Give it a try if… You’re looking for a less gentrified, yet large ski resort in the French Alps.
Steer clear if… You skied in France before and hated it.
Paradiski is a French resort with 425Km of slopes near Bourg Saint Maurice. It includes three main areas located on two different sides: (1) Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry, (2) La Plagne. This year, for my second trip there, I had a chance to stay in Belle Plagne, the highest village of La Plagne. I have mixed feelings towards this resort, but I do consider it a worthy option if you are tired of big-box destinations, so… let’s glide down to the details.
From charming to plain ugly
First of all, if you have a penchant for heavenly landscapes, take a look at tipsology’s Paradiski 2012 photo gallery on Flickr.
Paradiski is a generally easy, not especially glamorous resort which revolves around on-piste skiing. Luckily this also means fewer stoned boarders and more room to fly. The three main areas are quite different. Les Arcs sports newer lifts and seems to cater to the younger crowd. Most things in La Plagne, which is more family-oriented, look and feel desolately old (picture 20-minute rides on decrepit post-war chairlifts under the snow: like, no thanks). Finally, there’s Peisey-Vallandry, quite simply my favourite: I find it both convenient (especially Plan Peisey, situated exactly in the middle of the resort) and charming, with that lovely mountain village look – which both Les Arcs and La Plagne sadly rejected in favour of that horrible 1970s style I call “A Counter-clockwork Orange” – but acceptably modern lifts.
Do’s and Don’ts
LODGING – If you do choose to stay in Belle Plagne, avoid the Pierre et Vacances Constellations residence. One of the ugliest flat I’ve rented on the French Alps (despite fierce competition by several others).
SKIPASS – You can either buy a skipass for unlimited skiing in Paradiski, or limit yourself to one of the two sides. In this case, the upgraded Decouverte formula allows you to visit the other side for one day only. The pricing is cleverly devised so you are pushed to buy the unlimited pass, and honestly this is the one I’d advise, since riding the Vanoise Express the link between the two sides is pretty fast.
SLOPES – Here is the interactive piste map (plan des pistes). My friend and I found blue slopes to be nicer than usual, and red ones to be slightly disappointing. Despite the numerous skiable kilometres, I sometimes couldn’t avoid the infamous “Is this all there is?” feeling, but some exceptional slopes do make up for the general boredom. Again, the Peisey-Vallandry area stands out – it is quite unusual for slopes among the trees to be this entertaining for the skiing itself, not just the scenery. A few slopes not to be missed in Paradiski: Grand Col, Aguille Rouge, Teppes, Belette, Renard, Combe, Emile Allais, Sardane, and my favourites: Les Inversens, Kamikaze, Aigle and Morey.
RESTAURANTS – It is not easy to find good restaurants on these slopes, but at least they don’t rob you like in other places (I mean, of course they do – we are in France, after all – but less than in posher resorts like Espace Killy or 3 Vallées). For those of us who can’t do without their tartiflette (a typical Savoyarde dish with potatoes, cheese, onions and bacon – burp!), a good option is Le Chalet du Solliet, along the Aguille Rouge slope (right before the beginning of the Solliet black slope).
INTERNET CONNECTION – I bought a weekly pass from Cyberspot for a 16€ wireless flat fee, but the quality was unacceptable. If you find any other option, go for it.
APRES-SKI – …what? 🙂
sSSHtip (as in, that special insider tip you want to keep to yourself) – Call the restaurant Blanche Murée (+33 – 060 940 56 53 – located in Vallandry, near the Transarc intermediate stop) and reserve a table for the next day’s lunch, without forgetting to specify how many tartiflettes you want to eat. You will have a chance to savour this specialty in a wonderful, unique version I have renamed Paradiflette.
UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 7.5/10.
tipsology’s Paradiski photo gallery on Flickr.
A post with general advice on the area – Skiing in France: unnerving