Ports of Call
Les Arcs Travel Guide
Paris, France © Benh Lieu Song
A modern, purpose-built ski resort, the holiday destination of Les Arcs comprises four resort villages situated above the town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, all linked by a free shuttle bus. Named after their respective altitudes, Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 are built with glass and concrete apartment buildings, purposefully designed with convenience in mind, while the latest addition to the resort, Arc 1950, has a more traditional guise and a typically European village style.
The large and diverse network of well-groomed pistes more than makes up for any lack of charm, however, and the highest station at Aiguille Rouge Peak (10,584 ft/3,226m) guarantees excellent snow conditions from December to April. Its vast trail system has been linked to that of La Plagne, making the combined Paradiski area one of the largest interconnected ski and snowboard areas in the world.
Arc 1800 is the biggest and most popular resort, consisting of four villages, and is the most conveniently situated for all levels of skiers and non-skiers on holiday, while just below, Arc 1600 is smaller and suited to young families, although it can get crowded on weekends due to the direct funicular link from the town of Bourg Saint Maurice.
More devoted snow enthusiasts prefer to head to the highest resort, Arc 2000, situated at the foot of Aiguille Rouge in the next valley, where the emphasis is on skiing and snowboarding rather than apres-ski holiday facilities. It has easy access to the glacier and is linked to Arc 1950 by a free cable car.
There are a few other villages in the area that, while not officially part of the resort, are seamlessly connected and offer their own accommodation and ski areas as well. These include Vallandry, Peisey, Plan-Peisey, Le Pre and Villaroger.
The vast terrain of Les Arcs offers good skiing for all levels of skiers and snowboarders on holiday, with easy access to the excellent nursery slopes from all the villages for beginners. Intermediates are the most spoilt for choice, with abundant blue and red runs throughout the area, while advanced skiers should head to the high pistes above Arc 2000 and the black runs on the Aiguille Rouge peak.
Off-piste opportunities are also available in Les Arcs. Snow conditions on the higher pistes are generally good, and snow cannons keep the sunnier, lower slopes covered. There is also a good snowboard park with jumps and a half pipe at Arc 2000.
Visitors on holiday in Les Arcs will find there are supermarkets in all the villages and a variety of shops, although Arc 1800 has the most choice. Arc 1950 also offers a wide range of shops, from clothes and souvenirs to sport equipment and rental. Arc 2000 has the least variety, and more serious shoppers should head to the lower altitudes for better options.
All the Les Arcs villages offer a variety of dining options to enjoy on holiday, from local specialities to international cuisine. Arc 1800 has the biggest variety, while Arc 1600 and Arc 2000 have only a few restaurants to choose from.
The Les Arcs nightlife is fairly low-key, although all the villages have bars and there are one or two nightclubs.
Les Arcs is a year-round holiday resort with a huge variety of summer and winter activities, from climbing, hiking, horse riding and golf in summer, to sleigh rides, paragliding and snow-shoeing in winter. Bourg-Saint-Maurice is worth a visit and there are several interesting excursions to villages in the area, an ice grotto and several museums to explore.
Les Arcs has limited nightlife and après-ski and those looking for a more hip and happening party scene best head for another resort.