Summer in Arc 1800: 3 days, 3 great activities
I enjoyed a short break to Les Arc 1800 in summer. I made good use of the Hero Pass for a range of activities and also headed out for a guided mountain bike session. Here are three activities I greatly enjoyed in Les Arcs.
Guided trail run
Free with the Hero Pass.
I met the guide Jerome and three other runners one morning for a guided trail run. I had no idea what to expect except I knew there might be quite a bit of up and a lot of down. (We were in the mountains after all!)
We took the Vagere gondola to 2283m elevation. I don’t speak French that well although I understand quite bit so I listened as the others chatted away happily about their holiday, the activities they had done/planned to do and the running.
I was nervous about whether I would cope with the speed and the distance but Jerome assured me it would be fine. It was!
At first we followed a wide, dusty trail across the mountain. The views were breath-taking and I felt like I should stop to take a photo almost every 60 seconds.
As I ran, I tried to make conversation with the others and in the end we sort-of succeeded. If you do sport there is always something to talk about.
After a flattish-section we started to climb. At first it was a gentle climb before joining a steep path that zigzagged up the side of the mountain slope. The promise was a viewpoint towards Mont Blanc and everyone was keen to reach it.
I got the feeling that the three other runners were parents who wanted to do their own run before spending time with their kids or partners for the rest of the day.
We pushed up and up, sometimes running and sometimes hiking. Every so often we would wait for each other and regroup. The atmosphere was happy and up-beat and I settled into their company.
As we arrived at the viewpoint Mont Blanc was sadly shrouded in cloud although there were many more peaks visible in the stunning landscape.
Then, while taking photos and chatting, the cloud shifted a little and we were treated to more of a spectacular view of Europe’s tallest mountain.
Having enjoyed a view from the Chamonix side while holidaying there earlier it was great to see the dramatic peak from another angle.
Then came the descent.
And we didn’t simply run down to the top of the gondola, we carried on and on back to Arc 1800. It was sore on the thighs and knees but it felt like a brilliant morning workout.
After about 30 minutes of stretching, yoga and more chat I headed off to find a second breakfast.
There are a range of guided runs to join each week so you can check what the distance and elevation will be.
Archery for beginners
I am sure I have tried archery before but I couldn’t remember much about it so I opted for a beginner session of archery at Arc 1800. Again, the session was free with the Hero Pass.
The archery area was set high above the resort – next to the swimming pool – and offered superb views on a sunny morning.
I was told that Les Arcs has the longest line-up of archery targets of any European mountain resort. It certainly looked like a great set up and I have no way of refuting the claim.
While a group of more experienced archers shot their arrows at the targets next to us (rarely missing), our group spent a lot of time looking for miss-shot arrows behind the targets.
However, thanks to great tuition we did get better.
I enjoyed the session a great deal more than I thought I would and I was pleased with my progress.
VTT in Les Arcs
VTT stands for Velo Tour Terrain and it’s basically what we would call mountain biking.
Les Arcs is popular with mountain bikers who come for a great range of trails.
Les Arcs/Peisey-Vallandry Bike Park includes:
- 180km of marked trails
- DH (downhill), Endurance and Cross-Country.
- Marked routes from 2600m to 800m
- 5 Practice Parks from beginner level
- 8 DH (1 greens, 3 blues, 2 reds, 2 blacks)
- 5 Endurance routes (3 blue, 2 blacks)
- 2 Cross-Country circuits (red)
- 1 fun trail (level blue) on Mille8
- 7 links (4 greens, 2 blues, 1 red)
I was fortunate to have a guide, Eric, and a hire bike from Arc Mountain Bike.
At first, Eric seemed a bit worried. I told him I was hopeless at anything other than simple cross country mountain biking.
He said it was going to be all about the downhill.
It was my turn to look worried.
I was unsure what to do – and then I decided our worries might be because of a language barrier. I thought I had nothing much to lose because I could always walk my bike.
The blue-graded trail in Verbier had been tough and I was concerned it would be the same in Les Arcs.
Thankfully it was not.
We chose one of 11 lifts, the Transarc, which serve hundreds of kilometres of downhill trails. With this cabin you travel with your bike inside. It was a little awkward but quite funny.
As we climbed higher (to a final elevation of 2549m), I became more and more nervous. I am sure Eric could smell my fear but he managed to chat away to me and take my mind off what was to come.
And brilliantly, from the moment we started to ride the blue route I knew it would be fine. The descent was fairly gentle and the berms were actually possible for me to ride without putting my feet down.
I followed Eric and he looked back every so often to see I was doing fine. He gave me a few tips, too, and they really helped.
As we rode I was able to look up every so often at the amazing views. The vistas in summer are spectacular, possibly more beautiful than in winter, because of the contrast between vivid green meadows and the snow-capped peaks. Myriad colourful flowers in the grass only added to the beauty.
Eric was kind enough to offer encouraging words, such as: “You are riding well. I knew you would be fine.”
I continued to gain in confidence and even managed to competently ride a short red-graded section.
Having Eric as my guide we were able to do a whistle-stop tour of many areas of the bike park and popped into the very smart Arc 2000 village.
Most of the afternoon’s riding was downhill, except for another climb on chairlift, and I enjoyed the pace. My favourite section by far was the Legend, just above Arc 1800. It had a few challenges and enough ups and downs and obstacles to make me smile to myself.
I am sure that if I could spend more time riding a mountain bike on the blue routes in Arc 1800 I would quickly progress to the red grades.
I can see why so many people rave about this resort for summer mountain biking. You could ride all week long and still find new places to visit.
Find out more about visiting Arc 1800 in the summer.