Families, beginners and intermediates love the Paradiski – a huge, high-altitude ski area in France. The resorts of La Plagne and Les Arcs are made up of almost a dozen villages, from purpose-built hubs with a mix of bars and restaurants, to quieter, more traditional hamlets.
• Easy pistes: 140
• Intermediate pistes: 65
• Advanced pistes: 37
• Ski area size: 425km
• Snow range: 1,250-3,250m
• La Plagne resort height: 1,800-2,150m
• Les Arcs resort height: 1,600-2,000m
WHAT’S THE SKIING LIKE?
The Paradiski is known for variety – it’s mountains are home to a vast range of tree-lined runs and open, bowl-shaped slopes.
Fun slope, Plagne Bellecôte: Bank round turns, crest bumps, dodge flags, straight-line through the tunnel and high-five the giant hand – you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy France’s longest fun slope.
Aiguille Rouge run, Les Arcs: Head up to 3,226m, the highest point in the area, for this 8km run. Part black and part red, it’s a steep and technical challenge for confident intermediates.
Vanoise Express cable car: An essential ride for anyone skiing the Paradiski, this double-decker lift links the pistes of La Plagne and Les Arcs. Feeling brave? Peer through the glass floor at the 380m drop to the valley below.
Tunnel run, Belle Plagne: Dancing lights and disco music cheer you on your way through the 136m-long tunnel, halfway down this popular blue.
THINGS TO DO
Olympic bobsleigh, Plagne 1800: Hurtle round 19 bends at up to 120km/h. Try steering yourself in a bob raft, go flat-out in a speed luge or let a pro pilot take the wheel in a proper bobsleigh.
Village Igloo, Arc 2000: Explore halls of animal sculptures carved out of snow and ice, and sip a frosty shot or hot coffee in the ice bar.
THINGS TO SEE
Yurts, Arc 1950: Look out for a little piece of Central Asia in Les Arcs – two traditional Mongolian yurts. Big and round, with pointed tops and gold-patterned doors, these tents are hard to miss. They’ve been used as homes by nomadic tribes for over 3,000 years. But here, they play host to special Savoyard meals once a week.
WHERE TO EAT
Le 360, top of the Montalbert gondola: Point your skis towards this giant glass cube for lunch on the slopes. The café beckons you in for juicy rotisserie chicken and freshly made pasta. Or you can opt for the fine dining restaurant, where creamy Swiss chard risotto is a popular pick.
Belliou La Fumée, bottom of the Pré Saint Esprit 39 chairlift: A warren of little dining rooms inside a 500-year-old building, once a hunting hut owned by Italy’s King Emmanuel II. Lunch on French favourites like pan-fried snails, grilled duck and îles flottantes – light-as-air meringues floating in a pool of custard.
Union, Plagne-Montalbert: Twice-baked Beaufort soufflé and rice pudding with génépi and pear give a high-class taste of local flavours here – thanks to the Michelin-starred chef who runs the kitchen. Top things off with a glass of crisp Savoie wine.
NIGHTLIFE IN THE PARADISKI
Each village has its own personality, but the liveliest hubs are Belle Plagne and Arc 1800. It can be tricky to get around after the slopes close, so get your après in before last lifts. Or if you’re out late, you can always catch a taxi home.
Price of a drink in La Plagne and Les Arcs
• Small beer €4
• Bottle of house wine €15
• Glass of coke €4
George’s Wine Bar, Arc 1950: Grab a glass and sing along with landlord George’s guitar solos – or take a turn in the spotlight on karaoke nights.
La Mine, Plagne 1800: Picture an old mine turned into an English pub, with lamps and tools hanging on the walls and a low tin-plated ceiling. Even some of the tables are made of mine carts.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Belle Plagne 2100, Belle Plagne: Waste no time getting on the slopes – just click into your skis at the door and off you go. Inside, classic Alpine style has been given a modern upgrade, with lots of pale wood and neutral colours to keep things chic but cosy. Spend your downtime snuggled by the fire in the bar, sipping a hot mulled wine or speciality cocktail.
Arc 1950 Apartments, Arc 1950: Get the convenience of a self-catering apartment with all the perks of a hotel – this complex has its own pools, spa, restaurants and bars. The traditional décor and cheery colours are a welcome sight at the end of the day. And you can even skip the cooking by opting for half board.
Chalet Carlina Hugo, Belle Plagne: Light browns, greys and pops of turquoise give the Hugo a contemporary feel throughout. And the outdoor hot tub, flatscreen TVs and underfloor heating are the icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, there’ll be afternoon tea waiting for you when you get home – just the thing to celebrate a great day’s skiing.
Get a taste of paradise in the Paradiski. See you on the slopes.