Paradiski is the name given to the linked and shared ski areas of Les Arcs and neighbouring La Plagne – all 435km of it. Accommodation is scattered across more than 16 purpose-built and traditional farming villages both big and small, in the valley and up at altitude. But which one is the best place in which to base yourself? We think Arc 1950 is pistes ahead of the others, and here’s why:
It’s traffic-free and ski-in ski-out
Arc 1950 is completely car-free. Vehicles are parked underground when you arrive, making the village safe for skiers, families and walkers – you just need to keep an eye out for the occasional skier speeding down the main street. Beginners make their first turns right there in the village and everyone can ski back to their door, dropping in at one of the shops, cafes or bars on the way back to where they’re staying.
Access to the village is remarkably direct: by train to Bourg Saint Maurice followed by a funicular up to Arc 1600 and a bus for the final leg. A free shuttle connects all the Arc villages. If the train doesn’t suit your plans, you can fly to Geneva, Chambery, Grenoble or Lyon and take a shared/private transfer – or land at the heli-pad 200m from Arc 1950.
The attractive architecture
Yes, this is a purpose-built village, but it is far removed from the no-frills architecture you might find among some of the neighbouring satellites. Arc 1950 was created in 2003 by the Canadian company, Intrawest, which was responsible for building more aesthetic resorts such as Whistler and Tremblant in Canada.
It’s snow sure
At 1950m, there is guaranteed snow cover all season – from when the resort opens in mid-December until it closes at the end of April. Most of the skiing takes place in a sheltered steep-sided bowl. In fact, the Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 areas together can be considered as one of the most snow-sure ski areas in the French Alps. Both have a substantial network of snow-cannons to ensure adequate top-up cover if, by chance, Nature is not doing her job as properly as she should. In winter 2018/19, snow was fell an average of 22cm per week. The heaviest snowfall occurred in January (plus 77cm of fresh snow) and in February (plus 150cm of fresh snow).
There’s easy access to the best skiing of the area
The Paradiski area has 425km of slopes – from the Aiguille Rouge at 3226m to Villaroger at 1200m. Arc 1950 is conveniently situated as a jumping-off point both to the other villages of Les Arcs (it’s just below Arc 2000) and to Peisey-Vallandry and the dramatic link to La Plagne. This takes the form of the double-decker Vanoise Express cable-car across a mile-long gorge with dizzy views of the valley far below. Then there’s access to Villaroger and – in snowy winters – even down to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Two glaciers, two snowparks, six boardercross courses, and 153km of cross-country tracks complete the picture-perfect ski area.
The Vallée de l’Arc, a wide valley with majestic views to Mont Blanc, is a sector of the ski area that is being improved from year to year. With the Pré St Esprit chair-lift, which passes right over the Village, and Comborcière chair-lift which has been upgraded to a detachable four-seater, it is now easy to get between Arc 1600 with its new Club Med, and Arc 1950. The Le Secret run, which opened in winter 2018/19, is in a lovely hidden valley.
The quality of accommodation
Arc 1950’s Pierre et Vacances and Radisson Blu five-star residences are extremely comfortable, containing well-equipped and spacious apartments. They have both been awarded the prestigious Green Key label due to the Village’s commitment to sustainable development.
The fabulous restaurants
The circular-shaped Bulle café, at the starting point of Arcabule and Plagnete lifts, is a rare find in the French Alps – offering on-mountain seafood. The smartest eatery here is Chalet de L’Arc, a large place with fabulous views. It serves traditional Savoyard cuisine and is extremely popular, so you’ll need to book in advance. The new Folie Douce (9th in the chain) opens this winter, with La Petite Cuisine self-service, the sophisticated La Fruitière restaurant, Le Butcher for snacks, and live entertainment on the outside deck. In the village, La Table des Lys serves fine French cuisine with an original twist. La Vache Rouge is for seafood, meat specialities and fondue, and Chalet de Luigi has fresh pasta and a large selection of wines. For more information on where to eat, click here.
It’s family friendly
Arc 1950 is ideal for families for several reasons. It’s car free, and there’s usually plenty of white stuff in the village for building snowmen, tobogganing and playing in. Then there’s the Caribou Club, which offers childcare from 9 months to 13 years. The two ski schools, Spirit 1950 and ESF Arc 1950, both offer children’s classes. Teens can join the Backcountry Camp to learn off-piste awareness (including how to use an avalanche transceiver), snowpark tricks and there’s the opportunity to capture it all on the Go-pros used during the course.
There are spas to wallow in
Each of the eight ski-in ski-out residences in Arc 1950 has free relaxation facilities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs and Turkish baths, as well as fitness rooms with all the latest equipment and yoga classes. Prince des Cimes 1950 houses a 1000m2 Deep Nature spa with two heated pools and spacious treatment rooms with wide glass windows looking out to Mont Blanc. New for the 2019/20 season are two outdoor Nordic baths, as well as a range of Deep Nature skin care products.
You can try the wide range other activities
The resort of Arc 1950 makes apres-ski entertainment one of its priorities, so there’s always something going on such as evening ski shows, firework displays and concerts. The 1950AIRSHOW is one of the weekly entertainments, where Arc 1950 ski school instructors and security patrollers come together for a freestyle ski show. Les Arcs Film Festival opens on the week of December 14, Santa’s Village runs over the Christmas week (with Santa descending by zip-wire), there’s Pride Week in March, a zen week in April, and the closing week celebrations take place on April 24.