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Les Arcs 1950 - An Easter holiday 2019 trip report - Our first time driving down.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I thought i’d write a trip review of our Easter trip to Arcs 1950, in case it’s helpful to others, as I’ve always enjoyed learning from others experiences on this forum and it has certainly helped gain confidence for this trip.

It was Easter week. We left the UK on the evening of Friday 12th, stayed in resort for 8 nights, had 7 full days on the slopes and left on Easter Sunday morning to arrive home Easter Monday early afternoon.

We are a family of 5, kids (boys) 6, 10 and 13. My wife and I snowboard - I previously skied and turned to boarding in 2000. My wife learnt to snowboard, having had no experience of either, once we met. I am pretty insistent, thou, that our children learn to ski well and if, in the future, they want to snowboard then that’s fine but i’d prefer they learn to ski to a competent level first. Our boys have now been on 4 to 6 ski trips - two eldest at ESF 2 star level, whilst youngest is aiming for 1 star. The older two can ski reds/have done a black and the youngest left off last year on the easier blues. 
Our 10 year old has wanted to snowboard, and has spent the winter in lessons in the Snowcentre, Hemel. But, having achieved level 5/main slope capable there, we agreed he’ll continue ski lessons in resort and we’d take a board out on few afternoons for a bit of fun.

Resort - Les Arcs 1950.

A no brainer for us. I’ve stayed in Bourg St Maurice for many years on long weekend trips with friends and taken the funicular up to Les Arcs 1600 each day. Once we had children we travelled with Espritski to Arcs 2000 for 4 years now and eyed 1950 each year as future destination. I can’t fail to recommend Les Arcs, it offers both high and varied skiing / boarding in all conditions. I now know it well and, with young children in tow, it gives me confidence that I can navigate in all (poor visibility) conditions and have a good idea of which pistes will be good in which conditions and which are suitable for the stages of our kids skiing development.


Travel

It was our first time driving…. So here’s the details.

Friday, 12th April, 18:50 Eurotunnel.

Having avoided Brexit, (despite having gotten our Green Cards and IDP’s…) we left home (St Albans) at 3pm with ‘plenty’ of time to make the 2hr to 45minute check in time at the tunnel. Unfortunately, there was a fatal accident near Dartford, and the M25 was at a standstill. We rang the folks at the tunnel, who suggested we could change our time if necessary, even though we weren’t on a flexi ticket. We decided to wait it out and decide later. In the end, we were ‘stuck’ for an hour before the M25 opened again and we were on our way, and in the end we made it to the tunnel at 6pm - still time to make our train.

First time on the tunnel, and we thought it was excellent - incredibly convenient.

Through the other side, it took about 2hrs 15mins to get Reims, our overnight stop, arriving at 11pm (CET) . We stayed at the Ibis Budget in Thillois - 2 triple rooms, double bed with an over bunk. Costing about £95, with a sufficient ‘cold’ buffet breakfast for 6euros for adults and 3euro for kids.

Saturday 13th…

We left at 8.15am to continue our journey into Les Arcs.

With 1 fuel stop, and a short ‘wee’ break adjacent to a Peage toll line, we made it into 1950 at about 3:30pm - all in about 23hrs after we left home. Roads were clear, and no signs of Yellow Vests that had been reported in previous weeks.

We’d pre-booked underground Car Parking in Arcs 1950 at a cost of £111, and it was a case of drive straight in and get directed to the correct parking for our accommodation, which turned out to be Jardin Des Cascades. We parked up, walked 30 yds to the accommodation lift that took us to Reception where we checked in and took the same lift to our Apartment on the 3rd floor. It really couldn’t have been more convenient.

Accommodation…

We had booked with Pierre et Vacances, via the website, a Superior, 2 bedroom apartment. 62sqm rather than 55sqm for the Standard. I think the cost for 8 nights, at £1215, was less than a 100Euro difference. They also offer a ‘refurbished’ alternative, but we felt money was better spent on ‘space’ rather than fresh paint.

Spread over two floors, we had ample living space on the ground floor - kitchenette (fridge, microwave, oven, 4 ‘ring’ ceramic hob, toaster, nespresso machine, coffee filter machine and kettle), table for 6, a living area with a sofa bed, a downstairs shower and toilet, and a balcony. There was ‘plenty’ of room - we travelled with another family of 4 and on nights when we used one apartment to have dinner in, we didn’t feel tight for space.

