James Johnson

HAVE you ever wanted to ski over a mini swimming pool, jump onto a giant airbag, try out an Olympic toboggan course, or simply have the choice of skiing or snowboarding over miles of varied, beautiful terrain?

That’s before even mentioning the overwhelming and terrifying super luge, acres of off-piste skiing, and easy access to Les Arcs.

These things are all on offer at La Plagne, and there’s even more if you’re willing to explore a little.

The resort in the French Alps is perhaps less well-known than its nearby counterparts Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens, but has no less on offer.

Chalet Bartavelle is a draw in itself. Located literally 50m from the nearest chairlift, it offers the chance to be on the slops in less than a 30 second walk.

It sleeps 15, and if there are members of your party who don’t ski, they can light up the log fire and watch a DVD or two.

The gracious hosts cook a variety of meals and know the area inside out, so look no further if you fancy some tips on unusual or quieter skiing runs.

While its skiing area is smaller than the aforementioned Three Valleys, there is a similar range of easy and difficult pistes, and it has its own personal touch and attention to detail.

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Eagle-eyed observers will catch a glimpse of igloos and Arctic foxes created from snow, and there are automatic mid-air ski lift cameras for those who like their holiday snaps.

In fact photography fans will find a range of stunning views for their pictures, as well as some more fun locations. Those perfect Instagram shots and Facebook profile photos are definitely there to be had.

As previously mentioned, one of the more unusual activities is the chance to ski across a mini swimming pool.

There is one water feature near La Plagne, and one near Les Arcs, and they both give skiers and snowboarders the chance to go down a small hill before gliding over a shallow swimming pool and returning to firmer ground at the other side.

The pros: it looks like great fun, it’ll make an entertaining video, and if you pull it off you’re a hero for the day.

The cons: big crowds gather around the slide throughout the day and enjoy the action. If you fall you will get very wet and you will be laughed at – and it will all be captured on video by at least one gleeful member of the crowd.

The giant airbag is simply that – a bag at the bottom of a jump, where you can practice spins, flips, and another trick other than a backflip.

As for the runs themselves, there are some beautiful areas worth seeking out to spend a morning or afternoon, depending on your level of ability and confidence.

One of the most spectacular runs is Aiguille rouge, which starts from the top of the Lanchettes 45 run from Les Arcs 2000.

It winds through trees for more than 800 vertical metres, offering stunning views and the chance to take different routes to the same destination.

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The best run to start the day off is Mira. Just head to Plagne Centre, jump on Funiplagne Grand Rochette, admire the incredible view looking down over the valley, and then glide down Mira and then switch to Ramy half way down.

As well as being a leisurely route with great views, it’s also worth seeking out for those looking for high speeds - one instructor claims that on the first run of the day on Mira he managed a top speed of 145kmph.

For those who prefer more peaceful tree-lined runs, make your way to the Becoin chair and take your pick of a number of pistes. At peak times they can be a little busy, but they’re definitely worth seeking out.

A tiny downside of the La Plagne skiing area is that there are some pinch points, meaning certain lifts get very busy at the start and end of the day.

It’s not a unique phenomenon, and getting out of bed 15 minutes earlier solves the problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re trying to cover as much ground as possible in a day.

The flipside to this is that if you book the right accommodation then the pistes are yards from your front door, so there’s no need for long walks lugging skis or waiting at bus stops.

Anyone who has skied will know all too well the unbridled joy that comes from finishing a run, taking off your skis, and being able to take your boots off less than two minutes later.

Aside from the skiing itself, one of the huge attractions to La Plagne is the ‘extracurricular’ activities it offers after the lifts have been turned off.

Firstly, there’s the Olympic bobsleigh track, which is described by the resort’s official website as “19 turns and 1,500m of happiness”. The slogan slightly underplays the sheer terror of rocketing down a track intended for elite athletes, but it provides an adrenaline rush that can’t be matched.

And for those who don’t mind being covered in snow and earning a couple of bruises, there’s always the super luge, which is a fancy name for flying down a steep slope on a hedge. It can be difficult to control and you will definitely be sent sprawling across the snow at least once, but it’s guaranteed to provide laughs.


  • A week’s stay in Chalet Bartavelle in la Plagne 1800, starts from £639pp. The price includes return Gatwick flights (Manchester £20pp supplement), transfers, cooked breakfasts, afternoon tea, three course meals with wine, and the services of personable chalet hosts Jen and Sam. Contact Ski Beat on 01273 855100, www.skibeat.co.uk
  • Chalet Bartavelle: https://www.skibeat.co.uk/ski/france/plagne_1800/chalet_bartavelle Ski Beat have over 50 catered ski chalets throughout high snow-sure French resorts.
  • For ski lessons and super luge, visit the Oxygene ski website: https://www.oxygene.ski/