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Top 5 resorts for first week of April - advice needed

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
First let me say thanks to everyone who helped guide me to a half term break this year in Les Saisies. It was totally brilliant and perfect for our family needs. Shockingly warm - but I'd take that over freezing cold!

Anyway, next year we will be going at Easter and not February half term due to work commitments. Of course, some say that this is a better time to go!

We are driving so really looking to stick with France, and looking at 4-11 April.

I was going to leave doing research until nearer the time as I hear there is usually plenty of accommodation. However, I've also been told the good places (right size, right place, right price) tend to get booked up earlier. A friend of mine is booked in at Courchevel Le Praz and that appartment is booked up solid already in April 2020! So I wouldn't mind finding out some stuff now - I'm pretty clued up about higher resorts but not so much on which have more northerly slopes.

What should my top 5 resorts be to look at do you think? I guess some are obvious (Val T) but I've seen a nice place in Vallandry (1600) and that links you to both Les Arcs and La Plagne. Our ideal would be to ski in/ski out and for the kids (12 and 10 years) to be able to play in the snow where we are staying when we return.

Thanks for any advice!
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@kettonskimum, yes I agree on your point on your accomodation. The best places get snapped up early - so you get left with something smaller, or wrong location, or much more expensive if you wait too long. We're off to VT this year (6th April), but I'll be watching this thread with interest as it would be good to go somewhere different next year (eyeing up Les Arc 1950 currently!).
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@kettonskimum, Unless next year is truly terrible for snow then I think you should be fine with almost any of the usual suspects. 4-11 April is not excessively late. Val T would work but is shockingly ugly. La Plagne is marginally prettier and almost entirely North facing. If you want a more family resort then perhaps somewhere like Montalbert. Nice and cosy but with access to the whole La Plagne area. I'd definitely avoid Morzine (but then I always say that) anjd I'd probably avoid the whole of the Portes du Soleil (the mountains just arent high enough if it is a bad season). Flaine has a good reputation for being very snowsure.

Vallandry - Yes, it links to both Les Arcs and La Plagne in theory but it's quite a flog to get across and then up into the skiing area in La Plagne. We stayed right next door to the Vanoise Express and didn't feel the journey was worth the effort.

Depending upon what you are looking for, I'd be inclined to see how next season pans out before booking. I think there should be plenty available.
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@foxtrotzulu, I'm interested to hear your views on why the trip over to La Plagne wasn't worth the effort, is that because it's a long journey or there's enough skiing to be had in the Vallandry/Les Arc area? The reason I ask is I've just booked for this April, 6th, and we're staying at the Club Med and was hoping to get across to La Plagne for a couple of days for a change of scenery. This will be my first trip to the area so any advice you can give would be greatly received. Thanks.@foxtrotzulu,
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@RedorDead, From Vanoise Express you have to take a minimum of 3-lifts before you're over into main La Plagne ski area i.e. you can ski down to Plagne Bellecote/Central and from here to other areas. It's a bit of a faff, but not markedly so IMO.

We stayed Vallandry for last few years and have always gone over to La Plagne for the day to have a change of scene - worth it for Vanoise Express alone! However there is plenty of skiing easily available from Peisey so not sure I'd go over more than the once - but that's me.

There are runs just over the other side of Vanoise Express, but they are low and not really worth the trip if that's all you did!

@kettonskimum, Vallandry is a nice resort and has access to plenty of skiing, in many years of going there has always been runs open to resort at Easter. Most of the apartments are set back from pistes though so not quite ski in/out but only a short walk. There are some lovely chalets which are next to Foret run which are ski in/out and have plenty of space outside for kids to play in
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@RedorDead, based in Arc 1800 I probably pop over to La Plagne a couple of times a week. Yes, the number of lifts needed on the La Plagne side is a bit boring but this does open up a very large area of skiing. The journey back from Plagne Bellecote to the Vanoise Express only involves one chair and a short rope tow.

Having said that, the Les Arcs area is also a good size and should have enough to keep most people happy for a week.

I would do La Plagne once at least and then decide yourself whether it's worth the hassle!
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@kettonskimum, OK I haven't spent as much time in Les Arcs as @Alastair, this year (only 20 skiing days) and we have been over to La Plagne once. I have nothing against La Plagne but I often get as far as Vallandry and think "this is nice" and don't actually get on the VE lift.

