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A WEEK IN LES ARCS

Six days and every kind of weather imaginable as PlanetSKI’s chief reporter pounds the pistes and the powder in the French ski area.

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It’s a good few years since I stayed in Peisey-Vallandry, part of the Les Arcs ski area.

It fact, it was in the 2002-2003 winter season.

I know this as they were still building the vertiginous Vanoise Express cable car that now spans the valley between Les Arcs and La Plagne and created the vast Paradiski domain with its 425km of pistes.

Vanoise Express

Vanoise Express from Plan Peisey

Last time it was the village of Vallandry. 

This time it’s Plan Peisey, an area that’s developed as a result of the Vanoise Express.

It sits just above the old farming village of Peisey which is accessible by a lift that resembles a series of lobster-pots.

Peisey old village

Peisey old village

Lift from Peisey to Plan Peisey

Lobster pot lift

Plan Peisey is at the southernmost end of the Les Arcs area and, in my opinion, it has – along with Vallandry – some of the best tree-lined red runs of any resort I’ve been to in the French Alps. 

This was to prove a huge advantage, of which more later.

Day One

But on day one with grey skies and light, wet snow falling, the plan was to head from one side of the ski area to the other, taking advantage of the massive early season snowfall to ski all the way down to Villaroger at 1,200 metres.

Despite all the snow, it had also recently rained up to high altitude, so the runs were hard-packed most of the way down and the light snow that was falling turned to rain at the bottom.

To Villaroger

Hard snow on the way to Villaroger

To Villaroger

Light, wet snow falling

Le Solliet, Villaroger

Evidence of the massive snowfall above Villaroger

Day two

And there was more sleet and rain to come – the sort that has you needing to wring out your ski gloves after a couple of hours. 

It was just too mild for January!

In Les Arcs

It looks like snow but it’s very, very wet

Les Arcs

Snowing a bit on Monday 8th January

Monday was a low light kind of day – with the occasional break in the clouds and some weak sunshine poking through.

Those tree-lined runs in Peisey-Vallandry really came into their own.

I love skiing at this time of year…the slopes are empty as the holiday crowds have gone home.

Peisey-Vallandry

Empty slopes of Peisey-Vallandry

And then it got a WHOLE lot better……

Monday night it snowed.  Proper snow.  Some 50cm fell at 2,000 metres.

Day three

The next morning several lifts were closed, including those that link the various Arcs, but those serving Peisey and Vallandry and those tree-lined runs were all open.

I was definitely in the right place.

Les Arcs

Tuesday 9th January

In Peisey-Vallandry

Yours truly in the right place

Peisey-Vallandry

A lot of snow in Peisey-Vallandry

FACT BOX

Day four

On Wednesday,  there was less sun but more open terrain and the conditions were fab across the whole Les Arcs ski area.

Arc 2000

Arc 2000

 

Arc 1950

Arc 1950

Day five

POWDER DAY!

The avalanche risk has reduced from 4 to 3 and while that’s still considerable, there are safe places to head to off piste, so I that’s what I do with ESF instructor Michael Mengolli as my guide.

And the sun came out as we headed towards an easy, long route from the top of the Transarc gondola down the Vallon de Rosset to the village of Nancroix – a 1,300 metre descent.

And it’s a cold, bluebird day so we can really enjoy the stunning scenery and the fresh tracks as hardly anyone else has been here before us.

Michael Mengolli off piste

Michael Mengolli in the Vallon de Rosset

Vallon de Rosset

Fresh tracks, Vallon de Rosset

Vallon de Rosset

Vallon de Rosset

Vallon de Rosset

Vallon de Rosset

What a great morning!

Afterwards, I spoke to Michael about the route and the snow and avalanche conditions:


And then it was over to Arc 1600 to make the most of the continued good weather.

Comborciere black run, Arc 1600

Arc 1600

Day six

The last day in a ski resort is always one to be savoured, especially when it turns out to be another cold, sunny day with clear blue skies.

No more words are required… just enjoy these photos taken on Friday 12th January:

Les Arcs

Les Arcs

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs

That’s all from now from the Les Arcs ski area.

Next stop for me is Meribel in Les3Vallees.

It has a lot to live up to!

FACT BOX

PlanetSKI stayed with Ski Beat (www.skibeat.co.uk 01273 855100) at Chalet Bayona, Plan Peisey.  A week’s chalet board, including return flights from London Gatwick to Lyon and transfers from £509 per person.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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