Pierra Menta, Arc 1800

Pierra Menta, Arc 1800
Click on the link for details of Simon's book

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Les Arcs has always had a slightly eccentric streak, and Simon Beck's brilliant snow art is part of that tradition.  The British cartographer has a flat in Arc 2000, and much of his work can be seen on the slopes above the resort.  It takes him 6-9 hours for one of his masterpieces to appear - more here from  laplagnet.com.

Take a look at this video on how he does it, as well as this selection of pictures from the Telegraph and the Guardian.  There's another nice gallery here at plusmaths.org.

"Making these drawings is map-making in reverse.  
You start with the map, and you need to make the ground agree with the map."
Simon Beck

He has also been busy back home, taking to the sands off the Somerset coast armed with just a rake and a compass.  There's more in BBC report.

For the latest news, including the chance to buy a copy of his new book, check in at his Facebook page (complete with nearly 300,000 likes) and website.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

LES ARCS 2014/15: The Ski Schools

There aren't zillions of ski schools in Arc 1800, but there certainly is a choice.

Which to choose?  All the instructors have the strict French ski teaching qualifications. They all speak English (although they are always happy to help you with your French). Everyone's on the same mountain.  In some ways, it comes down to time of day:

For a quick lesson at 9am, choose  Privilege.  They only have a few instructors, but are very flexible and friendly.  Based out of a ski shop in Villards.  You can have an hour lesson with them and, after a quick refresh, you can be on your way.

If you have two hours, between 10 and 12, there is Arc Aventures.  Part of the ESI network, they run these handy sessions outside the absolute peak weeks.

For an hour over lunch, either 12-1 or 1-2, best to go to ESF.  They have more instructors than anyone else, and there is usually space.  Note: they do have a tendency towards being dull bureaucrats.  Last year, during the Paris school holidays, I tried to make a telephone booking while en route to the resort.  This rather modern approach was not permitted.  When I got to the resort they were booked up.  Make sure you take note of the French school holiday calendar: the February/March holidays for the various zones go on for quite some time.

There are plenty of options in the other Les Arcs villages of course.  For example, the New Generations school has a bases in Vallandry and Arc 2000; instructor JP McCarthy is happy to meet clients in Arc 1800.

If you want to explore the off-piste, the Bureau des Guides at Villards has a macho back-country vibe.  But they have very few actual guides.  If you want to book one just for your party, it's likely to be touch and go.  You might want to consider going to Ste-Foy or Tignes for such a trip.

Le Monal, Ste-Foy-Tarentaise