Skiing in La Plagne

Skiing in La Plagne

Most slopes here are above the tree line, giving the most magnificent long-distance views of endless rugged peaks and valleys. La Plagne is one of the finest resorts in the French Alps for intermediate-level skiing and snowboarding, with plenty of options at other levels to attract year-on-year visitors. The classification of some runs, however, can cause problems, as can frequent changes in piste names as well as their classification. Intermediates and beginners should take care they’re not suddenly confronted with a potentially dangerous situation. For first-time visitors, the multi-centred nature of the resort can cause confusion and the lift area around Plagne Bellecote is becoming notorious for horrendous queues.

That said, La Plagne is one of the most-visited French ski areas for its variety of runs and five generous terrain zones covering all levels of freestyle expertise. Comprehensive beginner facilities include good tuition, generally good snow and 17 free lifts in Bellecote, Centre, 1800 and Aime’s nursery slopes, although progress from there on in is tricky due to a lack of green runs and mis-classification of a number of testing blue runs.

For intermediates at all levels, La Plagne is closer to paradise than most other resorts, with a huge variety of blue and red runs. For early intermediates, La Plagne Bowl has a choice of gentle blue runs either side of Arpette, giving great cruising, plus a long run back down to Belle Plagne from Roche de Mio. Watch out for the tough blues towards Monchavin, and especially the ‘blue’ Grande Rochette to Plagne Centre Mira run – which should definitely be red due to its gradient.

Mid-level intermediates have a great choice of red runs, with a couple of tough challenges leading from Grande Rochette, aptly named Kamikaze and Harakiri. Outlying red runs such as the 1,250m vertical Monte de Guerre to Champagny from Les Verdons as well as the winding, tree-lined Les Coches are worth a visit.

For experts, getting the best from La Plague will involve a guide and lots of off-piste exploration as the black runs tend not to be too exciting. Col de la Chiaupe and Biolley sectors have the best off-piste terrain and Bellecote’s north face presents a splendid challenge, a 2,000m drop and an excellent lunch at its foot in Peiesy-Nancroix.

Cross-country skiers are well catered for, with 80kms of prepared trails, some spectacularly beautiful. North-facing trails are more wooded, and link to the main resort hubs. Snowboarders will love the extensive terrain, although at expert level, hiring a guide will open out acres of great snow away from the motorway-style on-piste areas. Beginners at the sport have swathes of rolling pistes to play in, although care needs to be taken to avoid the many flat spots. Night-time skiing, a novelty experience for a good few skiers, is supported at La Plague.