When the original village of Les Arcs opened in 1968, it was a novel concept - accommodation being purpose-built for skiing, with slopes you could step out of your front door onto. Today it is a wildly popular ski area, with beautiful snow, four separate villages and more than 200 km of piste. Linked with La Pagne, it is part of the giant Paradiski ski area, unfolding 420 km of piste, three glaciers and three summits of over 3, 000 m.
The four towns are each worth visiting for their own attractions- Arc 1800 is the centre of the action, the liveliest and largest, while Arc 1950 is the newest, a pretty, traditional-style village surrounded by pine trees. Arc 1600 is the most compact village, and is renowned for being the friendliest village on the mountain. Arc 2000 sits in its own secluded bowl at the foot of the Aiguille Rouge (3, 226 m). High altitude usually means good snow conditions, and with a top station of 3,226 m and a glacier, Les Arcs is a good bet for snow cover.
The skiing is massively varied and will suit every level. You could spend weeks here, and not cover all of the wide linked trails, powder bowls, open fields, fast tree-lined steep pistes, hair raising moguls, cliff drops and chutes. There are nursery slopes at every village for you to take your first wobbly turn or shaky pizza-wedge, miles and miles of blue and red runs, and some wicked black slopes like the 7 km run down from Aiguille Rouge. Most routes have an easy and more difficult alternative, so if your friends and family are at different levels - you can still tackle the slopes together!
The Olympic speed track will put your bravery to the test, and boarders are well looked after here, with two snow parks in Les Arcs and four in Paradiski, including half pipes and three boarder crosses. Variety is the spice of life at Les Arcs, with amazingly steep deep powder runs, long, smooth tree-lined runs and many gentle beginner areas. Its south-facing slopes mean sunshine, and make sure you stop for a second and take in one of the most stunning views around - the sun setting behind the colossal Mont-Blanc.
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Les Arcs for Different Ski Abilities
Great nursery slopes can be found at each of the villages. Arc 1800 is probably the best place to head, with sunny and spacious runs. Move on to some gentle blues like Mont Blanc above Arc 1600, and some snow sure easy runs down from Col de la Chal to Arc 2000. There are also some great green runs at la Plagne - so jump on the gondola and head over.
One of the best things about Les Arcs is the variety of choice! Most main routes have an easy and a more difficult alternative ideal for mixed-ability groups. There are lots of steeper blues and gentler reds to get stuck into, and less confident intermediates can move around the area without to many surprises. Les Arc Peisey Vallandry. Higher up the runs get steeper but are well groomed.
Good skiers will be itching to get started on over 30 km of black runs at Les Arcs! The Aiguille Rouge has some gnarly blacks, and it's steep, steep, steep above Arc 2000. If you like to swoosh through trees. head over to either Arc Villaroger Le Pré or Les Arc Peisey Vallandry . Burn through a 2000m vertical from the top of Arguille Rouge ridge down to the village of Arc Villaroger Le Pre, and get creative with the massive off piste opportunities.
Les Arcs Ski Schools
The international Spirit Ski school is situated in Hameau du Glacier Les Arc 1950 Le Village. Skiers or boarders will find group or private lesson for every level (group lessons of maximum 8 people). ESF ( The French Ski School) is based in Arc2000 within easy access, and Les Arc piloted ski evolutiff, a learning technique in which you start on short skis and progress on to longer ones as your confidence grows. Les Arcs is great for families,
Facilities include the Pommes de Pin at 1800, where the Lauzières nursery accepts children aged 1-3, and the la Nova kindergarten (3-6 years) includes indoor and outdoor activities. Skiing lessons are included with the 'Mini Mini Club' for children aged 3-4 years and the 'Mini Maxi Club' for 4-6 year olds. In Arc 2000, the kindergarten accepts children from 2-3 years in Les Marmottans and from 4-6 years in Les Marmottes. For further details call our Family Hotline on 0871 971 0457 (charges apply, see below).
Arc 1800 has a children's area featuring moving carpets, climbing wall and toboggan track. There's a ‘discovery' piste at 1600 where kids can learn about alpine wildlife. Children's ski schools and care facilities at all villages are generally well regarded, especially Les Pommes de Pin (La Nova, Arc 1800).
Spirit Ski School
Après Ski and Off the Mountain Activities
While not quite matching the likes of Val d'Isere and Courchevel for fabulous all night partying in the chic-est clubs, things do get lively. In Arc 2000, Red Rock bar draws a crowd from when the lifts close until the wee hours and Crazy Fox and The Whistler pubs are fun as well. Catch live music at the Red Hot Saloon in 1800, along with big sports events. Arc 1600 is more chilled out, with activity centred on the Arcelle disco. Arc 1950 is quieter still, although Les Belles Pintes pub is perfect for a cold pint. Apokalypse in 1800, the KL92 in Arc 2000 and Luigi's in 1950 are clubs that will have you dancing. There's a range of food to be devoured, from meat or cheese fondue, to grills at Belliou la Fumée, asian, Italian, burgers and pizza and more sophisticated meals at Chez Eux. Arc 1800 probably has the best restaurants, like Casa Mia and the relaxed Gargantus.
off the mountain
One big attraction at Les Arcs is the scarily steep Olympic speed slope. If you like that then you'll probably enjoy: parapenting, floodlit skiing, ice skating, ski biking, snowshoeing, bobsleigh, squash, snow tubing tabbogganing and dog sledding. If you'd prefer to chill out, there aren't as many options, but try hitting the cinema, bowling, and the multigym.
How to get to Les Arcs
Lyon Saint Exupery Airportl
Satobus Alpesl Chambery - Aix airportl
Geneva Cointrin Airport (Switzerland)
There are direct TGV trains from Paris and Lille and direct sleeper trains from most of the main cities in France. If you are coming from London, the Eurostar will take you directly to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, as will the Thalys train from Amsterdam and Brussels. When you arrive at Bourg-Saint-Maurice station, you can choose between the Arc-en-Ciel funicular that goes up to Arc 1600 in 7 minutes, coach (Autocars Martin, tel. + 33 (0)4 79 07 04 49, www.autocars-martin.com) or taxi (contact) transfer. There is a free regular shuttle service, from Bourg St Maurice to the foot of Les Ecudets chairlift (ski access for La Rosiиre), passing through Seez. There's also a free service from Bourg St Maurice to Landry, passing through Hauteville-Gondon.
Take the motorway to Albertville, then follow the dual carriageway as far as Moutiers, a pretty little town at the foot of the mountains. Carry on along the RN 90 to Bourg-St-Maurice. Access to the high altitude resorts of les Arcs is via a wide road from which you can start to admire the scenery.