It’s during winters when the snow is far from forthcoming and the valleys remain trapped in eternal autumn that we really appreciate resorts like Les Deux Alpes. With skiing up to 3568m and a large glacier, you can head merrily off on holiday knowing that there’ll certainly be some skiing to greet you.
It also means that, come June, it’s the perfect spot for a sneaky summer ski. The glacier opens from June to August, offering up miles of cruisey, flattering blues ideal for putting those ski muscles into action. The lower flanks of the resort transform into a mountain biking mecca, with 88km of tracks, while the surrounding mountains offer everything from via ferrata to canyoning.
But back to the skiing, because it’s worth talking about. It’s one of those resorts that really does have something for everyone, from intermediate-friendly cruisers to technique-testing valley runs.
The off-piste is extensive, and that’s even before you factor in the connection to La Grave, linked via cat-track and caterpillar bus (check the weather before you head across, or risk being lumped with the bill for a 30-minute taxi ride back to Les Deux Alpes). The park, meanwhile, is world class, with lines for families, newbies, intermediates and experts.
As always, that snow-sure skiing comes at a price: the lack of trees means it can be fiercely exposed when the weather comes in. And if you’re after village charm, we’d suggest staying in the lower village of Vénosc, which is connected by cable car. Still, we’re rather tempted to up sticks and follow local ski instructor Alexandra Chapman there. Here’s her local’s guide to Les Deux Alpes…
Meet the local
Alexandra Chapman is a BASI level 4 qualified ski instructor at tiptopskicoaching.com and has been living in Les Deux Alpes for 10 years.
The best run for a warm up
Head up high, all the way to the glacier, and have a good long ski down its many gentle, rolling blues. I like to lap Glacier 3 and Signal 1 to get my legs warmed up.
For freshies days after a storm
There are so many amazing backcountry options, both in Les Deux Alpes and La Grave – the two are connected – but the best bits depend on a lot of factors, such as the amount of snow fallen and wind direction… La Fée is my go-to spot — book a lesson with me and I’ll show you around. I can’t give away all my secrets here!
The best thing about living in Les Deux Alpes is…
The endless, year-round opportunities that the mountains give us, from skiing and biking to hiking and hanging out by the lake. And here we can even ski in the summer months thanks to the glacier — what’s not to love?
The biggest misconception about Les Deux Alpes is…
That there is only budget accommodation on offer. There are actually some really nice spots to crash in. Take Chalet Mounier, which has its own spa and Michelin-starred restaurant, or Hotel Côte Brune with its sun terrace and cosy lounge.
Les Deux Alpes’ best kept secret is…
The off-piste routes that take you away from the resort and into the backcountry. The scenery is amazing and the skiing even better! Book a local guide to show you the best ones.
For cheap eats in town
One of the many pizza places. The best is Le Tribeca. Their eponymous pizza is the best thing on the menu. It’s topped with parma ham, rocket and balsamic vinegar — the perfect post-ski pick me up. Crisps and shots while you wait…
For a mountain bite
That’s a tough one! We have so many great places to eat on the mountain, but Chalet de la Fée just wins. I always order the Salade Montagnarde, a mix of lettuce, tomatoes, emmental, ham and potato.
For a splash-out dinner
Le Raison d’Ours. The menu is always changing but whatever you pick you know it’ll be good. I’m a steak kind of girl, so if that’s on offer, I’ll order it!
For an après-ski tipple
On the mountain, it’s all about Pano Bar, at the mid-station of the Jandri Express — it’s like being in an open air nightclub surrounded by mountains. Back in town, I’d head to the Umbrella Bar or the Polar Bear Pub, which has a live guitarist. All of them offer good drinks promos (there are usually plenty of shots being handed around) and stay open until the wee hours, but you move on to Smithy’s Tavern or L’Avalanche Club for good music and dancing!
Day lift pass: €47.50