Les Arcs vs La Plagne

Date: 7 MAR 19

Les Arcs and La Plagne are two resorts in the hugely popular resorts in the Tarentaise valley and form part of the huge Paradiski area.

They are both touted as an intermediate's paradise with both resorts packed to the rafters with long cruisy blues and unchallenging reds.

But there are some significant differences and if your not willing to stump up for the entire Paradiski area lift pass then choosing between the two can be difficult.

Let's check the facts:

La Plagne

Ski area: It has approximately 225km local slopes. Most of La Plagne's ski runs are above 2,000m and reach up to the glacier at 3250m. The 130 ski runs are split into 18 black, 33 red, 69 blue and 10 green.

Village area: If your looking for a picture postcard resort then aim for the lower villages as the newer Plagne 2000 is much more of a concrete jungle and lacks the charm of a traditional ski resort but they do offer ski-in/ski-out accomodation and no accomodation is more than 100m from the slopes.

Ski Pass: 269 Euros.

Les Arcs

Ski area: It has approximately 200km local slopes. Most of La Plagne's ski runs are above 2,000m and reach up to the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) at 3226m. The 128 ski runs are split into 17 black, 44 red, 64 blue and 3 green.

Village area: Again Les Arcs has undergone extensive construction so everything above 1800m is brand new apartment block style accomodation. The Peisey-Vallandry areas are a lot more traditional and have the bulk of the Chalet accomodation.

Ski Pass: 269 Euros.

Both are easily accessible by plane, train and automobile. The Eurostar stops at Bourg St Maurice from where you can either catch a bus/taxi or take the Funicular up to Les Arc 1600.

Nearest airports: Chambery (119km/1hr35), Geneva (197km/2hrs15), Grenoble (192km/2hrs10), Lyon St. Exupery (196km/2hrs15) 

So what's the difference?

The slopes at La Plagne are a lot wider than those at Les Arcs and both have a fast chairlift system. During peak times there are long queues in La Plagne as skiers flock to the bottlenecks of the Vanoise Express and the glacier chairlifts. More skiers seem to head over to the Les Arcs side than in the opposite direction.

Both suffer when snow hasn't fallen for a while with any skiing lower than 1600m becoming icy in the morning and wearing out a lot quicker. La Plagne seems to adopt a no "no grooming" policy when snow is at a premium which can result in a bumpy ride as you navigate the moguls.

The snow parks in La Plagne are more extensive than at Les Arcs with lines for all levels of a freestyler.

La Plagne has the bigger choice of restaurants due to its size and the sheer volume of people that choose to ski there.

Both are well served with ski school with the French Ecole De Ski (ESF) and New Generation amongst the most popular with Brits.

If tree skiing is your thing then La Plagne will suit you better and the freeride areas are easily visible from the lifts. If doing a 7km run from the top of the Aiguille Rouge floats your boat then Les Arcs is great if you can get past the hordes at the top busy admiring the views. We found a lot narrower runs at Les Arcs than we did at La Plagne but these tend to be only for the link pistes from one chair to another.

Regardless of which resort you choose both are extremely snow sure, excellent resorts for families with a wide variety of off-snow activities including Ice Skating, Swimming, Toboggan runs, Luge and Snowshoeing. There are also Nordic trails for those looking for a change of pace or wanting to get away from the crowds.

Finally, don't forget all 6 day lift passes include 1 day in the other resort - the full Paradiski pass also gives you access to a special lane at some of the lifts meaning you can bypass the queue and get up even quicker.

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