-ski. Later in the evening it becomes a high class restaurant for dinner with excellent food including local specialities. There is also a late night bar and nightclub next door (but you can’t hear it from the restaurant).
Excellent affordable restaurant in the centre of Arc 2000. Has live music most evenings.
A mountain restaurant which is within 15 minutes walk of Arc 2000 and opens two evenings a week. Wonderful old building with a great atmosphere and well worth the walk up to it. The restaurant bakes its own bread in what is reputed to be the highest bakery in France.
La Table des Lys
Classy restaurant in a lovely spot in Arc 1950 near the piste that goes through the centre of the resort, so open for lunch and dinner. Tel: : +33 4 79 06 25 87.
Les Belles Pintes
Surprisingly good Irish bar in Arc 1950. Has live music in the late afternoon to kick off the apres-ski scene. Stays open till late. Has a snooker table.
Based next to the Chalets des Neiges in Arc 2000. A sports bar in the early evening focused on football and rugby games (it opens at 4pm and has a happy hour from 5 till 6) it gradually morphs into a light night bar and club with DJ, and stays open till 2am. Although it is mostly a bar, it does serve some basic food like burgers and pizzas.
Perfectly adequate bowling alley for people who want to do something else in the evening. Located next to the Résidence Les Gentianes in Arc 2000,
Apres Ski in Arc 1800
Part of the chain of lively apres ski bars that has other outlets in Meribel and Val d’Isere. Located at the top of the Villard lift (with free access for pedestrians), it’s a normal mountain bar-restaurant when it first opens at lunchtime, but gradually the music gets louder and more people start dancing with ski-boots on (“table dancing”). It closes at 7pm most evenings.
The Red Hot Saloon bar
“Reds” is a lively bar popular with the English crowd. It has simple food, good live bands and big dance floor. Tel +33 4 79 07 74 52
The Jungle Bar
Cocktail bar with distinctly un-alpine theme (African jungle) and lots of reggae providing the soundtrack. Situated in the Place des Villards, it stays open till 1am.
There are also proper nightclubs in Arc 1800: the traditional Apokalypse and the new ultra-modern Igloo.
In Vallandry, the Bar Mont Blanc remains a seasonnaire favourite, with friendly staff and a vodka-based happy-hour doing their best to offset soaring drinks prices.
Other Activities in Les Arcs
There is a bowling alley in Arc 2000 and several good spas and wellness centres, but most activities are based on the snow, or just above it, including a superfast zipline, skidoos, and good luge runs in Arc 2000 and Arc 1800.
Pride of place must go to the zipline. It runs more or less parallel to the Varet lift above Arc 2000 and keeps going in almost all weathers, so if you fancy hurtling down a steep mountainside at 130kph (about 80 mph) in zero visibility this is when and where you can do it. (It’s also pretty scary enough in sunshine.) Speed freaks who want to hit the maximum velocity should bring walking boots because they don’t allow you to descend headfirst in the prone position if you are wearing ski-boots: instead you have to plummet down the mountain in a less aerodynamic and slightly less frightening sitting down position. You can either do solo descents or ‘go duo’ with a friend.
There are dedicated luge runs in Arc 2000 and Arc 1800 for those who want to try tobogganing at altitude.
There are cinemas at 2000, 1800 and 1600; skating at 1800; and a bowling alley at 2000 but the only public swimming pool is down in the valley.
There are spas and wellness centres in all the Arcs. Two of the best are the The Deep Nature Spa in Arc 1950 and the Nama Springs in Arc 1800. There are walking trails in the wooded areas and a cave of ice sculptures at the top of the Transarc lift, and a free Museum of Mountain Animals at the top Grizzly lift above Peisey-Vallandry, but this is essentially a resort for skiers rather than non-skiers.
Les Arcs Villages
Les Arcs is a collection of small to mid-sized ski resorts rather than just one large one. Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 are high-altitude, purpose-built, resorts dating from the 1960s and 70s and dominated by modernist architecture. Plan Peisey, Vallandry and Arc 1950 were built later and more sensitively. Villaroger, Peisey-Nancroix and the town of Bourg St Maurice are all older, lower and cheaper.
Sited, s its name suggests, at 1600m above sea level, Arc 1600 is the oldest purpose-built Arc. It has some chalets and hotels but is dominated by apartments in residences, some of which were designed by award-winning modernist architects and designers like Charlotte Perriand in the late 1960s. Over half a century later, the resort is still compact and convenient but its older buildings seem brutal despite their nice woodland setting and the great views from their balconies. Arc 1600 also has the advantage of being only a funicular ride away from Bourg so is the easiest of the high altitude resorts to get into and out of.
