© Sam Birch
Take a break and recharge with a coffee and a quick bite.
Similarly, coffee houses can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you want to find somewhere to chat, while away the hours or read a book in a quiet corner. You might want to sit on a sunny terrace, enjoying the views whilst an Americano warms your hands and heightens your senses. Maybe you just need a shot of caffeine, right now, to ward off the after-effects of the previous night and get you ready for another day on the pistes.
Pause is an incredible coffee shop in Bourg St Maurice. It's on the main road leading to all of the Les Arcs resorts (Peisey-Vallandry excepted) and is only a minute’s walk from the central bus and railway stations. Here they are not just enthusiastic or “passionate” about coffee, they treat it as an art form. A very welcoming place where you can get a coffee, a huge variety of teas, a sandwich, a cookie, or even a glass of wine or beer in a relaxed and convivial environment. They only use speciality Gardelli coffee beans and always have an alternative “world single varietal” on the menu. There is a choice of soy or almond milk available for non-dairy or vegan customers, and the things they can do with coffee and steamed milk truly puts the “art” into latte art. Another thing that is unique to this particular coffee joint is the Kürtös: a baked crispy-doughy half-doughnut half-Chelsea bun spiral totem tower, served on a wooden post and finished with either a sweet or savoury coating, the Kürtös is difficult to describe but very easy to eat, and the perfect accompaniment to a hot coffee.
Situated on the Col de la Chal above Arc 2000, La Crèche is very accessible, boasts spectacular views and is the perfect place for a mid-ski pick-me-up. At a height of 2,600m, you can reach this restaurant directly from Arc 1800 (using the Transarc gondola) or by taking either the Arcabulle or Plagnettes chairlifts from above Arc 2000. It's possible to ski down to every resort in Les Arcs (except Villaroger) from the Col de la Chal and, as it's also very easy to find, La Crèche a great place to meet-and-drink.
When you have ridden approximately 7km from the top of the Aiguille Rouge (at 3,226m) to Villaroger (at 1,200m) you will begin to see signs for La Ferme. By this time you will also have earned a hot cup of joe and perhaps even a good old sit down before you take the three consecutive lifts back up to Arc 2000.
La Ferme is a lovely, rustic restaurant in the heart of Les Arcs' most remote village. This is no purpose-built complex in a ski resort, this is a homely bistro in a farming community that just happens to be adjoined to one of the largest ski areas in Europe.
Wood Bear Café
A great all-rounder in terms of coffee houses, Wood Bear Café in Arc 1950 has elements of all the previous places. The coffee is typically very good, the prices are not expensive, you can ski to the front door (through the village) and back to the piste, the inside is characterful with a cute mezzanine area and a “lower ground floor” despite there being seemingly only space for one level. They stock soy milk for the dairy intolerant and you can order a wide variety of coffees, in addition to other hot, soft and alcoholic beverages.
Dou de l’Homme (Energie 3000)
In between the Vallée de l’Arc and Chalets piste, Dou de L'Homme is essentially a shed serving drinks. You can often hear the music before you see the wooden hut. There is no indoor space to speak of, but there are plenty of deckchairs outside where you can watch the world slide by. The coffee here is cheap, served in paper cups (perfect for drinking on-the-go) and surprisingly good (the crema is immaculate). Simple, fast and effective.