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We skiied this area in March and the snow was still excellent. La Plagne itself is not the nicest place in the world and probably among the least pretty ones in the Alps, but the variety of slopes more than makes up for it.
We got the paradiski pass, which gives you full access to all the slopes in the La Plagne area plus you can get the Vanoise Cable car accross to Les Arcs very easily. It's one of the biggest cable cars in the world and only takes 4 minutes to get accross so we never had to wait long. In fact most of the lifts were really efficient - only a few down towards Champagny, where there is a bit of a bottle neck, got busy. Having said that, we didn't go in school holidays so it could be worse if you are travelling with children.
We actually stayed in Montchavin which is between La Plagne and Les Arcs (one lift up to the Vanoise). Montchavin and Les Coches are linked towns by a minibus but we never really went out of Montchaving in the evenings.
I guess the criticism of the area would be the lack of nightlife, but we were there for the skiing and so we weren't too bothered - I guess if you are more of a fan of the apres ski it may not be the best area for you. I couldn't even find somewhere to watch the football! The area around Montchavin is really charming though and the food in the restaurants is nice (don't order curry from the La Plagne curry take delivery service though - it was terrible, and we were really excited about it!).
We spent 5 days skiing, 1 day locally, 2 in the La Plagne area and 2 in Les Arcs. And that's the real beauty of the area - it's a giant snowpark. There are lots of nice tree lined blues (some that should really be reclassified as greens - and some that are flat!), some good quick reds - especially towards Champagny and the La Plagne olympic area. There aren't too many blacks, but there are some if you want some challenges, but generally the area is nice, fun skiing with lovely views and efficient lifts.
We did book a group lesson with ESF between the four of us, but I'm not sure we got as much out of it as we should. I'd say if you are going to do this, make sure you are clear on what EXACTLY you want to work on. We just said 'technique' and only got a few words of advice from the admittedly really nice and friendly instructor.
If you are a hardcore skiier who loves big mogully challenging black runs and are used to somewhere like Chamonix or Verbier then this may not be the area for you - but I think there is more than enough on offer to keep anybody else entertained. I would definitely reccomend.
i read alot of moaning about la plagne in reviews on the net, and pretty much all of it is nonsense.
its an excellent place to ski / board.
its true there is not alot of nightlife, but there is if u want it.
the only thing id change about the whole place is reducing the price of a beer, and thats about it.
lovely snow, lovely views, lovely atmosphere, lovely sunshine, excellent lifts with hardly any ques, ever.
if uve not been, and are thinkin of going, take it from me, and book it.
I visited La Plagne, not this Christmas but the Christmas before, it was our first Christmas away from home, and i was a little aprehensive about wether it would detract from the Christmas season, but i was happily surprised. The La Plagne resort is one of the biggest resorts in France by way of lifts and skiiable terrain, and is looking to further expand its terrain by joining up with Les Arcs. It is fairly high up, which pretty much guarantees skiing practically all the season, even at Christmas when we visited. In January it is very cold, gets down to -25 C pretty much every night and would peak at around -5 during the day so if you have kids who are likely to whinge go in March it is much warmer then. We went in December and it too is pretty cold, surprisingly it is not as cold as January, as December is the start of the skiing season. A time to avoid visiting La Plagne or any resort in France is February. February is the time the French have school holidays, so avoid this month. March is the beginning of Spring weather and has longer days, warmer skiing conditions without being hot (peaking around 2-3 C). Skiing continues right through April until months end with the usual spring skiing conditions. January can be a little dodgy lower down in the trees around Montalbert and Montchavin, be careful with learner skiiers it can get quite hard and in patches icy. Save these places for days straight after snowfalls. Otherwise the snow quality is exceptional even without it snowing for 3 weeks like what happened when we were there. They groom their runs very well, the piste bashers are out all night on all the main runs, ensuring excellent skiing the following morning. Most runs get alot of sun so the initial icy conditions every morning are soon lost. If it gets really cold, as in around -10 to -12 then head to Champagny via the new gondola, La Grande Rochette. It faces directly into the sun and offer
s reasonably long runs. La Plagne is located about 3 hours from Lyon, the nearest main airport, with regular flights from all major airports in the United Kingdom. Alternatively you could take the snow train from Calais through to Bourg St. Maurice and get a coach up to the resort. When it comes to accomodation, i personally stayed in a chalet with my family, this can be quite expensive espeicially if you want a chalet on the slopes which you can ski to like we did, next time we go we are going to try a youth hostel, this is excellent value as it is around £250 for a week, with food included and lift passes and evening entertainment. Theres plenty of restraunts with the traditional local cuisines such as raclets and Fondues as well as plenty of disco's, nightclub's, pubs and bars. The village itself is much nicer than similar resorts such as Tignes and Val Thorens as it has a nicer, closer atmsophere, father christmas even came round giving out sweets, good huh! I thoroughly recommed La Plagne to almost every skier, it has excellent apres ski, brilliant runs, many blues and reds, but some of the reds are black standard if you see what i mean. Overall La Plagne was a superb holiday and i really enjoyed myself.
