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|Resort: Plagne Villages
Domain: La Plagne/Paradiski
Date: 17th March - 24th March 2007
Our holiday: Five much more experienced boarders, dedicated to trying the runs we didn't explore in January, and bossing the ones we did!
Website : www.la-plagne.com
Basics : Savioe region of French Alps, three hours from Lyon airport and about two hours from Grenoble, where we picked two cars up to self-drive
Lift system : Massive amount of runs in the La Plagne area and a huge number of blues to suit the vast majority of us, whether boarding or skiing.
The terrain : Very varied, with a good amount of powder above Plagne Centre and some proper runs coming off the glacier, especially those off Grand Rochette down into Champagny. Will definitely suit everyone, as there are some pleasent blues that will give beginners a real thrill and the mixture of fast blues and hairy reds will be good for those who want a bit more excitement.
Here's a breakdown of some great runs to try:
Mira Up to Grand Rochette and left. Down througha failry steep 'gully' and then expands into a rolling snowfield above Plagne Villages and then through forest into Plagne Centre. A great one fo beginners.
St. Jacques Grab the Arpette chair out of Plagne Bellecote and just bomb it down this route. There is loads, and I mean loads, of off-piste opportunities but the pisted run is nice too - lots of humps and fast turns. The end bit into Belle Plagne can get very icy.
CornegidouilleSteep at times for a narrow blue run, but very fun. Lots of bumpy sections and drop-offs for doing a bit of off-piste, but it's when you hit the tree section it becomes fun; pretty fast, very twisty and just pleasant for beginners who want to learn technical stuff.
Carrella Off Roche de Mio, this run is very busy at the start (as you approach the restaraunt) but once on the Carrella proper, it's a very open run that promotes speedy boarding. Can be flat in places and has a rope drag lift at one point, but it's worth it when you hit the steep sections where it's just crazy because of moguls and a narrow, often crowded descent. Take the Le Levvessatt run down to the Verdon Sud lift, a very ling chairlift - gave me the heeby-jeebies!!
Kamikaze My first 'proper' red back in January and still a bit scary with tie under my belt. Mogully, but fast and steep. Get this one right and you'll be buzzing all week.
Le Serac > Eterlou > La Rossa Great example of a La Plagne blue run; fast sections with lots of space, loads of dups for ollying off of, and a decent eaterie at the end! The La Rossa run in particular is fantastic - get some speed up and you can do it at full pelt and it definitely feels faster than a blue!!
The snow : In March when we went we were greeted by blazing sunshine but lovely thick, soft snow. Okay, some areas were a bit icy or sludgy depending on which direction they faced and how many people were on them, but in general, it was better than our previous trip in January. Runs like the Kamikaze down over Grand Rochette were perfect and the alpine runs down from Aime 2000 were wicked - nice and tight, with fluffy snow that really challenged us.
Off-piste : There was also loads of off-piste (found a wicked little bit coming down into Plagne Centre that went though trees) and despite a few unsavoury looks from safety-conscious skiers and boarders, we had a great laugh. There are apparently some big powder fields above Plagne Centre and below Col de Force but we weren't brave enough to try these.
The resort : Plagne Villages is a collection typical wood-clad chalets and apartment buildings. They are easy to get to by road and parking was ample, but make sure you get in there early if you want a prime spot for the buildings high up the the resort. We stayed in a standard apartment that was literally five yards from the Mira run (my favourite) that goes all the way from Grand Rochette cable car station to the slope-side bars in Plagne Centre - sweet!! Make sure you have your head screwed on when driving up to Plagne Villages - hairpins sems to have been invented here!!
Food : Didn't really search for anywhere to eat out, as we decided on cooking all our meals. We did find a really good sandwich shop-cum-bar inside the mall in Plagne Centre. It did wicked baguettes for about ¬£4 that really were proper energy food. Aside from that, there's a few really nice piste restaraunts dotted around but like in all French resorts, prices can be high.
Accommodation : The apartment was well located, cheap (a friend paid for the lot with a bonus and it came to about ¬£250 for the week) and it was very spacious; two bedrooms, a mezzanine bedroom plus sofa beds. The kitchen was tiny but two bathrooms made everything cool.
Costs: We organised everything ourselves and got the apartment through the La Plagne website. Flights cost ¬£100 with Thomson from Coventry, as we left it too late. Usually they're about ¬£80. Two cars (a 1.2 Clio and a TDi VW Touran MPV) came to just under ¬£300 in total. Ski pass was ¬£130 for 6 days.
We had to budget for tolls and petrol, plus we stopped at a hypermarket at Albertville to get supplies - this saved us about ¬£100 each over eating out - a master stroke beleive me!. Spent a bit on beer from the local SPAR when we got there, but that was to be expected
Conclusion: Great holiday that we never thought we'd manage to fit in so soon after our January exploit. The snow was good, the slopes were crowded in places but it was a case of selecting routes and just taking it from there, finding runs that looked deserted. It seemed the Champagny runs off Grand Rochette were the quietest and the best for snow quality. Driving in France for the first time was an experience (*we got lost in Grenoble city centre) but it was a fun and meant we had cars to ferry ourselves around in and do shopping on the way.
Definitely a great way to end the season.
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