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Les Houches or Les Coches?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello, if you had to pick, would you go Les Houches (with annoying bus access to Chamonix in case of poor snow) or Les Coches ('easy' access to La Plagne/Les Arcs in case of poor snow)?

Going Christmas Eve for a week. We're a group of 2 beginners and 2 intermediate snowboarders.

I'm leaning towards Les Coches as it has access to a larger area, but does anyone have hands on experience I can draw from?

Thanks.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I would not recommend either for early season/Christmas week. Les Houches is low and a risk for snow cover. Most of the rest of Chamonix is not suited to beginners as far as I'm aware, and as you say it would be a trek.

The higher villages in la plagne would be ok but I would not recommend Les Coches as a base for beginners at that time of year. Last Christmas the slopes above Les Coches were extremely icy in the afternoons and it would not be easy for complete beginners to access the easier skiing in la plagne from there. You would be better off taking the vanoise express and skiing in Les Arcs.

I would recommend la Rosiere, Montgenevre or Arc 2000.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Frankly none of Chamonix is snow-sure enough to consider it a good backup if Les Houches doesn't get enough! And as @snowymum says it's not got a great selection of beginner-friendly pistes.
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Been to both a couple of times, of the 2 definitely Les Coches but as said there's more suitable, less risky options. Due to lack of snow Les Houches wasn't even open when we went last December so we hired a car and spent a day each in Argentiere, Verbier and Courmayeur - it was fun but not the most relaxing or beginner friendly trip. The snow will be much better this year though I've no doubt.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Difficult with those two.

If you made my spend my own money to go, it'd be Les Houche.

If you could change one thing, it'd be scratch Les Coches and substitute Les Arcs 1800. Has transarc to get to and from the 2000 bowl, tree line all around, better chance of snow and still has easy link to La Plagne if you still want it.
Beginner slopes in 1800 couldn't be better.

As @snowymum, says, sparse snow early at Les Coches will make it a bear for the beginners.
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Thank you, this forum is great Very Happy

Is it possible to access the Venoise lift from Les Coches if there is no snow? Looks like the only way to it is via a blue run?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
It's a while since I've crossed over there but think from Les Arcs (that's only because we stayed there) you drop down to the Les Coches chair to begin the climb that gets you into La Plagne. From the top of that chair you can access the Vanoise express I belive, via a blue.

We were there March and it was fairly sparse snow cover then at that level even then.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@gsmyth555, if straight choice between those two I'd go for Les Coches. Love Chamonix valley but not for beginners and not late December.
Les Coches not great unless snow pretty good. Often icy in my experience. I agree Arcs 1800 better but usually more expensive. If accommodation could be found in Peisey or Vallandry, that would be better IMO. Beginner friendly, easy access to rest of Les Arcs and close to Vanoise Express for slow chairlift rides to La Plagne.
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As @intermediate, says there may be a similar choice to stay across the other side of the valley if possible.

The pistes above that terminal are really good for a beginner with no real access problems.

As regards getting to the VE cable car, I think they do everything possible to get the link open with both approaches snow cannoned so you may be riding a ribbon of snow but it should do the job.

Maybe someone with more local knowledge can chime in with access if no snow conditions but I see it as pisted access only, or you're walking.
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Can't comment on Les Houches but I have been to Les Coches when the conditions weren't ideal (if not completely disastrous). Yes you can access LP quite easily but the village itself was completely underwhelming if I'm honest. There are far better options available to you, one being the villages of Les Arcs or even further up on the LP side. The VE is worth the ride just for the experience and a day out at a different resort if you go to that area. Long transfers though!

We too are hoping to go 23rd/24th Dec but I'm waiting until a few days before to see where the best conditions are before committing . Enjoy
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Hi @gsmyth555,

I'm biased but I'd say Les Coches without a doubt. It is easy to get around, has a great reputation for ski school for the beginners and is a lovely little resort on its own. No 4am-type nightlife though. And it has lots of snow already (although I guess Les Houches has too)

In answer to your question, you do need to ski to get to/from the vanoise from Les Coches but in pactise those slopes are always open as they form the link between La Plagne and Les Arcs so are the highest priority in terms of snowmaking/piste work etc. The same applies to the slopes in/out of Peisey on the other side.

