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

Thursday, 28 December 2017


The great news is that, as elsewhere in the French Alps, there is loads of snow.  The resort is 99% open, which means it should cope well with the New Year crowds.

Here are six things to know about What's New in Les Arcs season:

1. Ride in Style
The Pré Saint Esprit lift is well and truly open, and it does indeed have heated seats.  It opens up the lower part of the Arc 2000 Valley (for more on the project, click here and here), replacing the old 1980 chairlift which left from a little lower down.  Good skiers based in Arc 1600/1800 can now access the  Arc 2000 valley by taking Clocheret and then the Muguet/Comborciere piste, which is much more fun than using the Arpette lift.  Next season sees the upgrading of the Comborciere lift itself - one hopes the reggae music will be able to continue.

2. Transport Hub
Arc 1800 has a new "bus station" at Charvet.  Actually it's rather more than that, with toilets, showers, baggage storage and a waiting area.

Click here for the resort's guide
on how to get to Les Arcs

3. All Change at the Hotel du Golf
It's now been taken over by a chain called the Belambra group, who seem to have a slightly uniform "club de vacances" vibe.  One hopes they will be able to keep the essence of the Hotel du Golf which, with its evening jazz bar, is very much a Les Arcs institution.  On the positive side, they are opening in the summer season, which is really important for the resort.

4. The Fast Lane
The Varet lift now has a special lane reserved for those skiers who have shelled out 299 euros for the full Paradise 6-day pass...

5. Get Away from It All
Villaroger now has artificial snow which means there's no excuse for giving this quiet and beautiful part of the mountain a miss.  It opens up completely different views, looking over towards Sainte-Foy and the Haute Tarentaise, and can mark a welcome break from the motorway pistes of Arc 2000.  And you don't need to take the mega descent from the top of the Aiguille Rouge to get there - Lanchettes lift from Arc 2000 provides a direct link. The Solliet restaurant half way down marks a fine pit stop.  It's under new ownership this year, apparently.

Aiguille Rouge, 3226m, 23 Dec 2017

6. Blot on the Landscape
It will open summer and winter and it's creating lots of jobs.  But I'm not keen on the style of the new Club Med development at all.  It sits arrogantly at the foot of the Mont Blanc piste, marking an abrupt end to the resort's most beautiful blue piste.  It would have been nice for the developers to have made at leas some reference to the architectural heritage of Les Arcs, but this does not seem to have been part of the brief.  At least they've built the lower part of the buildings into the hill.  It opens in December 2018.

New Club Med will be open summer and winter,
with a capacity of 1,050 beds

Saturday, 4 November 2017


The skiing on the Villaroger opens up a third valley to Les Arcs' slopes.  Immediately, the mountain is steeper, less crowded and more rustic.  There are some interesting variations to explore on the long descent to La Ferme restaurant and the foot of the lifts.  Slow things down further and Le Solliet makes a worthy stop for a drink or lunch half way down.  You're looking down on the Haute Tarentaise from here, with good views across to Ste-Foy.

But the lifts date from 1981 and snow conditions can be pretty variable, to say the least.

However, all of this is about to change, as this Guardian article explains.  Snow cannons are in place for the new season, with more planned.  New lifts are on the horizon as are an extra 750 beds as part of an expansion blueprint which claims to involve Villaroger keeping its credentials as a"green ski village".

Friday, 22 September 2017


Visitors to Arc 1600 may be a little surprised to see a ginormous new building as they ski to the resort from the ever-flattering Mont Blanc piste.  Step forward the new Club Med development....

Source: R'LesArcs Facebook page

Thursday, 20 July 2017

THE GREAT ASCENT: Villaroger to Aiguille Rouge

Summer provides the opportunity to revisit the famous run from Aiguille Rouge down to Villaroger.

This time, it's from the bottom up.  A 2,000m ascent from the foot of the pistes right the way up to the Varet Glacier.  For an armchair view of the experience, follow this link.

Saturday, 13 May 2017


The 2nd round of the French presidential elections saw Savoie vote for Macron over Le Pen by a 65% to 35% margin.  A result which almost exactly followed the national picture.

Locally, the valley tends to vote for the candidates of the right, but not of the far right.

Val d'Isere is the most notable example of this pattern - with 52% voting for Fillon in the 1st round - not far off the 58% recorded by Sarkozy in 2012. Yet just 12% supported Le Pen, and she trailed in 4th place - just behind Melenchon (12%) and Macron (11%).  Come the second round, the village voted strongly for Macron, by 72% to 28%.

Tignes followed a similar pathway, albeit without quite such thumping first-round victory for Fillon.

Bourg-St-Maurice is more of a mixed bag politically, with Fillon emerging out in front after the first round, but only just.  Again, Marine Le Pen came in fourth:

Bourg-Saint-Maurice 1st round results

Click here to explore all the results

Set against all this, the most politically interesting village in the valley is Landry, which put Melenchon first, with all the main candidates putting in a decent showing.