The French typically do not ski over Easter and you do realise your dates are actually before Easter so I see no problem getting accomodation - don't worry about it. Something will turn up. This Easter for example you can get a 4 room 65m2 apartment in Arc 1800 for under 800 euros for the week (http://alpes-horizon.arkiane.com/en-GB/Lot/Detail/180360009). There are hundreds of properties available to rent in Les Arcs that week. Mind you Easter is even later this year so I expect the prices to be higher next year.
Quote:

So I wouldn't mind finding out some stuff now - I'm pretty clued up about higher resorts but not so much on which have more northerly slopes.

I'm not sure what you will find now since most rental agengies will not be sorting out next season until after this summer season is finished. Have a look in the Autum.
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@Alastair, @Boris, Thanks for the information, much appreciated. As it's included within the lift pass it would be a shame not to go across for a day.
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@RedorDead, Indeed - I'd certainly go across just for the lift ride. Remember - bottom of lift if you want view through glass area of floor (you don't stand on it) - top if you want the reassurance of a soft landing Toofy Grin
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@kettonskimum,
Personally I'd add Tignes Val D'Isere to what has been mentioned so far and if you're not dead set on France its not much further to drive to the nearer bits of Switzerland and I have found you get batter value apartments in Nendaz and probably other places too at that time of year than you do in France and the skiing is good.

On the La Plagne Vanoise express side of things we were there (near Vallandry) in Feb and skied both sides equally and was glad we did so.
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RedorDead wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, I'm interested to hear your views on why the trip over to La Plagne wasn't worth the effort, is that because it's a long journey or there's enough skiing to be had in the Vallandry/Les Arc area? The reason I ask is I've just booked for this April, 6th, and we're staying at the Club Med and was hoping to get across to La Plagne for a couple of days for a change of scenery. This will be my first trip to the area so any advice you can give would be greatly received. Thanks.@foxtrotzulu,
My reasoning was exactly as others have said. Add in the fact that when I was there it was a very poor snow season so we had to go a LOOOONG way into the La Plagne area to get any skiing. From memory, I'd say it was a good 60-90 minutes of travelling before we got any skiing.

BTW, ClubMed was very good and the kids loved the pool. We didn't fancy coming all the way back to the hotel every lunch time only to eat in the (very) indoor dining room (even if it was all included), so on a couple of days we did spend extra money on eating on the mountain.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
1. Courchevel 1850.
2. Val d'Isere.
3. Les Arcs 1800.
4. La Plagne 2000.
5. Avoriaz.
6. Serre Chevalier.
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I would give Courchevel a miss as it can get very slushy compared to Val Thorens

Val D'Isere is good but avoid the runs to resort from Solaise at the end of the day unless conditions are known to be good.

Avoriaz with those North facing slopes is good.
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You know it makes sense.
@TQA, Courchevel is north facing and generally holds the snow very well, I was skiing "winter" snow down to La Tania last April!
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johnE wrote:

The French typically do not ski over Easter and you do realise your dates are actually before Easter so I see no problem getting accomodation - don't worry about it. .


But the dates are for Easter school holidays.

It's all a gamble. You can hold your nerve, and wait to see what the snow is like, and if it's good then you can pick up some bargains in some of the lower resorts. But if it's a bad season, and you then turn to the higher resorts like VT or Tignes then you might find the better accommodation has already been snapped up.

I'm going to VT this year between 6-13 April, and booked our accomodation in the summer knowing that I won't find anywhere of that size, price, location still available after about October.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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All very interesting reading!

Yes, not sure about holding my nerve. I'm the sort of person to plan for the worst and so go to a higher resort in advance just in case - to alleviate worrying nearer the time. And as I'm after my cake and eating it (high resort/ideally ski in and out/ 2 bedroom) I don't want to lose out and have to choose from what's left. And yes, although not Easter week itself, it is our first week of Easter half term (so school hols). So my shortlist now looks like:

1. Tignes - been ages ago pre kids and Hubby said he'd rather go here than Val T if he had a choice
2. Courchevel - but would we really need to be higher? A friend swears by Le Praz every Easter - with lifts that get you into the heart of things
3. Les Arcs/La Plagne - but which one to stay in and which one to visit?
4. Avoriaz - as suggested

Assume most of the above is north facing hence suggested. Never been to Courchevel/La Plagne/Avoriaz so that might play a factor. We're good intermediates looking for blue/red cruising with kid snowpark fun. I like to ski as much of the day as possible!
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@Kettonsnowmum, for les arcs/la Plagne, you are probably looking at either Belle Plagne (2050m) or Arc 1950 as these are the higher villages that are also more family orientated and are a little prettier.

