A great freeriders resort with lots of off-piste and powder, plus natural hits to explore. A major tourist spot with lively nightlife.
Tree runs & excellent off-piste
Decent large park
Pisted to perfection
Lots of easy slopes and beginner areas
1800 is village for partying
Good value if self catering
Lift count : 2 x Cable-cars 6 x Gondolas 18 x Chairlifts
Pass (Low/High Season) : 59.00-59.00 Day , 295.00-295.00 6-day , 295.00-295.00 6-day linked area , 950 Season pass
Les Arcs 2000 towards Chamonix / (c) Steve - WSG
Les Arcs 2000 evening / (c) Steve - WSG
Les Arcs 1950 / (c) Steve - WSG
Sunset at Arc 1800 / Copyright: OT
Terrain Park / Copyright: scalp
Les Arcs Foret des Pitchouns / (c) Les Arcs
Les Arcs 1800 1 / (c) Les Arcs
Les Arcs Apocalypse Snow park / (c) Les Arcs
Les Arcs Funiculaire from Bourg / (c) John Beague
Les Arcs 1950 village / (c) Andy Parant
Make no mistake, Les Arcs is a big resort - big in size, and big in snowboard history. Few resorts embraced snowboarding like Les Arcs did in the early 80’s and can be credited with driving its popularity in Europe; from its attitude towards snowboarding and the fine work of Régis Rolland and his classic Apocalypse Snow films, a lot of European snowboarding ancestry can be traced back to Les Arcs.
Back to the present day, on its own there are 123 pistes covering 200km, and combined with La Plagne, the Paradiski area has 425km of lift connected pistes. Each resort is well worth spending the time on its own rather than commuting over to La Plagne on a regular basis.
The sheer size of the resort doesn’t tell the whole story though. In these days of unpredictable weather patterns and snowfall, perhaps the biggest plus of this area is that 36% of Les Arcs is above 2200m and 70% of Paradiski as a whole is above 2000m, meaning that you should get decent conditions all season, even if it's raining lower down.
However the relatively high altitude doesn’t compromise the variety of terrain available, and there’s plenty for everyone, especially for intermediate riders.If you like steeps, then the Grand Col & Aiguille Rouge are sure to test and are entry points for some serious backcountry. Tree huggers will enjoy the areas around the Derby 69 & Mont-Blanc chairs. The Apocalypse Snow park around the Col des Frettes has a good blend of kickers and rails spread out over a large area, so it never feels too cramped, and is serviced by its own lift.
There are plenty of easily accessible slopes for beginners, but things can get a little crazy near some of the villages or where other slopes join them, so it's worth trying to go further afield if possible. Unlike many resorts though, if you take a wrong turn you aren’t going to be looking down at a black run, so once you can control yourself, it's a pretty safe resort to roam without getting your soggy lift map out every 2 minutes.
There are 4 main purpose built villages whose names roughly align to their altitude; and we’re talking classic French ski architecture here. Highly practical, mostly ski-in ski-out, but all apart from the most recent 1950 village are showing their age in places.
Party goers should probably be looking at heading to 1800, it’s definitely the most lively village with plenty of bars and nightclubs, including a La Folie Douce.All the other villages have a more limited selection of bars, but still enough to give you a hangover the next day.
For those on a budget it's a rare but welcome change that the resort has a number of designated picnic areas, some of them even inside. So for those not stupid enough or not willing to shell out 10euros for a tasteless spag boll, can bring your own food to eat.
We need to be mindful of the impact of winter sports on climate change, and with almost over half of your carbon footprint on your ski trip being before you’ve even put your first foot into your binding, Les Arcs is well set up to help to try and reduce this as much as possible. The train station at Bourg St Maurice is well linked, and you can take a funicular or bus up to the resort. With the abundance of self-catering apartments, it’s also well set up for driving to the resort and one of the closest if you're heading from the UK; so ditch the plane and squeeze as many as you can into your car instead.