My partner loves nothing more than whizzing down gnarly mountain biking trails. Whereas I’m an outdoor adventurer of a more sedate kind. In this review of Les Arcs summer activity holiday in Arc 1950, in the French Alps, I look at whether both our needs could be met!
Was there a summer holiday in the mountains which could deliver for us both? Would we return home (in one piece) feeling we’d shared quality time together? We headed off to the Alps to find out.
Nestled in the stunning Tarentaise Valley, Les Arcs is just two-hour drive from Geneva airport. After a post work dash to catch an evening flight, we arrived at the resort in the early hours of the morning, eager to sleep.
Check in, in the early hours proved tricky. Yet soon enough we collapsed, exhausted into our one bed apartment, located in the Jardins de le Cascade. This complex, like others in the village, embraces the traditional Tyrolean style, offering everything you need for a comfortable, self catering holiday.
As I sat on our balcony sipping coffee in the morning, the sun rose, slowly revealing the village’s chocolate-box beauty. Encased by snow-capped mountains above and alpine forests below, Les Arcs 1950 certainly delivers as an alpine idyll.
Whilst the beauty of the surroundings was quick to lure me into a state of relaxation, we were here to be active! So, with no time to recuperate, but a dose of caffeine to energise us, we headed to Evolution 2’s office to meet our guide Roman.
Matched with superb downhill bikes, fitted out in full armour, we were ready to take on the mountains. Well, appearances suggested so. Whilst I love to amble round the city on my bright yellow bike, my mountain biking experience is limited, my downhill credentials non-existent.
So, whilst the safety measures should have been reassuring, in full body armour, I felt like a knight off to war. It left me wondering if I’d embarked on an adventure holiday which surpassed my capabilities?
Roman diligently put me through my paces around the village, familiarising me with the bike and giving a whistle stop guide to the basics of mountain biking. Then it was time to put me through my paces on the actual slopes.
Bikes hooked onto the chair lift we scaled the mountain, my trepidation rising with our incline. Looking down as bikes hurtled down the crisscrossing tracks cut into the mountain, it’s clear Les Arcs isn’t just a winter playground, but a mecca for adrenaline filled summer fun.
Roman asked how I felt about trying a green run, in an enthusiastic voice which belied my fears, I said “yes, let’s do it”. Remembering, Roman’s instructions we were off, down the thin track which pathed our descent. The bike rolled and twisted over rocks, ruts and wooden bridges while Mont Blanc was constantly in view.
Some ballsy sheep kept crossing our paths, reminiscent of computer games where additional hazards are tossed in to add to the peril. But I was getting the swing of this, and no livestock were going to stop me in my quest.
Banked corners, uneven ground and a constant fight against gravity – I didn’t want to go too fast – makes downhill riding a hugely physical sport. And the green run was long, taking about an hour to descend. As we reached the bottom of the trail, every part of my body ached, my face was crimson with exertion, but I’d done it!
Viewing my boyfriend’s video of my decent, my initial thoughts were, he’d used slow mo to capture my newfound skills. He hadn’t. It certainly had felt faster than it looked, but I’d made it! Knowing I’d reached my limits, I declined a second opportunity to attack the trails.
So while my boyfriend went back up to take on more difficult trails, I sat sipping cool lemonade in a mountainside café as my adrenaline eventually subsided. Finally rested I could again take in the full beauty of the mountain I’d conquered.
**Note from boyfriend! The green trail in Arc 1950 is not a paved like greens I’ve seen in other resorts. As a very experienced mountain biker I found it a lot of fun to ride. There are challenging sections, varied undulating terrain and sharp corners. Taken at speed it’s a lot of fun, and rides more like an easy blue.**
Back at base, we headed to Le Parvis café for lunch. Seated on wooden chairs covered with sheep skin rugs, it was the epitome of alpine café chic. We ate well deserved hearty toasties, drank cool white wine in the heat of the sun and relaxed. The bustling café scene in Arc 1950 provides the perfect après for mountain activities.
Each apartment block is linked to a small swimming pool, which is a wonderful way to cool off after exerting yourself on the mountains. As my partner headed back to for more Les Arcs mountain biking, I took the opportunity to do just that, and chill out in the pool.
After my swim I wandered round the village. Whilst we hadn’t come with our respective children, it was clear that a summer activity holiday in Arc 1950 is the perfect for families. With climbing towers, inflatable playgrounds, swimming pools, and pedestrianised with cars stored away in the underground car parks, who needs Centre Parks!
Ambling around, I had to dodge stampeding T-rex’s and cows, steadying trays of drinks. It was Arc 1950’s costume clad waiting staff, competing for the title of ultimate café attendant. This bizarre spectacle was one of many, as the village was always alive with activity.
