Les Arcs is part of the mighty Paradiski ski area in the French Alps with a whopping 425km of pistes. With 70% of its slopes above 2000m it offers high altitude skiing and is as snow sure as ski areas get. The pistes vary from wide, cruisey blues to steep challenging blacks, there is plenty of off-piste to explore and an excellent snowpark.
Les Arcs is not a single ski town but a collection of four villages. Each has its own feel and appeals to a slightly different audience, meaning Les Arcs can tick the boxes whatever you are looking for.
In Arc 1600 you will find the cheapest accommodation, mainly in self catered apartments. Its nightlife is quiet and overall it’s best suited to families and budget conscious skiers. Arc 1800 is a short bus ride away and is the largest and liveliest of the Les Arcs villages, with plenty of bars and a club, so you can party into the small hours. There is accommodation to suit all tastes around Arc 1800 including plenty of chalets.
Over the other side of the ski area, you’ll find Arc 1950. This is the prettiest of the Les Arcs villages but also the most expensive. There are high end apartments here that offer both self-catered and catered options, there are plenty of nice restaurants and a couple of bars but all are expensive. It is linked with Arc 2000 via a cable car that is open late. In Arc 2000 there are mainly catered ski hotels, so options for eating out are not great, however there are good pubs and bars and it can get lively in the height of the season.
Where Les Arcs really excels, is its vast, varied and snow sure ski area. From the lofty 3200m height of Aiguille Rouge you not only get stunning views towards Mont Blanc, but spectacular skiing on the 8 km, 2000m black and red descent into Villaroger. You can also take routes down to Arc 2000 or 1950, including some unpisted blacks.
There are lots of easy blue pistes on the slopes above Arc 2000 and 1950. Head up towards Col Du Chal and there are plenty of cruisers to choose from – be sure to check out Plan Vert which links with Edelweiss for a lovely long blue, which you can extend all the way to Villaroger by taking the Vallee d’Arc.
On the other side of the ski area above Arc 1800 and 1600 and the villages of Peisey and Vallandry the ski area feels completely different. Rather than long pistes to destinations there are lots of interwoven blue and red slopes that bring you out too one of the four villages. You can take any run and not get lost, and you are never more than one lift and a bit of skiing to get back to any of the villages.
Above the Peisey Vallandry sector you’ll find lovely tree lined runs which generally stay pretty quiet. It is a great area when visibility is poor. It is from here that you take the Vallandry express across to the La Plagne side of Paradiski and another 225 km of piste.
If you are into freestyle then Les Arcs has a large snow park in the area above Arc 1600 and 1800. It is easily reached from all over the mountain and is served by a dedicated lift if you want to lap it. The park has blue, red and black routes with kickers, rails and boxes to suit everyone from first time freestyler to die-hard park rats. There is also a boardercross route off the aforementioned Plan Vert piste.
Les Arcs is blessed with bountiful off-piste between the marked slopes, high-altitude steep terrain and accessible backcountry options.
The main off-piste area is from the top of Aiguille Rouge where you’ll find designated off-piste routes (the black ‘Natur’ slopes on the piste map). There are some challenging sidecountry options just a short traverse from the pistes and from the top of Aiguille Rouge you can enjoy a 2000m backcountry descent to Villaroger.
Another good area for serious off-piste is around the Comborciere chairlift. There is an unpisted black run down from the top, with many freeride opportunities either side of it.
If you are not up for anything serious, above Arc 1600 and 1800 there is plenty of space to play between the runs. As all of the pistes intercross it creates many areas to get a feel for skiing or snowboarding away from the groomers with both easy and challenging sections. The trees above Peisey Vallandry are well worth exploring with plenty of hidden glades.