28/12/2006 | by Onboard
Rising from 800m to 3300m high, Les Arcs/Bourg St Maurice is located at the heart of the Haute Tarentaise valley and boasts one of the biggest snowboarding domains in Europe. This resort was one of the first to back snowboarding with the famous Apocalypse videos filmed there in 1983 and 1985, setting the scene for the adventures of a group of skiers, monoskiers, telemarkers and whose hero was the pioneering French snowboarder Régis Rolland on a swallowtail snowboard. At a time when few people went out-of-bounds, these guys were the first to promote the idea of freeriding to the general public. Les Arcs has always been well-known for its wide, open spaces, and it should be on every freerider’s agenda to explore and measure up to the domain’s breath-taking terrain, in the same way as other big names like Jean Nerva, Vivien Dotti, Axel Pauporté, Steve Graham, Matt Goodwill, Shaun Farmer and many others. Les Arcs’ other great strong point is its south-facing orientation that ensures sunlight from morning to evening.
The best off-piste slopes can be found in Les Arcs 2000 and on the Aiguille Rouge massif. Most are easily accessible and there’s loads of fun to be had down the sides of runs without taking on too much risk. The resort has always promoted the quality of its off-piste and subsequently leaves large areas of the mountains ungroomed after fresh snowfalls. The sides of the KL run offer advanced snowboarders some of the steepest terrain in the area in all safety. Nevertheless, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew as the terrain is steep and situated at high altitude so expect to encounter icy, narrow couloirs, rocks if the snow pack is on the thin side, cliffs etc. Look after your brand new boards! There are many other more taxing out-of-bounds options for experience freeriders, but none of these are snow patrolled and remain dangerous. For example, there’s the Lanchettes gulley that runs down the back of the Lanchettes chairlift and takes you all the way down to Villaroger. It’s a five-minute walk from the top of the chairlift to some of the best virgin powder runs in the area, but also some of the deadliest due to avalanche risk. Never go out after 11 o’clock in the morning and always observe all security regulations (descend one at a time, equip yourself with all the necessary avalanche equipment and inform the snow patrollers of your whereabouts). The same goes for the Aiguille Grive located above Les Arcs 1800. It will take you 45 minutes to reach the summit from the top of the Transarc cable car. An amazing run but can be really risky… With the development of backcountry riding, the resort has unveiled an unlimited potential as far as kicker building territory is concerned and, without revealing all our secrets, I recommend you check out Peisey Vallandry and Les Arcs 2000. You should fine plenty of options if you open your eyes. It’s no coincidence that this zone was nicknamed “kickerland”.
The snowpark is in Les Arcs 1800 and well maintained, as long as there’s enough snow of course. There aren’t that many big hits but unless you’re after 30m tabletops then there’s plenty of fun to be had.
The best runs: the whole of the Peisey-Vallandry domain (and its famous N°69 chairlift!) features some of the best tree runs, the Froide Fontaine runs of Les Arcs 1800, Clocheret and l’Arpette as well as the Cachette run in Les Arcs 1600, for those who want to lay down some big turns. The Grand Col piste of 2000 is great after a fresh snowfall, much like the off-piste that runs down the side of the Lac run in Les Arcs 2000 from the top of the Arpette chairlift.
Arcs 1600: La Malouine (04.79.07.74.59), le Chalet de l’Arcelle (04.79.04.21.35), Chez Fernand (04.79.07.78.14).
Arcs 1800: L’Equipe (04.70.07.49.34), Chez les Filles (04.79.04.14.55), Le Mountain Café (04.79.07.00.89), Le Jungle café which is also a great rock ‘n’ roll bar (la Casa Mia (04.79.07.05.75), Mamie Crêpes (04.79.07.23.88), and for ‘mushroom’ aficionados, there’s l’Introuvable (04.79.07.34.57), run by David Vincent’s eldest brother.
Arcs 1950/2000: Luigi’s chalet at 1950 (06.08.57.23.36), the Red Rock Café (04.79.07.10.58), the Chalet de l’Arc on the slopes of 2000 (04.79.04.15.40) and finally the resort’s best restaurant which only opens for lunch: Le Belliou la Fumée, located at the beginning of the Comborcières and Pré St Esprit chairlifts (04.79.07.29.13).
Arcs 1600: the Café Sol.
Arcs 1800: the pub-rock J.0, L’ambiante, the Jungle Café, the Saloon.
Arcs 2000: the Red Rock Café.
Arcs 1800: the Apocalypse and Igloo Igloo.
Arcs 2000: the K.L.
Snowboard shops: There’s plenty of choice but here’s a few cool places to try…
Arcs 1600: Snowzone and Christina Sports.
Arcs 1800: Backcountry shop, Tip Top, the Petit Passage and the locals shop the Small Place.
Arcs 2000: Ogier Sports at 1950, Adrénaline and La Trace