As an obsessed skier, I feel it only fair to share my experiences and travels with my new learn'ed colleagues. Having been in the privaliged position of living in France for a number of years, I was lucky enough to have graced the piste's of several of the major French ski resort's. La Plagne is situated close to the town of Albertville, famous for hosting the winter Olympics, and has a number of different resorts under it's collective name offering a manner of winter sports aimed at all levels. Firstly you have Plagne Villages, the lowest of the resorts offering a comprehensive range of services, bars and restaurants etc. Secondly, you have Plagne Bellcote catering to the more serious skiier, still with a range of bars and eatery's and nestling up against the piste's for quick access!! Lastly you have Belle Plagne, a small yet quaint little village. This resort is fairly quiet in the evening but offers nice food and great access to the slopes. The resorts are all conected e.g. there is a cable car service that runs between Belle and Bellecote, this runs until about 23:00 so that you can have few beers and then return without any hastle at all. You can also get between the Village resort on a bus that leaves Plagne Bellcote every 20 minutes. All travel is free between resorts provided you have a valid ski pass. If your looking for a good weeks skiing with good apres ski and a really good atmosphere then head on over to La Plagne!!!
My partner and I skied at La Plagne for a week in April 1999. After attempting to fly to Lyon we were diverted to Grenoble due to fog so spent several hours sunbathing on the tarmac while we waited for transport to arrive. The transfer should only have been 2 hours but ended up being something like 4 as a result. This nearly did for us as we had massive hangovers due to spending Bank Holiday Friday in various Horley pubs, before departing from Gatwick. Although we were skiing the La Plagne area we stayed in the satellite village of Les Coches to the west of the ski area at 1400m. Our accommodation was a Crystal catered chalet that had the advantage of being ski to door. It was in most respects excellent, having nice rooms and a couple of shared bathrooms with baths. The staff were very good cooks as well as being lively and interesting, the only bad thing about Crystal was the surly, disinterested rep. This was our first taste of Chalet skiing and having a very friendly mixed bunch of people sharing with us gave us a taste for more. We only ate out once in the evening here. Local, traditional Savoyard food - I don't really like meat or melted cheese so quickly decided I preferred our Chalet food. I’ve since realised I just don’t care for French food in general though, so take what I say with a pinch of salt if you’re a bit more cosmopolitan:-) The mountain restaurants were quite unmemorable and fairly expensive. They also tended to deliver lukewarm food so we got packed lunches from our Chalet chefs several times. The snow cover was very good and we had some fresh falls while we were there. Impressively we were still able to return the Chalet on ski’s but it was warm enough that we were doing apres ski in our shorts (We’re from the far north, so 20c really is summer weather to us). The ski area is huge and varied with very little queuing. A good mix ranging from nasty glacier skiing to icy tree runs
with plenty of cruising in between make this a place with something for everyone. There are over 200 km of piste to be explored so it’d be hard to get bored in a week. We only had a couple of private lessons here, which were fine. Those in our group that joined the ESF classes for the week were impressed with it. We also had a day skiing in Val d’Isere courtesy of Crystal, which is highly recommended. The motorway skiing there makes a nice change and would, I imagine, be excellent for snowboarders. There are plenty of opportunities for good boarding at La Plagne, with lots of wide runs above the treeline. Aesthetically, La Plagne itself isn't very visually appealing with a lot of large, purpose built hotels. Les Coches is quite a pretty village though, in spite of being mostly purpose built itself. The bars in Les Coches were mostly dead and fairly dear to boot, so I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone who likes to party. This was the end of the season though, so it might have been a lot livelier a month earlier. Overall, the skiing made this resort well worth visiting, so the lack of eating and drinking opportunities were easy to bear.