Grenoble: 2 hrs
Train transfer: 2hrs 30 mins
There are only two things associated with the number two in Les Deux Alpes ski resort – the two mountain villages and the 2km long strip that joins them to create the resort. Otherwise, it’s all about the number ones – the highest skiable glacier in France, the greatest lift-served French off-piste ski area, the largest snowpark in Europe, the hub of the European freestyle scene and, if you’re down with the right crowd, the best party experience in the Alps!
Situated on the cusp of the Northern and Southern Alps only two hours from Grenoble airport, Les Deux Alpes ski area brings together beginner and expert skiers, families and party people with its friendly local community who love it so much - many of them live here all year round. Despite the fact that development of the Les Deux Alpes ski resort has not always been in keeping with its historic alpine village roots (make sure you head to the Venosc end of town if you are looking for a bit of alpine charm), there are still some beautiful traditional chalets and Les Deux Alpes apartments to suit all budgets. The main strip is a venerable entertainment highway, with ski lifts leading up the hill on each side by day and bars and restaurants enticing you in by night, somewhat similar to the Spanish Costas, except for the best part – it’s at 1650m above sea level. While this may not appeal to all, there’s no denying that Les Deux Alpes holiday-goers will not be disappointed.
Fine snow on high slopes and gradients ranging from friendly to fearsome, Les Deux Alpes skiing is a good place both to start and to end up. Beginners are spoilt for choice as nursery slopes stretch along the eastern flank of the resort and once you’ve linked up those turns, Les Deux Alpes skiing offers you the whole mountain experience. Green and blue lines extend all the way up onto the glacier, letting you share in the stunning views and then glide back down on the gondola. Intermediates will find the terrain perfect for honing their technique, although stronger skiers may hunker after a few more reds in between the cruisy blues and gnarly blacks. The often quieter Pied Moutet side of town boasts some fun blues and interesting reds though, especially bumpy Bons, which snakes down through the trees to 1300m. And if that’s not enough to keep you occupied, you could always hop on a helicopter (or the bus) over to Alpe d’Huez or Serre Chevalier to make some fresh tracks, all on the one lift pass.
Anyone who calls themselves an advanced skier will already know that Les Deux Alpes skiing offers something you don’t get everywhere in the Alps. With almost as many black runs as reds and 1400ha of accessible off-piste, there is plenty to whet the appetite of the most demanding technical skier. Freeriders too flock here to find La holy Grave: the mountains above this small hamlet are unique. The one old school bubble lift takes you to the summit and then it’s a 2150m descent, except there is only one marked piste, otherwise “each run is to imagine.” You won’t see ski patrol and you won’t see anything to warn you of dangers: this is skiing as it was meant to be. Be sure to take avalanche-safety gear (probe, shovel and transceiver) as well as a guide, because it is highly likely that you will get lost without one. Oh, and Les Deux Alpes ski resort also has the best snowpark in Europe.
Après-ski starts in the après-midi in Les Deux Alpes ski resort. Kick off on the hill with some ski boot dancing to the live DJs on the terrace of the Pano bar, and then get your skis on back down to resort to carry on the party in one of the 30 bars waiting for you with open doors all along the main strip. Visitors of all ages should be able to find at least one establishment to their taste. If you fancy a slice of home, join the locals in Pub le Windsor for a quiet drink; if you don’t want to miss that important fixture, head to Smithy’s or the Red Frog for live sports. If you want to start as you mean to go on, check out Pub O’Brians happy hour, Smokey Joe’s or la Grotte du Yeti. Later, it’s a choice of three clubs (although most would choose L’Avalance), where you can dance the night away until an impressive 5am. If it’s romance you’re after, plan your Les Deux Alpes holiday to coincide with one of the resorts legendary Full Moon Parties. Watch the beautiful sun set from the glacier, then it’s on to dinner and dancing to warm up, before strapping on your skis for the 2000m descent by the light of the moon. It’s every ski bunny’s dream.
For non-skiers or those who prefer their après-ski away from the sauce, a Les Deux Alpes holiday also offers plenty of choices. The resort has a lot of snowy al fresco activities (snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, paragliding, frozen waterfall climbing, tobogganing and tubing) plus all the usual leisure options in its two sports halls (indoor and outdoor pools, ice rink, indoor rock-climbing, cinema and wellness facilities). For something a bit more unique, come face to face with dinosaurs in the Ice Grotto which lies at 3400m and was dug into the glacier entirely by pickaxe.
With over 40 restaurants to choose from, you will have plenty of appetizing options for your Les Deux Alpes chalet host’s night off. For the very best in on-mountain dining, sample delicious French haute cuisine at Le Diable au Coeur. Tasty smoked hams and meats, sizzle on the barbeque at La Moliere or take in the view with a nice vin chaud from the sun terrace of the Restaurant Les Glaciers. Back down in resort there are plenty of small takeaways selling pizzas, burgers and kebabs all day long and most of the night. If you prefer a table and chairs, there are delicious pizzas at Italian restaurants Le Tourra or La Spaghetteria. For a bit of excitement, have a crêpe with your après at Crêpes à Gogo, or for something a bit different, sample everything from moules to fondue at Le Blue Salmon. Big groups should head to Le Charbon de Bois for Savoyard specialties including the traditional fondue and raclette, while Le P’tit Polyte at the Chalet Mounier, owned by the same family as Le Diable au Coeur, offers gastronomic diners sumptuous modern French cuisine from local produce and with excellent wines.