Les Arcs Restaurants and Hotels
Places to Visit Around Les Arcs, France
Les Arcs was made to be a ski resort, so anything vaguely non-ski related, like a public pool or half-decent shopping, will call for a ride down to Bourg St Maurice. There's an ice grotto above 1800, but the over-all message is: if you don't ski, don't come.
In the area, Paradiski is the joint marketing name for La Plagne and Les Arcs, which were joined at the hip in December 2003 by the opening of the Vanoise Express double-decker cable-car, which spans the Ponthurin gorge in 4 minutes and whose two cars, against all the laws of physics, can work independently of each other. The lift cost a cool 15 million euros to build, but the figures are impressive - 425km of piste and 143 ski lifts.
However, Les Arcs is a bit of a gastronomic desert, with the only real relief to be found at 1800. One oasis is Le Petit Zinc. Part of the well regarded Hotel du Golf, this is the top restaurant in 1800 with prices and food a cut above the resort's other Savoyarde clones. Casa Mia is another high-flyer having a designer-rustic look and charming service. For something more mellow, the Mountain Cafe in Arc 1800 is a popular Tex-Mex hangout - the ideal spot for apres-ski enchiladas and plenty more.
Arc 1800 is the liveliest place for all things apres ski, with the bulk of the restaurants, bars and hotels, although even here most individuals are happy to ski all day and sleep all night and things are quieter than in many other French mega-resorts.
In 1800, Chez Boubou is a basic bar hangout with all style of potent beers (desperados take note), plus an internet corner and pool table. For something a bit livelier, La Gabotte is a buzzing post-piste watering hole, while Le JO'S Rock Bar has tons of live music and is open to a packed audience until 4am, but does not crank into action until late. Over in kid-friendly 1600, most people are already in bed by 10pm, but the Bar des Montagnes belonging to the Hotel Cachette and the bar at Hotel Beguin just about pass for nightlife.
With the bulk of Les Arcs' visitors jammed into self-catering apartments, the choice of hotels isn't extensive, but is amazingly decent if you can neglect the dodgy architecture. Arc 1600 is home to one of the best family hotels in the Alps. Hotel la Cachette is about as kid-friendly as you can get, from the great in-house nursery to the no-smoking restaurant. Food is a typical all-inclusive affair having little choice and an immense do-it-yourself salad bars, but the rest of the place has been done well with comfy rooms, friendly staff and a great piste-side position. For those who do not have kids in tow, Arc 1800 is the better bet, with two excellent three-stars, the Grand Hotel Mercure and the Hotel du Golf, which has sauna, gym and covered parking. Alternatively, Bourg St Maurice, which is linked into the lift system via a seven-minute funicular, is laced with budget hotel options, including the basic Hostellerie du Petit St Bernard. This is no Swiss Family Robinson, but it does serve up cheap rooms and great food.