The five areas—Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950, and Arc 2000—are situated at an altitude spanning from 810 to 3226 metres, although skiing is mostly possible above 1200 metres. The ski area consists of 106 runs, 54 lifts, and 200 kilometres of descent.
The highest peak in the resort is the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) from where is a 7 km long piste with 2026 metres in vertical drop down to the Village Villaroger. Since the opening of the Vanoise Express cable car in December 2003, Les Arcs has become part of the Paradiski group of ski-connected resorts, which also includes the La Plagne area. Paradiski in total has 425 km of pistes.
Les Arcs has the reputation of being one of the original French “mega-resorts”. All of them have a convenient, large, and varied network of pistes. Les Arcs has the specificity of a unique “avant-garde” modernist architecture labelled as “heritage of the 20th century”. Most of its resorts are built following this modernist architecture, with the exception of latest—Arc 1950—which is built following the traditional architecture in the Alps and also with a more defined village ambiance.
The ski domain provides a mixture of open runs (especially above Arc 2000) and wooded runs (around the outlying villages of Peisey and Villaroger in particular). Its terrain park has a good reputation, with green, red, and black jumps and rails. It is also good for snowboarders, with few drag lifts. The ski lifts have been gradually updated so virtually all critical lifts are modern, fast, and comfortable.
Modelled on the accelerated progress of the Sophringham Method, Les Arcs’ ESF ski school teaches ski evolutif; students are taught parallel turns from the beginning, but on very short skis (that get progressively longer through the first week). Les Arcs is regarded as having excellent beginner ski areas in each resort, although absolute beginners have little to progress to; away from the nursery slopes things get trickier. Les Arcs is also regarded by many as the home of snowboarding in Europe. Local instructor Régis Rolland popularized the snowboard in France with the Apocalypse Snow series of films made in the resort in the early 1980s.
The ski area of Arc 2000 and 1950 consists of a broad valley, with these two resorts at the bottom of its broader part. One of the sides of the valley is the ridge with the area’s highest point, the Aiguille Rouge. The other side is a ridge to Arc 1600, 1800, and Peisey-Vallandry, which hold a wide range of runs. There are also a lot of relatively safe off-piste possibilities available in addition to those where a skier would require a mountain guide.
In Arc 2000 is the famous speed skiing course used in the 1992 Olympics (speed skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics). It is 2000 metres long with an additional 700 metres for stopping.