Northern Alps

La Plagne Overview

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# 4Beginner Terrain in Europe
# 4Family Friendly in France
# 3Terrain Park in Savoie
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Overview

La Plagne is big - one of the biggest ski resorts in the world - and while some of its architecture may not be the prettiest, it is surrounded by stunning scenery high on a plateau on the edge of the Parc régionale. La Plagne is made up of six high-altitude resorts and four further down the mountain. A few of the villages are very attractive, most noteably Belle Plagne. La Plagne's six altitude resorts containing the bulk of the accommodation, are all around 2,000m. There's plenty of ski-in/ski-out accommodation and none are further than 100m from the slopes.

La Plagne highlights: Plenty of wide, gentle slopes, ski-in/ski-out accommodation, reliable snowfall due to altitude, easy-to-reach powder-packed off-piste, huge choice of restaurants

Ski area is best for: Intermediates, families, freeriders

La Plagne's 225km of local slopes join with Les Arcs to make the giant 425km Paradiski area. 80 percent of La Plagne's ski runs are above 2,000m and reach up to the Glacier de Belle Côte (3,250m). The 130 local ski runs are split into 18 black, 33 red, 69 blue and 10 green. If that is not enough there is the Vanoise Express, which links up with Les Arcs in just under four minutes, offering access to another 235km of runs.

Beginner/intermediate skiers: The facilities for children are first class and each village resort has its own childminding centre and snow play area where the children can learn to ski through play. La Plagne is a great resort to learn to ski and develop quickly into an intermediate skier and beyond. In each of the six altitude villages there are a number of runs coded violet for absolute beginners with free mini ski lifts.

Belle Plagne has a magic carpet for beginners in the resort. Once you graduate to blue runs most of the resort is open to you and you can ski down from the top of the Grande Rochette and Les Verdons to Plagne centre or even from the top of the Belle Cote (3,417m) down to Belle Plagne via the Roche de Mio.

There is a great short blue run on the glacier right at the top and if you want to you can come down in the cable car. It is a marvellous spot to enjoy the great views all over the Alps around you. For skiers who enjoy a well groomed ski surface this too is the resort for you. The runs are wide and perfectly maintained - great ski ‘motorways' all over the resort.

Expert skiers: Advanced skiers have access to a vast, awesome off-piste ski area. To get the greatest benefit from your stay get yourself a guide. This is not just for off-piste but to get the best of the ski runs. Your guide will help you avoid the crowds and find the best powder, whether it is on the north face of Bellecôte (3,200m), on the strikingly beautiful descent of the Cul du Nant glacier or in the forests that lead down to the villages of Bozel and Macot.

A good circuit to start with is around the summit above Plagne Bellecôte, the Mont Saint Jacques. Start from the top of the L'Arpette ski lift, pass the Tête d'Arpette on the left hand as you face it. You will then arrive at the col between it and the Mont Saint Jacques. From there the descent of the Combe du Grand Clapier gives you excellent snow and a fine view of Mont Blanc. Continue down through the pine Forêt des Frasses to the La Roche ski lift at Aime La Plagne, a descent of 650 metres.

The black ski runs are not all pisted so it is a good place to try out your off-piste skills on a ski run that is otherwise marked out and monitored.

The black/red Mont de la Guerre run is nearly seven kilometres long, from the top of the Les Verdons through some of the La Plagne's most beautiful powder slopes right down to Champagny. The run is marked and secured for safety but not pisted.

Freestylers in La Plagne: The Snowpark de La Plagne is just above Belle Plagne. It is divided up into four zones with differing levels of difficulty for those with little experience of freestyle skiing up to the real pros. The Little Park is conveniently placed in Belle Plagne with a half-pipe and two freestyle areas that enable everyone to find their own level on different units at different levels of difficulty. The Freestyle Park Initiation Fun Zone for the young beginners at Plagne Montalbert in a safe area with bumps, a bordercross track, rails, tables and the chance to try slalom in parallel. A whole new world of winter sports to learn at your own pace.

