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Aiguille Rouge, by Pete Caswell. Click on the painting to visit his site

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A ROUGH GUIDE TO LES ARCS: Ten Things You (Might) Need to Know

A quick tour of the resort which may be helpful for those heading off to Les Arcs for the first time:

Above Arc 1800

1. Skiing: if you are able to ski red runs, it is worth taking time out to do the 2000m descent from the Aiguille Rouge to Villaroger.  Stop for a coffee at the Solliet half way down if you get tired.

2. Ski Schools: On balance my prize would go to Arc Aventures in 1800; but more details of the various options can be found here.  Note: The Ski Club of Great Britain is offering instructor-led guiding at Les Arcs this year, in the wake of all the uncertainty around the legality of its own rep skiing with guests.  Evolution 2 are proving this service.

3. Non-skiing: It would be brave to claim Les Arcs is a top place to go.  La Piscine at Arc 1800 certainly adds a new dimension.  And here's a guide to some of the other things on offer.  The ice cave has since moved to Arc 2000 (by the Arcabulle lift).

4. Snow Art: Keep an eye out for Simon Beck's creations around Arc 2000.  They are quite something.

5. Eating: Blanche Murée is my official favourite, but there's quite a good choice now, from the nice hut by the top of the Peisey lift, all the way through to Belliou La Fumée below Arc 2000. More on the food here and (from Where to Ski and Snowboard) here.

6. History: More than you are ever likely to want to know can be found here.  In two sentences: the two founding fathers were local ski instructor Robert Blanc and developer Roger Godino who spotted the potential of the area.  It started with Arc 1600 in 1968 and progressive expansion followed with Arc 2000 opening in 1980, the year Blanc was killed in an avalanche below the resort while searching for missing skiers.

7. Architecture: British guides often sniffily dismiss the architecture of Les Arcs, choosing to wax lyrical about the Bicester-village style design on show at Arc 1950.  But there's quite a story to the architecture of Charlotte Perriand, including their application to the mass production of the interiors, for example at Arc 1800.  More here.

8. La Plagne: Buying a 6 day Paradiski pass isn't really necessary, but you are likely to be tempted to go over there for a day.  Head for the Glacier if it's not high season, and try the 2000m descent all the way down to Montchavin.  For the latest on La Plagne (in French), the Perso-La Plagne site is great.

9. Social Media: You can do some armchair exploration of the area by following some of the locals on Facebook and Twitter.

10. Parking: You have two choices.  Pay at the Funiculaire parking (still controversial) and get the train up.  If you do, it might be better to buy your ski pass before starting out as the ride up is included.  Or drive up to resort, where you will have to pay.  Unless you want to leave your car on the access roads and take your chances.

Belles Challes, Arc 1800

Saturday, 28 November 2015

THE NEW SEASON

A number of results, such as Tignes and Val d'Isere have now opened their doors for the season.

For Les Arcs, the grand opening will be in a couple of weeks' time.  As usual, the first week of the season is the week of the Les Arcs' Film Festival, which this year includes a focus on Norwegian Cinema.  There's also a section dedicated to the mountains, of which La Melancholie des Telesieges looks like a highlight.

In other news:

1.  There is snow - as witnessed in this picture from local skier Jules Bonnaire's Facebook page.


2.   The Cachette piste has been remodelled, primarily to boost its status as a racing/training piste (slalom, GS etc).  The resort has invested in 82 new snow cannons: more via Le Dauphiné.

3.   The new Carrelley lift will provide a direct link to Arc 2000 from Chantel/Edenarc apartments - with the sad consequence of this being the demise of our much-loved Renard lift (over by the Transarc).   More on new lifts in the Paradiski area and elsewhere here.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

BORDER CONTROL

Following the attacks on Paris, the border crossing at the Col du Petit Saint Bernard is now closed, reports Le Dauphiné.  Concrete blocks were being added today (Saturday) to mark the frontier. UPDATE 15/11/15: Today's Le Dauphiné reports that the pass is now closed to road traffic for the winter

The heart of the Espace San Bernadino ski area

Further south, here is the even more remote Col du Larche, high above Barcelonnette in the Hautes-Alpes.