Upstairs, double room with enough space for a camp bed for our smallest (although we could also have fitted a double ‘aero bed’ such was the space), an en-suite bathroom, and a twin room. On the landing, a double wardrobe provide plenty of space for hanging ski wear.

We felt the rooms were generous in size - compared to any other ‘chalet’ or apartment we’d stayed in.

Beds were very comfortable. Laundry - big white fluffy towels, changed mid week, bathrobes and those slip on slippers.

Our balcony looked straight out onto the Pre-St Esprit lift and up towards the Aiguille Rouge.

It was all very good, and we did wonder if we’d been given a refurbed apartment. The other family with us had a similarly good apartment, so it didn’t appear to be a fluke.

There were plenty of facilities, spa, gym, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tub - none of which I used as it’s not important to me. But they got a tick in the box from those in the party that used them.

[also, whilst we didn’t use them, the accommodation did provide luggage storage and shower facilities should you wish to check out of your apartment, ski for the day and then shower/change before leaving]

Accommodation was self-catered - but we took 4 frozen dinners between the two families, and ate out three times whilst we were there. This worked fine, and really wasn’t a chore - a good oven and a dishwasher helped! We took Shepherds Pie, Spag Bol, Chicken Curry, Steak and Ale Stew), and breakfasts were a simply matter of porridge / croissants from the boulangerie.

The Village.

We liked:

Ski-in / Ski -out - We joked about this. On the first day, it was about 5m from the accommodation door to snow that allowed you to ski ‘out’ of the village. On the last day it was nearly 15m… a disgrace!!

Seriously thou, the bashers brought in new snow overnight to ensure a good cover of snow on the main village thoroughfares.

Boulangerie directly opposite the apartment block… meant the elder children were sent on a Croissant run each morning…. 10Euro for 9 croissants for the two families. Also baguettes/breads and delicious patisseries which we took for dessert one night in the apartment.

Wood Bear Cafe - tasty daily burgers or quiche. If you fancy an outside table, it’s possible to reserve if you don’t want to take the risk of missing out.

Meli Snack - a rather garish (pink) appearing snack bar in the centre of the village - look beyond this, they do crepes, waffles, a great chicken kebab for 6Euro, hot dog for 5Euro, cheese burger for 6euro, crepes and waffles, and an ’Espresso Long’ for 1.50Euro (good for the start of the day having dropped kids off at ski school and waiting for others to get booted up). We could have an acceptable lunch for the 5 of us, for 25 euros.

Le Mazot restaurant - we’ve been a few times now. Service can be a little slow, but for traditional Savoyard Experience (hot rocks, Raclette, fondue) we thoroughly enjoy it.

We also ate in Luigi’s (adjacent to the slopes, quite exciting for the kids to watch the piste bashers working the slopes as we ate dinner), Perce Neige and Nonna Lisa’s. We didn’t have a bad meal at all. Prices are what they are….

In terms of mountain side eateries we didn’t bother so much this year. Mainly due to dropping into the village to pick up kids from lessons, which made Meli’s an easy choice. But, we did have lunch at the Bulle (mushroom) cafe in the 2000 bowl. A cheap lunch here, if you fancy pizza, in a great slopeside spot. On one day, we took baguettes/cheese/ham and took advantage of the new picnic area above Comborciere lift. We loved the view, the kids took advantage of the wifi…

Ski Hire and Lessons.

We hired Ski’s for the week (online) for the kids from Intersport, (about £55 each, 7 days for the price of 6) and the shop was all but next door to the apartments. There was also SkiSet and other places nearby. We hired a snow board/boots for my son on two afternoons for ‘just’ 10Euros. I honestly don’t know it makes any difference for the kids - i just chose ‘best price’. Service was fine, kit was fine. No complaints.

Lessons, we decided to go with Spirit 1950. Cost was comparable to ESF. I think it was the ‘guarantee’ of 10 pupils or less and English speaking that sold it to us. Lessons started at 9:15 and finished at 11:45 - enough time for the adults to have a good morning skiing before needing to return to collect the kids.

I made a ‘mistake’ and booked the 6 year olds into Yetison, when they should’ve been in Yeti 1 (ESF1 star comparable) but Spirit moved them up on day 2 after having seen the capabilities. So no complaints. The eldest two, having done ESF 2 star, went into Yeti 3.

