Alpine Skiing: La Plagne, Tarentaise, French Alps - 2,691 m. (8,829 ft)

Fri, 18 February 2022


Minimum altitude: 1,209 meters

Distance: 110.4 km

Slope Aspect: North-West

Vertical Climbed: 11,082 meters (36,360 feet)

Vertical Descended: 11,165 meters


Resort Description

La Plagne is known for its enormous ski area. 225km of pistes, which seems justified. 70% of the runs are over 2000 meters altitude, so it is snow sure, for sure. The area offers a range of skiing from glaciers to gladed forests (ideal on bad weather days). The glacier was even open in the summer until 2004. The whole of the ski area can be covered on blue runs, ideal for intermediates and beginners but there are also a number of steep, off piste, options from the north face of the Bellecôte to the couloirs of the Roche de Mio. Something for nearly everyone except people looking for challenging on piste terrain. There is a cable car link to les Arcs, opening up a further 200km of pistes trails.

You can ski from the Bellecôte glacier at 3200 meters down to Montchavin at 1250 meters giving around 2000 meters in a single run. Other big descents are from the Roche de Mio to Champagny en Vanoise for a total of 1500 meters.

La Plagne center is not particularly attractive and there is a large Club Med property that despoils Aime la Plagne but it does offer ski-in and ski-out practicality. Belle Plagne is a pleasant low impact village at the northern side of the bowl. If you are driving beware that parking is strictly controlled in all the resorts. You can park indoors at Belle Plagne or outdoors if you arrive at the weekend.

Belle Plagne has a number of bars and restaurants and is well placed on the Roche de Mio bubble lift. However to get up to Bellecôte glacier you may want to look for alternative routes as the bubbles can be full from skiers coming up from Bellecôte, the queue may look small but hardly seems to move. The Blanchets and Roche de Mio provide a less busy alternative.


Nearest Airports: Chambèry (100km), Geneva Cointrin (150km), Grenoble St Geoirs (170km), Lyon Saint Exupéry (180km)

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: Aime la Plagne (TGV) then transfer bus

Trip Report

I'd holidayed in la Plagne before and thought the skiing was pretty good, both on and off piste and had been keen to go back. It took a long time for the stars to align but we decided to head up for the day. The idea was to start in Champagny en Vanoise, a kind of back door into the ski area and less driving for us. Parking is a bit crowded during half term but the cable car was efficient. We hadn't really studied the piste map and I advise anyone who is not coming for a week to do this as the area is huge, much bigger than we are used to, even compared to l'Alpe d'Huez. We skied down to Center but the lifts out were busy (esp. the Bergeries) so we continued to la Roche at 1500 meters. To avoid the crowds we skied down to Montalbert at 1350m. A nice forest cruise. It was getting on a bit and after a couple of goes on the slalom we wanted to head over to the glacier area and have lunch somewhere via Plagne Bellecote and the big Arpette lift but we could only get as far as the very windy and crowded Roche de Mio and we couldn't see a way to ski down to Montchavin as all the runs on the right side of the Mio were closed.

So after lunch down to the Arpette and then a long (1500m) descent to Montchavin at 1200m. Strava says 1100m of downhill for 12minutes of skiing. It took a lot longer to get back up via 3 chair lifts. It was mid afternoon and we wanted to get back towards Champagny as were were on opposite side of the ski area, or so we thought. We skied down to Bellecote to enormous queues, 30 minutes to get on the Collusus. We didn't realize that if we'd only taken the Inversin lift we could ski straight down to the Champagny area from the Roche de Mio and the domain is really circular.

So after a schlepp back we reached the Champagny area around 4 and the steepest piste we skied on the day, the Kamikaze red, straight down the mountain with a lot of cut up, slushy snow. We spent the final hour on the Rossa blues and reds before the final 1100 meter descent to Champagny on what is quite a tight, mogully, trail at the end. This was pretty mogully and slushy with flat light. At one point a snowboarder wiped out in front of me and cartwheeled into the side of me, lucky my mass kept me moving on.


Relatively warm. Pistes were soft with moguls / crud when the slopes got over a certain steepness. Generally pleasant skiing.


Download GPX File