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La Plagne Travel Guide
La Plagne © Ed Dowding
La Plagne is a vast ski resort with an enormous vertical drop of 2,000m - double that of Aspen. The resort is linked to Les Arcs via the Vanoise Express cable car, and together they form Paradiski, one of the largest ski areas in the world.
The high altitude La Plagne villages centre on apartment life; there are few hotels and its convenience makes up for its lack of charm. The highest complex at 2,000m, Aime La Plagne is considered to be the most convenient, with many of the best apartments. The lowest mountain village, at 1,800m, is the neo-Savoyard Plagne 1800. Belle Plagne, situated at 2050m, is one of the more attractive resorts, with traditional wood and stone buildings and a pedestrianised centre.
The largest complex, with the liveliest holiday atmosphere, is the original Plagne Centre, one of the first villages in Europe to be built to cater specifically for the skiing season. The lifts are near to the accommodation and visitors can generally ski to their door.
The three traditional villages within La Plagne ski area include Montchavin - Les Coches, which is just below the Vanoise Express cable car, Montalbert, which lies below Plagne Aime 2000, and Champagny, which is on the other side of the mountain and has its own smaller ski area.
La Plagne is one of Europe's best ski resorts for beginners and intermediate skiers, and with its self-catering apartments it is hugely popular with families. The resort is around two hours from Geneva and Lyon airports.
There is a huge amount of good skiing for all levels in La Plagne and the surrounding area, and as a high-altitude resort, the snow is as reliable as anywhere in Europe, particularly up on the Bellecôte Glacier, which goes up to 3,250m.
La Plagne is one of the best ski resorts for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders, with literally hundreds of miles of pistes, but there is also plenty of off-piste terrain and challenging runs from the glacier for experts. As well as big, open slopes there are also runs between the trees, at Montchavin and Montalbert, and also over at Champagny.
The scenery and views are stunning and can be enjoyed by all ski levels from the highest point, where pistes for all abilities will lead even novice skiers safely down again. Intermediates will find more than enough to believe they are in skiing heaven, and beginners are well catered for with nursery slopes and ski schools adjacent to all the villages and plenty of blue and easy red runs. If visitors tire of the skiing in La Plagne, or simply want a change of scenery, they can take the Vanoise Express to Les Arcs.
Each complex of the purpose-built sections of La Plagne has holiday apartments, with supermarkets, restaurants and ski shops all interconnected by tunnels and walkways. The underground passages are reminiscent of a subway shopping mall.
Although large self-catering apartments dominate the purpose-built villages of La Plagne, the choices are endless for those who want to go out to eat. There are quaint local restaurants, both on and off the slopes, with delicious Savoyarde specialities on the menu, as well as quick and easy lunch stops offering toasties, pizza, pasta and burgers. There is also no shortage of bars offering an après-ski beer or vin chaud at the end of the day.
La Plagne is more of a family resort than a party destination, but there are nightclubs in La Plagne Centre and Belle Plagne, as well as plenty of bars that offer live music. There's a bowling alley in the centre of Belle Plagne, which is open late.
As La Plagne is not centred on one village, the off-piste activities are spread thinly. There is ice-skating at Belle Plagne, dog-sled riding at Plagne Montalbert, an Olympic bobsleigh piste at Plagne 1800, and tobogganing by night at Plagne Aime 2000. Some apartment complexes have swimming pools and fitness centres, but they are generally only open for residents.
The La Plagne resort is not the image of a traditional village, with many high-rise buildings and purpose-built complexes. Waiting times at lifts can be lengthy.