Yeti3 - One instructor seemed ‘great’ - full of it every morning, made a real effort to know the kids names, say hello etc. The second, was a bit quieter, but happy to chat post lesson and explain what our child should work on in the afternoon. The third (Yeti1), my 6 year old loved. (i think the fact he offered him a Haribo Strawberry sweet may have something to do with it).

We will happily book with Spirit 1950 next time.

The Snow.

Ok, it was late in the season - second to last week. 12th to 21st April. I understand it's been a 'good' season for snowfall. There was some fresh snow the week before. A light dusting whilst we were there. Temps were -5 to +10 during the course of the day. There was PLENTY of snow cover, we saw few bare patches and no real stones coming through. We did, though, tend to stay in the top ‘half’ of the resort - (for the locals, think the runs above the Arpette). We did go down to 1800 and 1600 earlier in the day whilst it was still quite firm. You’ll read on the Les Arcs thread, that snow conditions were pretty good for the time of year. It was the latest we’ve been, and we were pleasantly surprised and didn’t ‘want’ for anything better. (Other than fresh powder… and that’s unlikely, of course)

As it’s late season, it’s very firm first thing, but softens quickly on any slope facing the sun (in fact we went looking for that, as 3 of us grown ups are on snowboards...) Although we took lunch with the kids after ski lessons at 12pm, it would be somewhat better to keep going for another hour to get the best from the snow. By 3pm, it’s very soft… still fun on a snowboard, tiring on the legs, but the kids don’t mind at all. A revelation for me, at least this year, my wife and younger kids would ‘retire’ at around 3pm, leaving me and eldest son free for an hour or two… So it was straight up the Varet gondola, onto the Aiguille Rouge cable car to 3226… whereas normally it can be a 20-30 minute wait, we would walk almost straight on. And the snow conditions ‘up there’ were still marvellous.

Lastly, it was 'super' quiet. Whether this was the brexit effect or what, i don't know. But we didn't queue, at all, for a lift. Even the Arcabulle out of 2000, i think the longest 'queue' we had was 5 rows of people in front of us.

Prior to the trip, i was somewhat cautious about going so late (even though we've been the week before for the last 3 years) - but there was no worry - and in general I now prefer to during Easter with the family as it's warmer (for the kids), sunny, less chance of poor visibility, being snowed in etc., quieter (and hence safer) and, of course, cheaper than half term.

And finally, the drive home.

We left on Sunday morning - check out at 10, on the road by 11. Drive to Reims - we arrived at the same hotel we used on the way down, at 7pm after one lunch/fuel stop on the road.

In the morning, we were up and on the road at 8.15 and arrived at Eurotunnel at 10.40. I’d booked the tunnel for 12.50, but arriving early we were able to get an hour earlier train at no extra cost. In the end were on the driveway at home by 1.30pm - leaving Easter monday afternoon to unpack etc.

Most of you will know, but the motorway driving in France is pretty straight forward - cruise control on, stick at 81mph ish until you arrive at a toll booth. Far less stressful or tiring than in UK. I did all the driving, and genuinely didn’t feel especially fatigued.

The whole journey (apart from the M25/accident) was stress free…The ease of simply loading everything, including kids, into the car and then unloading once in resort was a breeze compared to the whole airport car park/transfer bus/check-in/security/boarding/unboarding/baggage claim/transfer bus palaver.

To make it even easier, we got a toll doofer from Emovis-tag which was a revelation in it’s simplicity. The kids would happily entertain themselves on ipads/minecraft/movies/kindle books but we also listened to Desert Island disc podcasts and a Harry Potter audio book to pass the time.

For statistics - it was 718 miles to resort, car computer said we averaged 59mph at 41 mpg (SMAX 2l diesel with a roof box, case you’re interested!). From tunnel to resort, it was about 9 to 10 hours of driving which we broke into two parts of 2.5hrs and 6.5hrs.


Costs.

… last year we paid £6100 to Esprit to accommodate us in Arcs 2000 same time of year with ski-hire and lessons (less spending money and lift passes, thou this DID include afternoon child care for our then 5 year old, and an empty bed charge)

This year, £2,787 for the same - but add on about £300 of evening meals out we took. So it was about half the cost.

In summary

Self-driving/organising was easier than I had even dared to hope, and whilst we collectively love the Les Arcs ski area, we thought 1950 was the perfect base for our family in the late season.

