Nominated by Dickie
Ease of access 8/10
A pretty easy drive and well-connected from several airports in the UK and France.
Sense of scale and epicness 6/10
The resorts are loomed over by Bellecote and the Aiguille Rouge; the first is a big, chunky lump of a mountain and the latter looms properly above Les Arcs. Head up to either top, at well over 3000m, and you’re staring out over the Vanoise National Park. Skiing up on the glacier is marvellously, scarily bleak.
Variety and quality of the pistes 9/10
The resorts and combined region loses a point for having a couple of bottlenecks, but all piste life is here, from steep and thrilling to endless cruising – including a top-to-bottom burner from the Aiguille Rouge peak, which is one of the longest runs in Europe (over 2000m vertical and 7km long). There are a few narrow bits and flat-ish trails, but it’s a very well laid out area which connects brilliantly, so you can clock up plenty of mileage in one day.
Off-piste potential 7/10
Some classic itineraries and vast swathes of intra-piste exploring to cover, including woods, small cliffs, couloirs, glacier… There’s a cracking itinerary off the back of Bellecote which drops you down to a bus stop for the return. Book a guide for a day and feel the resort’s secrets open under your bases…
You can string together a series of there-and-backs using all of Paradiski, or warm up on the north-facing slopes under the Aiguille Grive on the Les Arcs side.
On-hill grub 3/10
We’ve had some great, fairly priced meals BUT we’ve also paid €32 for two coffees and cake in one of the main centre cafés, and that’s not unusual. Drinks and food on the hill are splutteringly expensive too. Our motto is: eat low, ski high.
Après scene 8/10
Lots going on at all the villages around the mountains. Some are more vibrant, others a little more refined, so the choice is pretty complete. The smaller villages tend to have chalets and smaller hotels, and are quieter. The central hubs like Plagne Centre and Arcs 2000 are, as they say, pumping.
Base suitability 5/10
No need, really. Yes, there’s touring off into the Vanoise but there’s so much piste and mountain to go at between the two resorts that it’s plain greedy to demand more in a week or so.
Family friendly? 7/10
Tons of accommodation, much of it ski-in, ski-out. Lots of ski school options to take everyone whatever the level. The ESF ranking system works really well to encourage children to progress. If you’re a younger family, being based around the perimeter in somewhere like Montchavin or Les Coches can provide all you need and you can get away with a reduced lift pass too.
RANK: Joint 18th