Thu, 21 April 2022
Minimum altitude: 1,599 meters
Distance: 71.1 km
Slope Aspect: WestTrip Reports
Vertical Climbed: 7,573 meters (24,847 feet)
Vertical Descended: 7,569 meters
The ski resort of Les Arcs is situated in the Tarentaise valley in the Savoie department in the French Northern Alps. From the international rail terminus at Bourg St Maurice a funicular railway whisks skiers to the base of the pistes in Arc 1600 in just 7 minutes. Making it the most accessible major French ski area via public transport. In 2007 the ski area was linked by a giant double decker cable car to la Plagne to form the Paradiski with over 400km of runs. To ski from one end of the domain (Villaroger) to the other (Champagny en Vanoise) is possible in a day. However the link remains underutilized as both ski areas provide sufficient an amply ski area.
Surveys of skiers at les Arcs reveals that they like perfect pistes, and this is what you will find, a selection of wide and well prepared ski trails. The resort has two centres, 1600 and 1800 on one side of the mountain with Arc 2000 and the "folkloresque" 1950 in a separate valley. Les Arcs has a modern outlook to snowsports. Local instructor Régis Rolland popularized the snowboard in France with the Apocalypse Snow series of films made in the resort in the early 1980s. The ski area is managed by the Compagnie des Alpes.
The Arcs ski area has over 200km of prepared ski trails over 107 runs, largely blues and reds. It is similar in size to l'Alpe d'Huez and a bit smaller than la Plagne in terms of skiing. It is an ideal intermediate resort but offers some serious off piste skiing and ski touring off the Aiguille Rouge (3226 meters) and Aiguille Grive. The skiing is spread over a north facing bowl, home to Arc 1950 and 2000 and west facing tree lined slopes at Arc 1600 and 1800. It is linked to the high valley of Peisey-Vallandry at the Arc 1800 end and with Villaroger to the north from Arc 2000. Due to the altitude of Villaroger at 1200m the slopes close earlier in the season compared to the rest of the ski area. The flattish Arc 2000 bowl is ideal of intermediate skiers. The lift system is largely modern, high speed chairs with some gondola lifts and a cable car to reach the Aiguille Rouge. The slopes are well signposted so it is difficult to get lost but skiers need to be aware of lift closing times in order to return to their start point. It is a long and expensive taxi ride from Arc 2000 to Arc 1800, or worse, la Plagne!
Cross country skiing is available, largely at Peisey-Vallandry (43km of runs) but there are loops at Arc 2000, Arc 1800 and Bourg-St-Maurice by the Isere river when snow cover is sufficient.
Nearest Airports: Chambèry (120km), Geneva (170km), Grenoble St Geoirs (190km), Lyon Saint Exupéry (200km)
Road: Autoroute Lyon / Albertville : A43 et A430 - from Geneva : N201 (Cruseilles) then A41 to Chambéry, then A43 and A430 to Albertville, then N90 to Moutiers/Tarentaise
Rail: Bourg Saint-Maurice (TGV) then Monorail link to Arc 1600. Bus transfers to other Arc areas.
Off Piste Skiing
Our last day of lift served skiing this season. We decided to head up les Arcs after sampling sister resort la Plagne earlier in the season. From Grenoble Peisey provided the easiest access, around 90 minutes drive by car. It is 12 years since I've skied here so I don't remember the resort that well. One objective was to ski the Aiguille Rouge but the run was closed after Arc 2000 down to Villaroger as it is too late in the season. We then headed up to the Grand Col, the Arc 2000 bowl was a bit sticky given the flat nature of the ski runs and we didn't have much time to ski the west facing slopes of the Aiguille Rouge from the gondola so for the latter part of our day headed for the West facing slopes of Arc 1600, the idea being that the sun wouldn't hit them until later so they would remain skiable. This proved to be a good plan and we finished off with the Peisey slopes, still in good condition at 2pm for around 70km of ski and lifts.
Spring snow, good in the morning, softening after midday but good on the West facing Arc 1800 slopes esp with the harder man made snow. Warm with sun until 15h00.