With 24,700 acres (10,000 hectares) of terrain and a 6560 feet (2000 meter) vertical drop, La Plagne is the most popular ski resort in the world – not bad for a destination created as a measure to stop the surrounding region’s demise. At the time in the late 1950s, local mining and agricultural industries had virtually slowed to a halt and young people were deserting the region en masse and looking elsewhere for work. The area’s governing bodies got together to come up with a rescue plan which arrived in the form of a ski destination, and on the day before Christmas, 1961, La Plagne opened with two drag lifts and four slopes.
The rescue plan was a success from the start, La Plagne was an immediate hit with skiers. Within a few years, it was hosting competitions and feted by celebrities. Nowadays, La Plagne, located in the Tarantaise Valley in the Savoie region, attracts a heady 2.5 million visitors each year. What’s more, it is linked with its neighboring resort Les Arc and Peisey-Vallandry creating a formidable partnership that sits under the Paradiski banner.
La Plagne comprises 10 villages, varying in style from functional, purpose-built resorts to charming, traditional villages. Plagne Centre has the highest concentration of shops and bars with more nightlife than is to be found in some of the other villages. It is functional, rather than a pretty resort much like Plagne Bellecôte and Plagne Aime 2000. The villages of Plagne 1800, and Belle Plagne offer practical, ski in ski out accommodations though slightly more aesthetically pleasing.
Plagne Soleil and Plagne Village are smaller and more modern though pleasant resorts. Montchevan is lower in altitude and offers an authentic alpine experience whilst Lec Coches is slightly higher and has more ski in ski out accommodation. Being below the treeline, they have a very different feel to the higher resorts and have traffic-free centers. They also offer good access to the link with Les Arcs.
Montalbert is a smaller village and further away from the main resorts however now has good links to the main bowl. Champagny is on the other side of the mountain and is at a relatively low altitude. It has a south-facing aspect and also is a fairly short car ride away from the Three Valleys and Courchevel.
As for the skiing, it seemingly goes on forever: there are 128 runs, 140 miles (225 km) of slopes, 95 lifts, 50 miles (80 km) of runs open for night skiing, and an abundance of snow, about 20 feet (6 meters) each winter. The season generally runs from the first or second week of December through to the end of April. Beginner and intermediate runs make up almost 60% of the terrain, while 26% is for the advanced and 15% for the experts. One of the more unique and thrilling activities in La Plagne is the 4920 feet (1500 m) Olympic bobsleigh run with 19 bends. Options for descent include a single-set speed luge and a four-seat, self-braking, and driving bob raft.