Paradiski is the combined total ski area of two already sizeable resorts, Les Arcs and La Plagne, in the Tarentaise area of Savoie, North-East France.
Les Arcs itself is made up of four stations at 1,600m, 1,800m, 1,950m and 2,000m, while La Plagne is spread over six high resort areas (Aime la Plagne, Belle Plagne, Plagne Villages/Soleil, Plagne Bellecôte, Plagne Centre and Plagne) and four slightly lower village resorts (Champagny en Vanoise, Plagne Montalbert, Montchavin and Les Coches).
The two resorts were joined in 2003 by the completion of the Vanoise Express, an ambitious high-speed (40km p/h) cable car. The combined resorts offer a massive skiable area, including 425km of pistes, and the Vanoise provides a fast enough link to allow almost a whole day’s skiing on the other side of the valley.
How to Get There
A good way to get to either La Plagne or Les Arcs is by flying to Chambery or Geneva and then taking a taxi or bus to the chosen resort. Chambery is closer but operates less services and may be more expensive.
Easyjet offers a huge number of flights to Geneva from as little as £50 return from many major UK airports, and cheap charter flights to Chambery are available from operators such as Satellite travel.
From both Geneva and Lyon airports it takes around three hours to reach the resort by car or taxi transfer, and about an hour less from Chambery. The bus takes up to an hour or so longer than the taxi, depending on timetabling and changes at Moutiers.
There is a good and inexpensive bus service with Altibus from Geneva, Chambery and Lyon. The buses go all the way to both resorts, with larger coaches changing to smaller minibuses or taxis at Moutiers station.
The service is flexible and you can adjust your return journey, which is very handy for people on long stays, but just remember to give enough notice for when you want to travel.
The ski train usually runs overnight from the London Waterloo Eurostar station via either Paris or Lyon, finishing at Bourg St. Maurice. In the case of Les Arcs, which is only nine miles from Bourg Saint-Maurice, there is an efficient and inexpensive funicular train and a bus service up to Arc 1,600m, from which it is possible to take free buses to other areas. The funicular service does not run beyond late afternoon so those arriving late should consider other options.
Although there are some sleeper trains on this route, not all of them have sleeping facilities and so they do not always make for a comfortable or quiet journey. Also, the train is generally more expensive than other options.
Driving to the Paradiski is an option but it is generally more trouble than it is worth, given the cost of fuel, toll roads, resort parking and other items such as snow chains. It is only really practical and economical for large families, people with lots of luggage or those wishing to take lots of alcohol, cheese or ski gear home with them. The journey itself usually takes around 8-10 hours from Dover.
Who the Resort Caters For
Both individual resorts have their own fans but the majority in both are British families. Most of the areas in the resort are quite small when taken individually, and there is not much in the way of nightlife in either resort, meaning that the crowd is slightly older than in other resorts. The bars in Belle Plagne probably constitute what can be taken as the best for apres-ski and nightlife.
What Accommodation the Resort Offers
Given the massive number of possibilities for stays in the Paradiski area there is something to suit most tastes and budgets. The benefit of coming to such a resort is that you can find whatever type of accommodation you are looking for whilst still being able to enjoy all the different skiing options, whether you want a catered chalet or a self-catering apartment.
Les Arcs 1,600m is generally thought of as the most scenic and traditional on that side of the valley, while the other Arc resorts are larger and more modern. In La Plagne, Belle Plagne is good for hotels and Montchavin La Plagne has the traditional charm of an old farming village.
Given the poor snow in recent years some of the lower resorts to be found in La Plagne are a slightly risky choice, especially late or early in the season.
There are a good variety of piste and off-piste runs in both individual ski areas, and the combined Paradiski network is therefore very varied, from the low-lying tree runs in La Plagne that catch the morning sun, to wind-blasted peaks.
The transfer across the Vanoise express is fast enough to make exploring the other side of the valley a must for intermediate and advanced skiers. However, as there is enough in each resort to keep you busy for a few days, a good way to do some exploring without paying the significant extra cost for a full week’s pass for the Paradiski is to buy a one-day discovery pass and go over first thing in the morning. This way you can get in a good five hours skiing before heading back, but make sure you don’t miss the last Express.
Black Runs: 37
Red Runs: 65
Blue Runs: 123
Green Runs: 11
Cross Country: 153km
Ski Lifts: 141
Max Vertical: 2,000m
Highest Lift: 3,250m
Lowest Piste: 1,250m
Resort Altitude: 1,250m – 2,050m