Are you looking for a Summer destination for all the family in the French Alps? The resort of Les Arcs should please you. One of the world-class ski domains, Les Arcs, welcomes you in Summer with breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and the Mont Blanc. We’ve spent some holiday time in Les Arcs and here are a few reasons we really liked it!
The ski resort of Les Arcs, a Summer destination!
At the mention of Les Arcs, most people have a vision of this:
A winter wonderland. A paradise for skiers!
Les Arcs ranks amongst the most prestigious ski resorts in the world.
An audacious architecture
At first, the modernist architecture of Les Arcs can seem a bit disconcerting. But it’ll grow on you after spending some time in the resort!
The buildings of Arc 1600, Arc 1800, and Arc 2000 were designed and built by French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999). The resort’s iconic “avant-garde” architecture has been labelled as the “heritage of the 20th century”.
Only one resort has been built in a more traditional design reminiscent of the Alps: Arc 1950.
As you’ll probably understand by now, the vast domain is made up of several “Arcs”:
Accessible from Bourg-Saint-Maurice by the road or via the funicular.
On the edge of the forest, it dominates the Middle Tarentaise.
The latest addition (2003) to the domain with beautiful and exclusive 5 stars holiday residences.
Laid out in 1979, its daring architecture contrasts sharply with the natural environment.
Paradiski and the Vanoise Express
Les Arcs is part of the gigantic Paradiski ski domain, one of the largest in the world.
The world-class ski area offers uninterrupted skiing from Arc 200 to Montalbert. It totals more than 425km of ski runs between 1,200 and 3,250m!
The resort of Les Arcs-Peisey-Vallandry is linked to the Grande Plagne domain via the Vanoise Express cable car.
At its inauguration in 2004, the cable car was the largest aerial lift ever built. Between Peisey-Vallandry and Les Coches, the cable car spans 380m over the deep Ponthurin valley.
The Vanoise Express is made up of 2 double-decker cabins. They can take 200 people with a capacity of 2,000 per hour. It is open during the Summer season.
Les Arcs and Bourg-Saint-Maurice
The resort of Les Arcs is part of the commune of Bourg-Saint-Maurice. which is the terminus for trains coming from Lyon (even Paris and London in Winter!)
The country town in the Tarentaise Valley gives access to Savoie’s three significant mountain passes: Cormet de Roselend, Little St-Bernard and Iseran. Access in Summer is by the road from Bourg-Saint-Maurice but also via Les Arcs’ Express. The funicular climbs 818m between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Arc 1600 in 7 minutes.
A new funicular will operate from the Summer 2019 Season. It has been designed with glass walls and ceilings to offer spectacular views of the mountains during the ride.
Free inter-resort shuttle buses operate throughout the Summer.
They connect Arc 1600 to Arc 1800, Arc 1600 to Arc 1950, and Arc 2000.
Summer holiday in Les Arcs
In the summer, Les Arcs offers an extensive range of sports activities: hiking, horse-riding, swimming, trampoline, archery, fitness, cardio-training, step, Zumba, stretching, aqua gym, circus shows, adventure forest, mini-golf, inflatable structures, paragliding…
Mountain biking (VTT) is becoming year after year a popular activity thanks to the opening of ski lifts in July and August.
There is something for everyone’s taste. Something for all ages. That makes Les Arcs one of the best family-friendly resorts in the French Alps.
The Arc 1800 resort even has its golf course with stunning views over the Middle Tarentaise, the Beaufortain mountains and the Mont Blanc. You can have an overall idea of the course from the Transarc Télécabine.
Some of our favourite outings in Les Arcs
A great way to explore the domain of Les Arcs is to get on a ski lift to reach the high pastures (alpages). They are many walks to do in the area. Here are three ideas:
Col de la Chal
The mountain pass (2,457m) can be reached either from Arc 2000 (Arcabulle chairlift) or Arc 1800 (Transarc télécabine).
The pass offers spectacular views of the Mont Blanc and the Vanoise peaks (Grande Casse, Grande Motte, Sommet de Bellecôte). There is a signed discovery path interspersed with information panels along the way. If you’re up for it (and don’t fear vertigo), you can walk up to the Aiguille Grive (2,732m).
Take the Cachette chairlift from Arc 1600. From the upper terminal at 2,160 m take the trail to the left. It will lead you to two tall rocks: the Deux-Têtes (Two Heads).
The view is fantastic. Below, the Tarentaise Valley and Bourg-Saint-Maurice. In front of you are the Beaufortain mountains and the Mont Blanc.
Ascending the Aiguille Rouge
The Aiguille Rouge (3,227m/10,587ft) is the culminating point of the resort of Les Arcs.
The ski lifts that open in Summer climb to the top of the Aiguille Rouge.
The view from there is breathtaking. You can embrace the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. We could see as far as the Jura mountains with favourable weather conditions. The Aiguille Rouge gives you the grandest panoramic view of the Mont Blanc massif.
Find out more about the Aiguille Rouge.
Useful tips for enjoying Les Arcs
- Don’t expect to descend from the Aiguille Rouge by foot. (Unless led by an experienced guide.) You’ll have to use the cable car again. And if you suffer from vertigo, try to avoid the cabin’s windows!
- If hiking is above 1,500 m, don’t forget to bring warm clothes (jumper, scarf). Even in Summer, temperatures can be low, particularly in the morning.
- Check out the weather forecast of Les Arcs before heading to the heights. It is common for a storm to fill the sky by the end of the afternoon. In that case, ski-lifts will be closing… and you’ll have to walk down to the resort under the (heavy) rain!
- Take with you a pair of binoculars. Very handy when you explore the heights. Don’t forget your camera, or grab a good selfie with your smartphone!
- If you wish to explore the domain of Les Arcs, get a Day Pass at the funicular station in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Choose the Day Pass that includes the Varet télécabine and the Aiguille Rouge cable car (20 euros in Summer 2018). It will allow you to ride all the ski lifts open to pedestrians in Summer. More info on Les Arcs in Summer).
- Beware! Access to the Aiguille Rouge is impossible on Monday as the ski lifts (Varet télécabine and cable car) are closed.
Other links about Les Arcs and the Savoie region:
- The website of Les Arcs in Summer
Thank you to Les Arcs Tourist Office for making this unforgettable visit possible! Visit their tourist board offices for practical info about the domain of Les Arcs: Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000.
Did you like what you read about the Aiguille Rouge? If so, please share this article on Facebook or Twitter!
Hi Pierre – I'm visiting LA and LP with my wife and daughters over Easter and encountered this site when searching on the term Vanoise. I really enjoyed your descriptions of the areas and you have some really fantastic photos. It's fascinating to recognise areas and see the landscape that underlies the snow. Fyi some of the photo links on the LA page seem to be broken but I could magnify the images to get a better look. Super stuff!
Thank you very much for your comment; I wish you a great stay in the Vanoise this Easter!
I have updated the articles with enlarged photos (no need to magnify them anymore!) and took the opportunity to correct a few typos 😉
Here are the updated pages:
The best way to discover La Plagne in the French Alps
Discover the domain of Les Arcs in Summer
Why you should climb the Aiguille Rouge in Les Arcs!
Hope this helps! Cheers!