The café break is an integral part of any ski or snowboard holiday giving you a chance to recharge tired legs, soak up the scenery, relax with friends and, of course, reflect on glories from previous runs. Taking a break is an important part of the day to top-up energy levels with a quick bite to eat or, as many prefer, a much-needed caffeine boost.
Fortunately, La Plagne has a multitude of on-hill cafés dotted around the resort with most offering an extensive range of food and refreshments. The sheer number of options can seem daunting so, if you’re looking to find the best mix of service, value and scenery, read on for our top recommendations of La Plagne’s refreshment stops. Note that, as is common with most Alpine resorts, prices tend to increase with altitude so more budget-conscious skiers and snowboarders may prefer to choose the lower altitude options in this list.
Roche de Mio – Roche de Mio (Bellecôte)
With the exception of the small snack hut at the foot of the glacier, the Roche de Mio restaurant is the highest in the area at 2750m and is located right next to the top station of the gondola of the same name. It’s the perfect place to stop, take a breath and ease tired legs. The restaurant has an extensive menu (quite pricey but tasty) as well as an impressive drinks list (including caffeine-based beverages, of course). From the terrace at the back (actually the entrance), you’ll enjoy views over Mont Blanc, Les Arcs and the Bellecôte glacier. It’s worth noting this restaurant is always a popular place to stop so you should expect queues at busier times. Access is via Roche de Mio gondola, the Capella chair (Champagny side) or Inversens chair.
Inversens – Roche de Mio (Bellecôte)
The Inversens restaurant is located just below Roche de Mio, perched on a small outcrop above the Inversens red run. To access, ride a short way down from Roche de Mio on the Levasset blue until you see a café on skier’s right, near the start of the Inversens red and the drop-off points to the Tunnel, Levasset and Sources runs. This seemingly small, chalet-style building actually has two large, open terraces that command impressive views over the surrounding mountains providing the perfect place for a quick pit-stop. If you choose to sit at the back (which doubles as the entrance) you’ll enjoy a spectacular vista over the Roche de Mio bowl with views stretching as far as Courchevel and the rest of Les Trois Vallées. If you go through the small archway to the front, you’ll be met with uninterrupted views over the Isère valley to Mont Blanc, Bourg St Maurice, La Rosière and Les Arcs. While prices tend to be on the high side, photo opportunities abound in this impressive, well-located restaurant.
Chalet de la Grande Rochette – Gd Rochette (Centre)
I read once that the view from the top of Les Verdons (also above Centre) is rated among the top ten in the world. While its slightly flatter neighbour, Grande Rochette, doesn’t quite command the same 360º vista, the panorama over the back onto Bellecôte glacier, Roche de Mio, Grande Casse, Champagny and Les Trois Vallées is nonetheless a sight to behold. Again, this is one of the pricier café/restaurants in the area due to its location and altitude (2508m) but the outlook from the top more than makes up for it. To access, take the Funiplagne out of Plagne Centre, direct to the top.
Café Cheyenne – Belle Plagne
One of the biggest advantages of an area like La Plagne is its convenience skiing. The fact that many of the villages are located right on the pistes makes it perfect for door-to-door to skiing and snowboarding. Belle Plagne is possibly the most accessible of all the resorts with runs that pass like roads through the centre of town. Café Cheyenne is located right in the heart of Belle Plagne – about 30m from the middle station of the Roche de Mio gondola and 50m from the main Belle Plagne piste that accesses the resort. Cheyenne is fairly unique in terms of café/bar/restaurants in the area in that it’s open from 08:00 til 02:00. During the day, there’s a relaxed ambience with locals sipping cappuccinos and perusing newspapers at the bar. At night, though, it’s a very different story when the venue comes alive with a buzzing restaurant and drinks area. Cheyenne is a true all-day venue, serving top quality food, beers and – obviously – coffee. Worth a stop if you fancy exploring more of the area and one of its best villages.
Monica’s – Plagne Soleil/Villages
What Monica’s lacks in altitude, it more than makes up for with one of the biggest, sunniest terraces of any restaurant in the area. While it might be a little lower, the views over Grande Rochette, Les Verdons and Le Becoin are still hugely impressive and the terrace is a veritable suntrap – particularly as the season progresses. Staff members are always welcoming and friendly (you’ll find it hard to miss the owner, Davide, who always manages to bring a smile with his wry sense of humour). If you’re looking for something more substantial, Monica’s also has an extensive snack and mains menu (in particular, the pizzas come highly recommended and are well-priced). There’s also a downstairs bar which opens at 16:00 if you fancy prolonging your day with a slightly stronger tipple. Monica’s is the best bar/restaurant in the Plagne Soleil/Villages area and is well worth a visit – particularly if you’re staying locally. To access, head in the direction of Plagne Soleil and take the Écartée blue towards town. Monica’s is located approximately two-thirds of the way down on the right (you can’t really miss it due to its normally heaving terrace).
Le Joli Bois - Montchavin
Le Joli Bois is located right next to the Vanoise Express – the massive, double-decker cable car that links Les Arcs with La Plagne. Due to its location, this café/restaurant provides the perfect break-point if you’re taking a trip to or from Les Arcs. There is a large food and drinks menu and prices tend to be a little lower due to its lower altitude. Our top tip would be to go to the terrace at the front of the building, which most visitors seem to miss as it’s rather hidden away (you just go downstairs but most people don’t). Sitting here gives a beautiful vista right along the Isère valley to the lower foothills of Les Arcs and Bourg St Maurice – the perfect way to start or end your trip over to the other half of Paradiski.
Le Bonnet – Bellecôte
Strictly speaking, Le Bonnet is more of an entertainment/fast food venue but is still worth a visit for its great location, snacks, drinks and live music. This place comes alive late afternoon, often with bands and top DJs playing until 19:00. Although not really a caffeine drink, the hot chocolate is particularly recommended – as is the food. And, when the sun goes down, you could always drop past Spitting Feathers, another of La Plagne’s best bars.
Roc des Blanchets – Champagny
I’ve deliberately left the best until last as, in my opinion, Roc des Blanchets is easily the best of any of the café/restaurants in the whole of La Plagne. This attractively styled traditional chalet sits on a high vista above Champagny giving the most dramatic outlook over Grande Casse, Pralognan la Vanoise and Les Trois Vallées. Although Roc des Blanchets shares similar views to those from the top of Grande Rochette, the restaurant is around 500m lower making the scale of the surrounding mountains all the more apparent. Another advantage of the restaurant being a little lower is that prices tend to be on the more reasonable side. It’s a great spot for coffee, lunch, a beer – whatever. Roc de Blanchets is located near the foot of the Rossa chair on the Champagny side and can be accessed using the Borseliers chair or poma or the Eterlou lift.
Skiing and snowboarding are obviously what winter trips are about but there’s no denying the whole holiday experience encompasses much, much more. Just being in the mountains, the scenery, the conviviality of being around loved ones and sharing these experiences are often the strongest memories you’ll take away with you. The list above should hopefully give you some inspiration for where to stop and recharge those energy levels, ready for the next run.