In the Tarentaise above Bourg Saint-Maurice, and part of the protected Vanoise National Park, Les Arcs is linked to La Plagne by the Vanoise Express cable-car for skiers with Paradiski pass. Les Arcs is also of the of the few Alpine resorts you can access entirely by train.
Les Arcs includes not only Arc 1600, Arc 1850, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 but also the resort of Peisey-Vallandry, the village of Villaroger and the town of Bourg St Maurice. It’s a large and varied area but it’s only half of what’s on offer with a Paradiski pass which also covers all of La Plagne.
The primary focus for Les Arcs is the intermediate skier and this is exemplified by the sheer number of wide, undemanding groomed pistes, both above and below the tree-line. Les Arcs is a great choice for a mixed ability group, because as well as the abundance of intermediate terrain, it has skiing to suit beginners as well as, experts.
All villages are offer skiing which is pretty much snowsure: the top lift reaches 3,226m and most of the skiing is above 2000m. It is also more North-facing than South-facing.
There is a huge range of accommodation options throughout the mountain side. Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 combine modernist Seventies architecture with more recent chalet-style buildings. Arc 1950, Plan Peisey and Vallandry were developed more sensitively, with recent builds being made from much more sympathetic material, maintaining the luxury of being ski in ski out for all who visit to enjoy. And for those wanting a quiet rural holiday, Villaroger and the old village of Peisey-Nancroix are both connected by lift to the main area and they offer sheer tranquillity in some nice chalets. Apres is not what Les Arcs is famous for – by all accounts, it is fairly quiet. However, as of the 2019/2020 season, the famous La Folie Douce landed in the resort, located at the top of the Villards gondola, in Arc 1800. It is accessible by both skiers and pedestrians and will be a fantastic addition to the party atmosphere in and around the slopes of Les Arcs 1800.
200km (425km including La Plagne)
1200m – 3226m
December – April
Don’t be duped in to thinking that no green runs is as a result of steep terrain it simply is because the resort has chosen only to use a blue/red/black marker system. Each of the main Les Arcs villages have a fantastic beginner area and a number of free lifts for learners to use. Further, progression on to longer runs is good, including the winding Foret trail down to Vallandry and the gentle blues in the Arc 2000 bowl. Once the basics are mastered, most of the mountains that make up the resort are accessible by blue runs with Vallandry allowing those still learning to enjoy tree skiing, La Foret’s winding route down to the village is a real crowd pleaser.
Les Arcs offers lots of choice for piste hungry intermediates given that the mountain is not too steep. If the weather is bad then head to the trees above Vallandry, but otherwise the entire area is within reach. Above Les Arcs 1800, there is a handful of great reds which are perfect for intermediate skiers, most notably Froide Fontaine and Carreley.
The steepest run in the resort is Robert Blanc, a challenging bumpy black coming down the main northwest face of the Aiguille Rougeabove the Arc 2000 bowl, off the Varet Gondola or from the top of the Aiguille Rouge Varet and Genepi are two other quality blacks that feed off the Aiguille Rouge piste down from the top. The other side of the Arc 2000 valley sees two of the more interesting ways over from the ridge in the shape of the up and down Ours and the characterful Comborciere.If you find yourself in Arcs 1600 and in need of a bumps fix, head for the Rouelles run.
Beginners snowboarders are well suited to Les Arcs. Once the very basics have been mastered, early learners will love the piste grooming. However, beware, there are a lot of drag lifts which might concentrate the mind. For the more proficient boarder, most pistes, given their impressive width, will be a delight to put in some long ranging turns. The Mont Blanc piste on 1600 is ideal for intermediate carvers, and the Belette and Myrtille runs are good for advanced riders who can handle a board at speed. If getting some air is the priority, head to Peisey, 2000 and high above 1800. There are also some nice natural features to use as jumps in Les Clocherets.
If you are tempted by some serious pampering, Les Arcs has plenty of spas where you can enjoy exceptional treatments from moisturising facials to deep-tissue massages. Many of the centres feature swimming pools, steam rooms, Jacuzzis and saunas to help you unwind and enjoy a truly relaxing holiday. A full day’s access to La Piscine in the Mille 8 complex (which includes amazing unlimited herbal teas) is only 20, or 15.50 if you have no intention of using the fitness area. Regardless of where you stay, there are mobile massage companies that can provide a variety of treatments in the comfort of your own accommodation.