We will certainly be doing the same again next year and I doubt, for family ski holidays at least, that we will consider package/flying again.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great review. Interesting stuff for me as I'm thinking of doing the drive next winter
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thanks for taking time to write a review.

One question, did you book the Reims hotel in advance, or just turn up on spec ??
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Richie_S wrote:
... the new picnic area above Comborciere lift. We loved the view, the kids took advantage of the wifi.
Is there wifi at that picnic spot? Views are amazing, but I didn't think to check if there was wifi there.
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@Richie_S, excellent, detailed and clear review.

I’ve never been keen on driving from UK to the Alps but your review may help persuade me.
snowHead
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@albob, we booked in advance from the website. Straightforward to do. Unsurprisingly, there were a few other british cars in the car park. It was located only minutes away from the Peage, so no real diversion, and should you need a few places to eat nearby incl. KFC, McDonalds and Burger King.

@rob@rar, yes there was. Apparently there are charging points as well for phones should you need them, but i didn't actively seek those out. It is indeed a great view point. We should've picnic-ed there a few times, as it's easy to pick kids up from lessons and divert straight out of resort and down to the Comborciere. That would then get us nicely out of the 2000 bowl for the afternoon.

@PeakyB, we didn't experience any problems with the trip - so i guess that helps. As well as the cost saving, not having to herd the family and bags through airports was a huge benefit for us and made the trip more enjoyable.
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Quote:

As well as the cost saving, not having to herd the family and bags through airports was a huge benefit for us and made the trip more enjoyable.

I'm usually in a car full of people driving to the EoSB each year. I'm not sure that, with an overnight stop on the way there (we do it 'in one' on the way back) any costs are saved but, for me, the benefit of being able to sling my luggage into the car, without restriction, and not having to schlep it around the airport, is immeasurable.
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That, sir, is a very detailed TR. Good job.
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@Richie_S, great review, with much clarity: thanks for taking the time.
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Arctic Roll wrote:
@Richie_S, great review, with much clarity: thanks for taking the time.
Sorry, I should have said that too. I'd love to go back to Les Arcs and indeed to stay in the excellent rented accommodation I stayed in a few years ago.
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@Richie_S, good report - thanks.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Our kids are now 11 and 13 and have been going a couple of times a year since age 3/4. Me and my wife are both pure skiers and have never strapped into a board in our lives. But when we've exposed both of our kids to boarding since they were 7/8. First of all starting on a noddy slope for a couple of hours in the late afternoon/evening and working upwards (pretty much self taught, no lessons, no fridges, just bits and pieces in the mountains. Last couple of years the elder has switched between the two, kind of randomly. When we were out last week he did 4 days boarding, 3 days skiing. I don't even think about what he is using now, he can ski the whole mountain on either. He did say there was a bit of adjustment required each time when making the switch so he was considering doing more consistent days on one kit rather than switching day by day. The younger seemed to have a bit more of a natural talent for boarding last year but when she strapped in for a day last week she struggled, maybe we took her on the wrong slope or the boots she is using are getting a bit tight. Either way she bailed at lunchtime and didn't use it again. No big deal. I think has long as they have the exposure to both it's all good.
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@Richie_S, fantastic review. Thanks for sharing. I'm looking at Easter options for next year, and currently Belle Plagne is the favourite but I'm also looking at Arc 1950, so this really helps.
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You know it makes sense.
@Richie_S, Excellent review. However a few points.

Easter week to me it is the week containing Easter Sunday and the Bank Holiday. To you it is the week containing Good Friday. I think my concept was driven by the fact my wife got the bank holiday and the Tuesday off work whereas I got that AND the good Friday Smile We went on overnight on Maunday Thursday and returned on the Saturday night following Easter.

I think the resort was quiet because it was late in the season and had nothing to do with BREXIT. My expereriance of Les Arcs is that less than 5% of the visitors are English. It is still a very French resort. Well 1600, my home, is. I suspect other areas have a higher proportion of English. Compared to the 3 valleys it has very few Russian or Dutch visitors, but a lot of Swiss and Belgians (poory conducted survey based on languages heard in bars and cars in car parks)

The drive is very easy - once you get across the channel. I felt for you stuck in a jam on the M25. And with young children it is so much easier than flying. Indeed to us the easiest way to the Alps was an overnight drive with our son asleep from the end of our drive to Albertville, but ones wife and one share the driving - 3 hours on 3 hours off.

