High 5: Top five things to do in the French Alps resort of La Plagne
La Plagne is the world’s busiest ski resort, selling over 2.5m skier days last season, with an accommodation capacity of over 55,000 people (the largest in the Alps). But, as part of the huge Paradiski area (over 425 km of groomed runs, two skiable glaciers at over 3,000 m, 11 traditional Savoyarde villages and a whole host of winter activities in which to participate, as well as skiing and boarding), there is plenty of space and variety for every visitor to enjoy.
Take a break from traditional downhill skiing and enjoy some alternative activities in the French Alps this winter, with our top five things to do in La Plagne:
1. Stay in a converted Jaguar Land Rover polar expedition shelter at 1,700 m
This unique mountain refuge is ideal for adventurous souls looking to get off grid for a night or two. Based high up in the French Alps (at 1,700 m), against a backdrop of snow-covered pines and sweeping valleys, these shelters were designed with the support of Jaguar Land Rover and are based on shelters originally used during the French Polar Expedition of Paul Emile Victor, in 1961.
Now a cosy mountain hideaway for up to five guests, there are three shelters – two cosy bedrooms (one with a double, and one with a double and single bed) and a communal kitchen/living area, plus an outside cabin with a loo. Electricity is battery-driven – each shelter has heaters to keep guests snuggly – and there’s plenty of water available in jerrycans so, whilst the setting is remote, all basic necessities are provided. The communal space boasts a fondue table, so guests can make their own Savoyarde supper from scratch, with fresh crusty bread and delicious cured meats to go alongside – surely the ultimate dinner with a view! The well-equipped kitchen has a Bluetooth speaker so guests can enjoy music with a glass or two of fine wine from Savoie.
Waking up to breathtaking alpine views the next morning, guests will feast on French pastries, fruit yogurts and hot chocolate before being driven back to La Plagne by Land Rover.
Open until 26 April. For more information visit https://winter.la-plagne.com/activities/1/5038516-the-land-rover-shelters-experience.html.
2. See the resort at sunrise on a ski touring expedition
Leave the well-skied runs behind and experience La Plagne before anyone else is even awake. A different type of skiing from mainstream downhill, ski touring is usually off-piste and combines elements of Nordic and alpine skiing. The heels are left free to allow skiers to traverse flat areas and steeper inclines on their way up the mountain, and special climbing skins are attached to the bottom of the skis for grip. When ready to ski down, the heels can be locked into the ski and the climbing skins removed.
Hitting the slopes early in the morning (with the help of some fresh coffee and buttery French pastries, of course!), skiers will trek up the mountain with an expert guide, enjoying fresh alpine air, silence and of course outstanding views. Reaching the summit after spotting the occasional alpine fox and hare, skiers will be rewarded with sunrise views over the valleys and a steaming mug of sweet, revitalising tea, before skiing back down through untracked powder pockets.
For more information visit www.oxygene-ski.com.
3. Bathe in an outdoor Nordic bath with mountain views at the Deep Nature Spa
A visit to the serene Deep Nature spa in the centre of Belle Plagne is the ideal way to soothe aching limbs after a day on the hill. Take a long soak in the outdoor wooden Nordic baths while enjoying sunset views of the resort, bubble away in the outdoor Jacuzzi, clear the airways and absorb healthy minerals in the salt grotto, and soothe aches and pains in the sauna and hammam.
The spa also boasts six treatment rooms offering customised Deep Nature treatments such as a facials and massages by Cinq Mondes and ‘My first spa’ sessions for ages six-plus, as well as a family area with an outdoor aquatic trail, waterfalls and geysers.
For more information visit www.deepnature.fr.
4. Dine in a glass-walled restaurant with panoramic mountain views
Le 360 is a beautiful contemporary restaurant featuring wall-to-wall glass windows with magnificent 360-degree views of the Plâteau du Fornelet in Plagne-Montalbert. On approach, the exterior of the restaurant is a sight to behold; this imposing glass box building reflects the mountain scenery all around it and is particularly impressive on a sunny day. Inside, meanwhile, the panoramic views of the valleys are a wonderful accompaniment to lunch.
The menu is based around quality local produce, featuring hearty dishes such as fresh pasta, grilled meats, warming soups and traditional French patisserie desserts.
Situated at 1970 m, the restaurant is also accessible via the Montalbert gondola, offering skiers and non-skiers alike the chance to escape the cold for a gourmet break in a spectacular setting.
For more information, visit www.le360-laplagne.fr.
5. Take a thrilling bob raft descent
Purpose-built for the 1992 Albertville Olympic Games, La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh run is a wild ride, welcoming 12,000 visitors every winter.
The self-piloted, self-braking bob raft is a slightly less scary alternative to the bobsleigh, reaching speeds of 80 km/hr with space for four people so that riders can have their friends around them for moral support!
Unique to La Plagne, the bob raft winds down the ice flume, gathering speed and negotiating a total of 19 bends in a thrilling descent.
For more information, visit www.winter.la-plagne.com/activities/1/85715-bob-raft.html.
For more information about the resort, visit www.la-plagne.com.
Written by Lizzie Cooper.
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