We went to Avoriaz last Easter and had an amazing time, but it was the last week of March which works a little better for Avoriaz which has a lot of runs lower than the resort itself rather than higher. We felt it was bit too much of a gamble for the second week of April.
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@Kettonsnowmum, Courchevel itself is 1800m, plenty high enough for Easter, we've stayed in La Tania much lower down for a fair few Easters and always managed to ski home. Probably why your friend swears by Le Praz!

It can be a very different experience to skiing at half term, we've skied all day then sat out in shorts and T shirts having a beer whilst the kids sledged! One year we even persuaded the chalet staff to have a BBQ, but most years we've also had fresh snow around Easter.

You've also got some trees around 1800m and down which is handy for bad weather.

In fact some pics from April 23rd 2005, shows how much depth they create/manage with artificial snow even low down!

https://greghilton.co.uk/oldsite/albums/latania2005/
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[b]@Kettonsnowmum


1) I'd also prefer Tignes to Val T - definitely.
2) Le Praz should be fine. Not sure if it's the slope or the trees but, from memory, it holds the snow very well.
3) Both good. personally, I prefer La Plagne and Montalbert in particular. No real need to visit the Les Arcs unless you are desperate. More than enough to keep you entertained for weeks without crossing to Les Arcs. Even though Montalbert is much lower at 1350m I've always had great snow there even in early April. Really nice family resort.
4) I'd honestly take Avoriaz off your list if you are worried about the snow. The resort may be high at 1800m, but the mountains are low at 2,466m, leaving just 666m of available vertical. The two times I've been there in late season you really didn't want to go down below Avoriaz. By comparison, La Plagne has another 800m of vertical and is more consistently North facing.

Of all your options, I'd go for La Plagne. But that's a purely personal choice.
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Very interesting photos - thank you! I have skied before in spring (and remember a time I went to Tignes in a very late April week - dodging puddles on the runs home and spraying other skiers!). It just feels like so long ago I can't remember!

Since we brought the kids into skiing properly (4 seasons ago) we've bitten the Feb half term bullet, keeping costs down by getting a rental in a more typically French ski resorts (eg Chinaillon/Les Saisies). So the kids have been a little spoilt with decent quality snow - we had a few whinges this Feb just gone when the blazing sun turned lower slopes mushy post 3pm.

But I can see us keeping going at Easter - as long as we have a good experience (and the kids love it) this time around. Happy kids=happy family!

Would it be fair to say the roads are less crowded traffic wise? We'd normally stay around Macon and set off by 7am to get into the resort early and dodge traffic. Although we're planning to visit in April I guess there would be weekend traffic still? I guess the return journey on the following Saturday would end up being a lot better though!
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@Kettonsnowmum, I’m guessing that you won’t book up in the next month (and you shouldn’t as a lot of apartments for 2020 won’t be bookable till the end of the season).

With that in mind, why don’t you start looking at the webcams of the resorts of your shortlist from the start of April this year. It’ll give you a good gauge of what the snow cover is like and you can measure against how that fits with your expectations.
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@Handy Turnip, yes definitely not planning to book for a few months but wanted to do the research now - definitely monitoring the snow over the coming weeks especially 4-11 April. But only as a rough guage as I know that no two years may be the same!
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Kettonsnowmum wrote:
@Handy Turnip, yes definitely not planning to book for a few months but wanted to do the research now - definitely monitoring the snow over the coming weeks especially 4-11 April. But only as a rough guage as I know that no two years may be the same!


Very true - although seeing poor coverage for some resorts on the webcam has helped me whittle down my shortlist in the past.
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kitenski wrote:
@TQA, Courchevel is north facing and generally holds the snow very well, I was skiing "winter" snow down to La Tania last April!


Like you I have skied Courchevel from La Tania at easter and had great conditions.