Now a question for all us regular drivers - what is the longest uninterupted section we have done with the cruise controll set at 130? I am afraid I cannot answer, but suspect in the section south bypassing Langres.

In our apartment cooking isn't really a chore. Since the kitchen and living area are one room. I can prepare food, cook and talk to the rest of the party at the same time, perhaps even asking someone to chop onions for me, or nip out the shop for some creme feshe. All while drinking wine in the Keith Floyd style. It is part of the holiday and TBH much nicer than at home - stuck in the kitchen on my own.

Anyway @Richie_S, really enjoyed you review and that you had a successful trip (actually I'm jealous. I decided that Easter was just too late this hear and missed some great skiing. I wish I hadn't come home Crying or Very sad )
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@johnE, I think 5% for English is on the low side overall, obviously varying week by week. Some weeks in 1800 have had a very British flavour to them. At the extreme I think 1950 is 70% UK owned? Agree with the low number of Russians or Dutch - I think they're mainly in the 3Vs. Mind you I did decline some kindly offered indeterminate spirit from a Russian's hipflask on the Vagere the other day. I had to refuse it again a little further up and wondered if I had offended him. I decided not to mention Salisbury.

Regarding driving, I have to say that my car keeps its distance, so I set it at 130kph and overtake when appropriate. It slows down if I don't overtake, and I can overtake using only the indicators. Damned clever, these (guess). This is technology we'll all be using shortly.

Clearly I should come round for dinner if you cook in the Keith Floyd style; it's the kind of cooking I can help with. Alternatively, I can rustle up a raclette round here. Hope to see you next year!

And yes - you shouldn't have gone home. Arolles was a delight this morning as were the runs around the Derby lift.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Alastair, Please come round.

I think 1600 probably has the least visitor from the UK. It still sholks me to hear an English voice in the shop and even more so in the Abrevoir

OK today we went climbing in Tremadoc, so it wasn't too bad a day (actually - it was. We started in the Llanberis pass but quit when the rain showed no sign of abaiting)
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@johnE, I suspect that you're right about 1600 being the most French of the resorts. That's no bad thing. I suspect that it has the fewest number of UK visitors because it's the 'lowest' - despite the fact that it's only about 100m lower than 1800. (For those interested, the names don't really correspond to the heights in the way you would expect. 1600 should be 1650 and 1800 should be 1750. 2000 was named 2000 because it sounded futuristic (in the 70s) but it should really be 2100. I suspect 1950 should be 2000). I hope that's clear to everyone. Very Happy
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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?
@johnE, thanks for the feedback.

We've been the week before, and one year it also seemed to be the last (at least from a UK operators point of view) week in resort. As we skied (well, boarded) round on the last saturday, the pisteurs were collecting up the piste markers. But this year definitely seemed quieter, and that is no bad thing considering the concerns about extra beds being built in resort. It certainly feels safer for the kids as they learn, as they can be unpredictable on the slopes

I agree, that even cooking from scratch is hardly a chore with a glass of red on the side and friends to chat with and dissect the days events on the slopes. Pre-prepared dishes from home just made it that touch easier and ensured we got some decent/alternative (i.e. not pizza and burgers) food into the kids.

Your question on "longest uninterrupted section on cruise control" has piqued my interest and coming up with an answer will be a goal for next year.

In terms of English in resort. I think it was a reasonable mix in 1950 - plenty of english voices, french and some dutch i think. Our eldest were in classes almost entirely of english kids, whilst the two 6 year olds were in a class of all french. Not that it mattered a jot to them.

BTW, this reminds me of a little anecdote from our trip....

I was queuing patiently in the boulangerie, when a young boy (12 years old maybe), came in - I was served, and the boy stepped up to the counter.

"Do you speak English?" he said.

"Un peu", said the girl behind the counter.

Confused expression on the boys face. "it means 'a little' " I offered.

"Oh, ok.", he said. And addressing the girl again, "What's the French for five ?"....

"Cinq", said the girl....

Which he immediately followed with "Ok, five croissants, please" ....

Laughing
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@Alastair, Are there any UK operators offering places in 1600 ? I can't say I've looked, but maybe that is something to do with it having less british visitors ?
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@Richie_S, I think Crystal uses the Cachette hotel. One morning in the lift pass office I heard an English voice ahead of me (actually thinking about the accent it could have been anyone who could speak English, but not French) discussing extending his lift pass. He was from the Club Med up the hill. But I don't think that is in Arc1600. Other snowheads have booked into the Rock Belface so I think some Uk tour operators use them.

