The Tarentaise Valley stretches from Albertville to Moûtiers, and from Moûtiers to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Bourg-Saint-Maurice is the largest town in the area, needless to say it is also for most ski resorts in the neighbourhood – Les Arcs 1600, Les Arcs 1800 and Les Arcs 1950/2000, Peisey-Vallendry, La Rosière, Les Coches, Montchavin, one of the more important central hubs for buying food, goods and getting services. Further up the valley road is the Espace Killy domain with Tignes and Val-d’Isère.
In 1992 most of the ski stations in the Tarentaise Valley participated one way or another in the Winter Olympics in Albertville. A dream of once interconnecting all ski resorts came to an end when the Parc Vanoise National Parc was created, however, since 2003 three major areas are linked: Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallendry and La Plagne with Les Coches and Montchavin right in the center.
This offers 160 ski lifts and 425 km of ski pistes with coverage for all major skill levels.
The Vanoise Express
The three areas are linked by the Vanoise Express, a double-decker cable car which is pretty much the most important link for the ski resorts. The Vanoise Express lift is located at the side of Les Coches and arrives in Peisey-Vallandry.
It can bring over 200 people from one side to another in about 5 minutes. During that crossing it covers 1800 m over the valley. Skiers can buy a ski pass covering either the La Plagne ski resort, the Les Arcs ski resort, or both by using the Vanoise Express.
If you decide to take a ski pass for the entire Paradiski domain you have access to 152 green and blue pistes (beginners), 79 red (intermediate) and 22 black (expert).
Les Arcs has three very spectacular black slopes (Lanches, Crêtes, Dou de l’Homme) beneath the Varet gondola and not for the weak hearted.
Vanoise National Parc
The Vanoise National Parc (Parc National de la Vanoise) was created in 1963 and sits between the Tarentaise Valley and the Maurienne Valley in the French Alps. It is the first French national parc ever created and is connected on the Italian side of the border with the Gran Paradiso National Parc.
The early years
The parc first got its initial idea in 1936 till 1943 where it functioned as a game reserve for the Alpine Ibex. The Parc de la Vanoise in its earliest form was connected to the earlier created Gran Paradiso parc (1922).
From 1943 till 1955 the parc knew a gradual increase in territory space, natural scientists decided the Alpine Ibex needed a larger area covering the entire Massif de la Vanoise.
From 1955 till 1959 the initial two zone parc borders – as known in its present state – were put on the table: a centralized zone for nature protection and education purposes and a buffer zone to further promote the heritage of local nature and culture.
In 1960 the biggest change came with the introduction of a law for national parcs in France: 1963 saw the birth of the official Parc de la Vanoise.
The big reformation in 2006
In 2006 a new law was voted for the national parc definition. It also incorporated two major changes for the national parc Vanoise: the central zone became known as the cœur or central core, and more importantly the former buffer zone became a wider area covering all the villages and communes in the surrounding area.
Since this also incorporates the fact the parc is bordered with ski resorts such as La Plagne and Les Arcs, it is pretty obvious that the relation between tourism, nature and institute are not always without trouble.