Top 10 things for non-skiers to do in La Plagne winter 2019
There's plenty to do in La Plagne if you don't ski or snowboard
La Plagne isn’t just a great area for skiing and snowboarding. In a resort this size, you’ll find plenty of other things to keep non-skiers entertained. And we’re not just talking the normal activities offered in most Alpine resorts.
There’s genuinely a lot for non-wintersports people to do here – including France’s only bobsleigh track. You certainly won’t get bored. Here’s our pick of the best non-skiing activities for those less inclined to sliding down hills.
When Albertville won the chance to host the '92 Olympic Games, La Plagne was selected as the venue for the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events. Work started on a track three years before the Games in a valley just below Plagne Centre by La Roche. Apparently, the La Plagne track is one of the best in the world – 1.5km long with a total of 19 G-force inducing turns. You’ll often see national teams training here - including our own Brit contingent. But La Plagne’s track has one key difference from most others in that anyone can ride it. It’s a truly once in a lifetime experience and you should really do it while you’re here. Choose to ride solo in the Speed Luge, in a group of four in the Bob Raft (a padded self-driving, self-braking bobsleigh) or in a full competition bobsleigh complete with professional driver (Bob Racing). Bob Racing is the fastest reaching speeds up to 120kmh – a completely exhilarating experience. Speed Luge reaches 90kmh with Bob Raft the slowest at 80kmh. However you go down, this really is one not to be missed.
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If you’ve never done it before (or even if you have), La Plagne is a perfect spot for paragliding. The Savoie region of France has some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the world and there are various jump locations dotted around the resort – all accessible by gondola – meaning anyone can ride up and fly down. Our pick of the bunch would probably be off the top of Grande Rochette or Roche de Mio, both of which have stunning views over the Isère valley and Mont Blanc to the front and Trois Vallées over the back. Paragliding on snow is much easier than usual because take-off is done skiing down the hill rather than running. Your pilot will provide you with a pair of bigfoot skis – basically, very short skis that are very easy to control. You just then ski in a straight line with the pilot strapped to you by harness guiding the way. Gradually, the chute inflates behind you until there’s enough lift for the ground to simply drop away beneath. There are various flight options, mostly based on the amount of time spent in the air. Note that, on longer flights, you may need to get the satellite bus back up to town. Soaring high above the resort carried purely by the wind is a memory you’ll never forget.
Over the Moon
If you’re looking for an out-there experience, there can’t be many better than spending a night atop a mountain in your own private pistebasher. Don’t be thinking you’re trading luxury here though – this is no ordinary piste machine. Rather, the basher is bedecked with indulgences more typical of a hotel including mini bar, home cinema TV, double bed, heating, a tea and coffee machine, spa bath, wifi, led lights and – the biggest attraction – a panoramic view over Mont Blanc. On the night of your stay, you’ll be picked up by a chauffeur in Bellecôte at 21:00 before being driven up the hill in your private snow groomer to the top of the Arpette chair at 2400m. The driver then returns to Bellecôte by skidoo, leaving you in complete isolation overnight at the summit (there is a radio connection in case of emergency). At 08:00 the next morning, the driver returns to take you back down in the groomer to Bellecôte before the lifts open. Total cost for two is €320. The Over the Moon service won a Tourism Innovation Award in the Best Accommodation category. It’s easy to see why.
Ski Areas in La Plagne
Bains and Spa La Plagne
Newly opened this season, the Deep Nature Spa in the centre of Belle Plagne brings a taste of opulent indulgence to the resort. The 1500m2 facility houses a counter-current swimming lane, whirlpool baths, Nordic baths, 3 saunas, a 31m2 Hammam, salt grotto and relaxation space in the Spa Area. Six healing rooms offer a range of specialized treatments while the Family Spa Area features an outdoor aquatic trail (with water heated to 35ºC) with gooseneck shower, waterfall, geysers, water-beds, counter-current walking lane and massage jets for back, leg and foot massages. And all this with a superb view over the mountains and the main Bellecôte bowl.
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A whole new experience comes to Plagne Bellecôte this year in the shape of two escape rooms, designed by Ben Valentin, a former ski champion of the area. Working in teams of two to six, participants have an hour to solve a range of puzzles and quizzes to complete the plot and escape the room. The first room, 'Hunting the Chuppa Yeti', is family-friendly and suitable for children over eight. The second, 'The Mont St Jacques Bunker', is tougher and aimed at adults and those over 16. The room tests are available in French or English at a price of €20 to €38 per person (depending on group size).
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Clubs and bars
La Plagne’s nightlife might be quieter than some other Alpine resorts but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent – far from it. Head along to Spitting Feathers in Bellecôte for a great night out (including karaoke and quiz nights) or Bar La Mine in 1800 for live music and great beers. Other pubs and clubs are dotted around all the resort centres, perfect for a long night lasting into the small hours.
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La Plagne has some beautiful winter walks through the trees below the main area in and around Montalbert and Montchavin and Les Coches. These trails zig-zag their way through the forests of fir, larches, spruces and Swiss pines, often with astounding views over to Mont Blanc in the distance. In particular, the Enchanted Pastures around Montalbert will delight children and adults alike with surprises round every corner.
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Live like an Eskimo spending a night at the Igloo village high above the main station at an altitude of 2118m with clear views over to Mont Blanc. The igloos sleep up to five people so head up in a group and enjoy the (included) mulled wine and fondue before retiring to your ice bed complete with sleeping bag. Definitely not your average night in the mountains!
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If standing up sliding down snow isn’t for you but you still want to feel the rush of riding downhill, perhaps Airboard might be more to your taste. The Airboard is essentially an inflatable body board which you ride a little like the skeleton – head-first and at speed. After a short instruction course, you’ll soon be flying your way along the 5km track from Aime 2000 all the way down to La Roche.
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Stuart Hamilton is the Creative Director of Snow-Guru independent skiing and snowboarding apps which improve your time on the hill.
While the incredible skiing and snowboarding are undoubtedly the main reason people come to La Plagne, the resort does still have a lot going on for non-skiers and snowboarders. The above is just small selection so check out the resort brochure, website or the LaPlagnet site when you arrive. You could easily fill a very enjoyable week never stepping foot on skis or a board.
Wintersports in La Plagne
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