Le Village – Arc 1950
- Rating: 5 Star
- Location: Arc 1950
- Room Type: Hotel Room; Studio; 1-4 Bedroom
One of the French Alps’ original mega-resorts, Les Arcs serves up some impressive statistics: its five areas – Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950, and Arc 2000 are located between 2660 feet (810 meters) to 10,580 feet (3226 meters), offer 106 runs totaling 125 miles (200 km), 54 lifts and the longest run of 4.4 miles (7 km) that provides a substantial 6646 foot (2026 meter) vertical drop. As if that were not enough, Les Arcs is also part of the Paradiski group of ski-connected resorts, which includes La Plagne. The Paradiski network covers 264 miles (425 km) of pistes.
This is the kind of ski resort where there will be no problem finding something for everyone in your group. Pleasant open and pretty tree-lined runs are equally prevalent as are slopes with the thrilling pitches sought by experts. There are plenty of chairlifts and gondolas so snowboarders can avoid T-bars and pomas, the terrain park fans among you, whether beginner to advanced, can enjoy jumps and rails graded green to black, and everyone will enjoy the fact that all major lifts are state-of-the-art.
Les Arcs’ lodging and villages are ideal for groups and families, with many self-contained apartments and shopping centers. There is a relaxed casual atmosphere throughout and efficient bus services are especially handy for connecting lodging located a little further from the slopes. The lower villages have some condominiums right by the lifts, while the more stylish accommodation is found in the higher villages. The slopes and villages of Arcs 1600 and 1800 look across the valley to Mont Blanc, the others take in panoramas of the north face of Bellecote in La Plagne.
Les Arcs resorts are mainly pedestrianized and they all have their own bars, restaurants, supermarkets, and a range of activities. There is a free shuttle bus service that links the various levels that make up the villages of Les Arcs.
Les Arcs is famous for being the place that helped establish snowboarding as the ‘next big thing’ for sliding down the European Alps when, in the early 1980s, a local instructor featured snowboards in a series of popular films.
Les Arcs is made up of 4 villages – the original is at 1,600m and is linked by funicular train with the valley town of Bourg St Maurice. It is traffic-free and purpose-built resorts built in the 1960s and 70s when large apartment blocks were in vogue.
Arc 1800 is a few km across the mountain and is now the biggest village with the biggest selection of shops and restaurants.
Arc 2000 is 12 km and 20 minutes away from 1600 by shuttle bus.
Arc 1950 is the most recent development and is built in a more low-rise chalet style, in the early 2000s by Canadian developer Intrawest. It is just below Arc 2000 and connected by a short gondola that runs until late.
Connected to the ski area are the lower, more traditional villages of Plan Peisey and Peisey-Vallandry which are more characterful and well connected to Les Arcs ski area and to La Plagne via the Vanoise Express.
Les Arcs is an intermediates, experts, freestylers paradise, and as it is one of the biggest ski areas and one of the world’s biggest lift-served verticals at more than 6561 feet (2000 m) there is something for all levels. There are wide, gentle green pistes and more than 50 blue runs to choose from so while the experts are well catered for, this offers some good beginner/intermediate skiing. The steep, high-altitude glacier runs as well as pistes through the shelter of the forest not to mention the awesome off-piste terrain in between all these groomed slopes will satisfy the adrenaline junkies.
Les Arcs benefits from a fantastic modern lift network and is well connected to the slopes of La Plagne. There are little walking or bus rides needed to make connections and with skiing, up to 10583 feet (3,226 m) it is a fairly snow-sure resort plus most slopes are north facing with extensive snow-making facilities.
Good intermediates and experts will love the steep runs – the resort boasts one of the highest percentages of steep terrain in the Alps and there are 19 black runs. If you’re looking for great off-piste, hire a guide and head to the north face of the Aiguille Rouge. Or test yourself on the steep Couloir en S which pitches at up to 45 degrees, and ski the 7km, 2,000m-vertical descent from the top down to Villaroger. The resort, like many in the alps, also has some ungroomed pistes which are signposted and patrolled but provide good training for moving to off-piste terrain.
