Les Deux Alpes Ski Resort Guide
Les Deux – Alpes is one of the oldest and liveliest of all the French skiing resorts and has a buzzing village with vibrant nightlife, with great snow on all the north facing slopes, it’s an excellent resort for summer skiing and snowboarding.
It’s a narrow village situated on a high remote col, with a wide variety of buildings including old chalets, 1960s blocks and more recent modern buildings.
The village itself is long and sprawling with many hotels, bars and shops, it’s a very lively place with most of the amenities lining the main street.
The lifts are spread out evenly through the village making it extremely convenient for skiers.
There isn’t really a main centre here although you can make out three main sections to the resort, including Les 2 Alpes 1800 which you will get to by entering the village from the north, the roads then go off to the left and wind up the hill and so you reach Les Deux Alpes 1800, not very good for amenities but fantastic for skiing, and if you carry on from here you’ll enter the geographical centre of the resort with the major gondola stations, outdoor ice rink, shops and restaurants, and then at the end of this resort is Alpe de Venosc, which has fantastic nightlife, hotels and the Diable gondola.
The resort is ideally positioned and is situated high among the southern Alpes with fantastic views of the glacier to the rugged Ecrins Mountains and also over the Briancan valley.
The Apres ski here is fantastic one of the best, with lots of bars that stay open until the early hours including Smithy’s Tavern which is a great party venue ideal for the youngsters and also serve fantastic food, Pub le Windsor is extremely popular with the locals, Smokey Joe’s which is a sports bar, The Secret where you can listen to live music, watch big screen TV and serves top beers, The Avalanche which is the main nightclub and is located at the Venosc part of town.
There is a great choice of restaurants, including Chalet Mounier’s, P’tit Polyte, Etable, The Patate, L’ Alisier and many more.
The pretty valley village of Venosc is only a trip away by gondola and you can take a helicopter flight to Alpe – d’ Huez with fantastic walks, outdoor pool, Acqua center with its indoor pool, steam room, sauna, steam and hot tub, with great mountain restaurants.
Go on the white cruise in a snowcat and you’ll be taken across the glacier and will get the chance to experience stunning views.
You can also go on an exhibition on avalanches which includes a simulator so that you can experience what it would be like if you was ever caught in one.
Indoor activities include:
- Hot tubs
- Sports centres
- Games rooms
Outdoor activities include:
- Ice rink
- Quad bikes
- Snow shoeing
- Ice climbing
- Helicopter rides
- Kanata (inuit) village visit
There is also a great selection of child care establishments and ski schools for children and adults.
There is a fantastic range of accommodation in Les Deux – Alpes including many hotels, chalets and apartments.
The Ski Runs
The slopes in Les Deux Alpes are fragmented and the main ones are very high yet narrow with most of the slopes being above the tree line. The lifts in Les Deux Alpes are very impressive with fast chairs being an alternative to the gondolas and there are also many draglifts and a few slow chairs.
The western Pied Mounted site of the resort is served by lifts from different areas throughout the town and there are many short pistes here that will take you back to town and you can also go off piste to the Mont – de – Lans chair.
There are many lifts for beginners which are located east of the resort and above these there is a steep slope down from the ridge of Les Cretes, you then have a good choice of ways to descend down to the village including a winding green run or four small black runs.
The ridge has many lifts and gentle runs and behind the ridge is the deep and steep Combe de Thuit, there are many lifts here spanning the Combe which will take you to Toura which is at the very heart of the resort. Go above Toura and the glaciers chair will take you up 600m and to get back down there are blue and red runs.
The slopes in Les Deux Alpes are very varied and high and are snow sure, with lots of good off piste terrain however there aren’t many wooded runs.
The top Glacier du Mont de Lans section has fantastic views and fine easy runs, this section is served by an underground funicular and draglifts.
From this section you can go all the way from the top down to Mont – de – Lans which has a descent of 2270m vertical and this is said to be the world’s biggest off piste vertical.
From here you can walk or take a snowcat tow to the slopes of La Grave, which are covered by your lift pass, you can get to the north by using the chairs.
The village is very large and you can queue for quite a while especially for the Jandrie Express and Diable gondolas at peak periods.
Les Deux Aples in home to Europes biggest Summer Park and is located in the glacier section in the summer months and moves to the Toura run for the winter months.
The winter park is not as large as the glacier park but it is very well maintained and is finished to a very high standard and includes a slopestyline with three tables, hips, rails and boxes, a large air jump, half pipe and a mini park for the kids, a place for beginners and a boardercross and a BBQ area. The glacier park is said to be the best and biggest in Europe and is suitable for beginners and experts.
There is a great selection of off piste routes in Les Deux Alpes suitable for beginners and experts and vary in difficulty. Some of the routes include Bellecombes piste which offers a variety of terrain, North Rachas area with great snow conditions during the winter months and experts will love the famous Chalance run which starts just below the glacier and descends 1000m vertical to the Gours run, Pylone Electrique is a very steep and narrow 200m couloirs, also very good is St Christophe descent and La Grave.
The snow in Les deux Alpes is excellent on the higher slopes even in a poor winter, and when you get above 2200m most of the runs are north facing which guarantees good snow, the glacier section also is very snow sure. Temperatures can get extremely low at the top and there is always the risk of the lifts closing here because of bad weather, the runs just above the village from Les Cretes however are west facing and so get the afternoon sunshine which can make them icy and slushy.
Experts have a great selection of off piste runs but very few on piste challenges, there are however good black runs down to the resort and although they are steep they often have poor snow conditions. You must try the black grand Couloir and the black and red runs down from the top of the Fee chair, another good one is the red run which is served by the Diable chairlift.
Intermediates can sometimes be disappointed because of the limited number of pistes, which can be covered in a couple of days and some of the runs can be very tough.
The high up runs have good snow and you can cruise much faster, especially from the glacier to Toura. You can also take day trips to Alpe – d’ Huez which you can get to by either bus or helicopter.
The more timid intermediate will love the gentleness of the runs and the excellent quality snow on the upper mountains.
Beginners will love Les Deux Alpes and they get seven free lifts, the nursery slopes are very good indeed, very spacious and gentle, the runs along the ridge above are also very pleasing and the glacier slopes are also very good for beginners.
You can also go cross country in Les Deux Alpes and visit Venosc which you get to by a gondola and is a total distance of 20km, there are also many smaller cross country routes that you can take.
There are many good mountain restaurants in Les Deux Alpes and a great selection of schools and guides.
The resort is excellent for families, the nursery in the village will take children from 6 months to 2 years and kindergarten will take children from 3 years to 6. There is great fun for children at the foot of the slopes including quadbiking, a pool, icerinks and tobogganing.
Les Deux Alpes is a mecca for snowboarders especially in the summer months when masses of pros descend on the resort. Les Deux Alpes kicks off the French winter season with a huge Rock on snowboard tour, with competitions and snowboard tests. In the town are good trampoline facilities and a large air bag, you have the terrain park and a free riding option with challenging and steep terrain and there is a good snowboard school called Primitive.