Les Arcs Travel Guide
A modern, purpose-built ski resort, the holiday destination of Les Arcs comprises four resort villages situated above the town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, all linked by a free shuttle bus. Named after their respective altitudes, Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 are dominated by large apartment buildings, purposefully designed with convenience in mind, while the latest addition to the resort, Arc 1950, has a more traditional guise and a typically European village style.
The large and diverse network of well-groomed pistes more than makes up for any lack of charm, however, and the highest station at Aiguille Rouge Peak (10,584 ft/3,226m) guarantees excellent snow conditions from December to April. Its vast trail system has been linked to that of La Plagne, making the combined Paradiski area one of the largest interconnected ski and snowboard areas in the world.
Arc 1800 is the biggest and most popular of the four villages that make up Les Arcs, and is the most conveniently situated for all levels of skiers and non-skiers on holiday, while just below, Arc 1600 is smaller and suited to young families, although it can get busy on weekends due to the direct funicular link from the town of Bourg Saint Maurice.
More devoted snow enthusiasts prefer to head to the highest resort, Arc 2000, situated at the foot of Aiguille Rouge in the next valley, where the emphasis is on skiing and snowboarding rather than apres-ski holiday facilities. It has easy access to the glacier and is linked to Arc 1950 by a free cable car. Both 1950 and 2000 are invariably ski-in/ski-out all season.
There are a few other villages in the area that, while not officially part of the resort, are seamlessly connected and offer their own accommodation and ski areas as well. These include Vallandry, Peisey, Plan-Peisey, Le Pre and Villaroger.
The vast terrain of Les Arcs offers good skiing for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, with easy access to the excellent nursery slopes from all the villages for beginners. Intermediates are the most spoilt for choice, with abundant blue and red runs throughout the area, while advanced skiers should head to the high pistes above Arc 2000 and the black runs on the Aiguille Rouge peak. Off-piste opportunities are also available in Les Arcs, although there's less choice than in some other resorts. Snow conditions on the higher pistes are generally good, and snow cannons keep the sunnier, lower slopes covered. There is also a good snowboard park with jumps and a half pipe at Arc 2000.
Visitors on holiday in Les Arcs will find there are supermarkets and ski shops in all the villages, although Arc 1800 has the most choice. Arc 1950 also offers a wide range of shops, from clothes and souvenirs to sport equipment and rental. Arc 2000 has the least variety, but it's easy to get down to 1950 for more options. Most of the accommodation in Les Arcs is self-catering, and those who driving to resort can bring pre-prepared meals with them, or stock up in a supermarket en route where they'll find better prices and more choice.
All the Les Arcs villages offer a variety of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets, from local specialities, pizzas, creperies and haute cuisine. Les Arcs 1800 has the biggest variety, and there is a good selection in 1950 too, while Arc 1600 and Arc 2000 have only a handful of restaurants to choose from. L'Arpette is one of the best mountain restaurants, situated just above 2000, although La Folie Douce now puts up still competition. Those staying in Les Arcs 1950 should consider booking Chalet du Luigi or Nonna Lisa, while Le 2134 Restaurant is a good option in 2000, and Chez Boubou and L'Escale Gourmande are popular choices in Arc 1800.
There's loads of options for those who want a well-earned drink after a hard day on the slopes. L'Arpette Restaurant, just above 2000, has good music and a great deck for those who want to soak up the last of the sun, and La Folie Douce recently opened its doors just above 1800, bringing its legendary dancing-in-ski-boots apres ski vibe to Les Arcs. It's open until 7pm daily. 1800 has the most apres-ski options, while the other resorts are more family orientated and have a relatively low-key nightlife, although all the villages have plenty of bars and late-night watering holes.
Les Arcs offers a huge number of activities as well as skiing. With a 3000m descent, the Luge 2000 toboggan run guarantees thrills and laughter, and there's more gentle tobogganing on offer within the villages. The Aiguille Rouge Zipline reaches speeds of 100 mph, arriving just above Les Arcs 2000. Many of the apartment blocks have indoor swimming pools and there's a public pool in Arc 1800, featuring water slides and jets. The bowling alley in 2000 also makes for a good evening out.
Other than in 1800, the Les Arcs village have limited nightlife and après-ski options, so those looking for a more hip and happening party scene might consider heading to another resort.