There are mixed blessings for beginners in La Plagne. On the one hand many of the resort’s bases have their own special beginner slopes and you have slope-side convenience to minimise the hassle of getting from your apartment, into your gear and onto the slopes.
There’s also the advantage that the high altitude of the purpose-built ski bases ensures quality snow on your doorstep and there are often free lifts for beginners to use.
On the downside this is a big resort that some may feel is better enjoyed in your second week or later (although you could always come back), and tuition is dominated by the monolithic Ecole du ski Francais which receives mixed reviews from users and could do with competition from other ski schools to help keep them on their toes.
With more than 110 runs graded blue or red (easy-intermediate), the longest 15km in length, La Plagne simply has everything an intermediate level skier could ask for.
The option to ski over to the Les Arcs side of the Paradiski region, taking advantage of the Vanoise express cable car will be a temptation, despite the fact that La Plagne has enough skiing to keep even the most determined kilometre cruncher happy for several weeks. Paradiski options include a one day extension pass to your regular La Plagne ticket which is more affordable than a full Paradiski pass – one of Europe’s most expensive six day lift tickets.
Your ease of getting across to les Arcs depends on where you’re based in La Plagne – the link is close to Montchavin but a bit of a trek from Montalbert. Some skiers try to see if they can get from one end of the ski area to the other and back in a day – quite a challenge and make sure you have enough time to make all the last-lift-of-the-day connections back if you try it.
Although sometimes criticised for lacking enough tough terrain for experts considering its size and status, those critics are really just trying to find fault when you consider the opportunities in 10,000 hectares of some of the best ski mountains in the world. You’d have to be a little limited in imagination to fail to find enough to entertain you here.
There are almost 40 black runs across the Paradiski area. On top of this there are innumerable off piste routes to tackle with a mountain guide. The 3.5km long Emile Allais run is generally regarded as one of the toughest.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
As for skiers, so for boarders, La Plagne’s very vastness means it’s hard for it not to appeal to most boarders. There are few flats and two thirds of the resort’s lifts are easy to ride chairs and gondola, 14 of those high speed quad or six-seater chairlifts. Freestylers will find 3 terrain parks to test their tricks in above Belle Plagne, Montchavin and Champagny. There’s also a half pipe above Bellecote and a new board cross course.
The amount of cross country skiing at La Plagne is not quite so world dominant as its downhill terrain, but ‘Le site nordique de champagny en Vanoise’ is a first class venue in one of the prettiest parts of the resort around the Champagny-Le-Haut plateau.
There’s a choice of five cross country skiing trails, with a combined total length of 22km, which run across the plateau to the base of the valley. The trails are at a very snowsure height above 2000m and can be accessed from La Plagne’s different high altitude resorts. You may need to use the ski lifts to access some parts of the network for which you can purchase a pedestrian pass at about a fifth of the cost of the Alpine ski equivalent.
Average Snow & Weather Conditions
La Plagne has an excellent snow record, receiving an average of six metres of snow per year. The resort’s Bellecote glacier has a permanent snow field and was formerly open for summer skiing. If you are visiting in the early or late season and are concerned about the snow reaching down to your hotel or apartment it would be worth considering staying at one of the higher altitude resorts, although more than 350 snow cannons cover crucial routes down to the valley resorts.