A view of the mountain horizon at golden hour, with a chair lift and piste visible in the foreground
Photo by Matt Squirrell  –  Link

La Plagne

France

Perched in a natural bowl on the edge of the Vanoise National Park and surrounded by pine trees, the resort of La Plagne is one of France's most family friendly ski destinations. At its highest point, it's a proud 3250m, but only the very advanced will make it this far; for most, its attraction lies in the mix of beginner slopes and approachable intermediate runs. With access to 425km of pistes, a choice of 11 different accommodation areas and its own helpful planning and tracker app, La Plagne is the town that really lets you make your trip your own.

Skiing and snowboarding

Despite being a part of the expansive Paradiski area - which is bigger than Val d'Isere and Tignes combined - it's fair to say that La Plagne is a resort best suited to beginners and those looking to improve at their own pace. Those who prefer a baptism of fire approach may find the prevalence of green and blue runs, and the flatter patches in between the red runs, a little frustrating. Nonetheless, there are some challenging runs to be found on the BellecĂ´te Glacier, and those who fancy a slightly longer flight of fright can head over to Les Arcs to take on their 7km black run, which drops over 2000km throughout its course.

La Plagne is also home to a 1km snow park called the 7Cube, which is open for anyone to use. With jumps graded in the same way that the slopes are, and a selection of boxes and rails, there's something in there for freestyle first-timers and seasoned pros alike. Although the 7Cube is designed with skiers in mind, snowboarders will be glad to hear that over in Plange Bellcote there's also a half-pipe for them to play around on.

Okay, so it seems like La Plagne might not have the glamour or guts of some other resorts, but fear not, it's still way ahead of the game in other regards. Case in point? The Paradiski YUGE app. This handful of genius lets you know in real time what the lift queues are like anywhere in the ski area, can tell you where the sunniest or snowiest spots are, and lets you create day plans according to your ability. Even better, it follows you as you ride and tracks your exploits, meaning you can compare your performance with the rest of your party at the end of the day.

Where to stay

In a similar vein to Courchevel, the accommodation in La Plagne is spread out across a few different areas; technically, there are 11 different locations you could stay in, including the pretty but quiet low-lying villages of Champagny, Montalbert and Montchavin. If you're hoping for somewhere a tad more lively, where you can pop out for a pizza or indulge in a little apres, then the purpose built resort Plagne Centre is probably your best option, although the much prettier Belle Plagne or the slightly lower Plagne 1800 would work too.

What to eat

After a long day on the slopes a good meal is just what's needed, and fortunately there is a strong selection of restaurants and dining options in all of La Plagne villages. In Plagne Centre, it's worth forcing your aching legs over to La Metairie, which serves up a wide range of traditional dishes, including a pierrade (hot stone) with duck and beef. And while La Plagne isn't exactly known for its wild nightlife, that doesn't mean there aren't a few good nights out to be had here. Igloo Bar - which is what it says on the tin really - is open until 3am every night and has live DJs, while Scotty's, a ski-in-ski-out bar and local institution, dishes out three things any apres-fun needs: beer, hot dogs and music.