But I have also been at the Bel Air for lunch having skied over from VT and conditions in VT were significantly better. Early afternoon at 1650 was slush city.
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I can't understand why Avoriaz makes the list - resort high but mountain range is relatively low. It's a slush fest in anything over 5-6 degrees C. The temperature could easily exceed that in April.
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As a family we normally take a week mid April and enjoy cruising reds and blues. For the last few years there has been plenty of snow in the high Tarentaise resorts at that time.My preferences would be
1) Tignes Val Claret
2) Les Arcs- I don't quite get the point of the posters who think it is a journey to La Plagne. The ski journey is part of the fun. We stay in Les Arcs, get the Paradski pass and alternate our days between the two resorts. Vallandry is an ideal base for both areas.
In reality there is very little between these two top choices. I would suggest trying both on alternate years.
3) Val Thorens snow -sure and lots of choice-. I am not taken by the shockingly ugly. Pretty much all the French resorts are nothing to write home about. I would prefer ski in ski out to architecture.
4) I would take Avoriaz off your list. It is too low. It usually closes mid-April as opposed to the above resorts which go into May
There are plenty of choices in the 2 bed accommodation in April. Look at the resorts for the same week this year and you will get an idea of availibility.
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@GarryC, agree with your points above. While VT isn’t in anyway beautiful, I wouldn’t put it down as ‘shockingly ugly’ either. But I guess everyone has their own opinion.

How do you find the snow in Les Arcs in mid-April? Especially if you’re skiing across to La Plagne, so you have to hit some of the lower slopes. And where do you normally stay?
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@Handy Turnip,
Quote:

How do you find the snow in Les Arcs in mid-April? Especially if you’re skiing across to La Plagne, so you have to hit some of the lower slopes. And where do you normally stay?

This is rarely a problem. It is on the pistes. In fact I've never had a problem in Les Arcs. A couple Easters ago (a very late Easter) it got very thin around the Combettes lift and on the La Plagne side going down to the Telecabine there at La Coche, but theere was plenty of snow to get everywhere and up high it was good.

In fact the snow cover can be a problem in early summer. On one occaision we had to abandon a climb in late June due to snow. We couldn't even make the Turnia hut from Arc2000.

I stay in Arc1600
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The snow in Les Arcs in mid April has been good in the last two years. Last year was exceptional and we were in fresh snow all the way down to Villaroger. There were still 2 meters of snow in 1800.The previous year which was more normal meant that many of the lower (below 1800 slopes) were closed but they worked hard on managing the snow down to Peisy Vallandry and the Vanoise Express and kept the links open. On the La Plagne side it was thin on the last part down to the Vanoise express but once you got above1800/1900 the skiing was excellent. Most of the slopes in Paradski are above this level so you don't feel restricted by some of the lower slopes being closed. The 20 degree temperatures, long evenings and bright light make up for it.

I haven't stayed in La Plagne but have stayed in Peisey Vallandry and Arc 1800 both of which are fine and you are 1 lift from La Plagne. My budget is €1,300 for a two-bed 4* apartment. If you want a pool add another €300 for that and you are in the Oree des Neiges in PV. That figure also applies to Tignes where I just have booked a 2 bed 4* SC apartment on the 13th of April for €1,300. Having skied past it Madame C would like to stay in Arc 1950 due to the village feel and upmarket shops and I suspect that is where we will be next time. We have not been tempted by La Plagne as the queues for the main lifts in the village always seem long which you don't get in LA. As a family the consensus is to visit LP and stay in LA.
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Quote:

Having skied past it Madame C would like to stay in Arc 1950 due to the village feel and upmarket shops

Aren't upmarket shops a reason not to stay there
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@GarryC, “We have not been tempted by La Plagne as the queues for the main lifts in the village always seem long which you don't get in LA. As a family the consensus is to visit LP and stay in LA.”

We’ve always stayed in Montalbert (never seen a queue there) so maybe we are a fraction later to get to the main La Plagne lifts, but I’ve never had to contend with a massive queue there and if one lift looks busy then you just jump on one of the other lifts without a queue. We haven’t skiiied Lpnat the very busiest times of year, but we definitely preferred LP to LA..
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IME there are queues in both LP and LA on busy weeks or at busy times. In LA for example Derby, Arcabulle, Varet. In LP Bargerie, Roche De Mio, Arpette. But equally there are many lifts that I don't recall any major queues. It is of course pretty obvious why.
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