Arc 1950 is a purpose-built ski resort and one of four villages that makes up the resort of Les Arcs. It sits on a plateau just below its neighbour Arc 2000 in the French Alps. It’s high, enjoys reliable and generous snowfall in winter and gives skiers quick access to the huge Paradiski area.
Unlike many purpose-built resorts, however, Arc 1950 is full of character. Designed to resemble a traditional Savoyard village, Arc 1950 is absolutely charming. It’s also incredibly convenient; small, pedestrianised and with easy ski-in, ski-out access, it’s the perfect place for a family ski holiday.
But what about summer in Arc 1950?
Well, the good news is that the Arc 1950 village is just as enjoyable during the summer season as it is during winter. Where other purpose-built resorts lose their appeal – and their visitors – as soon as the snow melts away, Arc 1950 actually shines brighter.
We spent several days exploring the Alpine resort during the summer and discovered lots of reasons to spend your summer in Arc 1950. This guide details things to do in Arc 1950, the best time to visit, practical information for your visit and accommodation options.
Disclosure: We were guests of Arc 1950 for the purpose of this review. This post may contain affiliate links. I have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy for more details.
Why should you choose Arc 1950?
Purpose-built resorts are not always attractive, function often taking precedence over aesthetics. However, with Arc 1950 you get the best of both worlds.
Despite the fact that it only opened for business in 2007, Arc 1950 enjoys the kind of traditional Savoyard charm usually found in places like Morzine or Les Carroz, resorts that started life as farming villages. The buildings in the Arc 1950 village are made from local stone and wood, and the cobbled streets are car-free. As a result, the village looks and feels much older than it actually is.
Unlike traditional villages that have grown organically over the years, Arc 1950 has been designed to be compact and very functional. There are no additional hamlets or villages that you have to move between: absolutely everything that you need can be found within walking distance of the town centre.
If you do want to visit the other villages in Les Arcs it’s very easy. A free cable car connects Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 and Arc 1800 is connected via both the Transarc cable-car and the Arcabulle covered chair-lift. Free shuttle buses connect Arc 1600 with the other villages.
The reality is, however, that you will probably want to stay put; Arc 1950 makes a mountain holiday incredibly easy with kids. All shops, restaurants, accommodation and ski schools are just a few minutes walk away and the traffic-free streets make it very safe – my eldest two children walked to the boulangerie to pick up breakfast every morning by themselves. But what really makes Arc 1950 stand out are the myriad activities and events that are put on during summer months for children.
Things to do in Arc 1950 in summer
One of the best things about visiting Arc 1950 during the summer holidays are all the free activities on offer. Once you book your stay you are given an “Outdoor” card, which gives you access to the various installations dotted around the village. There are trampolines, a climbing wall, a couple of slack lines, a bouncy castle and a handful of table-tennis tables.
Plus, there are a number of free sports sessions included; the card gives each person access to two activities per week. These include instructor-led fitness classes outdoors, guided half-day hikes, archery, and an introductory mountain bike class for children aged 8 – 12-years-old.
Activities for kids
Kids are a big deal at Arc 1950 le Village. In addition to the activities mentioned above there’s a jam-packed calendar for kids. So much so that the village feels at times more like a Club Med holiday than an Alpine resort. There’s a circus school and regular arts and crafts workshops; sports activities include beach football, pétanque and table tennis tournaments; and there are regular family races too.
Arc 1950 also host a weekly Biathlon Challenge, an orienteering race and the Family Trail, which sees families compete together in a race around the village. New for 2021 is the “Trotti-Race” when kid are invited to race around the village on their scooters.
The village also hosts regular themed shows, parties and concerts.
We spent hours playing ping-pong and attempting to balance on the slack lines. The oldest two children (then aged 12 and 10) took part in the biathlon competition, which saw them shooting laser guns at a target and running around a course set up in the village.