Séez is notable for having Le Pen narrowly ahead in round 1, albeit defeated by 62-38 in the run-off.  The FN candidate did relatively well in Villaroger too.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Montvalezan (below La Rosiere) saw one of the heaviest victories for Macron last Sunday, by 76% to 24%.

Next up: the parliamentary elections in June...

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A HIVE OF ACTIVITY: The Valleé de l'Arc

Few visitors to Les Arcs these days spend much time in the Vallée de l'Arc below Arc 2000.  Skiers venturing below the Bois de l'Ours are faced with a long ride back on on the Pré St Esprit lift or or the similarly slow Comborciere over to the 1600/1800 side.  Most piste-bashers therefore avoid the area, which is a shame.  The Comborciere ride may be slow, but the high mountain scenery is stunning.

Click here to see the presentation

All of this is about to change, courtesy of a €20m investment by lift company ADS.  The background:

  • It's a strategic site - linking Arc 2000 with both 1600 and Villaroger
  • It's a beautiful site - direct views of Mont Blanc
  • The two lifts are old (PSE dates from 1980, Comborciere from 1985) and slow (14 and 13 minutes respectively)
  • The current blue slope is tricky for beginners
  • There's no artificial snow

All of this is about to change:

  • The Pré St Esprit lift will be replaced in time for December 2017 (planning permission is out at the moment).  The new lift will be twice as fast and have twice the current capacity.  The planners are sensibly moving the top station to be higher than at present - linking directly with Plagnettes.  This will relieve the strain on the key Arcabulle lift.
  • There will be new investment in snowmaking, and a new building for clients with toilets and other facilities
  • The blue piste is going to be expanded by 40% - made wider and the slope modified to make it a piste "accessible to all".
  • The Comborciere lift will be replaced the following year (i.e. in time for December 2018).  Journey time will be reduced to 5m30, and the base station will be adjacent to the Pré St Esprit.  There willl be a new project to create a new red piste.  (Presumably this means a downgrading of the black Comborciere piste, but the presentation doesn't go into details).

The piste provides bad whether links to Villaroger, as well as
an alternative route over to Arc 1600.
It also provides access to the Belliou La Fumée restaurant

Sunday, 12 March 2017


1. After a difficult start to the season, there is now 250cms of snow at the top, so things are looking OK for the coming weeks.  Last week saw serious avalanche risks, but it's now at 2/5.

2. The resort's marketing team has been doing some work to capture the travel headlines with its "British Week" which runs from 25 March.  It includes a "broom ball" tournament on the ice at Arc 2000, as well as a "Robin Hood" competition.  Take a look at this important video which marks the event.

3. Saturday 25th also sees the local EST running its Journée d'Enfer around the ski area. Postponed from January due to lack of snow, it involves various events including a competition to find out who can clock up the most "ski vertical" metres.

4. The following week (Sunday 2 April) sees the arrival of La Course du Coeur, a relay race from Paris to Les Arcs which is designed to raise awareness for organ donation.

Website here

5. Go back in time with this video from 1919 showing life in the Haute Tarentaise - the area having only joined France as recently as 1860.

6. The season ends with various events as part of Les Printemps du Ski, a series of events which take place in many resorts designed to boost late season skiing.  This year sees the ski resort bosses in a slightly better mood now the French school holiday calendar have been adjusted to allow the prospect of holidays in at least the higher resorts.

Sunday, 22 January 2017


A 3 day or more Les Arcs lift pass now includes a day over in La Plagne.

So, if you're staying for a few days, it's worth taking the trip over to visit our neighbours on the other side of the valley.

Some thoughts, based on our trips this season:

  1. At some point, there will be big changes to the Montchavin/Les Coches lifts.  For the moment, though, it's quite fiddly and time-consuming getting over to the La Plagne bowl.  If you're coming from 1600/1800, get yourself up to the top of the Arpette or Derby lift first - so you can get a nice long ski in before you arrive at the Vanoise Express.
  2. Despite the new Colosses lift at Plagne Bellecote, the queues on and off piste remain a nightmare, and the whole sector is really no place to linger.  Better to take the Inversens chair to the top of the Roche de Mio and avoid this part of the resort altogether.
  3. The blue run from the Roche de Mio underneath the Carella lift is quite something - beautiful scenery and a flattering, rolling piste.  I find the runs on the Champagny side much more rewarding than those above Plagne Centre.
  4. Go home just after lunch and avoid the end of day crowds on the pistes.  Perhaps including lunch at the cosy Pierres Blanches restaurant.  Make sure you take the super-relaxing blue via the Plan Bois area above Les Coches, which also includes a number of enticing piste-side restaurants
Click here for more on La Plagne: cycling, skiing, history...

Les Pierres Blanches - above Montchavin/Les Coches
Photo via www.la-plagne.com