Les Arcs and La Plagne are pretty impressive resorts individually; the ability to explore both is the icing on the cake A decade-plus after its opening, the 200-person double-decker Vanoise Express cable car - which crosses a wooded valley to link Les Arcs and La Plagne, and thus form Paradiski - remains the world's biggest, as far as we know. When it opened, we were a bit sceptical. Sure, it was one of the biggest ski areas in the Alps, but weren't the two resorts quite big enough individually? Well, no. We're now quite used to staying in Arc 1950 and having lunch above Champagny. We might do this sort of thing only once or twice in a week, but we always do it. The Vanoise Express cable car spans the 2km-wide valley between Plan-Peisey (on the edge of the Les Arcs area) and a point 300m above Montchavin (on the edge of the La Plagne area). The linking of these two major resorts is A Good Thing for the great British piste-basher who likes to cover as much ground as possible. For those who like a bit of a challenge, getting from your home base to both far-flung outposts of the area - Villaroger in Les Arcs and Champagny in La Plagne - would make quite a full day. The link is also good for experts. Those based in either resort can more easily tackle the north face of La Plagne's Bellecôte, finishing the run in Nancroix. Black run skiers based in La Plagne who are finding the piste skiing a bit tame can easily get across to Les Arcs' excellent Aiguille Rouge. If you want to make the most of the link it's sensible to stay near one of the cable car stations. But it's easily accessible from many other bases too. On the Les Arcs side, Plan-Peisey and nearby Vallandry are in pole position. They are basically small, low-rise, modern developments, built in a much more sympathetic style than the original Les Arcs resorts. They are quiet but expanding, and quite a few UK operators have chalets and apartments in them. You can also stay in the unspoiled old village of Peisey, 300m below and linked by bucket-lift to Plan-Peisey. These places are covered at the end of the Les Arcs chapter. It's easy to get to the cable car station at Plan-Peisey from the main resort parts of Les Arcs. One lift and one run is all it takes to get there from Arc 1800, which is the biggest of the main resort units. From quieter Arc 1600, along the mountainside from 1800, it takes two lifts. Arc 2000 and the stylish Arc 1950 development seem further away, over the ridge that separates them from 1600 and 1800; but all it takes is one fast chair to the ridge and one long run down the other side. In the valley bottom beyond Arc 2000, the hamlet of Villaroger is not an ideal starting point. On the La Plagne side, the obvious place to stay is Montchavin, which is below the Vanoise Express station. Montchavin is a carefully developed old village with modern additions built in traditional style. Les Coches, across the mountain from the station, is most easily reached with the help of a lift. It is entirely modern, but built in a traditional style. From either village, one lift brings you to the Vanoise Express cable car. The other parts of La Plagne are some way from the cable car. But one long lift is all it takes to get from monolithic Plagne Bellecôte up to L'Arpette, from which point it's a single long descent. The most attractive of the resort villages, Belle Plagne, is only a short run away from Plagne Bellecôte. From the villages further across the bowl - Plagne Villages, Plagne Soleil, dreary Plagne Centre, futuristic Plagne Aime 2000 - you have to ride a lift to get to Bellecôte. From Plagne 1800, below the bowl, add another lift. From the villages beyond the bowl - rustic, sunny Champagny-en-Vanoise and expanding Montalbert - it's going to be pretty hard work, but it's certainly possible. Riding the Vanoise Express The cable car ride from one resort to the other takes less than four minutes. The system is designed to be able to operate in high winds, so the risk of getting stranded miles from home is low. It can shift 2,000 people an hour, in each direction and although end-of-the-day crowds could be a snag in theory, they're not in practice. The lift company offers a six-day pass covering the whole Paradiski region, perhaps most likely to appeal to people based in the villages close to the lift. It's not cheap. But there is also a pass (Paradiski Découverte) that includes just one day in the other resort during the validity of the pass. Alternatively, you can buy a one-day extension to a Les Arcs or a La Plagne six-day lift pass, as and when you fancy the outing.

Sign up to receive email snow reports

Going skiing? Get your snow reports direct to your inbox


Join the Ski Club today

Join Now