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What's on in Les Arcs summer 2019

Outdoor activities, glorious weather and the Tour de France in the heart of the Alps

Featured in: | Sam Birch, Les Arcs Reporter | Published
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It is hotting up in Les Arcs this summer, and we are not just talking about the temperature. There is an absolute ton of events happening throughout the resorts, with a huge range of activities to suit all tastes. Whether your idea of a perfect holiday includes ultra-marathon running or relaxing by a mountainside pool, hurtling down technical mountain-biking trails or listening to classical music, we have you covered.

Les Arcs is blessed with glorious weather during the summer, inviting all and sundry to make the most of the great outdoors. It is, therefore, no surprise that July and August are ram-packed with things to do, see and experience in the mountains. In addition to the everyday pursuits of hiking, cycling, white-water rafting and sitting outside cafés watching the world go by, there is a comprehensive schedule of events to keep you entertained and help you ‘live your best life’ through the long, hot summer days.

Two months – Les Arcs’ summer opening

Perhaps the biggest event of the summer season, Saturday 6th July sees the lifts slot into gear and begin transporting people back up onto the slopes of Les Arcs. This opens up a huge, high-altitude playground for everyone with a bike, walking boots, a swimming costume, golf clubs, binoculars, you get the idea...

One major attraction is the Les Arcs Bike Park which allows mountain-bike to ride a variety of different trails catering for every ability and style: there are gentle blue runs, thigh-burning enduro tracks, precipitous downhill pistes and everything in-between. A number of Les Arcs’ chairlifts and gondolas are accessible to bikes, ensuring you can maximise your time on the trails, even when your energy is running low.

The lifts are also open to pedestrians, allowing walkers easy access to a vast number of mountain paths and opening up the Vanoise national park to adventurous explorers. If spectacular views are your thing, you can ride the Aiguille Rouge gondola up to 3226 metres, where the gravity-defying ‘skywalk’ gives breathtaking panoramic views of the Alps, including the snow-capped Mont Blanc.

With the resorts open you can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool at Mille 8, the golf course above Arc 1800, downhill ‘mountain karting,’ crazy golf, trampolining and much, much more. The resorts are open from July 6th to August 31st so there’s plenty of time to get involved!

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Summer Lifts Les Arcs

Two wheels – cycling at its best

The Tarentaise valley draws both road cyclists and mountain bikers from all over the world. Whether you prefer day-long climbs or rapid descents, those who favour two wheels are always in good company. This year, the large number of professional and amateur events in Les Arcs, including the return of the Tour de France, is being heralded as ‘the summer of cycling.’ So whether you spectate, compete or simply follow in the pedal-strokes of some world-class athletes, here are a few dates to put in your diary.

Les Arcs’ opening weekend (6th to 8th July) sees the first major MTB event, Enduro 2. Designed for teams of two to ride in tandem (but not ON a tandem), this is a three-day enduro event featuring between 12 and 15 timed stages and over 12,000 metres of overall descent. The course is technical, encompassing both natural and man-made elements. It is also unique, as some of Les Arcs ski lifts are used as ‘liaisons’ between different sections. Pairs of skilled riders are still able to sign up, although the field is limited to 150 teams.

On Wednesday 17th July, the sole French stage of the Giro Ciclistico Valle d’Aosta will pass through Bourg St Maurice as the peloton heads towards the first categorised climb of the day: the Cormet de Roseland. This year is the 56th edition of the under-23s race and, with previous winners including Thibaut Pinot, Fabio Aru and Robert Power it will, as always, showcase many future stars of road-racing.

The following weekend gives willing amateurs (and other crazy people) the chance to ride a full mountain stage of the Tour de France a full week before the elite riders roll through. The Etape du Tour on Sunday 21st July will see around 15,000 riders take the exact route from Albertville to Val Thorens that comprises stage 20 of this year’s Tour de France. Boasting three categorised climbs over a 130km course, it is not for the faint-hearted. The Etape, like the Tour, will pass through Bourg St Maurice after the first significant descent and, with so many participants, should be quite a spectacle.

Next up is the big one: the Tour de France. In 2018, it was just after Bourg St Maurice that Geraint Thomas made his decisive break, earning the yellow jersey that he would retain until he was standing on top of the podium in Paris. On Saturday 27th July the crazy pre-race carnival caravan is due to pass through Les Arcs’ principal town at around 13:30, with the first riders flying through a couple of hours after. Not to be missed.

Another road-racing event, the Tour de Tarentaise, follows shortly afterwards. This one, however, is not restricted to professionals but is open to everyone with a strong constitution, a decent road bike and a penchant for climbing. A four-day competition, starting on Wednesday 31st July, the stages are all of reasonable lengths (the longest being 65km) and feature respectable (but not insurmountable) climbs. Stage two passes through Bourg St Maurice at approximately 16:00 on Thursday 1st August. For anyone hoping to compete, it is still possible to register for the whole event for only €50. Tempting...

From Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th August, it is time to go back off-road for L’Arcadienne, THE downhill mountain bike race in Les Arcs. On Saturday, riders get the chance to practice the course, whilst there is a separate (easier) competition for kids under 13 years old. Sunday is the main event, with downhill specialists racing against the clock throughout the day, culminating in a grand final at 13:30.

