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One day in Les Arcs! Report

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks to all who gave me advice last week for our day in Les Arcs.

It was definately worth the travelling. Did'nt get to all the places everyone mentioned but certainly did a few (so much piste, so little time). Arc 200 bowl was nice as were the runs down to Villaroger. Also manged to get up Aiguile Rouge to the Glacier but there were only a couple of runs open unfortunately. Dissapointed we did'nt get all the way over to Villandry but its a great excuse to go back. My run of the day was most definately in Arc 2000. We caught the Trans Arc gondola up with the intention of heading down to Villandry but saw some great offpiste to be had on the 2000 side. I think the run began as Plan Vert but it was surrounded by a vast expanse of off-piste just waiting to be sullied...! As a boarder it was perfect, quick, great snow, masses of powder to be had off-piste and lots of natural kickers. Also when we got on it we were literally the only people, we did'nt see anyone else for about ten minutes...beautiful!

Another great run we came across was pretty much our last on the way to the Funicular, it was a steep and long mogul field called Rouelle. My girlfriend skis and loves moguls, there was so much snow on them that it was just brilliant fun.

I'd go back to Les Arcs and see the rest of Paradiski in an instant i really enjoyed it despite the -27 temperatures and the travelling involved we had a great day. I thought the resort was well organised and the people were far friendlier and serious about their sport (rather than their image) than i've experienced at other French resorts. I was'nt surprised to learn that it is run by Intrawest who also operate Whistler as it felt very similar. It was also comparitively cheaper than other French resorts i've been to and far less busy.

The only gripes i have are that the pistes were sometimes poorly signposted making it easy to lose your bearings and also there were a number of flat bits which are never great fun on a board. Still i'm sure like any resort the more you ride on it the more you get to know where you are and where to avoid..! I'm also glad i'm not a beginner as the terrain is very much aimed at intermediate/advanced levels.

I would'nt plan to go out on Eurostar just for the day again, unless it was a spur of the moment decision like this time (ie following a big dump). Although it was cheap Eurostar is not exactly condusive to sleep, the seats are pretty uncomfortable and on the way out there are lots of people who are heading off for a week rather than a day on the slopes and as such are pretty excitable (or drunk) so its quite noisy. I got about two hours sleep on the way there which was'nt great but the way back was quiet and i got plenty of sleep. All in all it was well worthwhile, its a good resort and the snow was fantastic!

Anyway i've been waffling on for ages now, thanks again to all who gave me advice!
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bullet, brilliant! Hats off to you for going for it.
How about a bullet train return from Tokyo next, with a day in the Japanese mountains?
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David, if its £99 i'm there...!
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bullet, sounds like you had a great day - and i know what you mean about those Eurostar seats...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Next time why not change train in Paris and take the couchette overnight. (If possible start on the Friday about 5.00pm, then return on the Sunday evening, giving you 2 days there and one night (perhaps in Bourg where it is cheaper), arriving early Sunday morning in England).
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snowball, trains may go fast through the middle of France but returning on the Sunday evening and arriving in England early Sunday morning would be quite a feat!

I agree that the couchette makes life more comfortable as long as you are not near the disco carriage (I know that there is no disco carriage on the one leaving from the south of Paris, but you have to get across Paris for that)
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bullet, I have only one quibble, mainly to avoid disapointment amongst people who don't know better: Les Arcs is most certainly NOT normally considered to be aimed at intermediate/advanced levels. The Paradiski network is routinely singled out being as suitable for beginners and improving intermediates. And having skied both Les Arcs and La Plagne recently I can vouch that neither are challenging as their neighbouring Savoie resort networks. Perhaps snow conditions upped the difficulty factor somewhat when you were there??? (speculating) Puzzled

But I'm glad you made the most of the snow. And I hear wot you say about the flat bits!!! Even on skis they're a pain! Shocked
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bullet, well done. That is committment!
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Manda, After one day i probably should'nt have made such a hasty judgement i think we just managed to find lots of steeps and neither of us could remember seeing a green run even on the piste map...! Unless of course it does'nt have green runs, only blues?
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David Goldsmith,

Quote:

How about a bullet train return from Tokyo next, with a day in the Japanese mountains?


I've done that! Went out from Tokyo to Yuzawa on a Sunday evening, to hit the (largely empty) slopes the next morning.