If you love the freedom of pulling on some sturdy footwear, getting out into the fresh air and enjoying some truly spectacular scenery, then Les Arcs is just like heaven. There are walking trails absolutely everywhere and most are easily accessible to any walker with a pair of boots, ice grippers and trekking poles. If the only way is up, pedestrian passes are available for many of the main lifts, meaning you can have a mulled wine on the Col de la Chal (at 2600 metres) or even take some freeze-frame photos of Mont Blanc from the Aiguille Rouge peak (at 3226 metres). Some activity companies, such as Evolution 2, host guided snowshoeing around the ski area, providing all the necessary equipment to take you far away from the beaten track. Snowshoes are also available to hire from many of the on-mountain ski shops.
If walking is too horizontal as a pastime, then strap on a harness, don a helmet, affix crampons to your feet and grab a couple of axes. Ice climbing is the obvious way to get vertical (and your heart pumping). Professional mountaineers will help you get into the groove, providing full instruction and all the necessary gear. Although you do not need any prior experience of ascending inclined ice formations, you will need a head for heights.
Take a sleigh ride
If you have always wanted to drive a team of husky dogs, there are companies near Arc 1950 and in the Nordic area of Peisey-Nancroix who can provide guided trips in the daytime and after dark. You can also take a jaunt in a horse-drawn sleigh in the Nordic area, or simply go horse-riding around Bourg St Maurice.
Les Arcs boasts some fantastic restaurants serving local and international cuisine. You can have a full English breakfast in Arc 1950, a traditional Savoyarde tartiflette (with unctuous Reblochon cheese and smoked lardons) in Arc 1800 at lunchtime, and a Thai curry in Peisey for dinner. In Arc 2000, you can sample haute cuisine at the Diamant Noir, with its Michelin-starred head chef, or simply grab a slice of pizza and a beer at the Bulle Cafe. If you are hungry like the wolf at lunchtime, most restaurants serve a plat du jour, or even a menu du jour, which is often very good value indeed. Check out our restaurant reviews for more tips on where to go.
If you want an airborne experience you can cherish with up to four of your friends, why not take a helicopter tour of the Alps? Get an exceptional view of the remarkable winter landscape from a vantage-point usually reserved for the birds. With trips lasting from 10 minutes to an hour, and prices starting from less than 100 per person, you are guaranteed an incredible all-time high.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a maniac to jump off the side of a mountain strapped to a big parachute. Paragliding is actually surprisingly relaxing. What better way to enjoy the Alpine scenery than by gently gliding through the air whilst safely attached to a flying expert? And, if you want to really push it, there are more adrenaline-fuelled acrobatic trips available including spins and loops galore.
Riding a sledge can be exhilarating and there are plenty of options in Les Arcs. The Rodeo Park is a three-kilometre sled run from the Col de la Chal (at 2600 metres) to just above Arc 2000. It is open every day except Sunday. Over in Arc 1800, La Luge offers a choice of three styles of sledges and is open every day from 14:00. It wends its way down a purpose-built course amongst the trees of the Mille 8 complex, before going underground through a psychedelically-lit tunnel at the finish. Otherwise, buy a sled, find a quiet downhill spot (away from the ski runs) and make a memory that Citizen Kane would be proud of.
View the live snow report for Les Arcs here
Accommodation for families
Each resort in Les Arcs has a small selection of hotels, chalets and apartments, many of which are family friendly. Self catering apartments are a popular choice, the best ones for families tend to be in the newly built (but still characterful) Arc 1950. You’ll find modern 5 star spacious accommodation here (all with access to swimming pools), baby equipment on request, childcare from 9 months, and a good selection of daily family-focused entertainment.
Arc 2000 is smaller and quieter. It is linked to Arc 1950 by a short gondola ride and offers alternative activities such as the Igloo Village and outdoor ice rink. It is also however, home to the first five star hotel in the Paradiski area.
Arc 1800 is the most lively of the resorts and is home to the Mille8 leisure complex, which features an events venue and a wonderful aquatic centre. There are also great nursery and beginner slopes. You’ll find a good selection of self-catering apartments here too.
Arc 1600 is a quiet place to stay, with fewer facilities than the neighbouring villages. However, you are just a short funicular train ride away from Bourg St Maurice down in the valley which has a useful selection of services and shops if you are looking for something away from skiing.
For chalet accommodation you will most likely find what you need in the three outlying villages of Plan Peisey, Vallandry and Peisey Nancroix. All three are quiet villages with a more traditional feel, and all are connected to the main ski area by ski lift. The new Vanoise Express double-decker cable car goes from Plan Peisey to La Plagne ski resort, so if you are looking for the maximum amount of skiing, then it’s a good place to base yourself.