Non-skiers: Bobsleighing, Super Tyro zip-line, E-fat bikes, paragliding, ice skating.

Apres-ski: The resort is not famed for its apres, but Belle Plagne is the liveliest of the villages with the popular late-night disco Le Saloon

Nearest airports: Chambery (119km/1hr35), Geneva (197km/2hrs15), Grenoble (192km/2hrs10), Lyon St. Exupery (196km/2hrs15)

Nearest station: Aime for Belle Plagne, Plagne Centre and Montalbert; Champagny for Moûtiers; Landry for Montchavin-Les Coches. All between 10 and 30 minutes.

Six-day ski pass: €265

Airports

Chambéry - Savoie (119km) 2 hrs; + 33(0)47-954-4966

Closest to La Plagne, Chambéry is a small airport serving the winter resorts of the region situated from La Plagne. In winter the scheduled airlines essentially serve the UK. BA CityFlyer flies from London City Airport; bmibaby from East Midlands; Flybe from Birmingham, Exeter and Southampton; jet2.com from Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle; Titan Airways from Bristol, Gatwick and London Stansted. There are also many charter flights in winter.

Grenoble-Isère (185km) 2hrs40; +33(0)47-665-4848

Grenoble is serviced by easyJet from Liverpool, Luton and London Gatwick and Stansted.

Lyon Saint-Exupéry (196km) 2hrs40; +33(0)82-680-0826 (0.15€/mn)

Lyon is France's fourth biggest airport and is served by easyJet, Aer Lingus, Airfrance and BA from Heathrow.

Geneva-Cointrin (198km) 2hrs 40mns by road; +41(0)227-177-111

A third of the flights to this international airport are with easyJet. From North American, United Airlines serves Washington- Dulles, JFK and Toronto.

Chambery is prone to bad weather closure and your flight can be diverted elsewhere. Geneva has excellent bus/shuttle links to Les Arcs. Lyon St-Exupery has fewer links to Les Arcs, especially midweek, but the journey is quicker than from Geneva if you hire a car.

Airport transfers

There are a variety of companies offering taxi and transfer services from the local airports. Cheap flights should be set against eventual transfer costs. Ben's Bus seem to offer the best value.

From Geneva Airport they arrange direct, private shared ski transfers to Aime for £73pp Return & £43pp Single. Groups of 8 or more people are automatically given one seat for free. There is a £5 on Sundays. See Ben's Bus. Alpine Cab and Alpes Taxis Transports take you door to door. For a complete list of taxis and transfer services go to www.la-plagne.com.

Trains

Aime La Plagne is the nearest railway station for altitude resorts and Plagne Montalbert; Landry is the nearest station to Montchavin Les Coches; and Moutiers is the nearest station for Champagny en Vanoise. There are shuttle buses that run services between the train stations and the various resorts. A taxi ride should cost in the region of €50 and the journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Book in advance www.la-plagne.com.

Getting around

All the high altitude villages are linked by free shuttle buses or cable that operate from 8-30 a.m until around midnight. The guide to the resort distributed free by the Office de Tourisme gives times and details. The resort villages themselves are pretty integrated and it is easy to walk anywhere within them with the exception of Plagne 1800 which is mostly chalets and a bit spread out.

There is also a free shuttle service aimed at cross country skiers and walkers providing access to Mairiers, which stops at the top of the Bobsleigh run at 2 p.m every day except for Saturdays and Sundays. For those visiting the bob sleigh run itself, a return bus is available at 5 p.m from the village "de la Roche" and for cross country skiers and walkers, the return bus departs from the top of the bob run. There is also a specific Bobsleigh shuttle bus that runs from each resort Tuesday - Friday. Check with the tourist office for the latest times.

The lower villages are linked to the resort by cable cars.

Transportation

High-end

La Carlina, Belle Plagne. Tel. + 33 (0)4 79 09 78 46

The Carlina is the only four-star hotel in the whole of La Plagne that is open to all comers, in the normal way. It is an excellent establishment in the village resort of  Belle Plagne that has just achieved four stars by amongst other things providing tea for children at four o’clock and a better breakfast for adults. There is a spa, including a covered swimming pool, sauna, a Jacuzzi and hammam. The hotel is right by the ski run and you can put your skis on and go. There is an excellent restaurant and a terrace overlooking the ski runs.

