Back to earth in Les Arcs

9th February 2010, by Chris Gill

Doesn't he look cute?

Doesn't he look cute?

Tuesday in Les Arcs turned out to be neither one thing nor the other. Snow was forecast for the afternoon, and it arrived on cue – but never amounted to anything much. On the plus side the visibility was reasonable, but the light was pretty flat all day, and by the end of the day many pistes were revealing the hard and even icy base that they were offering before last weekend’s storms.

Ironically, on a wintery day the best skiing was above the trees, just as the snow started to fall. We were expecting things to get worse as the day wore on, so from our starting point of Arc 1600 we made straight for treeless Arc 2000; thanks to the fast new Arpette chair, it’s only two fast lift rides to the ridge now – all in all, about 20 minutes from the village.

Most people stayed low, so we were able to walk straight on to both the Varet gondola and the Aiguille Rouge cable car above it – something I have never known before. And practically everyone in the cable car went down the red Arandelières, meaning that we had the glorious black Aiguille Rouge piste to ourselves. Below the point where it reverts to red status we picked up a lot more traffic, and the run became less pleasant as we progressed towards the bottom – at over 2000m, the biggest on-piste vertical in the Alps, I seem to recall?

Having confirmed that the Solliet restaurant deserves to retain its Editors’ Choice position (and interviewed the sled dogs parked outside, shown above), we headed off for the trees above Peisey-Vallandry, where in theory we should get the best skiing as the skies puked snow. Sadly, the puking petered out, the pistes over there were increasingly hard and the number of people on them made skiing much less of a pleasure.

For the final serious run of the day we took the Transarc gondola to the top (it runs until 4.55 to get people back to Arc 2000) and had much more fun on the red runs from there back to 1800, where the Chantel chair runs until 5.45 to get people back to Arc 1600.

We’ll be skiing through Peisey-Vallandry again on Wednesday, on our way to a day in La Plagne. If the promised snow arrives overnight, we might just give its lovely woodland runs another hour of our time.

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