Unlike Eurostar, the journey only takes a couple of hours. - It felt great to be getting on the train, when everyone else was getting off, carrying their skis/boards.

Maybe I'll try the Eurostar day-trip one day. Hmm. 14 hours to Tokyo. About the same time it takes to get to the Eurostar terminal from Yorkshire. Confused
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bullet, no, I don't doubt you found the challenging bits cause it does have some - and you sound like you know how to find the pistes you want. Snow quality possibly improved things signifcantly when you were there too. It's just not the first resort I would think of if I were asked to suggest one to keep an intermediate/advanced boarder amused for a week. Val D/Tignes yes. Paradiski no. BTW there are hardly any greens marked on the map - but a large proportion of the blues are basically green (IMHO) - witness all the flat bits!!!
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Manda, I think you forgot what its like to be a learner skier, some of the blues in La Plagne have very steep bits in them, I can think of a few bits that are red minumum, deffo not easy. Whilst I'm arguing against your point I may aswell continue. IMHO Les Arcs is just as tough, if not tougher than either Tignes or Val D' Isere having said that how do you choose between nr perfection. Many of the blues in LA can br missed out by taking a steeper route to the same spot. LP has a few flat spots and Centre is a pain to traverse, but there are some great "days out" to be had in La Plagne.
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Manda wrote:
bullet, I have only one quibble, mainly to avoid disapointment amongst people who don't know better: Les Arcs is most certainly NOT normally considered to be aimed at intermediate/advanced levels. The Paradiski network is routinely singled out being as suitable for beginners and improving intermediates. And having skied both Les Arcs and La Plagne recently I can vouch that neither are challenging as their neighbouring Savoie resort networks. Perhaps snow conditions upped the difficulty factor somewhat when you were there??? (speculating) Puzzled


I would have thought the snow conditions lowered the difficulty and increased the range - depends on ability I guess and I am certainly no expert.

No intention of being contentious here but how would you compare the Haute Savoie to the Savoie in terms of 'difficulty' say Argentiere and the Chamonix areas to the Espace Killy, which BTW are both favourites of mine.

Personally I feel there is always something challenging to ski irespective of where you are - I have had challenging days at Crozet and Lelex on the Jura after a good dump of snow, especially after lunch Very Happy
Cheers

CP
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You know it makes sense.
Manda, I wouldn't term Les Arcs as a beginners/improving intermediates resort at all. And it's wrong to lump Les Arcs & La Plagne together as Paradiski - they may be marketed together now but have quite different levels of pistes. And bullet is talking about skiing in Les Arcs.

Glad you enjoyed it bullet, sounds great to do that for a day - must try it soon one weekend when I'm in the need of some snow snowHead
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Manda wrote:
bullet, I have only one quibble, mainly to avoid disapointment amongst people who don't know better: Les Arcs is most certainly NOT normally considered to be aimed at intermediate/advanced levels. The Paradiski network is routinely singled out being as suitable for beginners and improving intermediates. And having skied both Les Arcs and La Plagne recently I can vouch that neither are challenging as their neighbouring Savoie resort networks.


Hmm I would disagree with you there. My 2 brothers who we go with are 15 yrs + advanced skiiers, that have done all over Europe and the USA, and we keep on returning to La Plagne. They love it and think it's the best skiing on this side of the atlantic.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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While not being an advanced or off-piste skier myself, I reckon both Les Arcs and La Plagne have reasonable scope to satisfy those who are - given good snow conditions and low avalanche risk. Yes there are only a few true blacks in LP but they are good ones. I think you are being a little unfair on both resorts, Manda. Maybe not the best choices for really adventurous skiers/boarders, agreed, but generally recognised to be very good for intermediates.
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Manda, Les Arcs in particular is well known for the wide variety of terrain, with ample scope for intermediates and experts. Although bullet had trouble in traversing some of the flatter runs to get around the Arc 2000 area, those boarders in the know can avoid these parts.

It is easily up to the standard of the other Savoie areas in terms of challenging terrain - if you know where you're going!
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CP, which is why I compared it to it's neighbouring resorts and not Chamonix.

PG,
Quote:

if you know where you're going!
- true, I had a wonderful morning with a guide tackling some of the harder bits of Plagne. But by in large the pisted areas aren't as difficult as they could be compared to similar resorts nearby, and you really do have to know where to go in Paradiski to find the harder bits. I even saw a proficent boarder display a very impressive "waddle" technique to get across the flat bits without having to unstrap his boot.

kuwait_ian, yes Paradiski's a reasonably (and I mean reasonably) good allrounder, but no it's not aimed at intermediate/advanced levels - even by your own admission:
Quote:

Maybe not the best choices for really adventurous skiers/boarders, agreed, but generally recognised to be very good for intermediates.


