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This year's festival runs from 16-23 Dec. Click on the photo for more

Sunday, 29 March 2015

LIVING DANGEROUSLY: Off Piste in Les Arcs

Les Arcs has a fairly dense piste network, but there is still a huge amount of off-piste terrain to explore - taking one of the local ski instructors with you, of course.

For a guide to many of the more challenging slopes, including runs from the top of the Aiguilles Rouge and Grive, click here.

More extensive is this guide from the Peisey-Info site.  It starts off with some useful routes on the Peisey side of the mountain, warning the reader about avalanche danger near the Derby lift and then showing the way to Notre-Dame-les-Vernettes.  The guide finishes with some videos of key routes, including the off-piste run from Col de la Chal down to the Nancroix Valley:

Col de la Chal, from the La Creche restaurant

Seated safely in your favourite armchair, the must-have coffee table book is Didier Givois' Les Clés du Paradiski, widely available in resort.  It covers a big range of routes in both Les Arcs and La Plagne, with perhaps the most terrifying account being the descent from Mont Pourri:

"You must test the snow on the North Face before your first turn.  
If there is ice, turn back, otherwise it will be the last turn you make"
Didier Givois' helpful advice on the Mont Pourri route.  For more, click here.


Similar guides to the 3 Valleys
and Espace Killy are also available

Saturday, 28 March 2015

THE FUTURE OF LA PLAGNE: Heated Debates

Perso La Plagne reports this week that a big argument has broken out over the lift company's 10 year investment plan for the resort - more details of which can be found here.

The Matserplan for La Plagne.
Click here for more on Les Arcs' neighbour

More specifically, anger has broken out on the Montchavin/Les Coches side.  The new masterplan involves dismantling a series of lifts, leaving two heavy-duty telecabines to serve that side of the mountain from 2021.  One (from Montchavin) would link directly with the Vanoise Express.

A new blog - save the ski area of Monchavin Les Coches - has been set up by two local figures: Michel Girod was Mayor of Bellentre (down in the valley) between 1986 and 2008, while Gérard Rochet was in charge of the Service des Pistes between 1973 and 2005.

In an open letter, they complain that the changes are motivated by profit, go against the vision of La Plagne's founding fathers, and put 40 jobs at risk.  In particular, they underline the importance of keeping two parallel links rising up the mountain from the twin resorts.

We understand your concerns, respond the SAP (lift company) on the same blog.  But you need to take into account the economic context.  Did you know that Montchavin-Les Coches saw a 27% fall in skier numbers last year, and a further 7% this season?  

The Bellentre group has now put forward its own proposals - which include three different potential routes for the new telecabine de Montchavin.  To be continued....

Figure 1: The lift company's plan
Figure 2: The Mairie de Bellentre's plan

Leaving these arguments to one side, the highlight of the area is the 2000m descent from the Glacier all the way down to Montchavin - assuming you don't mind a km or so along the flattest blue run you will have ever encountered.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

HAPPY EASTER

Last week Le Figaro set out its recommendations for late-season skiing - including Val d'Isere (closes 3 May) and Tignes (10 May).  It also discusses the implications on the ski market of the recent changes to the French school holiday calendar.  They now run from 10 April-11 May.  The result: the Easter period now represents some 2% of takings, down from 8-10% previously.  Much to the irritation of ski resort bosses: see here for more.

The latest news is that tourism minister Laurent Fabius is taking a look at all this - his response is due in a few weeks' time.

For British skiers, it means that things will be quiet in late March and early April, and the snow cover is now absolutely fine.  With this in mind, WeLove2Ski has done an "In Praise of Late-Season Skiing" review.  The good news being that Les Arcs, La Rosiere, Ste-Foy and Tignes all make the grade.

En route to the glacier at La Plagne