All you need to know about ski holidays by train

La Plagne - slopes

For experienced skiers the big attraction is the sheer scale of the Paradiski area, but La Plagne’s own terrain is itself huge and similarly multi-faceted, with similar appeal to skiers at both ends of the skill spectrum. A glance at the piste-map reveals not only a wealth of gentle terrain suited to novices and early-intermediates, but also a good selection of higher-altitude red- and black-graded pistes (along with departure-points for off-piste routes) designed to satisfy more experienced skiers.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular terrain is spread around the bowl-like slopes above the five main villages: Plagne 1800, Plagne Centre, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Villages and Aime La Plagne. Lifts radiate from each site to intermediate-level return runs, plus a choice of onward descents. On the southern side confident Black-run skiers can head via Le Fornelet (1970m) to a much gentler drop down to Plagne Montalbert (1350), while to the north the onward routes drop into Plagne Bellecôte and its near-neighbour Belle Plagne (2050m). From here you can take lifts to the Col de Forcle (2270m) or the Roche de Mio (2700m), the latter also being accessible via a direct cable-car.

There’s plenty of distance on offer for those who like to get around, as you’ll discover beyond Belle Plagne and the following crest of l’Arpette (2385m), at which point the options include heading up to the Roche de Mio to ski (even in July and August) on the glaciers of La Chiaupe and Bellecôte. Topping-off at 3250m, this is La Plagne’s highest terrain. Alternatively, there are long drops down through the tree-line to Les Coches (1450m) and Montchavin (1250m), either direct or via Les Bauches (1800m). More tempting still, of course, is the Vanoise Express link across to La Plagne, which you’ll find just above Montchavin.

Ski highlights for all levels

Beginners: There are several designated debutante areas, those of Plagne Centre, Aime La Plagne, Plagne Bellecôte and Montalbert having the most convenient access. Elsewhere, in Les Coches, Montchavin and particularly Le Fornelet, you’ll need to take a chairlift. La Plagne has surprisingly few green runs, so chances are you’ll progress quite quickly, as you’ll be onto gentler blues before you know it.

Intermediates: With such a high proportion of the terrain being blue or red-graded, it’s clear that La Plagne is focused predominantly on intermediate skiers. High among the attractions are a healthy selection of long cruising runs and plenty of opportunities to raise your game on steeper blues like Mira, which offers a surprisingly bracing drop from La Grande Rochette. Or you can take it easier down among the wooded areas above Les Coches. Red-run fans will find the long plunges into Champagny delightful.

Experts: Although not known for particularly testing pisted terrain, La Plagne nevertheless has some quite challenging blacks up its sleeve, most notably steeps like Morbleu and Les Coqs, between Le Biollay (2350m) and Le Fornelet (1970). The Bellecôte sector, too, serves up a couple of longish blacks (with a 787m vertical drop) in the form of Bellecôte and Le Rochu. If you’re an advanced skier, however, the possibilities open up dramatically once you begin to explore (with a guide) the many off-piste itineraries -  the most accessible being from the Bellecôte and Biollay peaks.

Ski schools and guides

ESF is present everywhere and offers a full range of classes and private lessons in all disciplines with English speaking instructors.

Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School  (+33 479 09 03 99) offers a comprehensive list of classes and equipment hire. Their instructors speak French and English (and a host of other languages too), so specify your requirements when you book.

Evolution2  (+33 479 07 81 85) is based in Montchavin-Les Coches. Their children’s ski school packages are available with or without meals and are divided into age and ability groups.

La Plagne is a good destination for Handiski (disabled skiing) and the ski-schools will have specially trained instructors and equipment available. Antenne Handicap (+33 479 09 13 80) is a ski school dedicated to disabled skiers, and is based in Aime La Plagne.

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Lift system

Much of the terrain is served by chairlifts, gondolas or cable-cars, and there has been heavy investment in 4- and 6-seater high-speed chairs (plus the muscular Arpette 8-seater). Peak season can produce queues in the busiest areas, and with such a big area to cover it’s perhaps inevitable that there are still some slower, fixed chairs and draglifts.

Terrain park 

Snowboarders and freestyle skiers have boarder-cross and other dedicated facilities, the highest-profile of which is the state-of-the-art 7cube Snowpark located above Plagne Centre. On the slopes above Plagne Bellecôte (with draglift access) are both half-pipe and boardercross areas, while there’s another large snowpark on the Montchavin/Les Coches side of le Dos Rond. And Champagny doesn’t miss out, having a well-equipped snowpark/freestyle area beside the Rossa chairlift.

Snow reliability and snowmaking

Much of the terrain here is above 2000m, which gives La Plagne a distinct edge on the snow-cover stakes, while the presence of not one but two glaciers allows the resort to offer summer skiing in July and August. And regardless of what nature delivers, La Plagne has extensive snowmaking facilities, to maintain snow conditions and keep everything moving.

Paradiski piste map

Ski area
Village Altitude
1800
m
Ski Altitude
1250 - 3250
m
Pistes
425
km
Green Runs
169
Blue Runs
121
Red Runs
67
Black Runs
35
Total Runs 234
Terrain Park
6
Cabin Lifts
11
Chair Lifts
64
Drag Lifts
52
Total Lifts 169