The first time I stayed in Les Arcs 35 years ago it was in 1600 and it was with a UK tour operator. I think we were their only guests in 1600 since we had a rep to ourselves.

Quote:

Pre-prepared dishes from home just made it that touch easier and ensured we got some decent/alternative (i.e. not pizza and burgers) food into the kids.

Pizza is the one food I cannot cook in our apartment - the oven is too small, but I have bought steak hache and cooked that in the past.

My friend bought his two young daughters over for a weekend a few weeks back. They were 7 and 9. The first night I cooked seafood risoto; one of the girls loved the cockles in their shells, the other only ate a couple. The next day I prepared pork in cidre in the morniing and put it in the slow cooker while we went out skiing. The smell in the apartment when we got back was lovely and every last bit was eaten.

@Alastair, the sign at the Vagere lift of 1734 sort of gives the height away. The lift is above most of the village. The start of the Transarc cannot be much above 1700m. I'm always amazed just how much of Arc1800 is below the road from 1600. If you walk between the two on the track you realise that it is almost flat.
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@Richie_S, Nice report - thank you. Often thought about staying in 1950 - nice to get a report on it.

Just to add to comments above - there is some great skiing to be had around 1600 and Vallandry, which even in Feb half-term were quiet. Everyone wants to go high and into Arc bowl. Both also good places to ski in poor visibility due to tree cover.
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@Richie_S, to be honest, I don't know - I haven't used a tour operator for a long time. You may be right.
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Alastair wrote:
(For those interested, the names don't really correspond to the heights in the way you would expect. 1600 should be 1650 and 1800 should be 1750. 2000 was named 2000 because it sounded futuristic (in the 70s) but it should really be 2100. I suspect 1950 should be 2000). I hope that's clear to everyone. Very Happy


Yes, I remember reading up on this and being surprised. Which begs the next question - is it time for a marketing rebranding exercise? If Arc 2000 was named to sound futuristic, then it sounds positively ancient now! When late season punters are looking for height as a guarantee of snow, surely Arc 2100 would be a much stronger selling point.

And I'm assuming that Arc 1950 was forced to use that name as someone had already stolen the Arc 2000 name. I guess rebranding it to it's true height i.e. Arc 2000 would be too confusing, but again rebranding it to reference that it actually sits about 2000m can only help it attract late season punters. How about Arc Intrawest (2000m)? Laughing
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We suggested to the kids that they were named after the year / century they were built....
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The best story I heard about naming was that Courchevel 1850 was so named because it sounded higher than its then rival Val d'Isere. It is, in fact, below 1800m

The villages initially had names. Arc 1600 was know as Arc Pierre Blanche and its general management group is still referred to with that name. I suppose the numbers were adopted to become multi lingual. Afterall should it be marketted as Arc White Rock in English?
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Not sure I give a monkeys how accurate the altitude number is. Apart from anything else many are set out on a mountainside so can vary according to where you in the station. I don't think using the altitude to identify the station was a particular good idea or particularly imaginative but see no reason to change it now.
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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.
Layne wrote:
Not sure I give a monkeys how accurate the altitude number is. Apart from anything else many are set out on a mountainside so can vary according to where you in the station. I don't think using the altitude to identify the station was a particular good idea or particularly imaginative but see no reason to change it now.


I agree that using the altitude to identify the station isn't particularly imaginative, but then using a number that many people assume is the altitude but actually isn't, feels even less of a good idea.
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@Richie_S, great trip account, and glad you seemed to find the DIY/self drive element of the holiday relatively painless!!

As a family we have done 3 ski trips in the last few of years, and they have all been self drive/DIY. I actually look forward to the planning and organising of it all (gets me through the summer months!!!!), and i really do not mind driving long distances or in wintry conditions at all, so that is not an issue.