Do try the long red run down to the tiny village of Villaroger which is also a lovely quiet cruise, although you do have to get a succession of chairlifts needed to get back up.
Snowboarders and freestylers are well catered for continuing Les Arcs’ tradition of being a pioneer of the new snow sports. The main terrain park, the huge Apocalypse Park is just above Arc 1600 and has a vast array of terrain features and lines for all ability levels over tables, hips, a funbox, pyramid, and jumps of various sizes. There is a boardercross course at arc 2000 and a second smaller park, called the Rey Park, with areas for both novices and advanced riders, as well as a second boardercross course.
This is a great area for cross-country skiers – in the Paradiski area there are around 279 miles (450 km) of cross-country skiing and these are graded exactly like the downhill pistes. In Les Arcs there are two free trails – a 3-mile (5 km) loop in Arc 1800 which runs from the top of the Jardin Alpin chairlift and there is a 3-mile (5 km) loop in Arc 2000 which starts near the bottom of the Arcabulle chairlift. You will need to buy a pass for the other areas but do head down to the Nordic area of Peisey-Nancroix where there are 44kms of well-maintained trails at the entrance of the Vanoise National Park. Also, a great place for walking and practicing biathlon, and paths for walkers.
|Skiable Terrain||425 km, 35,558 acres|
|Vertical||2050 m (6,725 ft)|
|Top Elevation||3250 m (10,662 ft)|
|Base Elevation||1200 m (3937 ft)|
|Winter lifts Total||131|
|Gondolas Trams||Cable Cars 5, Funicular 1. Gondolas 16|
|Longest Run||16 km (10 mi)|
Minibus transfers to the resort operate from the airport, bus or train station.
International trains connect Bourg St Maurice to Paris on the TGV service. Eurostar also runs directly from London.
From Bourg St Maurice, there is a funicular which whisks skier up the mountain to Arc 1600. The bottom of the funicular is a short walk from Bourg St Maurice station. This is the quickest way to get to Arc1600, taking just seven minutes. The service runs every 20 minutes from 7.30am until 8pm. It is also possible to take taxi transfers to Les Arcs – approximately 30mins.
There is a windy road to Les Arcs from Bourg St Maurice and winter conditions can make it hard to drive.
There are two main types of lift pass in Les Arcs – the Classic Pass which covers Les Arcs/Peisey-Vallandry and the Paradiski Pass (which in Les Arcs is divided into the Essential and the Premium Pass) – which covers the full Paradiski area. The difference between the Essential and Premium pass is to do with the use of the ‘priority lift queues’ and includes access to the luge runs, swimming pool, and ice cave.
Children under 5 years and adults over 75 years are free but you will need to show proof of age to get these passes. These passes need a photo (though this can be taken at the lift office counter) and there is a charge for the ‘hands free card’
There are discounts for families based on 2 adults and a minimum of 2 children and for two or more passes bought for 6 days+ for the same ski area. There are beginner ski passes available for one day which gives access to the beginner areas in Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry, and Villaroger. There are also single trips available on the Combette (Arc 1600), Villards (Arc 1800), Saint Jacques (Arc 2000), and Parchey (Peisey-Vallandry) – for these, you can buy a card with 1, 2, 3, 5 or 10 trips loaded.
You can add ski insurance to your lift pass to cover you in case of accidents but you do need to check against your holiday insurance to see if you need this additional cover.
Cross-country skiing in Les Arcs is free on the Arc 2000 and Courbaton tracks.
There are a number of ski schools in the resort offering everything from group lessons to private tuition and guiding. Group lessons typically start on Sunday or Monday and run for 5 or 6 mornings.
The ESF (French Ski School) runs a ski club and ski lessons from age 3 upwards.
The resorts of Les Arcs offer some great off-skis experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone from the thrilling to the relaxing here are some ideas to enhance your stay in the resort:
Scenic Helicopter Flights – See the Vanoise National Park and the neighboring ski areas of the 3 Valleys and Espace Killy from the air or take a longer flight and see the peaks of the Mont Blanc range. Flights from 10 minutes to 1 hour are available.
