Paradiski is the collective name for the La Plagne, Peisey-Vallandry and Les Arcs ski areas. There are twenty different villages in Paradiski, each has its own style, and appeals to a different audience, meaning there is a base suitable for everyone. But why should you book a Paradiski skiing holiday?
I have spent around twenty days in the Les Arcs side of Paradiski and a further ten on the La Plagne side, it is my most visited ski area. But I am not the only one, in terms of the most beds available and the most nights booked per year La Plagne is the most popular ski area in the world.
A friend recently asked If I would book a Paradiski skiing holiday again this year. I replied that I would always be pleased to return. Here are 10 reasons why I would be happy to book a Paradiski skiing holiday again, and again, and again….
The Paradiski area is vast. It has 425 km of slopes, more than 14,000 hectares (20,000 football pitches) of skiable domain and 262 marked runs. It is also very high and snow sure with two glaciers at over 3000 meters and 70% of the skiing above 2000 meters.
The area also offers great variety with 152 green and blue runs, 79 red runs and 22 black runs. With more immaculate piste to enjoy than most people can cover in a week, un-pisted/freeride areas, parks, boardercross, ample off-piste and excellent backcountry there truly is something for everyone.
Here are a few of my personal favourites:
For a long run head from the top of Aiguille Rouge, at 3200m, down to Villaroger at 1200m. Until a reclassification of part of this run to red it was the longest black run in Europe. It’s still over 2000m of fast and steep descent. Similarly in La Plagne you can ski from the top of the glacier at 3400 meters down to Montchavin at 1250m.
If you like lift accessible, and avalanche controlled off-piste then the ‘natural’ blacks coming off Aiguille Rouge into Arc 2000 are a lot of fun in fresh snow. As are the runs on the far left and far right – as you look at the piste map – of the La Plagne ski area. Be warned these natural runs become a mogul minefields if there isn’t fresh snow.
For quiet cruisy runs head to the Peisey Vallandry area. The tree lined runs offer a range of pistes from blue to black – the majority are red – all of which seem to lead to the two same lifts and are often empty. It is also a good area when visibility or weather is bad.
For beginners and intermediates in Les Arcs the long blue runs accessed from the top of Col de la Chal are perfect. The confusingly named Plan Vert is a wide blue with a boardercross running alongside it – so good for mixed groups. It links up with Edelweiss and then Vallee du Arc for a long, varied and cruisy route through the mountains down past 1950.
Over in La Plagne the long blue Levasset from Roche De Mio is great for beginners. It gives you access to a range of blues above the Champagny area and links with blues into Belle Plagne and Plagne Bellecote. The Colossus lift here then opens up blues into Plagnes Soleil, Plagne Villages and Plagne Centre.
Last season I visited Paradiski with the intention of exploring the off-piste on the La Plagne side of the ski area. Unfortunately I tore my calf muscle in Tignes and never got the chance. However I met with Francois Allemoz of Hors Limit who was going to be my guide, and he enlightened me as to what I was missing out on.
Francois explained that we could get the lifts up to Bellecote and then be off-piste for the rest of the day without having to catch another chair. From the top are two options, the north face down to Peisey Nancroix or the Col du Nant and the south Face into Champagny. Both options offer over 2000 meters of backcountry descent.
He showed me ten different off-piste areas that we could have explored. They included a good range of options from easy spots for beginners to very difficult couloirs, and high open areas to low tree lined routes for when weather is bad. I was gutted to have missed out, and this is the reason i will book a Paradiski skiing holiday again soon.
On the Les Arcs side of Paradiski I have already done a fair amount of off-piste with a friend that lives there. There is a lot that is easy to access and relatively safe – I particularly liked through the trees above Peisey Vallandry. I have seen many people hiking up from the top of Grand Col I assume to drop into the Valley the far side of Aiguille Rouge.
Remember heading off-piste is dangerous, you need to have the right equipment, know what you are doing and be with someone – preferably a guide – who knows the area very well.
Both sides of Paradiski have great snowparks. On the La Plagne side the main freestyle area is above Belle Plagne and is split into two areas. Both can be accessed from the Col De Force chair, and the lower area can also be accessed from Les Blanchets chair.
