It’d been a few years since I hit the slopes, so I was super-excited to head to the ski resort of La Plagne in the Paradiski region of France.
When we arrived, it was bucketing down with snow. Now, the last thing you want when your ski legs are severely out of practise is heavy snow.
I realise to non-skiers that may sound crazy but trust me – when it’s teeming down so your goggles are covered in teensy icicles and you can barely differentiate the sky from the piste, it’s not so fun…
Yes, it makes for super-pretty views from your chalet balcony…
… But it also makes one who used to love tree runs and has been known to straight-line down a black run just to beat a friend on a bet, revert to the skiing style of a novice.
Now, this probably wasn’t helped by the fact that age seems to have made me much more
wussy cautious than 21 year-old me on my ski season ever was. Plus, I’m far less fit than I used to be, so my thighs were crying by the end of Day One… But I’m gonna stick with blaming Mother Nature for my shoddy style.
Excuses aside, it was still magical to be back in the Alps, surrounded by snow.
Anywhere snowy has always been my Happy Place. The smell of fresh, cold mountain air instantly raises my spirits and the sight of endless blankets of white powder makes me giddy.
Despite the weather, La Plagne was a hard resort not to like. Made up of 11 villages, each with their own character, après spots, restaurants and nightlife, there is something for everyone.
There’s a decent mix of beginner-friendly and more challenging terrain, all made that bit more challenging by the complete lack of visibility. In fact, there were two instances of members of our group flying right off the invisible edge of a trail and having to climb back uphill through knee-deep snow!
Okay, yes… One of those idiots was me.
Towards the end of the week, the sun was trying its best to show its face and though it helped visibility a tonne, the rays still couldn’t quite break through the thick clouds.
Until finally – on the second last day – we woke up and saw…
And once we were higher up the mountain…
Beautiful, bluebird sky.
We could finally see what La Plagne looked like and with (literally) mountains of fresh snow, it was absolute dream skiing conditions.
We re-skied our favourite runs of the week, which were amazing when you could actually see them, and explored new trails, previously closed due to the conditions. My wobbly legs finally remembered how to ski properly and I didn’t fly off the side of any more trails!
After exploring properly, we decided that the resort really is perfect for skiers and boarders of all levels. In Plagne Centre, there’s a long, wide green slope for complete beginners, then throughout the rest of the Plagne ski area, there’s a good mix of blue, red and black runs.
We had some beginners in our group who were skiing the gentler reds by the end of the week, proving it’s a great resort for progression.
Though there were no snowboarders in our group (a rare occurrence!) we came across a few longer, flatter trails that would have been best avoided if there were. However, the abundance of steeper runs plus the multiple fun parks make it a great resort for boarders as well.
I think we all fell for La Plagne more than a little. Really, how could you not with vistas like this?
On one of the other sunny days, we headed over to La Plagne’s sister resort Les Arcs/Peisey-Vallandry, which makes up the rest of the Paradiski area.
If you’re an intermediate skier or above, I’d definitely recommend spending at least one day in Les Arcs, which is full of wide, open runs.
With much of the resort above the tree line, the views of endless white expanses were incredible.
Heading to the highest point in the resort is a must-do. After tolerating probably the longest and slowest lift queue of your trip, riding up the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) Funicular, then trekking up a short but steep hill in clunky ski boots, you get the most stunning views over Les Arcs and the surrounding mountains.
It may be a slow way to the top and the hill at the end is a bit tough on unfit legs like mine, but it’s 100% worth it for the insane views from the top.
Then of course, you have the epic ski back down, which if you were to ski top to bottom is 7km of red and black trails.
With no green runs and some slightly steeper blues and reds, I’d say first-timers or not-so-confident beginners would probably prefer La Plagne as a resort. But for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders, Les Arcs is awesome.
Beer & Other Beverages
It’s not a ski trip without a little indulgence. We stayed in a catered chalet so not wanting to be awkward, I didn’t snap any pics at the dinner table. However I did “test” as many local beverages as possible (and one not-so-local Irish coffee). Here’s a small selection:
I recommend trying out the Brasserie Du Mont Blanc eclectic range of beers, which are brewed in the Alps, using water from the Mont Blanc glaciers.
For those skiing the standard six days, there’s several lift pass options:
La Plagne / Les Arcs Pass – €259.00
Paradiski Discovery Pass – €271.00
Paradiski Pass – €298.00
The Discovery Pass is a local pass with one day’s access to the whole Paradiski area.
Had we known that conditions were going to be pretty average for most of the week, we probably would have gone with the Discovery Pass instead of the Paradiski Pass and saved a little cash. Hindsight, eh?
I would definitely recommend beginners stick with a local pass (often included in ski school packages) but for intermediates and above who plan to ski as much as possible, go for the Discovery or full Paradiski pass.
Finally, I just have to share the app we all became obsessed with during our trip!
Paradiski Yuge is a free app (available on both iOS and Android) with an interactive piste map, real-time weather and snow conditions, lift queue statuses, and other handy resort info. There’s Yuge media points throughout the Paradiski area where you snap photos and download them straight to the app. And there’s points and badges awarded for exploring certain runs and lifts, or reaching certain “milestones”.
Though the main reason we all became obsessed with the app was the activity tracking. When linked to your lift pass, the app will record where you’ve been, your distance skied, your top speed and more. A few of us got pretty competitive on the speed (sadly, my 74.7 km/hr got smashed)!
The app uses GPS so doesn’t chew through your data but be warned: it does drain your battery like crazy. Make sure your phone has full charge before you start the app and it’s totally worth it!
(NB: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by the app developers or the resort; I just genuinely loved it!)
So, would I recommend La Plagne? Absolutely. Despite a shaky start, it was a resort I really enjoyed and would happily return to.
Until next time… Au revoir!