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La Plagne Review

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La Plagne Review

Rating: ★★★★★ 9,1 out of 10

“La Plagne is one of the biggest ski areas in France especially if we take into account that it is connected to Les Arcs. Together they make up  Paradiski domain. La Plagne is not one compact village. It is area made of 11 different resorts. Choose wisely where you will be staying because it can have huge influence on your holiday experience. In lower and older villages you will have a real feeling that you are in the Alps but there are inevitable huge building blocks in newer parts of the domain.  Ski runs are mainly red and blue, they are well groomed. Off piste skiing is great. Views and nature are splendid.”

PROS: Freeride spots, total length of runs, diverse terrain (glaciers, woods and everything in between), scenery.

CONS: some key lifts are old and slow, queues are possible, big number of flat, linking runs.

La Plagne ski map

click to enlarge

LA PLAGNE SLOPES

Easy 229 km (54 %)
Intermediate 132 km (31 %)
Difficult 164 km (15 %)

La Plagne has 225 km of runs and combined with Les Arcs together they have massive 435 km of slopes. Highest peak of La Plagne, reachable by lifts, is situated at 3,250 m above sea level (Glacier de la Chiaupe). You will need substantial amount of time to get there because the highest-reaching lifts are old and slow (Bellecote gondola and Glacier chairlift). Queues are possible, especially on sunny days and during high season (February). If you are not good skier you will have to get back also by gondola. There is phone app called Yuge which will help you find out which lifts are open, lift queue status, track your ski info, check out weather and so on, all in real time.

Slopes across the resort will suit intermediate skiers the most. Black runs differ from red ones only because they are not groomed. There are several flat spots bypassed by rope lifts. Lower altitude pistes (bellow 2,000 m) are interesting because they are surrounded by woods. There are not many wide and long pistes as one might expect from such a big domain.

During first part of our stay, in the second week of January, there was a lack of snow. As a result, we skied a lot in Les Arcs which had better conditions. La Plagne is connected to Les Arcs by a big double decker cable car called  Vanoise Express. It is one of the biggest in the world (every resort has to have something biggest, highest, longest etc.).

Highest skiable pick of Les Arcs is Aiguille Rouge. It is situated at 3,226 m. There is stunning view of surrounding mountains from the top and Mont Blanc is one of them. Slopes around lifts in Les Arcs are mainly red. Connecting pistes between them are flat (blue). Runs are longer than in La Plagne.

La Plagne mountains panorama

FREERIDE AND TERRAIN PARKS IN LA PLAGNE

You will find countless spots for freeriding in La Plagne. Resort management has recognized that off piste skiing is gaining in popularity so they don’t groom some slopes. They are marked on ski map of the resort as “Natur”. Freeriding is one of the strongest points of the domain.

General idea is to ski in lower, wooded areas if the weather is bad. Head from Salla or from Arpette to Montchavin (area around and bellow Vanoise Express cable car).  It descends from 2,300 m to 1,250 m. We have found great slopes in Plagne Aime and Plagne Centre area. Luge park was closed but we skied it anyway :). Slope right from Becoin lift provided us with one of the funniest rides of our lives (snow conditions were perfect, floating feeling was unbelievable). 

If the weather is nice you should go to higher sections. Try out Bellecote, one of the greatest descends in France. Use Traversee lift and then take black slopes on north side. You will get from 3,200 m all the way down to 1,500 m at Nancroix. From there you will have to take a bus or hitch-hike since there are no lifts.  Don’t miss opportunity to wake up early and be first on the lift because it gets crowded. Don’t go alone if you are not familiar with the terrain.

There are 2 snow parks, one is in La Plagne and other is in Les Arcs. The one in La Plagne is situated around Les Blanchets lift. When there is enough snow it occupies pretty big area and has different lines. We didn’t have luck during our stay. There was small half pipe in Plagne Bellecote. It had the option to film your run and share it on social networks.

Snow park in Les Arcs is situated between Arc 1600 and Arc 1800. It has all sorts of elements. There is big air bag. We liked it more from the one in la Plagne. Paradiski has several boarder cross tracks scattered around the domain.

  HOW TO GET TO LA PLAGNE

La Plagne is situated in Savoy department (south-east France). Closest airport is at Chambery, 120 km away (1h 30 min by car). You can also use Grenoble or Lyon airports. They have similar distance from the resort ca 195 km, it will take you less than 2h and 15m by car. Geneva airport is only a few kilometres further (198 km) and you will need 2h and 17 min.

There are bus transfers from all airports we mentioned on the weekends (departures are more frequent on Saturdays than on Sundays). Buses from Geneva run on every day of the week. Aime is the last stop, from there you will have to catch a local bus to your final destination.  Private transfers can be very expensive especially from Lyon or Chambery. Check prices before you buy plane ticket.

If you like to travel by train closest stations are in Aime (18 km) or Bourg-St-Maurice (35 km). Both of them lay on Eurostar route.

valley panorama

WHERE TO STAY IN LA PLAGNE

It is of the utmost importance to choose location of your accommodation wisely. We stayed at Plagne Bellecote and it has proved to be a good decision. It is close to the glacier Bellecote, Les Arcs is not far away, and snow reliability is good due to height. There is an open air swimming pool in the middle of the village. We had free entrance but had to pay extra money in order to use sauna and hot tub. An even better choice would be Belle Plagne. It has similar location as Plagne Bellecote, and they are connected with Roche de Mio gondola which works until midnight. Architecture is nicer, buildings are smaller, made in chalet style.  

Aime 2000 has one of the ugliest residential blocks in French Alps. It is called le Paquebot des Neiges (3 huge concrete pyramids connected together). In lower villages you will have much nicer accommodation and architecture but you’ll have to pay the price with less snow and longer time to get to other parts of the domain. If you liked this La Plagne Review book your accommodation here, you won’t make mistake.

Mountain panorama above clouds

WHAT TO DO AFTER DAY ON SNOW (APRES-SKI) IN LA PLAGNE

Evenings are quite, there is large number of shops selling equipment as well as restaurants and bars. You won’t find big clubs working until late hours.

Visit the Olympic bobsleigh track situated at Plagne 1800. There are 4 different ways you can go down it, the faster the more expensive the ride is (prices go from 45 EUR). You can also tour the resort with fat tyre bike, climb frozen waterfalls or you can simply kick back and taste local cheeses and vines.  

Mont Blanc view from Les Arcs

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