The Les Arcs snowpark is above 1600 and 1800 and is well stocked with features. There are kickers, rails and boxes in blue, red and black difficulty running beside each other giving you clear progression. It’s all accessed by a dedicated drag lift or via the Arpette 14 chair.
The crown jewel of the Paradiski area is the Vanoise Express that links Les Arcs with La Plagne. When it opened in 2003 it was the biggest, longest and fastest cable car in the world, crossing the 2km wide valley in four minutes. Taking the Vanoise Express is an experience in itself, but if that is not enough you can book a gourmet dinner in the gondola.
The adventure does not stop when you have hung your skis up for the day. Along with the normal activities such as tobogganing, snowmobiling, ice skating, dog sledding and snowshoeing you can also try your hand at bobsleigh, ice climbing, airboarding, speed flying and paragliding.
Not everyone wants more adrenaline when they come off the slopes. For those that like to relax a visit to the spa comes highly recommended. In Arc 1950 I can personally recommend the Deep Nature Spa where you can enjoy a massage with a majestic view of Mont Blanc in the background. Over in La Plagne my wife visited, and raved about, the Spa Bellecote which is in the main shopping centre.
Although you will be able to find somewhere to have a few drinks in any of the Paradiski resorts, most of the villages are not big on nightlife. The exception is Arc 1800, which has loads of bars, partygoers, and the legendary Apocalypse Club banging out tunes until 4am.
Elsewhere there are bars in every village that get lively straight off the slopes, and which have some busy nights. I have enjoyed drinking in Scotty’s in Plagne Centre, Crazy Fox in Arc 2000, Mont Blanc in Vallandry and the Irish pub in Arc 1950.
If you like on mountain apres then try the L’Arpette Restaurant above Arc 1800, the DJs and dancing starts around 3pm. You can also stay for dinner (although you need to book) and then can dance on the tables until 9pm – before ‘skiing’ back into 1800.
There is some quirky family fun to be had on the Paradiski slopes that kids will really appreciate. On the Les Arcs side visit the largest Igloo village in the Alps and explore the ice cave. There is a bar and even a dance floor in the evenings to entertain adults.
Above Belle Plagne be sure to ski through le Tunnel. They have used light and music to create an art experience to enjoy as you ski through the mountain. If you are on a snowboard carry plenty of pace into the tunnel or you’ll be doing the undignified one foot shuffle.
Another reason I would like to book a Paradiski skiing holiday is the new €36m Mille 8 area. Set above Arc 1800, it includes a new lift and floodlit ski area that is themed around having family fun. There is a toboggan area, a freestyle zone with small features and sculptures, a themed discovery piste and a dedicated beginners area.
Part of Mille 8 is a large family entertainment centre including a 3800m2 aqua park with indoor and outdoor pools, waterfalls, kids area, jacuzzi and more. There is also an indoor golf simulator and bars and restaurants.
New for the 2015/16 season is the Paradiski YUGE digital ecosystem. It is a free app available on Apple and Android that will ensure your get the most from your visit to Paradiski. Essentially it’s a personalised piste map, that not only shows you where you are but where you should go next.
YUGE provides you with the latest weather and snow conditions, lift queue information, and even tells you where your friends are. It can recommend routes based on your ability, tell you where the sunny slopes are for this time of day, and point you in the direction of the nearest bar.
It does all of this while tracking you on the slopes – using both your phone and a chip in your lift pass – so you know where you went and where you took each photo. YUGE also gives you access to free WiFi all over the mountain, so you can share your pictures straight away – or check the footy scores.
The 20 different villages, vast and varied ski area, and huge range of off slope experiences means that Paradiski offers something suitable for everyone. Because of this a lot of people book Paradiski skiing holidays, but don’t let that put you off, it is such a large, spread out and well linked area that it rarely feels busy.
To find out more or to book a Paradiski skiing holiday visit: www.paradiski.com or to find out about the individual ski areas visit La Plagne: www.la-plagne.com Les Arcs: www.lesarcs.com or Peisey Vallandry: www.peisey-vallandry.com