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Last Updated: 31 March 2023

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:

Les Arcs Resort © French Moments
Skiing at Les Arcs © French Moments

A winter wonderland. A paradise for skiers!

Les Arcs ranks amongst the most prestigious ski resorts in the world

 

An audacious architecture

Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments

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”:

 

Arc 1600

Accessible from Bourg-Saint-Maurice by the road or via the funicular.

The Arc 1600 resort © French Moments
The Arc 1600 resort © French Moments
Arc 1600 © French Moments
La Coupole, Arc 1600 © French Moments
Arc 1600 © French Moments
Arc 1600 © French Moments

 

Arc 1800

On the edge of the forest, it dominates the Middle Tarentaise.

Arc 1800 resort © French Moments
The Arc 1800 resort © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
Les Arcs (Arc 1800) © French Moments
Les Arcs (Arc 1800) © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
The old Chapelle du Saint-Esprit (Arc 1800) © French Moments

 

Arc 1950

The latest addition (2003) to the domain with beautiful and exclusive 5 stars holiday residences.

Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
The resort of Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
The village of Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments
Arc 1950 © French Moments

 

Arc 2000

Laid out in 1979, its daring architecture contrasts sharply with the natural environment.

Arc 2000 © French Moments
Arc 2000 © French Moments
Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
General view of Arc 2000 seen from the summit © French Moments
Arc 2000 © French Moments
Arc 2000 © French Moments

 

Paradiski and the Vanoise Express

Les Arcs © French Moments
The Tarentaise Valley and the mountainside of Les Arcs (Arc 1600 to the left and Arc 1800 to the right) © French Moments

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.

Vanoise Express © French Moments
The Vanoise Express cable car © French Moments

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

Bourg-Saint-Maurice © French Moments
Bourg-Saint-Maurice seen from the Deux-Têtes rocks © French Moments

 

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.

Funicular Les Arcs © French Moments
The funicular from Bourg-Saint-Maurice leading to Arc 1600 © French Moments

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.

The new funicular of Les Arcs © Agence 360
The new funicular of Les Arcs © Agence 360

Free inter-resort shuttle buses operate throughout the Summer.

Les Arcs © French Moments
The free inter-resort shuttle bus at Arc 1600 © French Moments

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…

Arc 1800 Resort © French Moments
The swimming pool at Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
The mini golf at Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
Circus at Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
Arc 1800 © French Moments
Les Arcs © French Moments
Paragliding at Les Arcs © French Moments

Mountain biking (VTT) is becoming year after year a popular activity thanks to the opening of ski lifts in July and August.

Mountain bike trail Les Arcs © French Moments
Mountain bike trail in the valley of Arc 2000 © French Moments

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.

Aboard the Transarc télécabine © French Moments
Aboard the Transarc télécabine – the Golf course © French Moments

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).

Les Arcs Arcabulle chairlift © French Moments
The Arcabulle chairlift © French Moments
Col de la Chal © French Moments
The Grande-Casse from the Col de la Chal © French Moments
Col de la Chal © French Moments
At the Col de la Chal © French Moments
Col de la Chal © French Moments
Signpost at the Col de la Chal © French Moments
Col de la Chal © French Moments
At the Col de la Chal © French Moments
Mont Blanc from the Transarc télécabine © French Moments
Mont Blanc from the Transarc télécabine © French Moments

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).

 

The Deux-Têtes

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).

Aboard the Transarc télécabine © French Moments
Aboard the Transarc télécabine – the Mont Blanc © French Moments
Les Arcs © French Moments
View of the Mont Blanc near the Deux-Têtes © French Moments
Aboard the Transarc télécabine © French Moments
Aboard the Transarc télécabine – the Mont Blanc © French Moments
Deux-Têtes, Les Arcs © French Moments
Aimée at the Deux-Têtes rocks © French Moments
Deux-Têtes, Les Arcs © French Moments
The Deux-Têtes rocks © French Moments
Les Arcs © French Moments
Aimée and Mont Blanc © French Moments
Les Arcs © French Moments
Little marmot in the domain of Les Arcs © French Moments

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.

Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
The summit of the Aiguille Rouge © French Moments

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.

Varet Télécabine, Les Arcs © French Moments
Aboard the Varet Télécabine © French Moments
Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
The summit of the Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
The top of the Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
Mont Pourri from the Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
The Pierra Menta, the Aravis and the Jura © French Moments
Mont Blanc, Aiguille Rouge © French Moments
The Mont Blanc massif © French Moments

Find out more about the Aiguille Rouge.

 

Useful tips for enjoying Les Arcs

Cable Car Pass Les Arcs © French Moments
The cable car pass of Les Arcs © French Moments
  • 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! 

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Discover the World-Class resort of Les Arcs in the French Alps of Savoie © French Moments
Discover the World-Class resort of Les Arcs in the French Alps of Savoie © French Moments
Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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  1. 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!

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