The resort area is actually split between about 5 smaller towns and villages that make up Les Arcs. Each town has it’s own character and clientele, appealing in different ways to the various stereotypes that populate the slopes. Arc 2000 and 1950 are for the richer folks, more family orientated and little more luxurious. It tends to be a little more French orientated as well. Arc 1600 is a bit cheaper, just a standard resort town but without a huge draw. Arc 1800 is where Bath Uni were based and has a larger English presence, especially in the bars. The larger hotels can cater for groups and budgets more suited to students. Vallandry and Peisey are both smaller and more family friendly, while offering a range of nicer hotels and catered chalets, this is where the SCUK crew were located. Over in Arc 1800 the nightlife was much better, with several bars happy to accommodate a huge amount of students. While the amount we had meant splitting them between bars on some nights, Red Hot Saloon did well to cater for as many as they did almost every night, although they did share the load with my favourite, Bar King Mad. The two clubs in town Club 73 and Le Carre (previously Apocalypse) hosted some of the best late parties of the season. The mostly English bars helped the students to spend, while the worst drink in existence was consumed in high volume thanks to the bar staff in Red Hot. A Glass Case (Cage?) consists of Gin and red wine served like a Jagerbomb, resulting in some very messy nights.
So the first week in Peisey continued with the lack of snow, a light dusting here and there didn’t do much to improve the riding, although pistes were mostly open and well covered. The snow also brought the temperature down, and for the first time during the season I felt the need to wrap up a little more. Clear skies later in week meant some great photo ops, and the old snow meant park laps were frequent and popular. Peisey is well placed for the Vanoise Express, a huge double-decker gondola that takes pass holders across to La Plagne. This opens up another resort of equal size, making the total skiable area massive.
Les Arcs ski area is easily split into three main sections; The glacier and the Arc 2000 bowl, Arc 1800 with the snowpark and the Vallandry side, with tree runs galore. The glacier and the 2000 bowl offer some great runs, the main bowl is mostly open blues, but for the more adventurous there’s plenty of ‘Natur’ un-pisted black and red runs to explore. There’s some long runs down into Villaroger, although the slow chairs back out make this a long detour. In good conditions the amount of off-piste available in this bowl is impressive, although finding some fresh lines will be very tricky as the accessibility of it all means the locals will be building moguls before you can even strap in.
Arc 1800 again offers plenty of blues but dotted with reds. There’s a couple blacks to hit, but it’s mostly on the easier side while the blues are mostly just access routes across the hill. This was the first park that felt finished, even though the pro-line was still under construction. Rather than conforming to the straight line set up of most parks this was more open, with jumps and rails offset against each other, allowing riders to change up their lines and hit a greater variety of features in a single run. Also offering some excellent mid difficulty hits that would not normally be found in the mid park a lot of fun to be had in this park. Arc 1800 is also home to the new ‘Mille 8‘ area, a short gondola ride up through the trees to a floodlit green run, with alongside boarder-cross and tobogan track.
Finally, the Vallandry side has straight reds between big patches of forest, with winding blues linking each run to the next. The forest areas are perfect for tree runs, with a bit of fresh powder these offer some excellent fun for those willing to risk their limbs (and base). The reds are basic motorway pistes, wide and fast, while the blues offer some peaceful, picturesque and easy runs for beginners, just be aware at junctions.