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Top Ski Destination Les Arcs Review
Beautiful view from Arc 1950
Best value for money skiing destination in the alps
I have been lucky enough to ski at least once a year for the past 25 years and having visited a vast array of resorts in both the French and Italian alps I can honestly say that Les Arcs is by far the stand out destination.
Located in the French alps Les Arcs offers 3 main villages to choose from (Arcs 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000). My partner and I have stayed at all three locations so feel we are more than experienced to give some advice to any potential visitors.
A quaint little village more suited to skiers who are not seeking the 'ski in, ski out' accommodation who are happier away from the busier Apre ski areas. Access to the slopes is still very close by but be warned, in the warmer months the runs back down to the village can become slushy and patchy.
The opposite to Arc 1800! Smack, bang in the heart of the resort Arc 2000 is extremely popular with the younger generations looking for the cheaper, more basic accommodation but located on the doorstep of the main lift system to the majority of the huge 'Paradiski' area. Arc 2000 is all about the Apre ski and lively atmosphere.
Now your talking! Arc 1950 is the most expensive village to stay within the Les Arcs resort but what you get for your money actually makes it the best value for money out of the three. We have been so impressed with this village we have returned 3 times and already have our 2017 ski holiday booked here. The whole village is pedestrianised and free alpine shows are available daily in the main square. These can include the resident husky sled dogs, barbecues and crepes as well as parades and local produce markets. All hotels and apartments offer ski in ski out along with extremely plush furnishings and an 'avant garde' environment.
The self catering apartments are huge and offer either views of the slopes or views overlooking the beautiful purpose built village and valley beyond. The outdoor swimming pool (with stunning views if you can brave the outside temperatures in just your bathers), sauna and steam room are all included in the price although it does require you to book with reception during the peak season. There is also a local supermarket just a moments walk from the apartments opposite an idyllic bakery with outdoor seating to enjoy a hot chocolate in the winter sun if you so wish.
It's hard to explain the lure of this alpine destination, but there is something about the way it looks and feels that just sets it apart from any other alpine resort I have visited. Livigno in Italy was too much effort getting to and from the slopes, Courmayour was too much of a nightlife destination with a dreaded gondola lift up to the slopes each morning. Tignes was over populated and didn't have enough tree runs for the visual stimulation I enjoyed, Passo Tonale too small and either suited expert or beginner but not a great deal for the intermediate. The list goes on, but for some reason the beauty and charm of Les Arcs has left a mark on me and each time I have returned I have come away even more impressed with the endearing area.
There are really no negatives when it comes to Les Arcs and the Paradiski area (which includes La Plagne) but if I had to pick I'd have to say the lift pass is expensive. There is good reason for this though, the modern lift system is one of the best I have had the pleasure of using with very few queues anywhere in the resort. There is also over 450 kilometres of pisted runs included, ranging from beginner up to the truly terrifying 'Tuffes' moguls which even the most experienced skier would have to admit more time is spent surviving the run rather than skiing it! The famous speed skiing course which was used in the 1992 winter Olympics is also still available to ski if you fancy testing your thighs to their limits.
One of the many snow parks in the Paradiski area
Facts and figures for Les Arcs and La Plagne skiing area (Paradiski)
Downhill pistes: 425 km
Cross country pistes: 153 km
Ski lifts: 77
Black runs: 69
Red runs: 127
Blue runs: 257
Green runs: 22
Max vertical skiable drop: 2030m
Highest lift: 3230 (Aguille Rouge peak)
Lowest pistes: 1200
Closest village: Bourg St Maurice
Cable cars / gondola: 15 plus 1 funicular
Chair lifts: 62
Surface lifts: 92
Huge ski area
Free daily entertainment in the village
Numerous 'slope side' restaurants
Caters for all abilitypes of skier and snowboarder
Spa facilities included in the price
Ski in ski out location
Quiet slopes (very little queuing if any)
Snow sure area
Modern lift system