Les Deux Domaines, Belle Plagne. Online contact form

Also in Belle Plagne is the flagship ‘five diamond’ chalet hotel operated by Ski Esprit for family package holidays. The clientele is almost entirely British as are the staff. If you want French quality winter sports in a totally British environment, in a first class hotel, this is the place. There are certain restrictions compared with a normal hotel like no room service and no alcohol in the mini bar. All enquiries and bookings have to go through www.espritski.com. There is a pool and everything is geared to making a family holiday with children a success – and it succeeds.

Club Med, Aime La Plagne. Tel 0845 3670 670

For the French, the Club Med hotel at Aime La Plagne offers a similar package holiday in a four-star hotel with 243 rooms on eight floors, a fitness room, Turkish bath & sauna

Mid-level

Araucaria Hôtel Plagne Centre. Tel. +33(0)4 79 09 20 20

The Araucaria is an excellent three-star hotel in Plagne Centre and is privately owned and personally managed by Clément Pasquette. It is strategically placed at the foot of the Jena-Luc Crétier Slalom stadium and just by the ski runs. The hotel offers a beauty salon balnéotherapy, sauna jacuzzi and hammam as well as a 20% discount on lift prices. There is an excellent  restaurant serving a buffet with a wide choice of dishes. Well behaved non residents are some times accepted but booking is essential. Late night revellers on a Friday, who have just discovered everywhere else is full, are not.

Budget

Hotel Mercure, Belle Plagne. Tel. +33(0)4 79 09 12 09

The Hotel Mercure is a good two-star hotel modernised in 2005 and part of the chain of hotels of the same name with a restaurant, sauna hammam and solarium. It is ski in ski out and has a fine view of the mountains.

Auberge Restaurant at Le Chalet du Friolin, Montchavin-Les Coches. Tel : +33 (0) 4 79 55 37 49 

On another planet is the cosy old Megève style auberge the Chalet du Friolin. It certainly is ski in ski out, snow shoe or ski de fond but definitely not drive in. A great establishment with only five bedrooms and terrific traditionalSavoyfood amongst the wild life on the edge of the Park de la Vanoise. You can park at Coches Montchavin and mine host will come and fetch you on his snowmobile pulling a sledge for four people. Snow shoers and langlaufers follow the Les Bauches path (5 km), skiers take any of the ski lifts Plan Bois, Piste du Carolay or Malatray from Coches. The evening meal in front of the open fire and a big breakfast to set you up for the day in the morning. You can have lunch there too.

Condo/House rental

The resort runs an extremely comprehensive service for anybody looking for a hotel, apartment, chamber d’hôte or chalet - La service de reservation de La Plagne. http://www.la-plagne.com/fr/hiver/hebergements-plagne.html

In addition there are ten property agents in the resort the biggest of which is Immobilier La Plagne who have offices in Aime La Plagne, Belle Plagne and Belle Côte. Contact: locations@laplagne-immobilier.com/tél. : 04 79 09 00 77

 

Restaurants

Nightlife

Spitting Feathers is a very lively new bar right in the centre of Plagne Belle Côte and has live music, a large selection of beers, snacks, hot drinks and all live football matches on two TV systems. Nachos, Chips and Plat du Jour at anytime whilst open. Free shuttle service. They also use their website to advertise customers' flats to rent. Open from 12 until 2 a.m.

The No'Blem in Plagne Centre offers concerts and a gathering place for the young crowd. An animated ranch style joint  with large TV screens and live bands, for the younger crowd. Internet is also available. Open 12 'til 2 a.m.

There are many late-night bars, video bars with karaoke and concerts for night owls, each with their own atmosphere in the various villages of La Plagne.

Restaurants

Breakfast:

Since gaining a fourth star, La Carlina Hotel now serves the best breakfast in town with a big buffet for the heartiest of appetites with every kind of egg dish, sausages and all the trimmings.

