La Plagne Resort Review
Guest post from Toorna Salmon
Our La Plagne ski resort review has been written by guest blogger Toorna Salmon. Toorna and her husband Duncan got engaged on a ski lift, married 6 months later, spent their honeymoon in Milton Keynes on a ‘gourmet cooking course for chalets’ and set up their ski chalet business, Alpine365 – all in the same year! Now in their 13th season, they have 5 independent ski chalets in La Plagne, each with a professional chef to plate up restaurant-quality meals for hungry skiers, and can offer plenty of advice on the area.
The La Plagne Resort Review
Arguably one of the world’s most famous ski resorts, La Plagne is huge, family-friendly, has 225kms of piste and as 70% of it is above 2000m, it’s really snow-sure. Hugely popular with both Brits and French, La Plagne has something for everyone – which is why so many visitors keep coming back, season after season. And with the easy hop over to Les Arcs, intermediate and advanced skiers have 435kms of piste of the immense Paradiski to play on.
La Plagne is actually made up of 11 different village resorts, with seven high altitude modern stations and 4 charming traditional villages.
The high-altitude resorts of La Plagne – Plagne Bellecote, Aime La Plagne, Plagne 1800, Belle Plagne, Plagne Centre, Plagne Soleil et Plagne Villages – have masses of
apartments, chalets and hotels to stay in, the majority of which are ski-in/ski-out. And whilst it’s true it’s not the most beautiful architecture in the world, the stunning surrounding mountain scenery certainly makes up for it.
The four villages (Champagny, Montalbert, Montchavin and Les Coches) are very pretty with a good selection of independent chalets to choose from, and the magical Narnia-esque tree-lined runs with the backdrop of the magnificent Mont Blanc will definitely fill up your Instagram!
And from Les Coches, you can catch the impressive double-decker Vanoise Express cable car to Peisey, linking La Plagne with Les Arcs to form the gigantic Paradiski with its 435kms of skiing. It takes about 4 hours to ski from the far end of La Plagne to the far end of Les Arcs so staying in the middle (Montchavin Les Coches) is a good bet for skiers that like to cover a lot of ground. Even if you are a non-skier, a trip in the Vanoise Express is a must – recently a sheet of glass was set into the floor of the lower deck, so you get an exceptional (if slightly scary) view of the valley below.
The skiing in La Plagne is truly excellent – there’s around 130 pistes for all abilities and you can actually ski the whole of La Plagne solely on blue runs so even a beginner can cover good ground.
Every single La Plagne village resort has its own ski schools and beginner area. The beginner area in Montchavin Les Coches, for example, has been vastly improved with a long covered magic carpet and a new drag lift, and 2 restaurants nearby to watch your little ones progress. And there’s an excellent choice of ski schools as well – Ski New Generation and Lime Snowsports are British ski schools plus there are also smaller independent French schools such as Evolution2 and Oxygène. You will always find the traditional French ESF schools in every resort – in Les Coches, the instructors have even set up an English arm of ESF called World Ski Class, where they use instructors that speak the best English.
For those that like to get the miles in, most skiers will head to the summits of La Plagne, including Roche de Mio to access the Glacier de Bellecote at 3250m, which includes 5 ungroomed ‘Pistes Naturs’ – think of them as safe and secured off-piste runs. Or head down via some of our favourite intermediate runs – Les Sources and Inversens. You’ll also want to make your way to the Grand Rochette for the runs into Plagne Centre or take the sublime Mont de la Guerre from the top of Verdons Sud into Champagny – the views are simply spectacular, including looking over the valley to Courchevel’s famous mountain runway, as featured in James Bond’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. And from the top of the Arpette lift, the cruisy Dos Rond and Mont Blanc tree-lined runs into Les Coches are fabulous. When you then add the 200kms of Les Arcs into the mix, your legs will definitely be aching (in a good way) by the end of your holiday!
What we also love in La Plagne is the off piste – it’s far less well known than other resorts for the powder, which has one big advantage – it gets less tracked out, less quickly. Plus we also have one of the world’s top 10 accessible off-piste runs in the North Face of the Bellecote, which is well worth a go (with a guide please!). There are also some easily accessible couloirs off the Roche de Mio – and on a powder day, if you head out early enough, you should be able to get some great first tracks under the Arpette and Inversens lifts.
In addition, La Plagne has invested in several ‘fun zones’ including a snowpark above Belle Plagne, a half pipe in Plagne Bellecote, boarder crosses in Montchavin, Champagny and Belle Plagne, the Colorado luge and the Fun Slope which has jumps, bumps, tunnels and obstacles – great for kids (of all ages).
If that’s not enough, there’s a multitude of other activities that La Plagne offers. You can have a go on the Olympic bobsleigh – the bob raft holds 4 people and is ideal for first timers (you still experience speeds of up to 80km/hour). For speed junkies, you can try out Julien Lizeroux’s Super Slalom run. At the start of the season, he sets a time and then you can try and beat it. Or you can even go for a beautiful star-lit evening snowshoe walk and spend the night in an igloo.
Food & drink
As well as the various mountain stops dotted across the pistes, each of the 11 resorts has its own town centre with a handful of bars and restaurants. So whilst you may not be able to go on a pub crawl of dozens of bars and clubs, there’s certainly enough to please most holiday makers (and to be honest, who would want to be going on a pub crawl in the current Covid-19 climate?).
Some of our favourites include:
Lovers of fine dining: British restaurateur, Phil Howard, opened the Union a few years ago in Montalbert.
Lovers of fondu and Alpine cheese: La Ferme du Cesar in Montchavin for properly home-cooked traditional food in a gorgeously rustic Alpine setting.
For a quick snack: you can’t beat Le Bonnet in Plagne Bellecote – hearty hot dogs and burgers, accompanied by banging tunes every afternoon if you want to start the apres-ski early.
For a lovely bar: Fort de Colorado in Plagne Centre, styled (obviously!) as a wild-west wooden fort of yesteryear.
And finally, getting to La Plagne is pretty straightforward. We’re gutted that the Eurostar direct Ski train has been cancelled for 2020/21 season but you can still get the train from London to Paris Gare de Nord, followed by a quick change on the Metro, and then the train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Aime La Plagne – and from there it’s a short taxi or transfer ride up to your chosen resort.
Driving from the UK is always an option and takes around 8 – 10 hours from Calais – with our small children, we always stop in Troyes or Reims overnight to break up the journey. And for those that like to fly, your options are Chambery, Geneva, Lyon and Grenoble – with a 1.5 – 2.5 hour transfer journey depending on the time of year.
Where to stay
Alpine365 has 5 lovely ski-in/ski-out chalets, all with hot tubs, professional chefs and parking. We have a 100% Coronavirus refund policy in place, so if you’re keen to stay in a ski chalet in La Plagne, get in touch at www.alpine365.co.uk.