A Week in Paradiski
19th March 2023 | Jane Peel, Les Arcs, France
Last modified on March 22nd, 2023
At PlanetSKI we’re often flitting between resorts, never spending more than a few days in one area before moving on. For a change, we’ve spent a whole week hitting the slopes of the vast Paradiski in the French Alps. We could hardly have chosen a better time to be there.
So you’ve booked a holiday with friends in a part of France that – like much of the Alps – has not seen a snowflake for almost two months.
It might not seem like the most sensible idea.
On the other hand, the drought can’t possibly last much longer, can it?
Surely the north-west Alps is due some wintry weather?
Fortunately, the weather gods are listening.
And the change in fortunes comes just as we arrive in Peisey-Vallandry, the far western end of the Les Arcs ski area.
The small resort is actually split in two – Vallandry and Plan Peisey.
Plan Peisey, where I’m staying, is home to the Vanoise Express, the double-decker cable car that can transport almost 200 people across the valley to La Plagne in just 4 minutes.
But, although I’m told it snowed the day and night before my arrival, it doesn’t look that promising to start with.
The snow has turned to rain here at 1,600 metres altitude.
There’s a persistent drizzle as I collect my rental skis from the nearby Intersport shop.
The next morning, however, as I head out, it’s turned to snow again.
Sleety, wet snow at resort level, but still snow.
Out of the trees, visibility is a little challenging.
But it’s worth persevering with around 30cm of fresh snow to enjoy.
Later, the sun makes an appearance through the clouds.
Two days later, there’s another big snowstorm overnight.
As we climb the first lift up the following morning it’s still dumping and we spot an empty, untracked piste with oodles of fresh snow.
It would be rude to ignore it.
It’s proper powder the like of which I’ve barely experienced so far this season.
Despite the relatively mild temperatures, it is light and fluffy.
In between those two big snowstorms it’s glorious sunshine all the way.
One day, the temperatures drop to well below freezing.
The pistes can only be described as fabulous.
Gradually, as the week wears on, the temperatures creep up again to provide typical spring skiing conditions.
Suits me. Ski a bit, sunbathe a bit, ski a bit more.
It could be worse.
I’ve been to Les Arcs several times and love the slopes here.
But this is probably the busiest I’ve seen it in mid-March, especially on the slopes closest to Arc 1800 and Arc 2000.
Perhaps the effects of climate change on the mountains is persuading more and more people to head high – and to large ski areas – for their trips.
If you’re only skiing for one week a year, you want to be sure there’ll be snow on enough slopes to make it worth the money.
Generally, the lifts seem to be fast enough to be able to cope without too many long waits (though I did abandon the idea of waiting in line for 40 minutes for the Aiguille Rouge cable car).
Since I was last here, at the base of that cable car, two new attractions have sprung up.
Both opened in the 2021-2022 season and I decided to check them out.
First up, the Aiguille Rouge zip line.
A journey of 70 seconds at up to 130km an hour over a 1.8km descent.
If you’ve never done a zip line in a ski resort before, it’s worth it if you can find a bit of spare cash.
It costs 55 Euros with a Classic (Les Arcs only) ski pass but half that with the Essential 6-day Paradiski pass.
You can even travel down Superman-style, head first.
Er, no thanks.
Less exhilarating but worth a visit is the display of illuminated murals or Fresques Lumineuses.
It’s conveniently located by the start point of the zip line, inside the gondola station at the top of the Varet lift.
At night it’s the garage for the Varet’s gondola cabins.
By day, the empty space is transformed with an animated display of Les Arcs through the seasons.
It’ll only take 10 minutes out of your ski time and costs 3 Euros if you have an Essential Les Arcs Pass or 6 Euros without it.
As mentioned earlier, you can easily get over to La Plagne’s ski area from Les Arcs.
It’s worth thinking about how often you might want to do this before you buy your lift pass.
It could work out cheaper to get a one day extension rather than buy the full Essential 6-day Paradiski pass.
It cost me 22 Euros to upgrade my Classic Les Arcs pass for a day trip to La Plagne.
PARADISKI IN FIGURES
- Skiing from 3,250m to 1,200m
- 2 glaciers, one in Les Arcs, one in La Plagne
- 425 km of runs
- 236 runs for all levels
Like most French resorts, eating and drinking on the slopes in Paradiski is probably not going to be your cheapest day out.
We won’t dare mention the cost of the large gin & tonic we treated ourselves to after our final run of the week.
But it was a very nice G & T and a great way to end a great week in great conditions in great company.
Top Tip: Download the Paradiski YUGE app for live information on lift and slope openings, lift queues and what we found to be pretty accurate weather forecasts. You can also recharge your lift pass on it.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the PlanetSKI discount at Intersport.
Les Arcs is open for skiing until 29th April 2023.