Les Deux Alpes (aka Les 2 Alpes) is one of the largest ski resorts in the French Alps and is located just over an hour’s drive south-east of Grenoble. Best known for having the largest skiable glacier in Europe, Les Deux Alpes also boasts one of the world’s greatest on-piste vertical drops: an exhilarating descent of 2,268m, skiable and rideable non-stop all the way. The resort also has one of the biggest snowparks in the French Alps and offers a wealth of freeride and off-piste potential, yet has many easily accessible beginners’ slopes, especially high up and plenty of off-slope attractions too. This makes it well-suited to most categories of visitors and an ideal choice for mixed ability groups. Much of the resort is more functional in appearance, but there’s some pretty parts to it too including the smart, atmospheric and excellent Venosc Plaza area.
Les Deux Alpes’ skiing is characterised predominantly by well-groomed blue and red cruising pistes, mostly confined to a narrow backbone of glacial ridges high above the tree line. Despite this layout, it contains a good variety of terrain: ranging from sheltered powder-filled bowls to raw glacial summits and from easily accessible beginners’ runs to seriously exposed off-piste routes. The main lift is the Jandri Express gondola , which takes you to the iconic glacier area, yet its spacious dome-shaped summit slopes are as accessible to novices as they are to advanced ability visitors; it is also the starting point for a multitude of epic off-piste itineraries and links into the quite awesome La Grave ski area, which experts will love.
There are two main ski areas, rising on opposite sides of the town: the compact Pied Moutet sector to the west was the original local ski area, although it now feels remote from the now much larger main ski area over on the eastern side; there’s one chairlift linking the two areas from east to west, plus one piste linking from west to east. Mont de Lans is the lowest part of the ski area, a short chairlift ride and a red run from the rest of the system and 5 km from the main resort by road. On the eastern side, the wide and gentle slopes closest to the town centre house bustling beginners’ zones and children’s zones but rise very steeply to the ridges overlooking the resort, meaning that almost all of the home-run routes are graded black. The upper sectors are much more varied: here you’ll find further beginners’ zones, gentle inter-sector traverses, plus Les Deux Alpes’ excellent snowpark and exciting freeride features.
As mentioned, the resort is home to plenty of good off-piste terrain including La Grave. Local highlights include the three short but testing Grand Couloir chutes, accessed from the Bellecombes chair, the Pic du Diable off the same chair, (plus an hour’s hike!), the Chalance bowl, the long descent from the Dome glacier and several unpisted itineraries into the La Fee valley. The route, at 3,600m, involves taking the T-bar up to the top of the glacier, then grabbing onto the rope that drags you along behind a snow cat. Be warned though, there’s no cat running the other way and it’s not all downhill, so you have to leave enough in your legs for the walk back. A guide would also be recommended.
Les Deux Alpes is quite a sizeable town, with more than 2,000 permanent inhabitants and it welcomes around 30,000 visitors on high-season weekends, making it one of the liveliest ski resorts in France. It has a good selection of shops, a very wide choice of cafés and restaurants, plenty of lively bars, plus three nightclubs: there’s also a cinema, two tenpin bowling alleys, and a number of spas and beauty salons. The municipal sports facilities are also very good, with a full-sized ice rink and heated outdoor swimming pool next to the central town slopes. Snowmobile excursions, snowshoe treks and tandem paragliding flights are also available, plus there’s an incredible ice-cave visitor attraction reached via a tube train which travels under the glacier at the summit of the ski area, accessible to slope users and non-skiers alike.
Non-skiers can also access the on-mountain bars and restaurants at the principal lift and piste interchanges, meaning they can easily meet up for lunch with their skiing companions.
Les Deux Alpes offers arguably the closest equivalent in France to the après ski experience normally associated with Austria, though on a smaller scale. The partying begins mid-afternoon at the slope-side Pano bar, close to the resort’s excellent snowpark and at the Austrian-style Umbrella bar next to the Hotel Cote Brune on the base-area slopes, before moving on to popular downtown bars such as Le Motown bar, Smithy’s Tavern, Pub Windsor, Smokey’s, La Grotte du Yeti and for 150 choices of shots, the K.ré bar. The nightlife then keeps buzzing into the early hours of the morning, rounding-off at the l’Avalanche nightclub. Accommodation is a very good mix of 2 to 5 star hotels, apartments and both catered and self-catered chalets, for almost any budget. Just call or email us and we are only too happy to help advise.