Staff blog: That’s La Plagne
“So the trek will only take maximum 20 minutes” says Fred, our ESF mountain guide. One hour later we’ve done it. Thanks Fred. We’re virtually on top of the Paradiski area – miles always from the crowds. After regaining our breath, we really appreciate the vast beauty of La Plagne with its ten villages, all with their unique charms.
Our descent was breathtaking: incredible spring snow – all untouched! The destination, a village just under Courchevel. Maybe my Geography teacher will be outraged, but I had no idea these two massive ski areas were so close! After negotiating our way through trees, bushes, fences and a hamlet only accessible on skis, we arrived to our transport to whisk us back. What a fantastic experience and a great story to make our other chalet guests jealous at dinner.
We were staying in Plagne 1800 with Crystal Ski. Our catered chalet was Chalet Piccard, which sleeps thirteen and is one of a handful of chalets within the same building – all operated by Crystal. They’re just what you want for any type of group; relaxing and comfortable, but smartly finished. They are a stone’s throw away from the lifts too and boast nice sauna facilities. Our hosts Molly and Emma made all of us feel right at home and cooked great hearty dinners with nothing too much trouble! Crystal’s ‘Ski Plus’ package also includes your lift pass, ski hire or carriage, as well the standard tour operator offerings which means there’s no unforeseen costs in resort.
The Paradiski area allows you to get loads of miles under your skis with terrain for everyone. We were blessed with incredible conditions; massive dumps of snow for the first few days, followed by days of beautiful blue skies. This meant we started our week by exploring the trees in the lower village of Plagne Montalbert then progressing up to the glacier with its amazing views. Here we smashed our way right down to Montchavin – a decent of some 2000 metres!
La Plagne’s lift systems could benefit from some investment. For instance it takes four chairlifts to get back from Les Arcs and Montchavin to Plagne Centre. Moreover, watch out at Bellecôte which can become a bottleneck at the end of the day.
The best lunch on the mountain is at a quaint restaurant called Les Cavagnes in Montchavin with just a handful of tables. Order the soup du jour that comes in a homemade bread bowl.
Crystal Ski offers a convenient packed-lunch service for €5 per day. The area seems picnic friendly with numerous benches and an entire building and terrace devoted for ‘le picnic’ eating.
A cosy mountain bar is an essential on any ski trip and La Mine in 1800 ticks all the boxes with its roaring log fire and chilled atmosphere. They show most major sporting fixtures too. The Crystal bar guide evening is a fun way to meet other guests and familiarise yourself with the resort’s nightlife too.
A notable highlight of the holiday was riding La Plagne’s notorious Olympic bobsleigh! It’s not for the faint-hearted. Before you know it you’re travelling at 85km/hour smashing around corners. The actual ride takes just 60 seconds, but will be one of the most thrilling 60 seconds of your life.
Whilst La Plagne may primarily be perceived as a family destination, my experience tells me there’s a lot more to the place. For the powder hound there’s extensive off-piste, for fair-weather skiers who love long lunches there are the sun terraces, for beginners friendly green runs and nursery slopes and also for groups of mates with its good range of bars, restaurants and accommodation.