© La Plagne OT
© Anita Gait
© Anita Gait
© Anita Gait
© Anita Gait
La Plagne consists of six high altitude resorts (linked by a free public transport service), with terrain to suit everyone, and four village resorts with access to the entire ski area.
Snow conditions permitting, La Plagne usually opens around mid-December until the end of April and the whole Paradiski area opens from just before Christmas until the mid/end of April (depending on snow coverage).
La Plagne boasts an artificial ice tower, a 900m snowpark and it's the only resort in France with an Olympic Bobsleigh track. La Plagne has a total of 128 pistes and is a great place for intermediate skiers; with 9 green pistes, 67 blue pistes, 33 red pistes and 19 black pistes, plus there's around 80km of cross-country skiing a half pipe and a toboggan run. These are accessed by a network of 94 lifts (see the piste maps).
Belle Plagne & Plagne Bellecote
From either of these two villages, Belle Plagne & Plagne Bellecote, you can get access to the highest part of resort via the Bellecote gondola, up to the glacier at 3,417m. From here there are a handful of red runs, a couple of blues lower down, and access to lots of off-piste skiing. Midway down the mountain is the top of the Roche de Mio lift which gives you access either directly back down to resort, or you can take the skiers right and end up at the top of the runs in Les Coches & Montchavin.
Montchavin & Les Coches
From the area of Montchavin & Les Coches you'll find access to the Vanoise Express, the large gondola that links across to Peisey & Les Arcs. There are 6 other lifts here linking lots of blue and red pistes, cross country trails and a few mini freestyle areas. There are lots of restaurants dotted about on the mountain where you can take a breather and enjoy the views.
Plagne Soleil, Plagne Village, Plagne Centre & Plagne 1800
This cluster of villages (Plagne Soleil, Plagne Village, Plagne Centre & Plagne 1800) forms the centre of resort, with numerous lifts and gondolas and just below Plagne 1800 is where you'll find the start of the Olympic bobsleigh track. There are a fair few green pistes and blue pistes just above Plagne Village that drop you back into Plagne Bellecote, or you can head up to Les Verdons at 2,500m or the Grande Rochette at 2,505m. Alternatively, drop over the other side of these mountains into Champagny.
The village of Champagny sits at 1,250m and has its own gondola and 4 other lifts linking back up to the central part of La Plagne. Off-piste fans might like to try some of the tree lines on this side, or if you prefer the piste then there are a choice of blue and red runs, plus a slalom area, snowpark zone and freestyle areas. Cross-country skiers can head over to Champagny en Haut where you can take a break at one of the restaurants there.
Aime La Plagne or Aime 2000 stands out with its angular buildings jutting out of the ridgeline at 2,000m. You can circumnavigate Aime 2000 on a red run and then join the blue piste down to the bottom of the Bobsleigh track below Plagne 1800. Alternatively, head on down the mountain to one of the lowest parts of resort in Montalbert.
Montalbert & Longefoy
These two villages lie at around 1,200m elevation, with 4 ski lifts, lots of cross country itineraries, lots of blue pistes and a small freestyle area. There are lots of trees down here which makes it a good place to be on bad weather days. In 2015 the main Montalbert ski lift was updated, changing it from a chairlift to a bubble-lift, making it much quicker and more comfortable.
Beginner areas in La Plagne
La Plagne is predominantly known for its suitability for beginners. There is a wide choice of green and blue runs throughout the different sectors of the resort. With 9 greens and 67 blues that make up the total of 128 pistes in the resort, La Plagne is a great place to learn to ski or snowboard.
In Plagne Centre there are the beginners Zone Débutant which have been vastly improved recently and are great for those starting off skiing or boarding, the Colorado lift has been moved to make access to the zone much easier for the beginner skier or boarder and a magic carpet lift has replaced the old drag lifts. The 'debutant' area in Plagne centre is long enough for a beginner to get up to a good level making them comfortable and confident before venturing further up the mountain.
There are some small learner areas in Plagne Villages and even smaller areas in Aime La Plagne that are designated for the beginner. Find all these areas on the piste map by looking for the yellow shaded areas or areas marked ‘zone debutants’. Both Plagne Villages and Aime La Plagne have a host of rolling easy blues, that although aren't great for the beginner starting off they are perfect for those who have built up more confidence and feel ready to head a bit higher up the mountain.
Montchavin/Les Coches is more of an intermediate area but does offer something for beginners with 5 free lifts including a couple of learner drag lifts that are easy to get to situated just above the village. The short and gentle pistes are perfect to practice your turns and for building up confidence.
The main sector that is the best for beginners or those of you that just want to take it easy is Plagne Bellecôte. The number of blue runs running into this area outnumbers any other area and their gradient is gentle and rolling. There is also a large ‘debutant’ area with a magic carpet next to the Arpette chair lift. The Arpette lift serves 4 wide rolling blue runs that you could spend all day on improving your technique once you feel confident enough.
Advanced areas in La Plagne
Even though La Plagne has a reputation for being a slightly easier resort in terms of piste skiing there is plenty to keep an advanced skier occupied.
The first place to go if conditions allow is the Glacier de la Chiaupe or the Bellecôte glacier as it is more commonly known. There are a couple of great blacks up there Le Rochu and the Bellecôte that are definitely worth trying in any snow conditions. The mogul field at the top of the Traversee chair lift can be seen from miles away as the moguls are that big, the field itself is also about 200m long – a real leg burner and challenge for the advanced skier. If you like the bumps and feeling the burn there is a piste called Ski des Bosses which means 'ski the moguls' and it is always in great condition, there are also big bumps and moguls to be found on the Verdon Sud.
