50 YEARS OF LES ARCS: Click on the photo for an instant briefing

Saturday, 22 October 2011


There are a few valley towns in France which are great bases for skiing: Embrun (Les Orres, Vars, Risoul etc), Briancon (Serre Chevalier, Montgenevre), Bourg d'Oisans (Alpe d'Hues, Les 2 Alpes, La Grave), Sallanches (Megeve, Flaine etc), Barcelonette (Pra Loup, Sauze).  Bourg St Maurice is perhaps the least attractive of these, but might claim to have the best access of all to nearby resorts.  For example:

0km: Les Arcs - see here for a review of 2010/12 and here for a quick drive up the mountain and view of the slopes.

8kmLa Rosiere - free bus from the Funicular (underneath the pedestrian bridge) 3-4 times a day to the Les Ecudets lift - includes access to La Thuile in Italy: see here for more.

18 km: La Plagne (from Les Coches).  Worth a trip over to the Champagny side for views towards Courchevel etc.  Nowhere near as good as Les Arcs, mind.  More on La Plagne, here, and on the Vanoise Express which links the pistes to Les Arcs here.

20m: Ste-Foy - still on my "to do" list, but everyone who goes there loves it: good snow conditions, interesting off-piste including the famous run to Le Monal, large vertical drop, small ski area - the antithesis of Les Arcs and L'Espace Killy.  Website here.

30km: Tignes, which of course includes access to its self-satisfied neighbour, Val d'Isere.  I suggest park in Les Brevieres or Les Boisses rather than drive into town - more here.

Plus, not too far away:

32kmLes 3 Vallees - my favourite area is the St Martin de Belleville/Les Menuires sector, including the under-rated and under-frequented La Masse.  You can drive up to St Martin, or leave the car in the valley at Brides-les-Bains and get the gondola up to Meribel.  There is also a cunning way in via the 4th valley and the Orelle lift, but this is only really for those staying in the Maurienne or day-tripping from Italy.  Website here.

40kmValmorel - really quite an easy day-trip and an interesting resort, which includes ski access to the celebrated (for Tour de France fans anyway) Col de la Madeleine.  Includes a link to St-Francois-Longchamp, over in the Maurienne valley.  You can get into the ski area from Doucy-Combelouviere, which is a little lower and has free parking on the main street.  A few pointers here.

80kmCrest Voland - I only include this (a) because I have been there and really like it and (b) because it is ideally placed for a day's skiing if you are then going on to an evening flight in Geneva.  It's a fast round all the way to Ugine, and you can park at Crest Voland, or indeed various resorts along the valley, including Megeve.

And, much closer to home:

0km (ie from your sofa): Local Websites: You can find a selection, including a great site devoted to La Plagne here.

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