Les Deux Alpes Ski Resort Guide
Officially opened in 1939 with one primitive rope-tow (which promptly broke) Les Deux Alpes was largely left untouched until being developed in earnest during the 1960s. The town has subsequently sprawled out across its plateau location and is one of France’s most popular year-round ski resorts thanks to its snow-sure glacier.
As the name suggests, Les Deux Alpes is formed of two alpine pastures joined together to create a purpose built ski station. The resort benefits from a combination of high altitude, meaning good snow reliability, and south-facing slopes which ensure a maximum amount of sunshine. The ski terrain stretching away from the town for up to 10km is largely made up of wide open spaces, with barely a tree in sight – but there is plenty of pretty views to be found looking down the valley towards the old town of Venosc below Les Deux Alpes.
Like many of France’s premier ski resorts, major developments in the 1960s and 1970s were not kind to the landscape. The town of Les Deux Alpes has received something of a facelift in the last decade, but there is still an odd mixture of large apartment blocks and prettier chalet-hotels throughout. On the upside, this does mean there is accommodation to be found suitable for every budget. Facilities are good with a cinema, bowling alley and sports complex all found in resort. Apres-ski and nightlife is also particularly lively for France and bars and restaurants can be found open until the early morning if you so want.
Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
With 222km of pistes served by 47 lifts, Les Deux Alpes has plenty of varied terrain to keep skiers and snowboarders interested during a week-long holiday. In fact, snowboarders are particularly well looked after here with minimal flat areas on-piste and one of the best freestyle / terrain parks in Europe.
The thing that most people remark upon when visiting Les Deux Alpes is that the ski area seems a bit upside down – and it is certainly easy to see why. Unlike the vast majority of European resorts Les Deux Alpes has its beginner slopes at the top of the glacier while more challenging black runs lead you back to the town at the end of the day.
There are two ways of looking at this as an inexperienced skier; The upside is that you can learn to ski in a tranquil mountainous setting, rather than being herded to the side of a nursery slope and never truly leaving the confines of the village. Unfortunately that also means that to get back to your accommodation you may need to tackle slopes well beyond your capabilities. Luckily it is possible to take the gondola down, and a new blue piste makes for an easier descent now too.
The distinct lack of trees at this high altitude can leave Les Deux Alpe’s slopes feeling a little wind-blown during bad weather. For those seeking off-piste powder it is recommended to head over to the local resort of La Grave. This area is serviced by just one old cable car and is completely un-pisted. Hire a guide to get the best out of the area when the conditions are right, and to avoid any long walks back to civilisation.
A major improvement for the ski area is the long-talked about link between Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez which has now been approved and scheduled for completion by 2023. A large gondola will link the two larger resorts, along with La Grave, and make a huge ski area comparable to those enjoyed by Val d’Isere & Tignes. While Les Deux Alpes is a fantastic resort on its own merit right now, this major work will no doubt make it even popular for international skiers and snowboarders in the coming years.