Le Chaudron in Plagne centre does a good classic French breakfast - croissants and coffee. Same thing at Les Terrasses in Plagne Soleil with the added bonus that they will do you a hot dish of eggs if you warn them the night before.

Lunch:

Le Chalet des Verdons Sud on the slopes (ski-in/ski-out) is on the Champagny side of the resort with a fine south terrace opposite the glacier. Quite sophisticated - not just the standard mountain fare. A nice touch is the slippers they give you to keep your feet warm when you take your ski boots off. Every Thursday evening there is a big blow out menu - reservations only. They fetch you with a big caterpillar machine and take you back to your accommodation, otherwise for lunch you ski, langlauf or snow shoe in. An accordionist is in attendance.

To get there on skis: From La Plagne centre take the Funiplane Grand Rochette. With snowshoes or ski de fond skis you can come from Plagne Centre to the col de Forcle and then down the route de secours to the restaurant. From Champagny take the cable car and from the top you an walk or langlauf to the restaurant.

Le Refuge in Plagne centre is the oldest restaurant in the resort and has been there since La Plagne opened 50 years ago. Photographs of bobsled champions cover the walls in the very local, very French bar out front. In the dining room each table is under a telescopic copper hood, which extracts the smoke while guests barbecue their own steaks at the table.

Dinner:

Le Chaudron is in the middle of Plagne Centre with a terrace with 200 seats facing south, presents excellent grilled specialties cooked over an open fire in the middle of the dining room.

Le Matafan has been in Belle Plagne since it opened for business. It is normally full and is very popular. Tables around an open fire, traditional wood décor. A series of eleven different dishes for lunch are on offer, including mountain ham, paté and cheese, or an omelette with bacon, salad and fries. Dinner portions are mountain-sized. There is a separate bar.

Le Forperet in Plagne Montalbert is something of an institution and lost in the wilds. An old Savoyard sheep farm, or bergèrie, serving really exceptional traditional food. Delicious tartiflette, fondu de mandarin with apple and other specialities in front of an open fire. Goats, a cow and sheep are usually in residence to entertain the children in the adjoining chalet. To get there - ski, snowshoe or ask for the free shuttle from Longefoy and Montalbert.

L'Alpage in Belle Plagne is a recommended value-for-money creperie also serving local specialities fondue, tartiflette, gratin de crozet and croziflette you can eat there or take it away. An ideal stopping off point before attacking the après ski scene.

 

Terrain

The Mountain

The basic fact about La Plagne (1,800-2,100m) is that 80 percent of ski runs are above 2,000 metres, between the Glacier de Belle Côte (3,250m) and the apple orchards in the valleys. The 130 ski runs are split into 18 black, 33 red, 69 blue and 10 green, a total of 180 kilometres of runs. If that is not enough there is the Vanoise Express, which links Les Coches with Les Arcs Peise in just under four minutes, offering access to another 235 kilometres of runs. Some say the resort is a bit flat for boarders. Anybody who has tried all the black runs and the many backcountry trails will smile at that. The six altitude resorts containing the bulk of the accommodation, are all around at 2,000 metres. Not all the accommodation there is literally ski-in ski-out, but none is further than 100 metres from the ski runs.

There are 80 kilometres of cross-country trails - all of which are ideal of snowshoeing and some of which are prepared for skating.

The facilities for children are first class and each village resort has its own childminding centre and snow play area where the children can learn to ski through play and enjoy themselves meanwhile the parents can get off and ski without stress, knowing the kids are having fun and being looked after.

Avoid French school holidays if you can (2012: Feb. 11 to March 10). You will save quite a lot of money and avoid a time when the more popular runs tend to be quite crowded and there can be delays on the lifts.

