An Introduction & guide to La Plagne
La Plagne is part of the famous Paradiski ski area which combines the ski areas of both La Plagne & neighbouring Les Arcs, joined together by the Vanoise Express cable car. La Plagne itself is actually made up of a number of different villages, each at slightly different altitudes and each with their own character and ambience. It's renowned as a family friendly resort, with a good selection of beginner pistes and ski areas, as well as those for the more advanced skier or snowboarder. Its location on the edge of the Vanoise National Park offers amazing panoramas of the surrounding mountains and on a clear day you can even spot Mont Blanc.
Since the Vanoise Express cable car was built, the skiable area for visitors to La Plagne was increased to a whopping 425 kilometres, which includes a huge number of blue or intermediate pistes (around 70) and 10 green or beginner pistes - one of the main reasons its so popular with families and beginners.
For the more advanced or expert skiers there are in the region of 50 red pistes, 16 black pistes and a number of snow parks both in La Plagne and Les Arcs. Getting around the resorts is easy thanks to a great network of ski lifts which are mostly open in the day time, with a few also available at night to help people get from their accommodation to different restaurants and shopping areas.
Food is a great part of life in the French Alps, and with all those outdoor pursuits to try you can rest assured it is all very hearty! Local specialities are often cheese or cream based (sometimes both…), featuring local meats, potatoes and green salad. The food in the Alps is often accused of being unadventurous and ‘lardy’ but there are plenty of delicious regional dishes besides the good old fondue. The emphasis is very much on fresh local produce and so cured and seasoned meats will have come from cattle grazed on Alpine pastures, the local cheeses of Abondance and Beaufort will be prevalent and although there isn’t a coastline in sight there is still a regional fish dish! The féra is caught in nearby Lake Geneva and is a popular dish served in many restaurants, alongside other lake fish such as Omble Chevalier (char), truite (trout), brochet (pike) and perche (perch).
Where is La Plagne?
La Plagne is located in the Savoie region of France, in the Tarentaise valley. It benefits from being on the edge of the Vanoise national park, an area of natural beauty and wildlife which attracts plenty of summer visitors as well as those coming here to ski.
The nearest airport for La Plagne is Chambery, situated 144 kms (2hrs) away. From here, you have a number of different methods of transport to choose from to get you up to resort. If you can’t get a flight to Chambéry, the next best options are Grenoble (211kms), Lyon (222kms) or Geneva (225km); all of which are serviced by a number of the major airlines.
Also see: Towns & Villages in La Plagne
Events in La Plagne
A number of freestyle and freeride ski competitions take place in the ski area in the winter months whilst the summer attracts a number of trail running and cycling competitions.
Sights & Attractions in La Plagne
The Olympic bobsleigh track is La Plagne's stand out attraction and any daredevils coming here in winter should definitely give it a try!
Things to Do in La Plagne
Although you are sure to find plenty to keep you occupied in La Plagne a few day trips to the nearby villages is highly recommended:
Champagny en Vanoise (1250m) is a beautiful and traditional mountain village in the Valley of Champagny le Haut. Known as the Gateway to the Vanoise National Park it is a great location for summer outdoor activities and a likely place for spotting local wildlife such as ibex and vultures. During the winter it is one of the main settings for cross-country skiing and other Nordic activities. While you are there don’t forget to visit the Church of St Sigismond, which dates from XVII century. The Alps very own Tower of Pisa was built on gypsum, an unstable rock that over the years has caused it to lean to one side. Free tours of the church and the ancient lanes are organized by local expert Christiane, contact the Tourist Office for details
Plagne Montalbert (1350m) is a charming village on the edge of the forest. It has retained its Savoyard feel and most of the buildings are constructed in traditional materials of wood and stone. Although not a lively nightspot, it does have its own atmosphere with a small selection of bars and restaurants and regular local events taking place throughout the year. The Superga Chapel, a miniature copy of the Superga Sanctuary in Turin is well worth a visit for history buffs. Relics from the past include the XVIII century bread oven and water mill; guided tours are organized by the Maison de Montalbert.
Montchavin (1250m) has an authentic Alpine charm. It is the lowest of the Plagne villages, and therefore not quite as snow sure, but many of the residences are ski in ski out. An old farming village, you can still ski down through the village orchard, stopping for lunch at one of several delightful restaurants.
Les Coches (1450m) is less picturesque than the other villages, being purpose built, but it still has a pleasant ‘village’ atmosphere. The Vanoise Express cable car gives access to Les Arcs and the wider Paradiski area.
Restaurants in La Plagne
The choice of restaurants in the villages of La Plagne seem endless, there's literally something to suits everyone's tastes and budgets from fancy French restaurants to burger bars and pizzerias.
Also see: Where to Eat in La Plagne
Nightlife in La Plagne
Belle Plagne is a good venue for nightlife as there are a number of bars and restaurants as well as a bowling alley, although each of the villages has its own attractions. Live music is a popular draw for the après ski crowd and you’ll find something to suit most tastes.
Where to Stay in La Plagne
Also see: Where to Stay in La Plagne
Hotels in La Plagne
From the UCPA and rather basic options to Club Med resorts, La Plagne has a good choice of hotels catering for every budget.
Apartments in La Plagne
You can find a private apartment in one of the many residence buildings from self catering studio size apartments to family sized suites.
Chalets in La Plagne
There are a lot of choices for chalet rentals across the villages of La Plagne, from fully catered with hot tubs to self catered and shared chalets. These tend to be catered in winter with the occasional self-catered option.
History & Culture in La Plagne
La Plagne as a ski resort was created in 1961; the traditional livelihoods of agriculture and mining were no longer sufficient to support the local population and young people were moving away to nearby cities such as Lyon and Chambery to find work elsewhere. In 1960 the towns of Aime, Bellentre, Longefoy and Macot created an association to protect the interests of the local community. Under the guidance of Dr Borrione, the mayor of Aime, La Plagne opened its first ski lifts in December 1961. It was a modest start, just two drag lifts serving four slopes, but it was the beginning of the regeneration of a dwindling community.
Also see: History of La Plagne
Location: La Plagne Region