La Plagne is officially the most visited ski resort in the world, so it’s obviously getting something right! It’s part of the Paradiski area, the world’s fourth largest linked ski area, with the huge double-decker Vanoise Express cable car linking the resort with Les Arcs. There is something for everyone here, not just in terms of skiing, but also accommodation, après ski, bars and restaurants, non-ski options – you name it, La Plagne has it.
Approximate Transfer Times
Skiing in La Plagne
La Plagne’s huge array of slopes offer something for everyone - from complete beginner to expert. From the focal point around Plagne Centre, a range of ski lifts access a particularly good selection of beginner and intermediate slopes, whilst the further reaches of the ski area can be reached on a fine array of blue and red runs and at higher elevations world-class off-piste terrain can be found, particularly from around the Bellecôte area. In bad weather when visibility is limited, the wooded slopes around Montchavin and Les Coches are the place to head for.
La Plagne is actually a collection of ten different ski villages – Aime la Plagne (2100m), Belle Plagne (2050m), Plagne Villages/Soleil (2050m), Plagne Bellecôte (1930m), Plagne Centre (1970m) and Plagne 1800 (1800m) all sit within close proximity of each other, all are pedestrianised, with ski-in/ski-out accommodation a common feature, as is direct access to the ski slopes, and there’s a free shuttle bus between villages so you can easily enjoy the entertainments in each resort.
All have a good network of ski lifts accessing the high points of Les Verdons, La Grande Rochette, Col de Forcle and Roche de Mio from where you can drop down to the pretty village of Champagny-en-Vanoise (1250m) on the far edge of the ski area, whilst out in woodland below the main cluster of villages is Plagne Montalbert at 1350m. From all these areas you can ski an enviable selection of wide, open blues and reds or test yourself on the easily-accessible off-piste.
From Roche de Mio you can also continue on the little bubble lift to over 3000-metres and access snow-sure skiing on the Glacier de la Chiaupe on the slopes of 3417-metre Bellecôte peak, which has some underrated and challenging off-piste, which is best skied with a guide.
The Roche de Mio can also be accessed from the villages of Belle Plagne (2050m) and Plagne Bellecôte (1930m), and by taking the fast chairlift up to 2385-metre L’Arpette you can ski down to the wooded ski area of Montchavin-Les Coches (1250-1450m), and access to the Vanoise Express and the Les Arcs ski area.
If you like to cover the miles on your skis La Plagne is the perfect destination; it’s not just that there’s a massive selection of wide, cruisy red and blue runs accessed by fast state-of-the-art lifts, but also the fact that with the Paradiski lift pass you can enjoy similar terrain in the neighbouring resort of Les Arcs.
Many skiers enjoy the challenge of skiing from one end of La Plagne (the village of Champagny-en-Vanoise) to the far end of Les Arcs (the village of Villaroger) and back in a day - it’s certainly very feasible for any decent intermediate skier, but bear in mind that you could be in for a long and expensive taxi ride if you miss any of your lift connections late in the day.
La Plagne appeals particularly to keen intermediate skiers, and typical of the pistes they can enjoy are the blue Le Levasset from Col de Forcle to the Borseliers chair which is fast, wide and undulating and great for hooning home at the end of the day, or the fun red Les Inversens just below the Roche de Mio, which makes a great warm up at the start of the day and has some easy off-piste either side if you want more of a challenge. Advanced and expert skiers will also find plenty to go at – the fine black Mercedes piste often stays in condition when many other slopes are shot to pieces and has a variety of pitches to tempt you, and the off-piste is massively underrated; there’s so much to go at from the top of the Bellecôte bubble, for instance, that you simply need to head up there and find your favourite line – ask the ski patrollers by the top lift station for advice if you’re unsure about where to go, they’re always happy to help.
La Plagne Resort Overview
La Plagne is a classic French mega-resort, that has easy access, from getting to and from the ski lifts to getting around the villages. This applies particularly to the main villages of Plagne Centre, Plagne Village, Plagne Soleil, Plagne 1800 and Plagne Aime 2000 – all are ski in/ski out and you can be high up in the slopes within minutes of leaving your accommodation.
Montchavin-Les Coches is set on wooded slopes (the other villages are in high, open alpine bowls), whilst Champagny-en-Vanoise is a lovely old Savoyard mountain village centred around a medieval church, where modern developments have generally been in keeping with the alpine architecture. All the villages provide a wide range of services from supermarkets and chemists to bars and restaurants and are linked by a free shuttle bus so you can easily enjoy the entertainments in each resort.
Restaurants & bars
Each of the villages that make up La Plagne has a decent selection of bars and restaurants.
In Belle Plagne, La Matafan is a good brasserie-style option serving Savoyard fare, whilst Le Farcon in Plagne Centre also serves traditional dishes in a convivial atmosphere. If you’re staying in Champagny-en-Vanoise, check out L’Alpenrose for gourmet dishes and friendly service, whilst at the opposite end of the ski area Le Chaudron in Montchavin has a good quality and reasonably-priced menu, and in Plagne Bellecote, Spitting Feathers is a busy bar and eatery with a good vibe and a free bus back to the central villages of the ski area.
