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Lac des Moutons, close to the Grand Col ski piste

Sunday, 21 September 2014

LES ARCS FROM THE AIR

Get ready for the season ahead with these fine views of Les Arcs from the air:


Here are some more videos showcasing Les Arcs, including (separate) special appearances from Miguel Indurain and the Top Gear cast...

The season starts on 13th December with the Les Arcs Film Festival, which this year has a special focus on Irish cinema.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

LA PLAGNE: An end to the "Bellecote Bottleneck"?

(Updated 14 Sept)

La Plagne will not be happy to see itself nominated by Where to Ski and Snowboard as having the "most persistent problem" in the form of the queues at the Bellecote gondola. Not least as change is on the agenda.

As the Perso-LaPlagne site documents, plans are well under way for the new 8 person Colosses lift, which will relieve some of the pressure.  Maybe it will alleviate the queues to the Roche de Mio too.

Apparently the La Plagne spin doctors have been busy publicising the news.  It will be the fastest 8 person lift in France, reports today's Le Dauphiné; this Wednesday a 350 ton crane will be ready to lift the gare du départ into place.  The capacity will be 4,400 skiers/hour, compared with 2,400 previously.  Etc. 

For more background on the ongoing improvements to the La Plagne lift system, including the delay to the new Montalbert gondola, click here.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

TRANSFORMATION: Building work at Arc 1800

There are big changes taking shape at Arc 1800.  Some see this as a necessary upgrade to help the resort complete with rivals like Tignes (which was recently crowned Europe's most improved ski resort.  Older proprieteres have been overheard worrying that the resort is losing its soul, and Val d'Isere-style prices will surely follow.

The development is certainly ambitious.  The Chantel slopes will see the installation of a new gondola, piste luge and beginners' slope.  Compagnie des Alpes is putting nearly €30m into the investment.  

And that's not all.  Out goes the defunct ice-rink.  Step forward a new indoor swimming pool complex, aka the centre aqualudique.  This has been funded by the local council. For more on the background, click here.

Timing-wise, it all seems to be on track, although it looks like the restaurant on the map will have to wait until the following year.  Below are some August 2014 pictures.

Click here for full details of the plan

The new Villards telecabine has replaced the old  chair

The summit of the new telecabine in the foreground,
with the next wave of Edenarc behind

The outside pool was closed this summer...

...to enable construction of the new centre aqualudique

Sunday, 7 September 2014

GATEWAY TO THE VANOISE: Peisey-Vallandry

Peisey-Vallandry needs little information - a resort of its own, reached by an extremely tough (for cyclists anyway) climb up from Landry, now reaping the benefits from being right at the centre of the Paradiski area.  The arrival of the Club Med is a sign of its success.

The Nancroix valley which divides Peisey from the La Plagne side is of course now spanned by the Vanoise Express lift.

In winter, it's the site of some of France's best cross-country skiing.

In summer, there is serious walking to be done, for example exploring the gateway to the Vanoise National Park from the head of the valley at Rousel.  The long-distance GR5 passes through, en route from Lake Geneva to the Med.

The classic one-day walk is the round trip to the Lac de La Plagne - a stiff 3 hour climb from the Rousel car park at 1550m.  Leave early, take plenty of water, and aim for lunch at the entre-le-lac refuge 500m higher up:

Looking back at Rousel, about one hour in

The gradient levels out slightly after a couple of hours
The Lac de La Plagne: an Alpine "tarn"

You can stay at the refuge for 38€ a night

Monday, 1 September 2014

NEW SKI SEASON: More Space to dine at the top of the Transarc

The restaurant at the top of the Transarc has traditionally proved one of Les Arcs' less satisfactory dining experiences.  The location is stunning, but the self-service restaurant tends to be crowded and over-priced.  And the toilets are horrid.

The saving grace is the view, and the owners are putting some more money into expanding the building ahead of the new ski season.  A new extension will reduce the size of the terrace somewhat; according to the chap on the roof (see below), the work will be complete by the end of September.