One of the most popular ski resorts in Europe has to be Les Arcs. Usually in everyone’s list of the top ski resorts in France, Les Arcs is made up of four smaller sites on the Tarentaise valley.
Each of the fours Arcs is easily accessible one to the other on ski or snowboard, but not on foot. They are part of the Paradiski ski domaine, which is only slightly smaller than the nearby Les 3 Vallées which is considered the largest ski domaine in the world.
Paradiski includes 265 miles (425 km) of skiable terrain, with Les Arcs and La Plagne among the more well-known names of resorts in the area. The nearby village of Bourg-Saint-Maurice is the base camp in the area. It has a high-speed train station at the foot of valley for direct TGV train access from across Paris, London, and other cities of Western Europe.
The 4 Les Arcs resorts are quite different from each other, so picking which of the resorts you want to stay at may “make or break” your holiday. The numbers “2000” to “1600” in the name give the altitude of the resort, and are how they are identified.
So let’s have a look at the ski slopes and each resort, shall we? Allons-y!
The Ski slopes
The Les Arcs ski pass gives you access to a large network of alpine ski slopes and chair lifts. There are over 125 miles (200 km) of ski domaine, including the following:
- 8 green slopes
- 43 blue slopes
- 33 red slopes
- 14 black slopes
If that is not enough, you can also get the Paradiski pass which is considered the 2nd largest ski domaine in France (after les 3 Vallées) with 265 miles (425 km) of skiable terrain.
From Les Arcs, you can head over to La Plagne with the Vanoise Express cable-car for skiers with Paradiski pass. However the Vanoise Express cable car that connects Les Arcs to La Plagne is a bit of a commute, so it gets crowded at the end of the day.
As part of Paradiski, you also get access the Aiguille Rouge and the panoramic Col de la Chal, along with views of the majestic Mont Blanc. For those who love off-piste skiing and snowboarding, Les Arcs is famous for its off-piste facilities, including the famously steep Couloir en S.
The Ski resorts
1. Arcs 2000
The highest of Les Arcs is the Arcs 2000, at 2000m. It is not the prettiest of the four different Les Arcs, with the village mostly comprised of concrete buildings.
It does have good skiing though, with the Aiguille Rouge overlooking it at 3226 m of altitude. The high altitude means that there are not many trees on the mountain side, allowing for some wide pistes in places and the best snow throughout the ski season.
The Vanoise express funicular is nearby as well, to head down to the large La Plagne resort which is also part of Paradiski. Les Arcs 2000 has plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars, and even a movie theatre.
The following hotels at Les Arcs 2000 have good access to the ski lifts:
- €€€ – Skissim Premium – Résidence Chalets Altitude & Ours – with indoor pool
- €€€€ – Chalet des Neiges: La Cime Des Arcs – with indoor pool
- €€€€€ – Chalet des Neiges: La Source des Arcs – with indoor pool
You can find more accommodation options in Les Arcs 2000 here.
2. Arcs 1950
The Arcs 1950 is the newest most luxurious part of the resort, facing Mont Blanc, having been completed around 2008. It is considered a 5* resort, with the entire village being designed for ski-in ski-out access.
It it a charming little village, entirely pedestrianized and ideal for families and large groups of friends. There is a good selection of pubs and restaurants with a lively and friendly atmosphere.
That being said, there are not many hotels in Les Arcs 1950 as most of the accommodation has been sold as secondary homes. A large aparthotel residence that is quite popular is:
You can find more accommodation options in Les Arcs 1950 here.
3. Arcs 1800
Les Arcs 1800 is perhaps the biggest and the liveliest part of Les Arcs with shops, restaurants, and bars. It is quite central in the middle of the valley, making it relatively easy to head over to the other Les Arcs.
The slopes nearby are not the easiest for beginners if you are looking for ski-in ski-out, but intermediates and experts will have a blast. There are four main pedestrianized villages within the Arc 1800, from east to west:
- Charmettoger – more residential village, where 4* Pierre et Vacances and the Mercure hotels are located.
- Villards – central village where there are lots of shops and restaurants.
- Charvet – central neighborhood where the tourist office and Mairie is located.
- Chantel – more residential neighborhood, on the opposite side of Charmettoger; where 5* Residence Odalys aparthotels is located.
Getting from Charmettoger and Chantel to the the central villages is relatively easy, within 5-10 minutes with a good pair of snowboots.
Les Arcs 1800 has plenty of hotels as it is quite popular with tourists. The following hotels have good access to the ski lifts:
- €€€ – Résidence Pierre & Vacances Le Belmont (Charmettoger village)
- €€€€ – Hotel Mercure – Les Arcs 1800 & SPA (Charmettoger village)
- €€€€€ – Résidence Prestige Odalys Edenarc – with indoor pool (Chantel village)
You can find more accommodation options in Les Arcs 1800 here.
4. Arcs 1600
Les Arcs 1600 is the resort that is aimed more at families. At a lower altitude, it is a prettier village with trees all around. This was one of the earliest villages in the area, having completed construction in 1968.
It is a cozy little village, with plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy the local Alpine specialties and a vin chaud (or two). There are a number of hotels and aparthotels, but there are no 5* hotels in the area. The following hotels at Les Arcs 1600 have good access to the ski lifts:
You can find more accommodation options in Les Arcs 1600 here.
How to get to there?
By Train: Les Arcs is part of the “Paradiski” network of ski slopes and the closest train station is the “Bourg Saint Maurice” train station, which is about 18 miles (30km) away.
High-speed trains from Paris, London, Amsterdam and other major cities in Western Europe arrive at Bourg Saint Maurice all winter long, bringing you to the foot of the Alps.
From the train station, there are several busses including Altibus which costs around €8-14 for a ride to the different Les Arcs resorts.
From Airport to Les Arcs – There are several large airports within driving distance of Les Arcs. Approximate driving times with no traffic are:
How easy is it getting around?
It is relatively easy to get around within each Arc, as there are well-worn footpaths and stairs. However, it is not easy to get between each Les Arcs resort to another, unless you are on skis and have a ski pass.
There is a bus service that runs between the different Les Arcs resorts, but buses are not frequent, and you may need a car to get around.
How many days should you spend?
In the busy part of the winter during ski season, most places in Les Arcs only rent for the week (Saturday to Saturday), so you will be required to stay at least 1 week. Skiing is a very popular sport in France, and the French take their skiing seriously.
In the off season and summer time, you should have more flexibility with dates, but I would still recommend staying at least 3-4 days to full enjoy the resort. You can read more about the best time to go skiing in France here.
Other popular ski resorts nearby
If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more facts about the Alps here. A bientôt!