The Ultimate Guide to Les Arcs

Les Arcs Dsc7323 (large)

Photo: Les Arcs – © Tristan Shu

The French ski resort of Les Arcs is famed for being a family-friendly destination. It prides itself as literally having something for every skier and snowboarder, no matter what your level is. People are attracted to Les Arcs for its convenience, snow-sure conditions, great value self-catered accommodation and variety of pistes.

THE RESORT AND MOUNTAINS

In 2003 the Vanoise Express gondola was built to connect Les Arcs with neighbouring La Plagne. This connection led to the creation of the Paradiski area, which covers 425km of pisted terrain, the third largest ski area in the world. However, if you plan on exploring the whole area, don’t expect to ski both areas on the same day due to the local geography.

Les Arcs is made up of four purpose-built ski resorts, 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000, each offers direct access to the slopes and lifts. The newer villages of 1950 and 2000 are regarded as the most attractive and of the four, and they have better amenities. But all the villages are mostly pedestrianised and have their own bars, restaurants, and activities to enjoy. In addition to this, you have access to the whole Paradiski area from any of the villages.

The Vanoise Express also gives you access to Plan Peisey, Vallandry and Peisey Nancroix. These villages are smaller and more traditional, as opposed to the purpose-built style of the Les Arcs villages. However, they are still part of the Paradiski area.

The massive ski area consists of 260 pistes serviced by 141 lifts. The range of green, blue, red and black runs entertains visitors to Les Arcs no matter their skill level or experience. It is worth noting that more than 70% of the Paradiski domain is higher than 2,000 metres. This high altitude means that snow conditions are reliable, with excellent coverage throughout the winter season.

You can drive up to Les Arcs, but you can also access Arc 1600 via the funicular from Bourg St Maurice. This takes seven minutes, making the fastest way of reaching the resort. If you stay in one of the higher villages, there is a free shuttle bus that leaves every twenty minutes to transport guests to their chosen resort.

Arc 1950
Les Arcs - © Fred Marchadier

Arc 1950 Le Village is arguably the prettiest of the 4 pedestrian ski-in ski-out villages of Les Arcs

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION 

Les Arcs is well known for its good value accommodation, but you will not be left wanting if you like your accommodation a little more high-end. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Les Arcs.

Taj I Mah Hotel

The Taj I Mah is a five-star hotel located in Arc 2000. It gives guests easy access to the slopes, as it is just 100m from the Lanchettes lift, making it a ski-to-door hotel.

The hotel has two excellent restaurants managed by a world-renowned chef. Here guests can experience gastronomic delights while enjoying panoramic views over the ski resort and its slopes.

After exploring the Paradiski area, the hotel bar is a great place to sip aprés drinks before heading off to your luxury and spacious room.

Each room is ensuite, air-conditioned and has a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some of the hotel’s rooms have a seating area and feature alpine views.

The Taj-I-Mah hotel has a large spa measuring 400 m², and its large windows provide superb views over the mountains. It has a very relaxing ambience, making the 15-meter indoor swimming pool, sauna and hot tub excellent places to be. There is also a selection of massage treatments to help you rejuvenate on your holiday.

The hotel has its own ski hire equipment and offers a range of activities for its guests.

The recently built (Dec 2016) ski-in ski-out 5***** Hotel Taj-I Mah in Arc 2000 provides a luxurious experience

OUR FAVOURITE SELF CATERED APARTMENTS

Résidence Pierre & Vacances Premium Arc 1950 Le Village

The spacious apartments of Résidence Pierre & Vacances Premium Arc 1950 Le Village have a premium alpine cottage style decor. The well-equipped kitchen makes this a great place to stay for families who prefer to be self-catered. The amenities also enhance its appeal to families, thanks to indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa, sauna, hot tub and fitness room.

The residence is well located, giving guests easy access to the slopes. But, it also has several bars and boutiques nearby, as well as a supermarket. But the residence has its own traditional French restaurant to enjoy if you don’t want to stray too far from your apartment.

In addition to all this, guests receive discounts on a range of activities, for when they want to experience what Les Arcs has to offer other than skiing.

La Cime des Arcs

Set in Arcs 2000, right on the ski slopes, La Cime Des Arcs is an excellent example of self-catered modern accommodation. Here guests can take full advantage of the residence’s indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath.

The apartments each feature a balcony, a living room with a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom, while some apartments have two bathrooms.

If you don’t want to cook, you can sample local Savoyard specialities from the on-site restaurant, either in the dining room or on the sunny terrace.

La Source des Arcs

Situated overlooking the ski slopes of Arcs 2000, La Source des Arcs is another excellent option for self-catered families. It features an indoor swimming pool and a fitness room. To soothe your legs after a long day of skiing, you can relax in the residence’s hot tub and sauna. But it is located within 50 m of the Rhodos and Le Cabriolet ski lifts. This gives its guests ski-to-door access, making it very convenient for first lifts on powder days, or getting your kids to ski school in the mornings.

Each apartment features a balcony and a comfy sofa to relax on while watching your satellite TV. Their well-equipped kitchens have a dishwasher, oven and microwave. Each kitchen also has a toaster and coffee machine to help you start your day properly. The apartments have their own private bathroom with free toiletries and towels supplied.

Arc 1950 & Arc 2000 view from above
Arc 1950 & Arc 2000 view from above

Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 have direct ski-in ski-out access and linked with Le Cabriolet gondola

APRÈS AND NIGHTLIFE

Les Arcs has plenty of options for aprés and late night drinks. There is something to suite everyone’s taste, whether you want a quiet drink or dance into the early hours of the morning. Here are some of our favourite venues in Les Arcs.