Arc 1800 is a larger, higher version of Arc 1600. It’s located in the middle of the Les Arcs ski area: from the top of the TransArc lift that departs from Arc 1800 you can ski to all the other villages without needing to take another lift. It’s the largest village with over 18,000 beds, most in apartments but with some chalets and hotels , and its subdivided into three sectors – Charvet, Villards and Charmettoger. Some of the largest apartment blocks date back to the 70s but there are some new ones as well, which tend to blend in better, and are more luxurious inside. Facilities for children are excellent, but Arc 1800 also has the liveliest Apres-Ski and nightlife.
Arc 2000 is actually situated at 2100m above sea level: the 2000 in its name was to make it sound futuristic and ready for the 21st century which was more than twenty years away when it first opened. Its large apartment blocks are classic examples of 1970s modernist architecture (which, ironically, now seem very dated). There are, however several new chalet-style buildings housing large, luxurious, chalet-style apartments and a smart 5 star hotel. It has the quickest access to the highest, toughest runs in Les Arcs so is a favourite of advanced and off-piste skiers, but it has great beginners’ slopes too, and it is also the most snowsure village.
Arc 1950 is the smartest and most expensive village. It is only 250m away from Arc 2000 although the two resorts are mostly out of sight of one another (instead most apartments have good views of the mountains and from some you can even see Mt Blanc). Arc 1950’s architects learnt from the mistakes of the earlier purpose-built resorts, keeping their convenience but ditching the modernist concert blocks, and hence its ersatz-Savoyard buildings are generally pleasing on the eye although a little bland. It is is mostly made up of generous-sized, well-equipped, ski-in, ski-out apartments in large chalet-like residences with excellent views. It’s completely traffic-free at street level, which contributes towards its family-friendly atmosphere, yet you can park close to your residence, thanks to the vast underground parking below the resort. The 240m long Cabriolet lift linking Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 currently stays open till 11.30pm, so the two resorts share facilities and nightlife. Night-owls can also walk back along the blue piste that connects the two resorts, but make sure you are suitably dressed with a thick coat, hat, gloves and boots, and are fit and sober enough to complete the journey, because at this altitude, cold can be a real killer.
Peisey-Vallandry: Plan Peisey, Vallandry and Peisey-Nancroix
Peisey-Vallandry is composed of two high-altitude (1600m), purpose-built resorts, Plan Peisey and Vallandry, which almost, but not quite, merge into one another. The centre of Vallandry is about 3km from the centre of Arc 1800, and the centre of Plan Peisey is about another 1 km away, and free buses run between the three villages. Plan Peisey is therefore on the edge of the Les Arcs ski area, but it is right in the centre of Paradiski, because it’s the docking area for the Vanoise Express which links Les Arcs and La Plagne. Both Plan Peisey and Vallandry therefore make excellent resorts for keen intermediate skiers who want to explore all of Paradiski. Both have expanded rapidly since the late 1990s but most of the development has been in low-rise, chalet-style buildings.
400m below Plan Peisey is the old valley-level village of Peisey-Nancroix which dates back to 1000 AD and has a fine baroque church. It’s much quieter and cheaper than the purpose-built resorts above it and it has some chalets/gites/rooms for hire. It’s connected by a bucket-lift or ‘Lonzagne’ to the ski station but there is no piste down.
On the far side of Les Arcs to Peisey-Nanacroix, Villaroger is another old village sited at about 1200m. It’s connected by lift and piste to Arc 2000 but it can seem like a very long journey. And of course, getting to Plan Peisey and the link to La Plagne takes even longer, so if you stay here, buy the Les Arcs lift pass rather than the Paradiski one. Situated 2000m below the top lift on the Aiguille Rouge, Villaroger is for people who want to stay in a more remote, rustic and authentic Savoyard village and who will enjoy a long ski back through the woods in the evening. Although its altitude (1200m) is low for a ski resort, its slopes are north-facing and a lot of money has been invested in artificial snow-making. If you have your own car, Villaroger is about 20 minutes’ drive from La Rosiere, but there are no lift-pass sharing arrangements or a fast bus services between the two resorts.
The last Les Arcs ‘village’ is actually not a village at all but a valley-level town at 800m above sea level. Thanks to its funicular access into Arc 1600, Bourg-St-Maurice is a feasible base for skiers. The ride up normally only takes 7 minutes and most of the Les Arcs ski instructors and guides live here in the winter because prices are lower than in the other Les Arcs resorts. Bourg also has bus services to other ski resorts in the region, so it particularly suits skiers on a tight budget or those who want to combine their skiing in the Paradiski area with day trips to Val d’Isere, La Rosiere and Sainte-Foy.