Bourg St M Town Hall, Dec 2017. Has "Architecture of XX Century" status, alongside cinema & Arc 2000 cable car station. Click on photo for more

Saturday, 27 August 2011


La Plagne is one of France's best-known resorts, but arguably falls short of being one of THE best....

It has glacier skiing, but it's a pain to get to it.  Les Deux Alpes, Tignes and Val Thorens beat it here.

It has lots of skiing above 2000 metres, but not that much above 2600 - again unlike most of the other "big league" resorts.

It has a great area of easy skiing above the main centres, but gets very crowded above Bellecote in particular.  

It has numerous villages, each with different styles and strengths, but does feel a bit like a ski-conurbation, certainly in the main bowl.

It's linked to Les Arcs via the Vanoise Express, but it's a bit of a slog to get back.

Arguably it had a stronger position in the 1980s than it does now.  The advent of Paradiski aside, there hasn't been massive investment in the lifts.  It is the Everton of skiing.  Instead of Bill Kenwright, La Plagne can point to the literary folk and academics from Paris, who were instrumental in the development of the resort in the early 1960s, alongside the local movers and shakers in Aime and the valley below.

Like Everton, La Plagne still has a lot going for it:

1.  Loads of mountain restaurants, for example in the Montchauvin sector, or above Champagny.  Far more than Les Arcs.
2.  A proper "snow front" at Plagne Centre, with handy restaurants for mixed-ability parties to meet at.  Again, a big contrast with Arc 1800, which can't really compete in terms of handy foot-of-the-slopes rendez-vous points.
3.  New investment in lifts - see the fabulous perso-la plagne website here.
4.  Upgrading of the dilapidated shopping centre at Plagne 1800 - also documented in detail at the above website.
5.  A bobsleigh track, used during Albertville 1992 and earmarked for use in the doomed Annecy 2018 bid.
6.  A logo which has, er, stood the test of time.  Its history is documented here.
7.  200km of pistes, including some great areas away from the main bowl - Champagny, Montalbert, Les Coches.

Arguably Les Arcs has better views, on average.  But there can be few better places to stop for lunch and survey the scene than on the south-facing Champagny side, looking over towards Courchevel.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: New Developments aux Arcs

Three developments in Les Arcs for this Winter and beyond.  Unless I am missing something, these are very separate initiatives, rather then part of a grand masterplan.

1.  A new lift at Arc 1600

This replaces the ancient Mont Blanc lift and effectively opens up an area of the mountain that has been little visited in recent years.  It should virtually eradicate queues from 1600.

2.  Edenarc

A development on the beautiful Chantel site above 1800 was first mooted by Charlotte Perriand and co, and those designs can still be seen in architecture archives.  She would not be impressed by the rather more conventional approach adopted by the Edenarc developers.  The first buildings look like they will open in December 2011, with more to follow.  For the moment the most beautiful tennis courts I have seen have survived, but their days are numbered....

3.  Aiguille Grive

A new 4-star hotel or residence "de grand standing" is planned on the site of the much-missed Aiguille Grive restaurant at the foot of the Charmetogger slopes in 1800.  A very large hole in the ground has duly emerged.  One for 2012 I think.