Arc 1800, Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
Between Geneva and Grenoble, from Montmélian follow Isère valley upstream, A43, A430, N90, D1090 to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. At the roundabout turn right on D110 to Arc 1800, signposted. Once there look for signs for the Transarc chairlift.
10-DEC to 29-APR daily .
Adults EUR 6, Children EUR 5.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
Tourist Office - The Pagoda, Place Miravidi, Arc 1800, Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Tel: +33-479-07-61-11.
Société des Grottes de la Meije (SDGM), Les Hières, 05320 La Grave, E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|Bernard Lambolez and Bruno Gardent go to the cave of the "Mer de Glace" and have the idea to built such a cave at home.
|Société des Grottes de la Meije and first grotto at La Grave La Meije created and inaugurated.
|ice grotto created.
La Grotte de Glace Les Arcs is located on the skiing resort Les Arcs near Bourg-Saint-Maurice. It is one of six glacier grottoes created and operated by the Société des Grottes de la Meije (SDGM), which was founded by the two high mountain guides, Bernard Lambolez and Bruno Gardent in 1992. In 1992 the two visited the grotto Grotte de la Mer de Glace and had the idea to build such a cave at home. The first grotto was created on the Glacier de la Girose and is called La Grotte de Glace La Grave La Meije.
Actually, while ice cave is often used for such grottoes, they are actually called glacier grotto. Ice caves are natural caves in rock which contain ice, glacier grottoes are dug, hence they are grottoes, inside a glacier, hence glacier grotto. However, although we classified it as a glacier grotto, it actually isn't, as there is no glacier on Les Arcs. At the beginning of the winter, when the first snow falls and the temperatures are low enough that it does not melt anymore, they create a huge pile of snow in which they dug the cave. You could say it's a snow grotto, or probably a kind of igloo. The snow is melted on the surface with a sort of heat stick, and the water freezes again making the snow more stable. Then artists create ice sculptures for a certain topic inside the cave. So as there is actually a completely new cave every year, the exhibition also changes from year to year. And the grotto exists only for about three months, weather depending.
As it is located on top of the mountain, at the ski area, it is necessary to get there first. Of course, you could walk up, if you have the right equipment, but as most people will either be skiing and just make a break visiting the grotto, we guess they already have a ski pass. To get to the summit you start at Arc 1800 and then take the Transarc I & II to the summit. From here it's only a short walk. However, this requires some explanation, as most ski areas in the Alps have a single cable car to the summit and a lot of small lifts around the summit where the snow is. This skiing resort is quite different, in a way that there is no central cable car, neither a central mountain. There is a village in the valley named Bourg-Saint-Maurice, from here several roads start to artificial villages on the mountains side which are ski resorts with hotels, lifts, ski shops and après-ski. They only exist while there is snow, the rest of the year they are ghost towns. And there are four of them around the mountain, all with artificial names like Arc 1800, actually they are all called Arc, just with a different number. As a skier you just start at the lift next to you, and then you can stay there or switch to the next lift on the left or right side. If you want to go to the glacier grotto without too much walking you should go to the above-mentioned chairlift, which will bring you to the grotto in two hops. The cave is open only during winter on the same days as the chairlift. As most visitors are skiers, it's possible to visit the cave with skiing boots, though we do not recommend it. We recommend to bring walking shoes to change, it makes the visit far more pleasant.