In January 2018 we spent a week checking out Les Arcs, specifically within the town situated at 1800. Teaming up with a few friends, we wanted to see what this resort offered compared to other popular French resorts at a similar budget.
We stayed just outside the centre of 1800 in a set of reasonably newly renovated apartments. Surrounded on two sides with other apartments, the other two sides faced the slopes with the ability to ‘ski in ski out’ of the ski locker room in the basement.
There are many apartments in 1800, but only a few with ‘ski in ski out’ availability. It’s a nice to have, but some of the resort and roads are quite hilly, meaning walking to and from your accommodation to the slopes can be a bit of a trek. So with that in mind, we’d recommend going ski in ski out if possible.
We chose to go on the more budget end of the scale for our accommodation. We don’t really see the point in paying out too much for places in ski resorts, as you often don’t spend too much time in them. A couple hours in the evening and then sleeping essentially. It’s nice once in a while to splash out though if you can.
Our place – Le Belmont apartments – was pretty tidy, clean and had the essentials for a comfortable self catered stay.
The village is fairly small and on a few self-guided walking tours in the evening we found it to be pretty sparse. There are your usual ski resort shops, selling a multitude of French cheeses, cured meats and alcohol. The resort only has two small supermarkets for the whole village, but we could only find one of them, which was very busy most of the time.
As far as restaurants go, your not exactly spoilt for choice. You can probably count the number of places to have a nice sit down meal on one hand, with the other places being more of a relaxed environment. Simple take out pizza joints and a cheeky burger place for example. It goes without saying that those restaurants that are there get booked up extremely quickly. If you do want to eat out, you’ll probably have to call up on the day you arrive to avoid disappointment.
That being said, the take away pizzas and burgers are delicious, and not out of this world price wise. So that’s a bonus.
Away from food, the village has a number of ski and snowboard shops, where of course you can rent gear from, but most are also stocked with the current seasons gear to buy that can easily temp your wallet.
The village also has a nice swimming pool and wellness centre complex close to the main slopes. Our friends took the opportunity to test these out and were not disappointed in the quality of the services offered, especially for the price. Though the ‘herbal tea room’ that served up powdered teas was a little odd for them.
Ambiance and Aprés
If you’re young and looking for a party out on the slopes, then don’t go to Les Arcs. Or at least, not 1800 – which is meant to be the more lively town within Les Arcs. We found it to be eerily quiet for a ski resort and not anything like the described aprés part of the mountain. We’re not big drinkers, but we do enjoy a pint on a ski holiday. However, we just found the place to be a bit.. well, dead. And that was even with a bunch of Bath University students in town! Maybe it was a quiet week. Maybe in other weeks it’s a bit more lively, but it wasn’t for us the week we were there.
However, there is a saving grace if you fancy a pint up the mountain with some live music. In 1800 you’re not too far away from the Arpette – which is known as the ‘only aprés bar on the mountain’.
What we think Les Arcs 1800 is better suited for is families. A quieter place where you can spend some quality time as a group.
The skiing is Les Arcs
So, to the most important bit, the skiing! Les Arcs is part of the Paradiski. Linked up to Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne, (an equally large group of smaller resorts) that together make up the worlds second largest joined ski area.
So if there is one thing that there’s a lot of, it’s pistes to ski and board. In Les Arcs specifically, which is where we spent the week skiing with the local area pass, there is plenty to get stuck into to last you the week. But if you’re a real mile muncher and like to get as many pistes under your boards as possible, then you’ll need to get the full Paradiski area pass.
If you’re a beginner or you’re spending your week in a mixed ability group, then you’ll be pleased to know that there is a mixture of piste difficulties on offer. However, there isn’t that much in the way of slopes dedicated for absolute beginners or ‘first week on snow’ levels of ability. There are NO green slopes on the mountain. 1800 does have a small area that is dedicated for learners, but this is still deemed a Blue, medium difficulty slope.
Travelling in a mixed ability group this year with others who were learning and improving their skills on the snow, we found the lack of green slopes to be a bit of a challenge at the start of the week. Finding slopes that were suitable for those members in our group was trickier than it should of been in such a large ski area. This is something to take into consideration if you are heading out on your first ski holiday or if you know you have learners in your party.
We had an awesome week exploring Les Arcs. As a resort it felt a lot quieter compared to others we have visited, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on what you’re looking for on your holiday.
If you want a bit of a party alongside your skiing, then we’d suggest heading to more lively, younger resorts. Somewhere in the Three Valleys or Tignes/Val d’isere for example include some great aprés bars.
If you’re a family heading out to the mountains or you’re after a quieter holiday in a more French resort, then Les Arcs would suit you very well. There is plenty of open pistes, some pleasant mountain rest stops and the town has a good number of small shops that you can wander round in the early evenings.
If you’re not entirely sure which resort is right for you, then why not check out Crystal Ski Holidays new tool. It helps you find the perfect resort that suits your needs and wants from a ski holiday. We think it’s great!
Staying in resort and want to eat out somewhere special in Les Arcs? Our advice is to book as soon as you get into resort to avoid disappointment. It also plays in your favour if you speak good French. Many locals don’t speak great English, so if you yourself can’t chat the lingo then you’ll need to have a pocket phrase book, or Google translate, to hand.
A final word then. Les Arcs 1800 is a lovely, fairly small, resort. It offers some really epic skiing within the Paradiski area, but it is aimed at skiers and boarders of an intermediate/advanced skill level. It also offers a quieter, slightly more French vibe to the ski holiday experience, (at least that’s how we found it) which can be a nice break from other resorts aprés madness. If that’s what you’re looking for then Les Arcs is a great choice for you!
Crystal Ski Holidays (020 8610 3123) offers a week’s self-catering at the four-star Le Belmont Apartments in Les Arcs from £429 per person, (based on four sharing) including flights from Gatwick to Chambery and transfers (price given is for departure on 17 March 2018). Direct flights are available from all major UK airports.