If the Savoie resorts were stacked up next to each other, and we had a poll for the most suitable resort for someone like bullet then, at least until we got bored with the other resorts, Paradiski would lose out every time.
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Does all this mean the reds I negotiated last year around Arc 2000 (like the one from the top of Lanchettes to Villaroger, Grand Col, Le Lac, Tuffes and Plagnettes) weren't REAL reds? I thought I was doing really well as a '2nd-weeker' but if they're all really just blues to everyone else, maybe not... Shocked Sad
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Red Leon, Well they are red according to the piste map and run markings. More importantly as a second weeker you were doing very well and providing you enjoy your skiing - who else should care?

After a few more miles under your skis I am sure you will stop looking at colour of runs and just ski them.

CP
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Manda, Still have to disagree. Vehemently. La Plagne has that reputation, but Les Arcs certainly does not. The World Snowboarding Guide studied this in depth, and provides the following stats for the Savoie resorts, with "run difficulty as % of runs". Column 1 represents 'EASY', column 2 'INTERMEDIATE' and column 3 'DIFFICULT', and column 4 total of 3 & 2 (perecentage of ski area either intermediate or difficult):

COURCHEVEL 25% 64% 11% 75%
VAL THORENS 44% 44% 12% 56%
LES ARCS 50% 33% 17% 50%
LA ROSIERE 53% 31% 16% 47%
MERIBEL 58% 28% 14% 42%
VAL D'ISERE 59% 30% 11% 41%
TIGNES 62% 29% 9% 38%
LA PLAGNE 67% 25% 8% 33%
VALMOREL 70% 20% 10% 30%
ST FRANCOIS LONGCHAMP 71% 19% 10% 29%

The site goes on to comment (and don't forget this site is for boarders!):

Quote:

Most people delight in telling you that Les Arcs is a massive, concrete carbunkle on the back bottom of the French Alps - but these people probably haven't been here, let alone spent any sort of time in the place. Ignore such comments, come with an open mind, and ride one of the best sets of mountains in the world. Les Arcs itself is split into four distinctive resorts - 1600, 1800, 2000 and Bourg-St-Maurice. Each place has a different feel to it, so choose wisely. 1600, where most of the chalets are situated, is quite chilled out with loads of trees. 1800 is the party place, while 2000 is a bit hideous and isolated, but has good access to some amazing terrain. Despite having a huge riding area, Les Arcs has managed to retain a cosy feel as its dead easy to get from one area to another and you are only likely to run into heavy lift queues during the height of the French holidays. On the mountain, Les Arcs has it all, from mellow beginner slopes to some of the most challenging runs anywhere in France, with hardly any moguls. What Les Arcs does have however, is a lot of punters as this is a very popular resort, but with such a vast expanse of snow to explore, the slopes are left fairly quite.


You will note, Manda, that Les Arcs has the largest total of expert runs as a percentage of the overall (massive) ski area of all of the Savoie resorts!!!


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Thu 3-02-05 12:01; edited 1 time in total
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PG wrote:
Manda, Still have to disagree. Vehemently. La Plagne has that reputation, but Les Arcs certainly does not.


I quite agree, in fact, La Plagne doesn't really deserve the reputation either. It's just a beginner/intermediate thing though, they lack techniques to effectively skate and lack the speed control and ability to read slopes that we might have. As a result they keep grinding to a halt, you see it all the time.
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CP,

It's just that in considering my next trip, I've been thinking I was what TO's describe as an 'intermediate' - albeit a low-grade one - so I've been looking at resorts with plenty of red runs. Perhaps I should stick to the resorts described as 'ideal for beginners...' for another week or two! rolling eyes
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Red Leon, depending on how well you did those reds, you're probably about right. There's some ideal runs for you on the 1600/1800 side, too.
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PG wrote:
Quote:

...the slopes are left fairly quite.


nice to see that the World Snowboard Guide is continuing its fine tradition of proof reading!
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Manda wrote:
CP, which is why I compared it to it's neighbouring resorts and not Chamonix.


Interestingly, perhaps you could have compared Les Arcs to Cham!

