La Plagne is one of the less popular of the major French high-altitude resorts, but it offers 225 km of varied runs (425km if you include the connected resort of Les Arcs) reaching up to 3200m, with ample accessible off-piste. From long blacks down from the Glacier De La Chiaupe to the bowl above Plagne Villages containing 10 blue runs perfect for beginners, there is something for everyone here.
Getting to La Plagne
La Plagne is in the high alps which means connections will be lengthy. Expect transfer times of 3 hours from Geneva or Lyon (served by Aer Lingus and many charter flights) or Turin (Ryanair). Chambery, served by some charters, is about 1.5 hours drive. If you are coming from Europe or the UK, overnight trains run from Paris to Moutiers or Aime, a 20-30 minute bus journey from the resort.
Information about La Plagne
With over 2000m of vertical rise in the ski area, skiing is very varied in La Plagne. The runs through the forests below the main resort can suffer in times of bad snow cover, however higher runs are generally reliable. We visited during very bad snow cover but the vast majority of the resort remained open. The reds and blacks off the Glacier De La Chiaupe and the Col De La Chiaupe provide some nice long runs and the sheer size of the area means you can visit a different area every day. Champagny, in the next valley behind the main resort but covered by the same lift pass has some beautiful runs, and is generally much quieter than La Plagne itself, despite the fact that is faces South and gets lots of sunshine!
Free-style enthusiasts can pass the time in a large snow park above Belle Plagne, as well as a half-pipe and a boarder cross. Discount lift passes are available that only serve this area, for those with no interest in cruising the pistes!
Above Plagne Villages and Plagne Bellecotes, there are numerous blue runs criss-crossing in a shallow valley. This area is perfect for beginners with a good variety of runs easily accessible from the villages.
Most lifts are chair-lifts, varying from old and slow to modern fast 6-seaters. Drag-lifts can generally be avoided, and there are a number of fast gondolas to bring you up high in a hurry. Free buses run between the various village centres if you don’t feel like skiing over and in general it’s pretty easy to get around.
Ski pass prices
A one day pass will cost around €43, while a 6-day lift pass will cost around €210 for just La Plagne, or €250 for La Plagne and Les Arcs. At the time of visiting there was an offer of a free day’s skiing in Les Trois Vallees if you pre-booked a 6-day pass, and many accomodation providers can organise this for you in advance.
Most of La Plagne was built in the 1960s and 1970s and unfortunately this shows. Accomodation is not hard to find but try to get one of the newer blocks if possible, unless you’re on a budget in which case look out for bargains! Most of the night-life is in the main resort centre in Plagne Centre, and the free busses between the villages run until around midnight so try and stay in Plagne Centre if dancing the night away is in your plans! For those more in need of a good night’s sleep, Montalbert, and Montchavin are only a lift or two away from the main pistes but quieter and cheaper. Champagny, although quite a distance by road, has easy access by ski to La Plagne, and has quite a few good quality chalets and hotels.
La Plagne is linked to Les Arcs to form the Paradiski area. A pass covering the whole area is not much more expensive, and well worth it for the more adventurous skiier. Connection is achieved by the Vanoise Express, an incredible double-decker cable car holding 200 people that covers the distance between the two resorts in only 4 minutes! Be aware however that the return brings you to Montchavin, much lower in the valley than Plagne Centre – allow at least 1.5 hours to make it from here to Montalbert or Champagny before the last lift, and as always keep an eye on the weather. When we visited, we found it easier to drive to Les Arcs (which took about an hour) and have a relaxed day there rather than rushing for last lifts home. For those looking to tick more resorts off the list, Courcheval and Meribel are also less than an hour by road and easily manageable as a day-trip.
So for good value skiing in a large and varied ski area, with guaranteed snow on the high runs and plenty of accessible beginner and intermediate runs, look no further than La Plagne!