Review of Les Arcs

25th January 2011 by john 

It has been a while since I last wrote a review of Les Arcs so I thought I better update things a bit.

First of all I must confess to being a bit of a Les Arcs fan. We like the place so much we actually bought an apartment in 1600. Hence this review is more of a set of guidance from someone who knows the place quite well rather than this place is brilliant/awful sort of review.

We drove down overnight on 22/12/10 to spend Christmas and New Year there. Considering the chaos that seemed to England at the time due to couple cm of snow the journey was fairly painless but slow due to following a series of snow ploughs all the way to Rheims and very heavy rain around Bourg en Bresse. After unpacking and lunch we did not start skiing until 13:00.

Tip #1 In Les Arcs; the lifts keep running, even in December, until 16:35 or 17:00. The lift pass may be expensive (though cheaper than Soldeau in Andora) but you get your money’s worth. The last connecting lift from Arc 1800 to 1600 is 17:00. You can always get the bus back if you miss that, but do not miss the last lift out of Vallandry. That is a 30-40 minute uphill trek or a very expensive taxi to Bourg st Maurice.

Tip #2; at the bottom of the Combettes lift in Arc 1600 there is a burger bar where a good burger and chips will cost less than 10 euro. There are other sandwich shops along the street where you can also get a very cheap lunch.

Arc 1600 is a very friendly place where the butcher in the Spar, the landlady of the Abrevoir bar, the owner of the Chez Fernand restaurant and assorted other people will shake your hand and welcome you to the resort. It is a pretty village with an attractive square with bars and restaurants and a small shopping street.
The village has a good small Spar, which, unusually, actually has a real butcher and a small bakery.

Top tip # 3; if you would like a Piarade (hot rock) in your apartment then call into the Spar in the morning, tell the butcher for how many people and what meats you would like and he will have it all ready for you in the evening. They will even rent you the equipment.
If there is any other speciality, such as oysters, you want, just tell the butcher and he will get it for you. For those who want to save a few euros and visit the Super U with its fantastic seafood counter or any other shops, the funicular down to Bourg St Maurice now runs until 21:00. The swimming pool in Bourg is also very good.

As I walked up the steps to get my shopping on Christmas eve White Christmas wafted over the loud speakers, a torchlight descent of the piste was in full swing, free Vin Chaud was being offered and snow was gently falling. This was followed by fireworks.  Beautiful.
For New Year ’s Eve we went to the restaurant in the Trois Arcs building. For 54 euros each we had a fantastic 6 course meal with wine, plum brandy and champagne, all served by really pleasant waiting staff. We went in at 21:00 and left at 02:00. I really recommend this restaurant.

Tip #4 The restaurant in the 3 Arcs building is very good, but book in advance for an evening meal.

Tip #5 For a drink after skiing the Chez Fernand and the bar that has replaced the old pizza 2000 restaurant are good.

Les Arcs has done some improvements to the lift system and pistes over the years. For this year the piste from the top of the Cachette lift to the Arpette restaurant has been straightened and this has made the whole run much safer.

There are still big queues for the Cachette lift during the morning, sometimes over 10 minutes. This lift really does need replacing and improving (I can still remember the 2 drag lifts it replaced). This is exasperated by more people coming up from Bourg and needing this lift to get to the rest of the system. Even for New Year week, which is traditionally one of the busiest in the season there were no other queues as bad as this.

The start of the week was blessed with fresh snow and we had a lovely time skiing through the trees in Vallandry. Some friends who had joined us in Les Arcs for the first time thought that the pistes got a little bumpy during the day as skiers moved the fresh snow. They commented on how some resorts ran the piste bashers during the day to maintain the corduroy. 
Tip #5 Les Arcs does not bash every piste smooth every night and none during the day. It even allows some pistes (including 2 reds) to remain in natural condition throughout the season. If you want very smooth pistes then head for Vallandry.

We hired a guide for a half day from Arc Adventures to take us on one of the easy off-piste routes. The guide cost 180 euro, which was 30 euro each – very good value.
Tip #6 Arc Aventures do much more than ski lessons, they are worth contacting for all sorts of other activities such as mountain guiding, ice climbing, snowshoe walking and of course off piste. I have even arranged canyoning and rafting down the Isere with them on the phone from the UK for summer holidays

After 11 days of skiing we called it a day on the 2/1/11 and headed off home overnight.
Tip #7 I have skied over 14 days a year in Les Arcs over the last few years and only been over to La Plagne twice. Personally I would not bother with a Paradiski pass. There is more than enough skiing in Les Arcs

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