Ski schools for families
Ski schools will take children from three years old. For 3 & 4 year olds, the focus is on having fun in the snow and games are used as part of the teaching process. Their ski pass is free, and for children aged 5 and above, you can enroll them in courses according to their level, from beginners to good skiers who are nearing competition level. There are several ski schools in each village offering ski lessons for children. The main ski schools that cater for children throughout Les Arcs include New Generation, ESF and Evolution 2. They offer full & half day sessions with English speaking instructors and have dedicated areas for your kids to learn how to snow plough, stop, turn and glide. Spirit Ski School (run by Evolution 2) additionally offer a creche for 9 months to 3 year olds in Arc 1950. Your child’s first experience on skis will be in a ‘snow garden’ where they can build their confidence whilst interacting with fun inflatables & characters, and by playing games. A ‘magic carpet’ travelator makes it easy for them to be taken up the slope, and drag lifts on the neighbouring nursery pistes will be introduced when they are ready. Three year olds and first-timers are likely to be satisfied with half day sessions, and all kids receive a medal at the end of their course.
Activities for families
During the winter, if the kids are only skiing for half a day, then there are plenty of other activities available in Les Arcs to keep them happy.The first area to head to is the new leisure centre Mille8 in Arc 1800. Access to this complex is included in your ski pass (except for the toboggan & aquafun centre). You’ll find a lodge with restaurants which also serves as a venue for events throughout the season, and a 3800sqm swimming complex with covered pool, whirlpool baths, hot tubs, waterfall and slides, and a special play area for children. There is also a fitness centre, steam baths and saunas. If you want to stay on the slopes, there is a kids zone called Les Pingouins which has igloos, a sledging area, baby snow park and a magic carpet. There are winter walking trails you can take through the pine forests, and a 900m toboggan run that twists and turns down the mountain, finishing through an illuminated tunnel (for ages four and over). Also in Arc 1800 is a laser quest game, you’ll find it by the tourist office and a cinema which shows English language films (look for the VO showings).There is another toboggan run above Arc 2000 called Rodeo Park which is a bit more adrenalin-fuelled – it’s 3km of sliding with lots of banked turns. Children from the age of 10 (and 1m 25cm high) can give it a go, accompanied by an adult. Also in Arc 2000 is an Igloo Village, with ice cave, bar with terrace, and a giant ice slide (!). It’s also possible to overnight here upon reservation. Continuing with the ice theme, there is an outdoor ice rink at Arc 2000, you can rent skates here and it’s suitable for adults and children.
Children under three may be too little to try skiing so some help with child care is essential if you plan on skiing yourself. The main winter establishments to help with childcare include the ski schools who cater for children who are three years and older. Arc 1950 probably has the most inclusive childcare in the resort, with it’s Cariboo Children’s Club. But each village has good childcare options, children’s ski schools operate in each resort and independent nanny agencies are also available. Both of these should be booked well in advance of your holiday. Have a look at our childcare listings page for more information or you can contact the local Tourist Offices for a list of available babysitters. NB There are several municipal creches in the area but they are generally reserved for French residents, so we have omitted them here.
Hotel La Cachette
Hotel Taj-I Mah
Les Arcs can be easily accessed from the airports of Geneva, Lyon, Chambery or Genoble. Approximate distances and drive times to Arc 1600 are:
Chambery Airport 125km / 1 hour 50 minutes;
Geneva International Airport 202km / 2 hours 45 minutes;
Grenoble Alpes-Isere Airport 206 km / 2 hours 35 minutes;
Lyon St. Exupery Airport 205km / 2 hours 35 minutes.
As with all resorts in the Tarrentaise, a drive to Les Arcs can be done quite comfortably in a day, but you will be spending a lot of time behind the wheel. The journey times can vary considerably depending on weather and traffic, but it can be as good as 7 hours, or as bad as 10 hours from Calais. Make sure you bring snowchains with you for the climb up to the ski resort, and keep an eye out on the weather forecast. For directions, ViaMichelin provide a fairly comprehensive service.There are good parking options in Les Arcs, with parking available at each of the resort bases. Arc 1600 and Arc 1850 have free outdoor parking. Parking in Arcs 1950 and Arcs 2000 is not free however, costing around 75 a week, and at Arc 1950 all parking is under cover.
Altibus as well as other operators run a regular bus service from the main airports for travel to Les Arcs in time with most flights. The mini bus will take you as far as Bourg St Maurice, from where you can take the funicular up to Les Arcs itself.
Les Arcs is one of the easiest French ski resorts to get to by train – from Paris (5hrs), Brussels (7hrs 30mins) and London (8hrs 15mins). Travelling this way enables you to make the journey part of the holiday and in the most sustainable way possible. TGVs from Paris, the Thalys Neige from Amsterdam and Brussels and the direct Eurostar Ski Train from London can carry you comfortably to Bourg-Saint-Maurice station, as the scenery glides by. From Bourg St Maurice you can reach Les Arcs and the Paradiski Ski area very simply, using our unique funicular railway with its brand-new trains. Once at the top, enjoy the inter-resort free bus service.