Though i have toyed with going "off piste" for next year, originally looked at easyjet flights for feb half term and once again they are eye watering!!

so looked at the following, my friend and his family who are going at the same time and will be doing this, he has always either gone via a T/O or booked easyjet and transfers himself, but he was disgusted this year with EJ costs :

so, take kids out of school for the Friday, drive to Heathrow from Bath Thursday evening, overnight there in a premier inn.
early BA flight to Nice on the Friday morning, hire a car in Nice then drive up to Albertville then supermarket shop and overnight hotel.
up early sat morning drive to Les Menuires, pick up hire kit for kids and ski Saturday until getting into the apartment.

following Saturday, check out of apartment ski most of the day then drive back to Nice, drop off hire car overnight in Novotel hotel and fly out early on the Sunday morning back to Heathrow, pick up car then drive back to Bath

BA flights from London to Nice or surprisingly reasonable compared to EJ, and about a six hour drive to Albertville from there.

it worked out to roughly £1200 for the 4 of us, excluding fuel and tolls in france, still massively cheaper compared with going with EJ and then transfers/hire car etc from geneva/grenoble!!

But to be honest like @Hurtle, i really cannot be ar!!!d to faff about with luggage at airports/hotels etc, so am opting for the tried and trusted version of loading the truck up on the Thursday then setting off, Euro-tunnel and an overnight stop in st quentin, leisurely drive with a supermarket shop and overnight stay in albertville Friday night, then to the resort on the Saturday.

will stay overnight in troyes the following Saturday with a Sunday lunchtime euro-tunnel crossing, works out similar costs to the plan above as well.

i have already booked all the overnight hotels via Booking.com for both options in case i change my mind.
fortunately for me my family seem to enjoy the road trip side of the holiday as well, so do not moan about being in the car for long journeys.

my biggest worry at the moment, is that i have already found and booked an apartment in Les Menuires for Feb half term, and paid the deposit through an agency, but it is so ridiculously cheap that i keep on worrying they are going to cancel on me.
It is about 1/4 of what we paid last year for similar size and location, and in my mind all i keep on thinking is "if it seems too good too be true" and all that Shocked Shocked
might take a tent in the roofbox just in case Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Richie_S wrote:
We suggested to the kids that they were named after the year / century they were built....


I like the gist of that Very Happy brings up all sort of possibilities of periodic dress for skiing. Would 1600 be the Tudor period? I've read that Henry VIII was a dab hand at carving too Smile

And some of the many antique type programs show "preserving patina" by using Jacobean black wax being used, presumably that's what the Jacobean ski enthusiast would have used to prep their ski bases.

I'm probably mixing my historic era's, although potentially for comic affect.

Very good review from your trip. I feel as you've indicated, that Les Arcs has a lot to offer in advancing a family ski skills too, along with a big affection for the area generally. I first went skiing at 2000 and have always liked it. So many bleat on about the architecture, while missing that the Les Arcs offers such a really great place to ski.

Hopefully your original post will inspire others to make the leap too.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@terrygasson, What agency have you booked with?

TBH I am not sure I would want to spend 2 nights in hotels on the way there an one on the way back. To me the journey will seem to go on for ever.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@johnE, HomeAway.com is the agency/website.

Overnight stops add to the holiday for us, I have had to compromise over the years, as I would easily do the drive in one go!!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@terrygasson, crikey - that whole 'fly to nice' thing, whilst i can appreciate the lower cost, I cannot imagine being 'easier'... drive to heathrow, fly to nice, 6 hours drive to resort - so I'm with you, just load up the wagon once and keep going!

I was somewhat surprised my kids didn't whimper once on the road, and barely a "are we there yet?"... having a work phone (aka all you can eat data), with WIFI hotspot enabled, I think helped a lot. And at least with my rose tinted specs on there was less grief from them than when flying.

An another point, having done it now, I would also consider a "drive in one go.... An overnight drive, kids asleep, low traffic, arriving in resort earlier in the day is appealing. My only issue is my wife currently is not happy to drive. I'm reasonably comfortable that, if she took over for a couple of 2hr or maybe one 3 hr stints, I would get enough shut eye to remain safe.

That said, i also feel pretty comfortable that we could've done the trip BACK in one go during the day.

We left 1950 at 11 this year, having done some souvenir shopping, and we arrived at Reims at 6.50pm (with a 1hr 10mins lunch stop)... and it's only 2hrs 15 to the tunnel from there.. i.e. arrive tunnel at 9.10pm for, say, a 10pm train. So if we'd left a bit more sharpish, say at 10am, (check out time for the apt)... we 'could' have been at the tunnel around 8 for 8.30pm, for a 9pm train. Arriving in UK at 8.30ish, then two hours round the London and certainly home before Midnight UK time... (my wife would be happy to drive that last bit on the UK roads - ironically probably the worst/unsafest part of the journey)
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

drive in one go..


