Montchavin and Les Coches, France=
Montchavin and Les Coches are two charming little low-level village resorts located in the wider ski area of La Plagne, which also includes, at the lower levels, Champagny en Vanoise at 1250m and Plagne Montalbert at 1350m, and, at the higher levels, six other centres, including Plagne itself. To put the resorts in perspective, La Plagne is itself part of the massive Paradiski area, which is composed of La Plagne and Les Arcs.
Staying in either resort gives you the option to explore a varied and, in parts, high ski area, since the ski pass covers all of the resorts in La Plagne. Furthermore, you can always explore further by crossing the valley to Les Arcs, using the high-speed cable car, the Vanoise Express. With 425 kilometres of pistes available in the total Paradiski network, you are spoiled for choice. Snow cover is fairly reliable even during the early and later parts of the season.
How to get there:==
As with most French ski resorts, by far the easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to get there is to fly. There are a few different airports to choose from, including Geneva, Chambery, and Lyon, with cheap commercial flights from companies such as Easyjet or cheap charters with Satellite travel consistently proving popular with skiers.
Although Chambery is the closest airport to the resort, taking about two hours to drive between the two places, Geneva is a better choice as more public transport services run between there and the resorts. It will take you three hours to drive between Geneva and the resort and this applies to Lyon as well.
When you arrive at the airport, transfers can be expensive unless you are with a group of 8 or 10. However, many budget travellers choose to take the public bus service run by Altibus. It is reasonably priced and fairly flexible, but takes around an hour longer than the taxi as you need to change from coach to smaller minibuses at Moutiers.
Train services to the foothills of the Alps run overnight from London via Lyon or Paris. Some are sleeper trains with beds and are reasonably comfortable but some are not so luxurious. The journey can take over eight hours, depending on changes in France, and it is not a great option for very young or elderly passengers. Price is also a major deterrent as fares tend to start at around £150.
However, should you choose to travel by train, the resorts are very close to Landry station. From there you can take the shuttle bus or arrange a taxi transfer.
Driving to Montchavin and Les Coches takes between eight and ten hours and is a journey best completed overnight. Driving is a good option for those taking lots of kit to the resorts but most people find it more trouble than it is worth, although it does give you more freedom and flexibility if you want to explore the surrounding area.
Snow chains may be needed if the roads are icy and the cost of tolls, ferry crossings, parking, and petrol should all be considered. One argument in favour of taking a car to the lower resorts in La Plagne is that, although the higher resorts have a free shuttle bus running between 8 a.m. and midnight, the lower resorts do not. However, the lift network still renders the car largely redundant.
Who the resort caters for:
La Plagne as a whole, and indeed the neighbouring resort of Les Arcs, attracts many English tourists, although there are a number of French as well. The two resorts are more family-orientated as a result of their quiet and traditional feel. There is certainly not much in the way of nightlife or clubbing. If you are craving seclusion and tranquility, you will be happy here.
Built between the wars and with some seriously classy architectural touches on display (baroness Rothschild had a hand in their development, in a challenge to the Swiss resorts), the two villages look like picture-postcard Alpine villages. As a result of their low altitude, the villages were traditionally used for farming and much of this atmosphere has been preserved, with lots of wood and stone keeping the charm of the place intact.
If you want a large hotel you might be better off higher in La Plagne, but with charming accommodation in the form of mountain inns, such as the converted period farm-chalet Le Sauget, who could ask for more?
Montchavin and Les Coches lie in the gentle lower slopes of La Plagne and the skiing is ideal for beginners or older skiers who are perfectly happy to cruise through tree runs and are content not to throw themselves off sheer precipices. The slopes benefit from lovely warm sunshine in the mornings and many people ski down from the higher areas to take advantage of the tree-lined runs.
Although there is not much in the way of off-piste action here, the great advantage of the location is that the Paradiski is just up the hill, and this should keep most people occupied for a good while. In addition, the access to the Paradiski acts as a back-up in times of poor snow, which can be a problem, especially for Montchavin at just 1250m.
Ski passes for these resorts allow access to all of the slopes in La Plagne, and it is possible to buy extensions for the Paradiski on a daily or weekly basis.
Black Runs: 15
Red Runs: 29
Blue Runs: 80
Green Runs: 10
Cross Country: 90km
Ski Lifts: 102
Max Vertical: 2000m
Highest Lift: 3250m
Lowest Piste: 1250m
Resort Altitude: 1250 – 1450m