For the beginners if they are complete beginners they won't be able to ski to/from the vanoise until they can turn on a blue run so I'd go for a La Plagne pass for them (gives you one day in Les Arcs).

Any help?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Obviously snow conditions vary dramatically. However, I've often found the blue graded Mont Blanc piste, returning from La Plagne to the Vanoise Express, Les Coches and Montchavin, busy, hard/icy and risky. Even as a confident and experienced skier it was no fun. Just my experience and opinion.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Thanks all. We've abandoned Les Houches and are looking like we'll have to up our budget to get somewhere higher in La Plagne, Les Arcs or Morzine/Avoriaz.

The search continues....
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Ih there are just the 4 of you, wait until a few days before to see where the best conditions and deals are.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@KennyEverett, Yeah that would be the ideal scenario, but we're concerned about getting a decent place at a decent price, as we need 3 rooms (2 rooms and a sofa bed). Can't get 2 double rooms unfortunately.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have stayed in Les Coches many times. It is the ideal place IMO. Here's why:

It is close to the Vanoise Express. So if you want to go Les Arcs it's dead easy. And you can stay quite late in the day because when you get off the other side you have an easy slide home and don't have to worry about getting back to Centre, Aime or wherever.

And in order to maintain access to the VE the slopes down to it from above Les Coches and the blue run from the VE to the bottom of Plan Bois in Les Coches they snow cannon like crazy. I've been there at the back bottom and ends of the season in bad overall conditions and these links are critical and always remain open.

There is good tree skiing above Les Coches and just over the other side of the VE so in poor weather you have the best options for skiing on your doorstep. And the skiing above Les Coches is good skiing in it's own right and has plenty for everyone.

Sorry, some of that is repeating what Snow and Sunshine said so I guess you could say I am endorsing their views.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
gsmyth555 wrote:
@KennyEverett, Yeah that would be the ideal scenario, but we're concerned about getting a decent place at a decent price, as we need 3 rooms (2 rooms and a sofa bed). Can't get 2 double rooms unfortunately.


If it was the week after (new year) you might struggle but I doubt very much you'll have any problems Xmas week. I don't believe Snow and Sunshine charge single supplements so they may be the answer to that problem. We stayed with them when we went to Les Coches and we were well looked after, just not my favourite village in terms of what it had to offer.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
intermediate wrote:
Obviously snow conditions vary dramatically. However, I've often found the blue graded Mont Blanc piste, returning from La Plagne to the Vanoise Express, Les Coches and Montchavin, busy, hard/icy and risky. Even as a confident and experienced skier it was no fun. Just my experience and opinion.

It will always be busy early morning with people coming from the main La Plagne area going to the VE and Les Arcs. If you stay in Les Coches and get the first lift up you can beat the rush. Either way you have to ski the piste wherever you come from on the La Plagne side so from that pov it makes no odds where you stay. But as I say you do have the option of getting ahead of the pack. Also as I noted coming back you can leave it a little later to return. If you go to the VE express on the Les Arcs side an hour before closing it will be really busy but by the last half hour it eases off. Not that the VE is ever really stacked out IME.

If you have no intention of going to Les Arcs or perhaps are going for one day then I would say it is better to stay more centrally.

The piste itself down to the VE does have a couple of short (100m) steep pitches which get very icy and can be intimidating but most of it is pleasant and the last section to the VE a path. The run from the VE to Les Coches is a path then just a pleasantly pitched last section. I've skied these runs multiple times with my children and when they were younger/learning or first thing in the morning we had to take it real slow. But as mentioned you have to ski it anyway if you want to go to Les Arcs.
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Links to my TR's when in Les Coches/Montchavin if you fancy a bit of reading:

April 2011 - Les Coches (Paradiski)
December 2011 - Les Coches (Paradiski)
April 2015 - Les Coches (Paradiski)
December 2015 - Montchavin (Paradiski)
April 2016 - Les Coches (Paradiski)
December 2016 - Les Coches (Paradiski)
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@gsmyth555, When I was looking last year the Edenarc residence in Arc 1800 was one of the cheapest options. We ended up staying elsewhere but it looks well located.
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Les Coches is brilliantly located in Paradiski but is obviously quite low and so a bit vulnerable to dodgy conditions in the early season.

Les Houches is a nightmare of buses and disconnected ski areas - you're right to write that off
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