Don't take the risk unless you're young, fit and very very used to it. It's not worth it. Micro-sleeps are a killer.
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Quote:

(my wife would be happy to drive that last bit on the UK roads - ironically probably the worst/unsafest part of the journey)

A weird choice IMHO. My wife and and me argue and plan from a long way off so the other one draws the short straw and has to drive in the UK.

@AL9000 My wife and I drive to Les Arcs 2 or 3 times a year and have done so for perhaps 15+ years. We have only stopped in a hotel once when we broke down. I thought we wasted a whole day of our holiday but breakdowns do happen and we just took it in our stride. We are not young or fit.

@Richie_S, We generally leave Les Arcs about 10:00 but have left departure time as late as 14:00 and just keep rotating the driver until we get home. But I have to confess that the last 2 times we have left in the evening and called into our friends house near Crolle to spend the night and be soicable. Leaving there about 10:30 gets us home about 23:30.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Richie_S, overnight drives are very much an individual thing,if you can do them great While I could do it, it would wipe me out for days.

We treat the overnights on the way there aspart of holiday and have a nice meal, however we now come back in one hit. Leave resort 6:30am and even at Feb half term were home in Northants by 9pm
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Boris wrote:
We treat the overnights on the way there as part of holiday and have a nice meal


Likewise, although we tend to drive only in the summer, taking the train in the winter.
We have our favourite stopovers, both up and down, and have got to know the owners though regular stays - we alternate over the years between a couple in each direction, depending on timings and any side-trips (such as visting rellys in Switerland) .
So is definitely part of the holiday to return to familiar haunts and see familiar faces.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Arctic Roll, I have no problems with road trips during the summer and think a car is essential during the summer - either rented or driving the whole way.

It's just when I want to go skiing I want to go skiing. Using the train always looks like a good idea but for us always seems to work out expensive and take a long time. I calculate: taxi to local station. Change trains in Birmingham (possibly even stations to cut costs), get underground in London, train to Paris, get train across Paris, get train to Chambery, change at Chambery (at least it is on the same platform) get train to Bourg, walk to Funicular, get Funicular. Actually a big saving in hasle and cost can be made by driving to Ebbsfleet, but by then I've done the worst part of the drive so I may as well keep going.

Actually driving down in the summer does give the option for nice side trips and perhaps further exploration. My wife did stop off in Rheims last summer for a night while waiting for me to arrive by train (long story, I'll tell you over a pint sometime). She was a bit dissapointed in the town and certainly by the meal at the hotel.

When are you in Les Arcs this summer?

In August we will be driving to the Dolomites for a couple weeks climbing and definately will stop over overnight. It will be a hotel on an industrial estate near Saarbruken catering for long distance lorry drivers, certainly not romantic but convenient. Afterwards we were thinking of going down to Croatia for some sport climbing. And I have an odd desire to see Trieste. Though I doubt if I'll call into Les Arcs on the way back I may swing by Grenoble. As you say - make a road trip of it.
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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!
@Richie_S, the formula you adopted of going with friends and doing a couple of meals each is ideal. Sociable, very low cost evenings and kids enjoy the company too. The accommodation sounds excellent, as does five lunches for 25 euros. It's not all "rabbit hutch" apartments and rip off prices in the big French resorts.
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Quote:

It's not all "rabbit hutch" apartments and rip off prices in the big French resorts.

Yes, agrree totally.

There are some 9m2 cabins behind our apartment that have high windows you cannot even see out of. I thought no one ever used them and was even offered a couple to buy at a very low cost (I declined). However I met some people coming out from one at the start of April and enter another apartment. They were clearly being used simply as extra bedrooms. They are actually bigger than our "box room" and bigger than many hotel bedrooms I have stayed in.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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@johnE,
(quote]When are you in Les Arcs this summer? [/quote]

We arrive on Tues 16th July, and staying until the Tour De France goes through Bourg (Sat 27th I think?) so leaving at a relaxed time on the Sunday, staying at "Au pre du Moulin" (which is as pretty as it sounds), 2 hours south of Calais, and getting home on the Monday lunchtime. A lot of walking planned, both in and around the Vanoise Park and over at the Cormet.

You?
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