Kids’ clubs at Arc 1950
In addition to the organised activities at Arc 1950, the village also offers some kids’ clubs. There’s the Cariboo’s crèche for little children aged 9 months to 3 years and the Cariboo Outdoor Sports club for children aged 3 to 12 years. The sports club introduces kids to activities including archery, mountain survival, hiking, canopy tours, ziplines, mountain biking and more. Younger children are also offered balance bike lessons.
There is also a week dedicated to teens where kids aged 12 – 17-years-old can try out a huge range of activities including downhill MTB, rafting, electric mountain bikes and more.
It’s perhaps not surprising that there are more than 200km of marked walking trails in Les Arcs given that it’s the second biggest ski area in France. Trails range from 30minute family-friendly strolls to much longer and more challenging treks.
There are maps available and guided half-day hikes included in your ‘Outdoor’ pass but if you want a longer or more challenging walk then I would recommend hiring a guide.
We enjoyed an excellent morning walk with our guide Luisa from Evolution 2, who shared lots of facts and stories about the area. We discovered the (terrifying-looking) run where the downhill ski race was held in the 2000 Winter Olympics, a carnivorous mountain plant (the grassette des alpes) and found marmots scurrying along the mountainside.
Plus, everywhere we looked we enjoyed unobstructed views of the majestic Mont Blanc.
Make sure to take the cable car up to the Aiguille Rouge, which stands at 3,226m high, the tallest point in the resort. There are walking trails here or you might just want to admire the views.
My legs were still bruised from my mountain biking experience in Morzine when we arrived in Arc 1950 so we decided to give the MTBs a miss. I was tempted by the all terrain electric scooters, but they were fully booked while we were there. Still, even though we didn’t jump on any bikes while here, we saw lots of kids learning to ride and Arc 1950 seems like an excellent place to learn.
The Bike Park at Les Arcs offers 149km of marked trails and 10 ski lifts accessible by bike. You can hire bikes and lessons are available – your ‘outdoor’ pass has the option of an introductory mountain bike class for children aged 8 – 12-years-old. Electronic mountain bikes are also available if you want all the fun without quite so much of the effort.
Other activities on offer:
We didn’t get to try everything that Arc 1950 has to offer. The following are some of the other activities you can enjoy:
- Via Ferrata
- Via Cordata
Deep Nature Spa
It’s worth visiting the Deep Nature Spa at least once during your stay at Arc 1950. There are saunas, steam rooms, outdoor hut tubs and a range of treatments available. Children aged 4-years and older are welcome.
Accommodation at Arc 1950
There are eight apartment buildings in Arc 1950 and they are all managed by either Pierre et Vacances or Radisson. Underneath the buildings is a huge car park, which means that your apartment is usually just a short elevator ride away.
Accommodation ranges from studios to four-bedroom apartments that sleep four. We stayed in a three-bed apartment and there was lots of space. Far more than you often find in traditional chalets. Our apartment came with two bathrooms (one en-suite), a generous open-plan kitchen/living/dining area and a small balcony.
The decor differs slightly between the buildings and the amenities vary but they are all well appointed and very comfortable. They also have access to a swimming pool – some with views of Mont Blanc.
Where to eat in Arc 1950
There is one supermarket in the village as well as a store selling speciality Savoyard meats and cheeses. We picked up breakfast from the bakery every morning.
There are also a handful of restaurants to choose from. We tried and enjoyed the following:
Chalet de Luigi: A really lovely restaurant and the bottom of the slopes with plenty of outdoor seating and good food.
Mazot: Come here for traditional Savoyard dishes including fondue, raclette, and tartiflette.
Meli Snack: Good for a quick bite, especially for kids, this fast food shop dishes up burgers, nuggets and very good chips.
La Vache Rouge: Very friendly restaurant that serves traditional Savoyard fare as well as kid-friendly favourites including pizza.
Wood Bear Cafe: Good for coffee, cakes and aperitifs. It was open for lunch when we visited but not dinner.
Getting to Arc 1950
During winter you can catch a direct train from London to Bourg St Maurice, 25km away. From here a funicular and a free shuttle bus will run to Arc 1950. The closest airports are Geneva (212km), Chambery (135km) and Lyon (212km).