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PICK UP THE PACE IN LA PLAGNE - Katie Bamber, La Plagne
Tuesday January 16, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Think you know all about the French ski resort of La Plagne? PlanetSKI has been in town this week to see what's changing. NEW

La Plagne has been a top pick for intermediates, families and groups in the French Alps for some years.

It is made up of a number of ski villages scattered over the mountain at different altitudes.

The appeal has been its convenience;

The Paradiski area is huge - 425km - linking the resorts of La Plagne, Peisey-Vallandry and Les Arcs, and offering mainly reds and blues.

Much of the accommodation is located on the slopes in La Plagne's various villages, which, though they aren't exactly 'Alpine-style attractive', make life on a ski holiday easier and help keep down costs, being mainly self-catered apartments.

Now it doesn't sound like the biggest compliment.

But what's wrong with owning the intermediate ski market?

Saying this though, it is on the change.

Val Thorens in Les3Vallees has updated its status from party town to somewhere boasting wellness and luxury programmes with cool cafes and relaxing spas.

And now La Plagne seems to be following trend; 5* hotels are planned, modern mountain restaurants built and there's a push in ski touring in the area.

Here are four ways to push your La Plagne ski holiday in ways you might not expect to in visiting this family favourite.

La Plagne looking over towards TignesLa Plagne looking over towards Tignes


























Powder pocketsPlagne pockets



























SKI


Ski to the four corners of the piste map - that'll provide the programme for good a few days of skiing.

The low-lying Montalbert with its video game tree runs lies at the west of the ski area.

Then up to Aime and Plagne Centre when you can re-asses and make your way to Grande Rochette and over the back to Champagny, the south lying village that preceeded the skiing, with its steep and sunny blue/red runs.

Back up high at the 2,700m Roche de Mio point choose to ascend to the Bellecote glacier - the peak of which stands at 3,417m - for some red & black toughies or freeriding off the north face.

The off-piste backside is a massive 2,000m descent - not bad eh? Do it in the morning, making your way back to Plagne Centre, say, will take the rest of the day...

The Bellecote's north face is a good one for the bucket list but the return tells you a little about the Paradiski's linking.

Returning to your home ski area pretty much absorbs the afternoon with connecting lifts closing early - and it's a taxi if you don't play.

Bellecote glacierBooting up for the 2000m Bellecote north face descent
























Ski to Les Arc's Aguille Rouge glacier for another challenge.

And down to Villaroger, skier's far right on the map, to look out to Mont Blanc - or Monte Bianco - the resorts of Sainte Foy and La Rosiere, and the Italy border.

Vast & emptyThe stretching ski area


























The Grand Paradiso rock in ItalySkiers and the Grand Paradiso rock in Italy



























STAY:


Take advantage of the resort's bid to step up what it offers in terms of lodging.

La Plagne's accommodation is mainly apartments, the preferrence of the French clientele during the resort's growth.

Tour operators do offer chalets, but they don't match the number of self-catered apartments.

5*s are planned for the resort, but the 4* hotel Araucaria is somewhere to check out - high in our estimation.

Newly reopened and refurbished, the spa hotel is in Plagne Centre.

Apres spa, rather than apres ski.

The sauna, ice room and steam room are ideal to spend those few hours pre dinner, and massage therapist Chloe can help with any aches and pains from a day on the slopes.

The glamorous bar draws in non hotel guests, the bars near by being a little different in atmosphere.

AraucariaPlanetSKI's Katie at the Araucaria hotel bar


























Araucaria hotel, Plagne CentreAraucaria hotel, Plagne Centre




















Araucaria hotel spa poolAraucaria hotel spa pool





















A curveball:

In La Plagne you can now also stay in a snowcat under the stars.

It's a luxury experience, and no you don't have to drive...

More than 5*, 'it's looking (up) at a thousand'.

Cheese over, a night in the cat parked at the top of the Arpette lift costs €320 for two people.

EXTRAS

What's different ito do in La Plagne to step up your ski trip?

The Olympic bobsleigh track is the only one in France.

Travel at 80km/hr on the 19-bend course over 1,500m.

Try it when it's dark for an exhilarating evening and new way to check out the mountain views.

Vue générale nocturne de la piste de bobVue générale nocturne de la piste de bob. Crédit photo Olivier Allamand



















Katie and her bob teamKatie and her bob team



























Or how about a cheese fondue night in an igloo, for something extra in our mountain-favourite eating activity?

Ice climbing in Champagny is a unique experience.

The natural frozen waterfall has become a favourite playground for climbers from mid-December to March.

The "Ice Tower" is an artificial ice-climbing structure created against the real deal, open for all to climb.



EAT

Making your way up to Aime 2000 and the rather odd complex, or 'galerie' as these resorts like to call the shopping centre-esque buildings, mightn't be the obvious choice.

But we explore on skis holiday, so let it be on foot led by our stomachs at night.

And here's a special one that you mighn't find wandering around.

L'Arlequin has the most unsuspecting entrance; On the corridor of the galerie the smallest spiral staircase leads down to the busy cellar.

A chef from Naples stands at the top of stairs by the pizza oven passing down the stairs his top notch creations.

And rather alternatively, the main menu lists French classics, beatifully cooked beed, fondue and other Savoie dishes.

It is run by a charming couple who tell their stories to the diners creating a cosy and authentic atmosphere underneath a mash of art and decoration on the walls.

l'Arlequinl'Arlequin
























l'Arlequinl'Arlequin
























On the mountain, Les Chalets de l'Arc on the slope at 2,200m for what alpine ski lunch dreams are made of.

Grilled goats cheese salad, Tartiflette, enormous beers, is just what I picked  a packed higg

Les Chalets de lLes Chalets de l"Arc


























Les Chalets de l'ArcLes Chalets de l'Arc


























Tartiflette, the mountain specialityTartiflette, the mountain speciality



























Or if you're at the other side of the Paradiski area from this Les Arcs gem and hungry at lunch, how about something quite different.

The modern 360 restaurant with its panoramic view of the Plateau du Fornelet in Plagne-Montalbert is new this season.

Cool canteen style restaurant downstairs, a more luxury restaurant above in a sun trap of a room, it offers a different on-mountain eating experience.

The spectacular 360The spectacular 360 - recognise it from elsewhere in the Alps?



























The Araucaria serves some of the best hotel food we can think of.

A breakfast high point is the enormous juicer with an even bigger pile of oranges.

Dinner looks even better: a fish bar for starters, charcuterie and cheese, half a dozen main course options to increible standard.

Fish and decoration at the AraucariaFish and decoration at the Araucaria


























Araucaria breakfast backdropAraucaria breakfast backdrop





















GETTING THERE

Change up how you travel to the slopes.

Take the snow train for the most relaxing way to reach resort.

The benefits of travelling by train include:

  • FREE ski carriage 
  • Generous luggage allowance (two bags per person plus hand luggage)
  • Reduced check-in time compared to flying 
  • Short transfers to resort
  • Scenic views 
  • Convenient, comfortable and stress-free travel

Inghams is offering a seven-night holiday on a half board basis at the four-star Araucaria Hotel & Spa in La Plagne, France, from £949pp based on two sharing in March 2018.

Price includes return train travel from London St Pancras to Moutiers and resort transfers.

Lift passes, equipment hire and tuition can be pre-booked through Inghams.

To book, visit the Inghams website or call 01483 791 114


Katie in her favourite mountain restaurant, Les Chalets de l'ArcKatie in her top mountain restaurant, Les Chalets de l'Arc























See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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

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