La Plagne is a ski resort in France that is connected to Les Arcs by the Vanoise Express cable car to create the Paradiski area. Paradiski is one of the largest ski areas in Europe, with 425km of runs linked together by 160 lifts serving 152 green/blue runs, 79 red runs and 22 black runs plus plenty of off-piste action. It’s safe to say I was excited about my holiday snowboarding in La Plagne!
I had snowboarded in Les Arcs before but never made it across to La Plagne. Everyone I had spoken to said it was very different to Les Arcs, with lots of open areas offering off-piste. So I booked a week in the Terra Nova hotel in La Plagne Centre with Crystal Ski to find out for myself if snowboarding in La Plagne was all it’s cracked up to be.
The Terra Nova hotel is ski-in, ski-out; so on the first day we got all our kit on and boarded down to La Bergerie chair lift, about 100m away. A short easy blue with the same name runs below the lift, so we started with that to help get our bearings and our snow legs. From there we got La Bergerie back up and took a run down into Plagne Bellecotte, from where the Roche De Mio cable car takes you much higher up the mountain.
From the top of Roche De Mio there are a host of blue and red options taking you down into different areas of the resort. You can also take the Bellcotte cable car even higher to ski on the glacier and take on some challenging black runs. We headed over to the Champagny en Vanoise side of the mountain – we didn’t plan it but ended up there after taking a wrong turn, something that happened quite frequently in La Plagne.
Normally, I very quickly get my bearings in a new resort, but in La Plagne it seemed that very few lifts had runs from the top that came back down under the lift. I found you moved around different areas of La Plagne with each run, and I hardly ever took the same lift twice in a row all week. This makes for a lot of piste/map consultations (particularly when trying to get home) but also means you see a lot of the mountain.
True to my friends’ words, there are lots of open areas full of inviting off-piste opportunities. Unfortunately, as it had been a couple of weeks since the last snow, it was completely tracked out. Having said that, looking from the lifts at what could be – if the conditions were right – was enough to convince me it would be an amazing resort after a dump of snow.
That’s not to say it wasn’t fun without fresh snow, as it is a large area with plenty of terrain to keep everyone busy. La Plagne also has a few snowboarding parks with kickers ranging from the size of a molehill to the size of a house, and rails aplenty. I spent an afternoon in the park hitting the smaller kickers and was happy to pull off a couple of backside 3s. Having said that, I did wish I was 10 years younger so I could also pull off the garish outfits that all the cool kids were wearing….
The only downside of snowboarding in La Plagne was the number of flat sections (and the odd uphill), that no matter how fast you went. always meant un-strapping for the undignified one-foot shuffle. As an advanced snowboarder I don’t have to do it that often and although it was not every run, I felt they were a little more frequent than in other resorts.
Overall, La Plagne was easily big enough to keep us occupied for a week with no need to visit Les Arcs. There were awesome long reds to blast at high speed and challenging blacks that left you with numb legs and a big smile on your face. I would certainly visit again for the chance of enjoying the off-piste; still even without fresh snow, it’s a very good resort and I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday snowboarding in La Plagne.