Mille 8 Aquatic & Fitness Centre – Located in Les Arcs 1800 there are indoor and outdoor pools as well as slides, waterfalls, water jets, bubble baths and gym, fitness center, and spa facilities.
Snowshoe Outings – You will find guided half-day snowshoe walks in all the Les Arcs resorts or get the local walking map and set out on your own. Racquettes can be hired from most ski shops and take or hire your ski poles.
Mountaineering – Have a 1-day mountaineering session with a professional mountain guide and scale Mont Pourri, which at a height of 12398 feet (3,779 m) is the 2nd highest peak in the Vanoise Park.
Igloo Dining – Enjoy a (chilled) drink and a Savoyard fondue in the Igloo Village where you can also stay the night. Meet at the Arcabulle chairlift or the Cabriolet cable car and then take a short snowshoe walk to the Igloo.
Laser Quest – a 260m2 space to enjoy a game of laser quest in Arc 1800.
Bowling – You will find bowling alleys in Arc 1800 and Arc 2000.
Husky Sledding – Learn to mush with a pack of dogs starting from Arc 1950. There are night rides and ‘magic rides’ for children under 5 years also available.
Ski Joering – Discover the classic sport of horse-drawn skiing. Available in Arc 1600 and Arc 1800.
Ice Skating – There is a natural outdoor ice rink in Arc 2000.
Toboggan Run – Try the purpose built luge run in the Mille 8 area above Arc 1800. Pick your sled model and helmet and then take the Villards telecabin to the start of the track of the 900m downhill course. There are banked turns with sections through the trees and finish in a tunnel section, all accompanied by a light and sound show
Speed Skiing – There is a speed riding school in Arc 2000, where you can hit the powder with a small paragliding sail on your back to get some really big air on your descent. You need to be confident on your skis but don’t need to be an expert.
Although heliskiing is not permitted in France, due to Les Arcs’ proximity to Italy it is possible to arrange a day’s heliskiing over the border.
There is an enormous range of off-piste and back-country skiing in Les Arcs and Paradiski area. Spend a day with a guide exploring the areas inaccessible by lift. Most of the ski hire shops have touring skis and off-piste equipment available for hire.
You will find a wide selection of restaurants both in the resort of Les Arcs and in the ski area and you can choose from local specialties to sushi, from pizza to fine dining so there is definitely something for everyone. You can even eat a meal in a mountain igloo or a Mongolian yurt! Les Arcs is very child-friendly and most restaurants will have a children’s menu and have early dinner times. Also, do remember that most restaurants in the resort as well as on the mountain will offer a well-priced ‘plat du jour’ or daily special.
If you’re planning a special lunch then head to Belliou La Fumee in Pre Saint Esprit where they do wonderful grills and seafood but leave room for the homemade tartes – Tarte aux myrtilles is a specialty. Or head for the Lodge in the Mille 3 area – a modern, light, airy restaurant with big windows to make the most of the views and great food. Or try Le Sanglier qui Fume in Arc 1600 – breathtaking views, cozy interior with fireplace and great steaks, wild boar, and grilled meats.
For a wonderful snack at the end of the ski day, do pay a visit to Mamie Crêpe in Arc 1800 this is a resort institution where for the best part of 40 years pancakes and crepes of all flavors have been on offer.
If you’re looking for après ski then head to La Folie Douce for the DJs, live music, and cabaret, or stop at L’Arpette Restaurant and enjoy the views from their sunny terrace where the DJs get the party going. You can stay here for dinner but be warned dancing on the table in your ski boots and skiing down with torches at the end of the night are practically a prerequisite. The liveliest of the resorts is Arc 1800 but you will find a great bar in all the resorts.
There are supermarkets, delis, and specialist food shops in all the resorts of Les Arcs and you will find all the essentials covered. There are ski hire shops and you’ll find lots of choices if you want to buy new ski kit. But apart from some lovely souvenir and craft shops, this is not the resort for serious retail therapy.