La Plagne Ski Resort Guide
In terms of ski passes sold and number of beds available, La Plagne is the biggest ski resort in the world. Linked with Les Arcs via the Vanoise Express it also forms part of the vast Paradiski area.
This high mountain plateau is surrounded by alpine peaks, and it’s an ideal resort for intermediate skiers and families. But you can also find some of the best off-piste terrain in the Alps – if you know where to look.
La Plagne consists of six smaller but separate villages. These are Aime la Plagne (2100m), Belle Plagne (2050m), Plagne Villages/Soleil (2050m), Plagne Bellecote (1930m), Plagne Centre (1970m) and Plagne 1800 (1800m). Each has a pedestrianised centre with direct slope access. All the villages are well connected, with free buses running every 20 minutes.
The high plateau surrounded by alpine mountain peaks makes it a beautiful location. Even if some of the villages are not the most picturesque, with the modern architecture not always to everyone’s tastes, there’s a good reason for it. The resort was built to minimise impact on the ski area, so you’ll find larger buildings here than you’ll see in other resorts, which overall take up less of the mountain than smaller chalets.
La Plagne is next door to the Parc Regionale de la Vanoise, so you might see ibex and chamois in the mountains and even golden eagles soaring above. There are also plenty of other fun activities to try, including dedicated sledging areas in Plagne Centre, Plagne Villages, Montchavin and Champagny. You can also have a go on the Colorado Ride luge track at Plagne Centre, plus there’s an outdoor skating rink and an undercover option too.
There are indoor pools in Montchavin and Plagne Bellecote, or you can go for a bowl, take a ride a husky ride or strap on some snowshoes to follow the trails. The ice climbing world cup is held on the artificial 22-metre-high frozen waterfall at Champagny – if you’re over 10 years old you can even try it yourself. On some days of the week, you can go ice karting, and there are also quad bikes available for rent in several of the villages.
It’s a family-friendly resort, so you won’t find the raucous après ski and bustling bars that you will elsewhere in the Alps. But this is all part the appeal of La Plagne. And there are plenty of good restaurants and bars, to suit most tastes.
On the slopes
La Plagne is renowned as an intermediates paradise. So, it’s an ideal resort if you have a few weeks under your belt and are looking to improve. The high number of red and blue pistes are generally wide and gentle, both above and below the treeline. Steeper blues like Mira and La Grande Rochette are great fun, as are the reds heading down into Champagny.
There is plenty for beginners too, especially around Plagne Centre and Aime la Plagne where you’ll find very good beginner zones. From there the step up to blues is not that difficult with plenty of easier runs within easy access. For kids, there are some special sections in Plagne Centre, Plagne Bellecôte and Belle Plagne, where they can ski in safety away from the main pistes.
La Plagne is not the best resort for advanced piste skiers as most of the steeper slopes are unpisted. There are some blacks lower down the mountain which can get icy or slushy depending on the conditions. Towards the top of the ski area there are some challenging red slopes, plus there is excellent off-piste to explore.
There’s a snow park suitable for all levels above Belle Plagne, with a good selection of boxes, rails and jumps. You’ll also find a boardercross track, a half pipe and big air bag. A new area called the Fun Slope, has also opened near the Arpette lift in Plagne Bellecote. It’s a combination of boadercross and slopestyle and loads of fun.
La Plagne may not have a reputation for challenging slopes, but it is well known for it’s off-piste. There is plenty of easy to access terrain between the marked slopes, and a number of unpisted black slopes that are ideal for those new to freeriding.
Both the south and north face of the Bellecote provide incredible lift-accessed backcountry skiing and snowboarding with up to 2000m of descent. But you will need a guide and all the avalanche gear as it’s easy to get lost and in places they are prone to slides, plus there are drop offs and cliffs to content with.
For some easier freeriding there are great options from Roche De Mio dropping down towards Montchavin or Champagny de Vanoise. Plus, there’s good off-piste on the faces of Grand Rochette, Verdons and Boilley near to Plagne Centre.