Also in Plagne Central is the popular Scotty’s Bar, which is located at the bottom of the Stade Olympique piste and is ski in/ski out; it offers live sport on a big screen along with happy hours at 5pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Le Saloon in Belle Plagne is another popular venue, open until as late as 5am and with a big and busy dance floor, whilst La Rhumerie in Aime La Plagne is at the opposite end of the scale, being a small and cosy bar which has regular live music and a huge collection of rums.
There’s lots of choice in the area when it comes to eating out on the mountain. For skiers heading over the Champagny-en-Vanoise Le Chalet de Verdon Sud is one of the area’s best (and sunniest) mountain restaurants, although for truly superb views the little café off the top of the Bellecôte bubble is as good as any in the French Alps. Another great option is the Chalet de la Rosse at the bottom of the La Roche chair – even Italians rave about their pizzas!
Each village in La Plagne has enough après ski activity to keep anyone happy, with Plagne Centre and Belle Plagne being the most lively. Other than the bars mentioned above, in Plagne Central check out the lively Le Luna and the Igloo which has live bands and DJs, whilst one of the best options in Belle Plagne is Le Saloon.
Another popular themed bar is La Mine in Plagne 1800, with old mining equipment amongst the décor and regular live music amongst the attractions, whilst in Plagne Soleil, Monica’s Pub is probably the most popular après venue, and if you’re looking to get into it straight off the mountain check out Camp de Base Café at the bottom of the Montchavin bubble, which serves locally-made bright green beer featuring the mountain flower Génépi.
The most popular activity to do while in La Plagne is to ride the bobsleigh on Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh course, an unforgettable experience with speeds of up to 130kph. Thrill seekers will also enjoy the Super Tyro zip-line located below Plagne Aime 2000 which zips along at speeds of up to 90kph.
Other activities include driving a piste basher at Plagne Soleil, toboggan and luge riding, hang gliding and a range of lovely snowshoe trails through the forests and across the lower slopes.
Because of its size, La Plagne is able to offer a good range of non-skiing activities
A leisurely option is a walk along one of the snowshoe trails, which are graded for difficulty and often offer superb mountain panoramas, including good views of Mont Blanc, and there are also several cross-country ski trails too. Another way to enjoy the views is by hiring an E-fat bike in Les Coches, or you could go all out on the horse power and take a snowmobile tour from Plagne Centre, Belle Plagne or Plagne Bellecôte after the ski lifts close.
For visitors looking for something more relaxing there are several spas - in Plagne Centre, Plagne Bellecôte and Plagne Villages along with swimming pools in Plagne Bellecôte (outdoor but heated to 29C), Belle Plagne, Plagne Centre and Champagny-en-Vanoise.
And whilst La Plagne is not a resort that you’d naturally think of as attracting keen shoppers, each the villages has enough retail outlets to provide a morning's worth of browsing at least.
Who is La Plagne Suitable For?
If you combine La Plagne with Les Arcs, both of which you can ski with a Paradiski pass, there’s around 425-km of pistes on offer, the majority of which are blue or red, so intermediate skiers have plenty to go at. And even if you only buy a pass for La Plagne there are still over 200-km of pistes, again most of them blue or red.
The majority of these pistes are high and wide enough to offer decent snow throughout the season, although the lower slopes can become scratchy in a poor winter or late in the season, but in this case you can head high (La Plagne tops out at over 3000-metres, as does neighbouring Les Arcs) where snow-sure conditions are guaranteed.
The network of lifts is generally modern and fast, and as already mentioned if you choose to take the Vanoise Express to Les Arcs for the day (as you should – this huge, impressive double-decker cable car is part of the Paradiski experience) keep an eye on the clock to make sure you don’t miss the last lift home.
Above all, La Plagne attracts families, and for good reason. It has plenty of great value for money accommodation, including purpose-built family leisure complexes which offer plenty of alternative activities for kids besides skiing, and there are lots of gentle ski slopes that are ideal for learning to ski on. Those slopes are invariably easy to access (much accommodation is ski in/ski out), a big consideration for families lugging ski gear and leading younger family members to their lessons, and there’s a huge array of ski schools to choose from, most of which are well-regarded.
For visitors looking for a more tranquil family break Champagny-en-Vanoise, Plagne Montalbert and Montchavin-Les Coches are well worth considering; they are quieter, smaller, more traditional and much better for beginners.
Short transfers/ski weekends
La Plagne is easy to access from a number of airports, in particular Chambery (1.5 hours). Grenoble (2 hours), Lyon (2.5 hours) and Geneva (2.5 hours), so wherever you are in the UK there’s a good chance you can get a budget flight to one of these destinations. There are also plenty of transfer services to get you to the resort from your airport if choice.
Another option is to take the Eurostar service to Moutiers from where it’s around 45-minutes transfer time to La Plagne and since all the resort’s accommodation options are within a short walk of the ski lifts, if not ski in/ski out, this allows you maximise your time on the slopes.
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