Powder Day

La Plagne was linked to Les Arcs in 2003 by the biggest cable car in the world, the Vanoise Express, and good skiers have access to a vast, awesome off-piste ski area. To get the greatest benefit from your stay get yourself a guide. Split between a group the cost is not outrageous but it is certainly worth it. This is not just for off-piste but to get the best of the ski runs. Your guide will help you avoid the crowds and find the best powder, whether it is on the north face of Bellecôte (3,200m), on the strikingly beautiful descent of the Cul du Nant glacier or in the great forests that lead down to the villages of Bozel and Macot, places you would find it difficult to find on your own before, all too soon, the moment to go home is upon you.

You can hire a guide as a small group or as an individual for €300 a day in low season or €345 in high season. If you are a good skier (i.e. comfortable on a red run) you can join a day group led by a guide and improve your snow skills in different conditions and types of mountain terrain. The trails are either direct from the ski lifts or start after a short approach trek. Lunch can either be out of the haversack or in one of a number of the high alpine chalets that serve food.

A good circuit to start with is around the summit above Plagne Bellecôte, the Mont Saint Jacques. Start from the top of the L'Arpette ski lift, pass the Tête d'Arpette on the left hand as you face it. You will then arrive at the col between it and the Mont Saint Jacques. From there the descent of the Combe du Grand Clapier gives you excellent snow and a fine view of Mont Blanc. Continue down through the pine Forêt des Frasses to the La Roche ski lift at Aime La Plagne, a descent of 650 metres.

The black ski runs are not all pisted so it is a good place to try out your off-piste skills on a ski run that is otherwise marked out and monitored.

The black/red Mont de la Guerre run is nearly seven kilometres long, from the top of the Les Verdons through some of the La Plagne's most beautiful powder slopes right down to Champagny. The run is marked and secured for safety but not pisted.

You may also want to try your skills on the Jean-Luc Crétier Slalom stadium at Plagne Centre used for international competitions or go across to Les Arcs and attempt to break the ski speed track record (250,74kph over 1740m). After free fall parachuting it is the fastest sport in the world.

A great experience is to join the pisteurs as they go up to open the resort. Maximum participation is limited to 40. You get given breakfast and have the rare privilege of being the first to ski on virgin snow from la Grand Rochette. Slight problem: you have to be there at 7:40 a.m. Also it is only every other Thursday.

It is possible to organise Héli-skiing with a guide on the Italian frontier as landing skiers is forbidden in many parts of the French Alps.

Contact for guides: First Track and the daily snow skills group Maison du Tourisme Plagne Centre 0479-090-201; maisondutourisme@la-plagne.com

Groomers and Family

La Plagne is a great resort to learn to ski and develop quickly into an intermediate skier and beyond. In each of the six altitude villages there are a number of runs coded violet for absolute beginners with free mini ski lifts. Belle Plagne has a magic carpet for beginners in the resort. Once you graduate to blue runs most of the resort is open to you and you can ski down from the top of the Grande Rochette and Les Verdons to Plagne centre or even from the top of the Belle Cote (3,417m) down to Belle Plagne via the Roche de Mio. There is a great short blue run on the glacier right at the top and if you want to you can come down in the cable car. It is a marvellous spot to enjoy the great views all over the Alps around you.

For skiers who enjoy a well groomed ski surface this too is the resort for you. The runs are wide and perfectly maintained  - great ski ‘motorways' all over the resort. Small children happily follow their parents and sometimes lead them on red and blue trails around the Roche de Mio and l'Arpette, Les Dunes and Les Laines runs.

There are no problems about languages and English children, even the ones staying with Espirit Ski in the very British Deux Domaines (or Surrey on Snow) enjoy their time with their French instructors.

Parks/Pipes

The Snowpark de La Plagne is just above Belle Plagne. It is divided up into four zones with differing levels of difficulty for those with little experience of freestyle skiing up to the real pros. The jumps are graded green, blue, red, and black just like the ski runs. There are about 20 different units including rails, tables, a figure S, a wave and a variety of other fun box items. They are regularly changed so that the visitors do not get bored with what the park has to offer. There is a Big Air safety bag to allow for new and more difficult moves in complete safety. There are also a half-pipe, a super half-pipe and a bordercross track. A new innovation this year - freestylers can look at a film of their latest efforts and download onto a mobile phone or share them on the web.