Arc 1950 is very lively and has an excellent choice of aprés bars that you can ski in and out of. La Belle Pinte is a large Irish pub that has a more cosmopolitan feel to it during the day, but during the evenings, it becomes very lively, especially when the resort is busy. There is the kind of place that you can have a great time sitting around with friends enjoying a pint and a chat.

You can ski right up to the Mont Blanc Bar, which is at the top of Vallandry, and close to the Grizzly chairlift. It features a large sunny terrace and is open until late at night. Here, you can enjoy live music and specific nights, such as Drum n Bass nights hosted by DJs. This is a very British bar, with a pool table and sports on the TVs. Therefore, it doesn’t exactly give you a French experience, but it is a fun place to be.

For a more cosy bar in Arc 1950, head to George Wine Bar. Here you can sample a wide range of beers and wines in a relaxed atmosphere.

If you want to experience a very different kind of aprés scene, Arc 2000 has the perfect thing for you. It has the largest igloo village in the French Alps. This is accessible on skis, as it is located at the bottom of the Arcabulle lift. In the village, you will find an ice cave with a bar carved out of the ice. This is an unusual and fun way of stopping off for a drink and worth experiencing at least once during your trip.

You will find that Arc 2000 has the best bars out of the four resorts, and Arguably El Latino Loco is the best one. This is one of those places that is a restaurant, bar and nightclub all in one.

Go there during the day for excellent Mexican food. But El Latino Loco is the place to go for cocktails and dancing at night until 4am. Alternatively, you can check out the Red Rock Café for good American style food and excellent cocktails.

The high altitude ski resort of Les Arcs makes it a reliable & snow guarantee destination all winter season

EATING IN LES ARCS

Mountain Restaurants

When skiing around the fantastic Paradiski area, you will notice a variety of mountain restaurants. These are ideal places for a bite to eat and to rest your legs. Here are some of our favourite mountain restaurants in Les Arcs.

Belliou La Fumee is based in Arc 2000 at the bottom of the Cascades blue run. It might seem a bit dark inside, but the building is a 500-year-old bear hunting lodge. This is a cosy place to enjoy excellent food while warming up in front of the massive fireplace.

Les Chalets de L’Arc is located very close to Arc 2000 and not far from the Arcabulle chair lift. Built from wood and stone, this restaurant is a gorgeous traditional style building with a large terrace. The restaurant is the perfect setting to enjoy local food and a wonderful ambience when dining inside or outside. Their homemade bread is fantastic, as are their Savoyard dishes. The restaurant also claims to be the highest bakery in the Alps.

La Ferme is a rustic and charming restaurant sitting at the bottom of the Villaroger lift, just a short walk from the bottom of the piste. Here you can expect superb mountain dishes in a great atmosphere, including the rabbit casserole speciality. There is also have an excellent self-service restaurant, with a variety of tasty dishes.

In resort Restaurants

Les Arcs 1950 has some excellent traditional French restaurants. Le 1950 Brasserie and La Table des Lys are firm favourites. Both have lovely gourmet menus to enjoy with a sophisticated ambience. Le Mazot is an excellent Savoyarde restaurant, serving local specialities. This is located right in the centre of Arc 1950, so it is easy to find.

If you stay in Arcs 2000 and want to dine in a cosy atmosphere while enjoying an excellent wine list, Le Savoy is a fabulous choice. It has a large outdoor terrace, with sun loungers too, so you can head there for sundrenched aprés drinks. Le Savoy is a great stopping place for snacks such as crepes or waffles, or lunch, thanks to its ski-in-ski-out location.

Les Arcs does not have any Michelin starred restaurants, but there are two in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, just down the mountain.

Le Montagnole in the centre of Bourg-Saint-Maurice and is described in the Guide Michelin as creating simple, traditional cuisine served with care. The owners serve the meals, and they also display their artworks on the walls of the restaurant.

L’Arssiban is a traditional Savoyard restaurant that has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand. This award was given due to their excellent value cuisine prepared by a chef who is “uncompromising and passionate about using fresh ingredients”.

Les Arcs Rodeo Park David Malacrida 26 (large)
Les Arcs - © David Malacrida

There are many winter activities to try out in Les Arcs and tobogganing is no exception

NON-SKIING ACTIVITIES

Sometimes you want to experience more than just the ski slopes, bars and restaurant when you are visiting a ski resort. You may have non-skiers in your group or juts fancy a break. Luckily Les Arcs has plenty to do other than skiing; here are some of the must-do activities:

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is an excellent way of seeing the alpine landscape at a much more sedate pace. Les Arcs has many walking trails to explore, either on your own or during a guided tour. Guided tours are great, as your guide will provide all the equipment necessary and take you to all the best places.

Ice Climbing

Ice climbing is a fantastic experience for those that want something a little different from their ski trip. Meet up with your professional mountaineer guide, who will provide you with all the knowledge and equipment for scaling a frozen waterfall. You don’t need any prior experience, but you will need a head for heights.

Dog Sledding

Driving a team of huskies through the Nordic area of Peisey-Nancroix near Arcs 1950 is a fantastic thing to experience. You can do this either at night or during the day with a guide who will teach you everything you need to know.

Helicopter Trips

A helicopter tour of the alps isn’t something many people get to do very often. But, Les Arcs is the base for a few pleasure flight companies that give you the best views of the alps. You can choose trips that last 10 minutes to an hour, starting from less than €100.

Mini Motoneige 4 ©raj Bundhoo (large)
Les Arcs - © Raj Bundhoo

Kids can race with mini electric snowmobiles from the age 5 to 13 years old in Arc 1800 

Why Book your Ski Holiday to Les Arcs

Les Arcs attracts many skiers of all levels every winter. This is thanks to its massive Paradiski area, choice of accommodation, excellent restaurants, bars and activities. Les Arcs high altitude means it is snow-sure, providing that you will likely get excellent snow coverage all winter.

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