A WEEK IN LES ARCS
12th January 2018 | Jane Peel, Peisey-Vallandry
Six days and every kind of weather imaginable as PlanetSKI’s chief reporter pounds the pistes and the powder in the French ski area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
And then it got a WHOLE lot better……
Monday night it snowed. Proper snow. Some 50cm fell at 2,000 metres.
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.
On Wednesday, there was less sun but more open terrain and the conditions were fab across the whole Les Arcs ski area.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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