The Little Park is conveniently placed in Belle Plagne with a half-pipe and two freestyle areas that enable everyone to find their own level on different units at different levels of difficulty. Everything has been worked out to help beginners and those who want to improve and eventually do the moves they dream about. The entrance is from the top of the Col du Forché ski lift. The design of the park is aimed at beginners and those who want to try different figures in safety.

The Freestyle Park Initiation Fun Zone for the young beginners at Plagne Montalbert in a safe area with bumps, a bordercross track, rails, tables and the chance to try slalom in parallel. A whole new world of winter sports to learn at your own pace.

Inside Scoop

There is an amazing number of things to do in La Plagne. Here is a selection of the more entertaining activities worth knowing about.

Bobsleigh track

The star of the off-piste activities in La Plagne is undoubtedly France’s only international bobsleigh track on which you can have a go on your own in a mono bob reaching speeds of up to 90kph for €105 or try the real thing in the taxi bob 110 kph for €110, driven by a professional driver with three passengers. The minimum age is 16 for the mono bob or 18 for the taxi bob.

Glacier walking

There is an ice cave with ice carvings at the top of the Belle Côte glacier and you can put on crampons and go for a hike on the other glaciers – with a guide if you are prudent.

Dog sleds

You can go for a ride on a horse drawn sleigh or a dog sled. If you want to you can drive the dog sled shouting “mush” as long as you promise not to let go and let the doggies run off not to be seen again until doggie tea-time. A lot harder work than it looks especially as you have to push up hill. The guide drives a sledge in front of you. As long as you stay on the track all should be well.

Ice climbing

A round of the Ice Climbing World Cup is held at the Champagny village artificial 22m high frozen waterfall. If you are over 10 years old you can have a go as well. Genuine frozen waterfalls are available at Champagny Le Haut Valley.

Ice karting

Ice karting is possible aver the age of 10 every Thursday night and there are facilities for quad biking. Snowmobiles are available from Belle Plagne (El Pro), Plagne Centre and Plagne Bellecôte at about € 90 an hour.

Winter walking

There are many specially prepared walking trails linking the various villages. These beautiful pathways are a wonderful tranquil way of exploring the valley in peace and quiet. For safety wear gripper treads and take ski sticks. The tourist offices provide a special map and there are discounts on the cable cars and ski lifts for pedestrians.

Mont de la Guerre Derby

Each year at the end of January there is the Mont de la Guerre Derby organised by the Champagny Ski Club. There are five categories: Alpine, Telemark, Snowboard, Monoski and Handiski. All you have to do is be over 16, pay €35, sign the application form agreeing not to sue the organisers if you break your neck and you are entered for a great fun race with 50 or 60 others. Competitors start off in groups of four regardless of speciality. The piste is ‘challenging’. The entry fee covers you for insurance for the day so that’s alright. Ends with a ‘buffet convivial’ – magic.

Plan Your Trip

La Plagne Lodging
Ski Lessons

Best Time for Snow

Total Snowfall

108cm
68cm
45cm
23cm
0cm
44cm
Dec
90cm
Jan
53cm
Mar
36cm
Apr
20cm
May
0cm
Jun

Terrain Overview

6%
Beginners Runs
55%
Intermediate Runs
26%
Advanced Runs
13%
Expert Runs
135
Runs in Total
6 km
Longest Run
225 km
Skiable Terrain
80 km
Night Skiing
329 ha
Snow Making
35 km
Snow Making

Total Lifts: 103

10
Gondolas & Trams
6
High Speed Sixes
26
High Speed Quads
10
Quad Chairs
7
Triple Chairs
14
Double Chairs
30
Surface Lifts

Elevation

3250m
Summit
2000m
Vertical Drop
1250m
Base

Important Dates

December 11, 20212021/12/11
Projected Opening
April 30, 20222022/04/30
Projected Closing
138
Projected Days Open
136
Days Open Last Year
60
Years Open
524cm
Average Snowfall
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