The best area for advanced skiing in La Plagne is the Bellecote glacier. Whilst there are not many runs up there, the ones that are, are well worth the trek and if there is fresh snow then there is plenty more to enjoy in between the pistes.
Another good area for advanced skiers is just above Aime La Plagne at Le Biolley 2350m. There are several different blacks (Les Etroits, Morbleu, Les Coqs and Plsembleu) with Les Étroits being the longest and the most challenging of the selection. If you were to get Les Étroits and the Morbleu first tracks you may find yourself walking out at the bottom as they both come out on a track that follows the river along the valley floor to the Adrets chair.
There are also a couple of short blacks in Montchavin/Les Coches which a steep gradient to play on. Off the back of the Grand Rochette and Les Verdons there are plenty of steeps to enjoy and again there is easily accessible off-piste when the snow is deep. There are 16 black runs in the La Plagne resort, but with the whole connecting Paradiski ski area you can head to Les Arcs and discover some more of the advanced skiing there as well.
Snowparks in La Plagne
La Plagne is a great place to go if you are a freestyle skier or snowboarder. It has a huge snowpark that sits above Plagne centre and under the Funicular. You can reach it from top of the Colorado lift if you're coming from Plagne centre or from the top of the Blanchets if you're coming from Plagne Bellecote.
La Plagne has a whopping 1km long snowpark known as the 7 Cube which caters for people of all abilities. The park is shaped with skiers in mind as La Plagne has a big freestyle ski scene but that’s not to stop the boarders having a go too. You will find different sized jumps graded in the same way as the pistes - The Green, The Blue, The Red and The Black. As you can imagine, these are named according to their level of difficulty and diversity of their obstacles with green being the easiest and black being the hardest - which is big!
Once the jumps are out of the way the park splits in two and each branch has a selection of rails and boxes and one also has a wall ride. Unfortunately, there is no drag lift for the park so you must use the Colorado chair lift from Plagne Centre. There are often small competitions in the park for everyone to join in and have a go, mostly on a Friday afternoon. There is also a picnic area where you can eat your lunch whilst watch people throw themselves off the jumps or you can just listen to the music in the sun.
Down in Plagne Bellcôte there is a half pipe which is also open to all. There is a chairlift called the Blanchets right next to the pipe which can be used to access it.
Starting from the top of the Arpette chairlift you'll find a new Fun Slope zone, which includes a number of snow features similar to a boardercross and slopestyle course, which is the longest of its kind in Europe. It features jumps, rails, banked turns, rollers and one awesome spiral turn into a tunnel.
Best pistes in La Plagne
In Plagne Centre head to a piste called Arnica, a blue run accessed by the Colorado chair. It is a not an exceptional piste in itself but there are loads of little jumps and banks to mess about with, making it very playful. A similar run over towards Montchavin is the Pierres Blanches piste. For a blast, try the wide, rolling Laines and Arpette from the Dos Rond to Plagne Bellecôte. They can both be really fast.
When you get a big dump of fresh snow, you should try Java or Mont St Sauveur from the top of the Becoin lift. They are wide and fast, ensuring you can be smashing the powder long after other pistes have been ridden into extinction.
Off-piste areas in La Plagne
Even with its reputation of being a great place to ride powder La Plagne takes a surprisingly long time to become tracked out unlike many Alpine resorts including La Plagnes neighbour, Les Arcs.
As with the intermediate pistes, the smaller villages are good places to head for fresh snow. Over in Champagny, the Verdons Sud side of the Grand Rochette is a big open face that has an amazing formation and a fun terrain. Montchavin/Les Coches has many runs through the trees, also perfect on bad weather days, and also big open bowls in between the Dos Rond and the Mont St Jacques. There is an amazing route through the trees from the Mont St Jacques all the way to the bottom of the Olympic Bobsleigh run below Plagne 1800. For beginner powder hounds there is a nice gentle off-piste run that follows the blue Les Bauches down from the top of the Dos Rond.
The main area, of course, is the glacier. The most famous runs are on the north face of the glacier and there are many off-piste routes to choose from. The ‘Petit Face Nord’ is the easiest and most accessible choice as it is a pretty simple traverse from the Traversee chair lift. The ‘Couloir Canadian’ is the next step up and involves a hike up. The best place to see the north face is from above Vallandry in Les Arcs where you can see the difficulty increasing just by looking from right to left. Parts are very steep and very large avalanches are common so a guide is definitely needed for all runs on the glacier as with most off-piste.
As with all off-piste skiing make sure you are well equipped and ready to tackle the un-groomed mountain, check out our avalanche safety guide for more tips. We also recommend that you take a mountain guide with you when heading off-piste, they have extensive knowledge of the mountains and can show you the ropes.
Bad weather areas in La Plagne
The best place to go in Les Arcs when the weather is bad is to the trees! Anywhere in the trees will be better than on the open piste as there is more shelter and visibility, definitely avoid the high and open glaciers at all costs, if the weather is really bad it will be closed anyway.
In La Plagne Montalbert you will find lots of trees lining the pistes making it the perfect place to go out skiing when the weather has closed in. Take the nice and easy gentle blues that cut through the trees making it easy to see the pistes. As it is slightly lower you might even be lucky and avoid the high cloud that is causing the bad weather.
Keep in mind that the valley itself can be covered in an all-encompassing fog, but the top of the mountains can be bathed in glorious sunshine (check out the webcams to make sure you are not missing out on anything!). Also, if it’s lashing down with rain in the valley, it means it’s snowing up top, giving you the best and freshest powder you’re likely to ski on, and because it’s a bad weather day, chances are, you’ll have the mountain to yourself!