CHAMONIX (easy) 47% (intermediate) 32% (difficult) 21% (total intermediate/difficult) 53%
LES ARCS (easy) 50% (intermediate) 33% (difficult) 17% total (intermediate/difficult) 50%

So little difference in point of fact.
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Tony Lane, Laughing Quite!
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Hmm. Resort management descriptions and all that. Will come back to you on a comparison when I've had a chance to bash around the Chamonix area next week.
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You know it makes sense.
Manda wrote:
Hmm. Resort management descriptions and all that. Will come back to you on a comparison when I've had a chance to bash around the Chamonix area next week.
Actually it's an independent guide.
Quote:
Unlike other publications that just pay lip service to snowboarding, each resort in the WSG has been reviewed by experienced snowboarders and aimed directly for snowboarders.

We produce a no nonsense independent authoritative no holds barred view on each resort; if the place is crap we'll tell you. If you're likely to be snowploughed by face painted skiers we'll let you know. We tell you where the best places are whether your bag is freeriding or you're a pipe junkie.
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You do not need to be a single-plank convert to find the World Snowboard Guide a helpful source of insider information about the resorts worldwide & the prose remains refreshingly free of "rad" jargon and critical enough to put the soft boot in when merited"
Sunday Times, 26th October 2003

"By far the best guide to the slopes on the market."
FHM

"The perfect snowboard travel companion"
Onboard Snowboard Magazine

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PG wrote:


Interestingly, perhaps you could have compared Les Arcs to Cham!

CHAMONIX (easy) 47% (intermediate) 32% (difficult) 21% (total intermediate/difficult) 53%
LES ARCS (easy) 50% (intermediate) 33% (difficult) 17% total (intermediate/difficult) 50%

So little difference in point of fact.



PG, Do these stats include itineries? I know Chamonix and Argentiere have a few dotted blacks. I even skied one of these beasts in a moment of madness at Brevent.

CP
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Click for high res imageNo idea, the Guide doesn't say. With the expanse of terrain on offer within the Paradiski area to off piste skiers, if you get bored with the 65 reds and 29 blacks, you can make up your own dotted black itineraries! Check out http://www.givois.com for a guide to the expert terrain of the Paradiski area....
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PG wrote:
No idea, the Guide doesn't say. With the expanse of terrain on offer within the Paradiski area to off piste skiers, if you get bored with the 65 reds and 29 blacks, you can make up your own dotted black itineraries! Check out http://www.givois.com for a guide to the expert terrain of the Paradiski area....


PG, No I certainly would not get bored and have never been bored at Les Arcs. In fact I don't get bored with skiing anywhere. I have even spent a day at a small ski area called Magic Mountain in VT when there was only one lift open all day. The boy and I did not get at all bored.
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I still stick by my comment about resort management gradings. I will concede that Les Arcs has a higher percentage of harder runs than La Plagne. But I still think much of both resort's pistes are consistently overgraded. I would happily send Red Leon to either Les Arcs or La Plagne. Will let you know in a week whether I'd send him to Chamonix!
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Manda, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I'm having a little trouble understanding how you can be so definitive about this based on a total of four weeks skiing, including a few days in Les Arcs.
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Manda, Which parts of the Chamonix area are you 'bashing around'?

CP
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I think i opened a can of worms here...! Nice to see some lively debate though..!
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bullet, Good to see it's being done in an adult fashion with good humour as well. Some 'debates' I've witnessed in skiing and fly fishing newsgroups and forums have got just plain nasty.

CP
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Manda,

Quote:

I would happily send Red Leon to either Les Arcs or La Plagne


Just say when.... Very Happy
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PG, interesting stats, just confirms my opinion that Les Arcs has better piste skiing than Val d'Isere. The biggest problem with Les Arcs, specifically Arc 2000 is that it's north facing and in the shade for so much of the day. Good to see also that the La Rosiere stats demonstrate what a good resort it is for mixed ability groups.
Manda, you may be interested to know that there is less piste skiing in Chamonix than there is in La Rosiere. Before anyone jumps on me I know that a significant percentage of visitors to Chamonix go there for the off-piste skiing.
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Of course, the picture changes if we think of advanced skiers as most interested in offpiste terrain rather than pisted runs, however they are graded...

(the last resort I went to is marketed as beginner/intermediate/family oriented. Great. Offpiste was completely untracked).
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