Roughly translated as ‘nocturnal alleyways,’ Nocturne des Ruelles is an urban MTB event held in Bourg St Maurice, at night, on Friday 9th August. Part-race, part-party, teams of two riders relay race along the streets, through the passages and down the stairs of the town from 17:00. There is a competition for 10-16-year-olds and a prize for the best fancy dress. The adults will start racing at 20:00 and there will be a DJ spinning tunes throughout the evening.

Another under-23s road-racing event featuring up-and-coming talent, the Tour de l’Avenir has been won by Bauke Mollema, Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil and Egan Bernal amongst many other luminaries of the cycling world. Stage 9 passes through Bourg St Maurice twice on Saturday 24th August, as the peloton travels from its starting point in Villaroger at the far end of Les Arcs, up to Les Chapelles, before looping back towards Tignes.

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Cycling in Les Arcs

Two legs – running, walking and hiking

In the winter, the Aiguille Rouge ski run is a thing of legend, dropping from 3226 metres down to Villaroger some 2000 metres below. On Sunday 7th July, the legends are the people who choose to race UP the piste as part of the Vertical K2. The course is ‘only’ 7.6km long but it is all very seriously uphill. There is also a K1 course, climbing a mere 1,000 metres for those who are not quite mad enough to take on the full distance. Registration open to all from €25.

If 2km of climbing is not enough, then turn your attention to the Traces des Ducs de Savoie, an ultra-trail event starting across the border in Italy and finishing at the foot of Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Starting in the wee hours of the morning (04:00) on Wednesday 28th August, competitors will run, hike and walk 145km, with a combined ascent of over 9km! The race passes through Bourg St Maurice early on Wednesday morning and all support is not only welcomed but fully justified.

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Walking in Les Arcs

Two ‘R’s – rest and relaxation

Every Wednesday afternoon from July 10th to August 28th, Bourg St Maurice hosts an artisanal market and evening concert. Lasting from 16:00 to 20:00, there will be a variety of stalls featuring a cornucopia of delicious local produce and a range of handmade arts and crafts. Each week features different workshops and entertainments, including floristry, fac -painting, traditional games and pony rides. At 18:30, there will be a concert in one of the two main central squares with a different band (playing everything from samba to rockabilly, soul to rock) on every week.

On Sunday 14th July, Les Arcs will be filled with folk music and traditional Savoie costumes as the Edelweiss Festival returns to Bourg St Maurice for the 75th year. This is truly a celebration of the agricultural history of the mountains, with local people reviving time-honoured customs, workshops where you can learn traditional crafts and endless entertainment in the streets, all to the soundtrack of Savoyard folk music.

Another long-standing, and even longer lasting, musical event starts on Wednesday 17th July and goes on until Friday 2nd August. The 46th edition of the Academie Festival de Musique des Arcs sees a vast number of free classical concerts being played every day across the Les Arcs resorts, with venues in Bourg St Maurice, Arc 1600, 1800, 2000, Peisey-Vallandry, Hauteville Gondon and Villaroger. It is the perfect opportunity to combine the spectacular physical landscape with a beautiful aural landscape. In the full programme of concerts, Wednesday 31st July, in particular, has a full day of goings-on to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Les Arcs domain.

In the summer, cows are everywhere in Les Arcs: on the mountains, in the parks, on roadside verges and, for two days in August, in the centre of Bourg Saint Maurice. The catchily-named Salon de l’Agriculture de Montagne is essentially a country fair celebrating the farm animals and local produce of the mountains in the middle of Les Arcs’ biggest town. On Sunday 18th to Monday 19th August, there is a vast market selling food, drink, art and miscellaneous goods from throughout the region. Also, there are a number of paddocks containing the stars of the show: cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and even rabbits. It is very relaxed, gentle fun for all ages.

Paragliding might not, at first glance, sound like the most chilled out thing to do but it really is – drifting about in the calm, wide, blue yonder feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of modern life. On Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September there is a festival of parapente in Les Arcs. La tête en l’air is a gathering of paragliders intent on taking a bird’s eye view of the Tarentaise valley. During the event, you can sign up for a tandem flight (relaxed to acrobatic, depending on your preference) with a qualified paraglider for only €50.

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Activities in Les Arcs

Two more outdoor events

Between July 6th and August 31st, when the Les Arcs resorts are officially open, you can buy multi-activity ‘Hero’ passes which provide access to the chairlifts and swimming pools, as well as innumerable pleasant pursuits like trampolining, archery, fitness classes, organised hikes, circus skills, table tennis, crazy golf and slacklining. If this is not enough, on four Thursdays throughout the summer (July 11th & 25th, August 8th & 22nd) you can compete in the Hero Game, a challenging obstacle course for teams of two, one adult and one child. Starting at 19:00 in Arc 1800, there will be 2km of obstacles to overcome, including a healthy dose of mud.

Finally, if you have skied Les Arcs during the winter, you may well recall the Golf red run which runs from the top of the Vagère chairlift down towards Arc 1800. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the piste is named after Les Arcs’ mountainside golf course which lays dormant under the snow throughout the winter. Once summer kicks in, you can play a full round of 18 holes (par 70), or take on the more-compact nine-hole course (par 27). From Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th August, there is a special festival of golf including taster sessions for beginners, ‘street golf’ in Arc 1800 and a two-day Pro Am competition over the weekend.

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More inspiration...

Tempted? Les Arcs is an exceptional summer destination, with plenty to do for everyone. So book your accommodation, choose your lift pass and come over here, we're waiting for you!

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