Back together for the evening, we headed to the fantastic Vache Rouge for dinner. True to its name the menu was a definite homage to the cow. As we passed tables, we saw plates with tender looking, generous portions of beef.
As a pescatarian I settled on a fondue. My partner, who doesn’t eat much beef, went for an exquisite plate of scallops. Having heard rumours of meat heavy mountain fare, I wondered about vegetarian options, but my fears were allayed.
Moreover, as a cheese obsessive, I was relishing the opportunity to indulge in all forms of gooey, melted cheesy delights. Luckily, being on a Les Arcs summer activity holiday, was the perfect justification to overindulge. The delicious blueberry dessert – much to the delight of my partner – was so enormous that is came on its own table!
The atmosphere, like many places in Arc 1950, hasn’t quite shaken off the shackles of being a winter destination. It was still embracing a Christmassy décor which felt both homely but slightly amiss in the summer heat.
Yet with great food, an extensive wine list and attentive staff, it was the perfect ending to an awesome first day. And with our belly’s full and tired after the day’s exertions we headed home for an early night.
Roman again was our guide as we scaled the mountain, this time at a more sedate pace. Hiking up we were able to take in the beauty of Les Arcs. The changes in rock formation and the views altering as we rose. A guide meant not only did we know where we were heading, but he taught us about Les arcs from a geographic, ecological and cultural perspective.
As we rose higher there were mutterings of how altitude was affecting our breathing. In reality the slope was steep, whilst not the cardio workout of the previous day, it was certainly putting us through our paces.
At last, the top beckoned and soon we were back on the chairlift, descending in minutes the slopes we’d scaled. Our look out for marmots rewarded by a two scuttling out of the burrow.
It was time to head off again for another well-deserved lunch. The cosy Wood Bear Café beckoned with its hearty, healthy offerings. As the sun beat down we basked in its warmth at the small courtyard at the café’s rear.
I tucked into a large vegetable quiche, my partner a rather less healthy but delicious sausage burger. Swilled down with the smoothie of the day. Reasonably priced with friendly staff and a relaxing vibe it was a great place to rest weary legs.
Luckily, our exertion for the day had finished. Feeling fully relaxed from our leisurely lunch, we were ready to embrace an afternoon of intense relaxation and indulgence. Situated in the heart of the village is the Deep Nature Spa.
Its volcanic cave themed aquatic area takes you on a journey from ice fountains to bubbling jacuzzies. Whether you’ve spent summer days hurtling down the slopes on a mountain bike, or spent the day on foot, this is the perfect place to rejuvenate tired limbs.
Whether you book a massage or, like us, just soak your body in hot mineral waters, it is well worth the visit. Luckily when we went, the spa was wonderfully quiet.
What elevated this spa though is its location. As we immersed our bodies into its outdoor hot tubs, the majestic beauty of Mont Blanc glistened in the foreground of the late afternoon sun. It was one of those moments, where your thoughts transcend the noise of everyday living, and you become completely enveloped by nature, stillness, and beauty.
Well, that was until my boyfriend recalled he’d under calculated his work expenses, dragging me back into the real world. I guess we don’t all experience things the same.
After a brief post spa dose, we headed off to Le Chalet de Luigi for dinner. The place was bustling full of holiday ambiance. I settled for a hearty salad and my partner an enormous pasta dish.
Our healthy options were influenced by rumours of a tantalising tiramisu which we ordered to follow. It didn’t disappoint; like our dessert of the previous night, it was definitely a family portion size. The staff were again friendly, and the drinks list extensive.
I embarked on this trip not knowing what to expect, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. The Alps revealed itself as much more than just a winter playground. Arc 1950 offers a summer activity holiday of relaxation, beauty and adventure.
The wider Les Arcs area, is a thrill seekers paradise with amazing mountain bike trails, hiking, climbing, rafting, paragliding and so much more. But the vibrant and friendly village of Arc 1950 is also the perfect base for families, couples or groups in the Alps.
Les Arcs has something for everyone. Despite my partner’s and mine differing levels of ability, and desire for adrenaline filled fun, we both had a holiday suited to our needs, whilst spending quality time together.
To conclude this review of Les Arcs summer activity holiday in Arc 1950 my only wish is that we could have stayed longer. So if you’re looking for an Alpine holiday this summer, Arc 1950 should be on your radar. I know it will be on mine!
I hope you found this this review of Les Arcs summer activity holiday in Arc 1950 useful. To find out more, and to book a stay head to the tourist board website at: www.arc1950.com