Review of La Plagne

20th April 2007 by Paul Gammage 

La Plagne, or better still Les Coches!1
What can I say after 2 visits this year (Jan and Mar) the snow conditions were the strangest I’d seen in the resort!!
As usual - higher up, from Les Coches up, the snow was great, but as you’d expect, even in January, the run to Montchavin was a bit of a lottery!
But with so much on offer and the link to Les Arcs you don’t have to go down - unless you are staying in Montchavin and then you only have to do it the once anyway, so all the “horror stories” in the press really meant that good skiing opportunities were lost to many.

Les Coches is in a prime setting for all of the Paradiski area!
The new six pack chair from the ESF Plan Bois) is a belter, but then anything is if you compare it to the old two man, steam driven antique it replaced.
From both Montchavin and Les Coches it is only two lifts to get up to some fabulous runs on the Dos Rond plateau and this feeds off to La Plagne proper or to the glacier.
One lift will get you to the Vanoise express and even if you don’t ski or board, do it! Better than Alton Towers and the view is a belter.
Arriving at Peisey, it is quite easy to get over to Arcs 1950 for lunch and managed this in January with some friends who were put off by the distance, but were more than happy with the decision they had made by the time they had got there, all by simple blues and a good lunch!

Les Coches is still geared for self catering but there are a number of good refurbished apartments that have high levels of comfort and space and I still find Erna Low to be good value for money and helpful.

For apres ski Les Coches isn’t big on it like some resorts, but it does have “The Last One” bar which is run by a French rugby nut, but he can also get some of the English football as well.
Refurbished last autumn, The Last One is a great place to go for a beer.
Both in January and March, Phil had live music twice during the week.
Joined onto the Freeride Spirit shop, it does give the place a different vibe.
The Last One shuts at 2am ,but for those with more energy than me now, Shooters is open until 4, you can make your own minds up!

Mountain restaurants, well, “The Sauget” at the top of the Montchavin chair is great - again this has been extended so in a cold January everyone can get inside.
Pat and Gerard do treat you like part of their family and a late lunch and “can’t be bothered” do seem to win out, certainly with me.
Further up the mountain Pierres Blanches does good simple food but the views are stunning.
In Les Coches itself, L’Origon great for simple steaks and pastas and well priced, Tavern du Manchu does a good 2 course option and La Poze does a good variety and is getting better service again than I have experienced some years in the past.
The new “Savoyart” is stunning interior and the food is good, different but good. And finally Les Lauze - I had the biggest cotes de boeuf ever there. Thank God it was downhill on the way home!

The Chalets de L’Arcs above 1950 is a great place to get to for lunch. Go inside to see the interior but not at the expense of the sun terrace - you might need to book in March.
Luigis in 1950 is also a good option.

The local ESF in Les Coches are good - one instructor in particular has sorted out 2 friends this year who were struggling, but he sorted both of them out in a 2 hour private lesson.
Not telling you his name so he is still available next year.

Les Coches is expanding with new accommodation being built, some should have been opened by now, and the cranes do spoil the place a bit, so I would say stay in La Plagne proper and leave some space for us!!

Pistes and grading: over the years - certainly on the Les Coches side, the amount of snow making has increased massively and now goes up to over 2,300 metres, but what people some times forget, specially if the snow cover is poor, that it has to be cold to make snow, and certainly this year, that has been a struggle, even in January.

When I first went to Les Coches, some of the home runs were a bit steep for blues, and a bit narrow and bumpy and icy but now ...... they are wider. Bijolin for example has snow making on it but can still be a bit icy, a bit bumpy, but “hey”, that’s skiing.
For a different option to get part way back from Dos Rond, try the Pierre Blanches run - no snow making but when snow is around it has some stunning views and is great and possibly a slightly easier option than Bijolin.
L’Esselet (red) off of this is a belter with even better views but can deteriorate in places, but that is part of the fun.
The names of many of the runs in this sector have changed in the last couple of years but so has the signing, which may bear out peoples angst over the grading as some of the blues down to Montchavin for example are now reds - but if you did them last year then a colour change shouldn’t make too much of a difference, should it!

The runs anywhere are going to be affected by height and orientation to the sun. Bear that in mind when planning your day and it should help to reduce the shocks!

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