Les Deux Alpes Ski Resort
Les 2 Alpes has the highest pistes in France at over 3,500m. With impressive black runs and freeriding, long blue pistes, good nursery slopes, lively nightlife and a large snow park, this mini 'Las Vegas of the Alps' packs a lot into its medium-sized snowsure ski area.
High up in a narrow valley above the Lac Du Chambon lies the sprawling resort that is officially called Les-Deux-Alpes, although it’s sometimes abbreviated to ‘Les 2 Alpes’ or even ‘L2A‘. Its main drag is 2km long but seems even longer and is packed with hotels, apartments, bars and restaurants. Needless to say, the nightlife is pretty hectic, particularly if you want something that’s fun, loud and brash. (If quiet charm is more your thing, consider staying in the pretty village of Venosc 700m below Les Deux Alpes and linked to it by lift.)
The ski area is not massive but is very high and snowsure in summer as well as winter. The resort base is “only” 1,650m but five lifts and three valleys later, you are at the top of the highest skiable glacier in France, the Dôme de la Lauze (3,568m). From here strong novices and above can descend over 2,000m on blue pistes, which, together with the excellent nursery slopes next to the resort and the wide choice of ski schools, make Les Deux Alpes a good place to learn to ski. And experts are not forgotten about either: there are 12 black and dotted-black runs and most deserve their grading.
But piste skiing is just part of what’s on offer. Boarders and freestyle skiers will love the large impressive snow park. And then there’s the off-piste, both in L2A itself, and in the legendary ‘freeride-only’ ski area of La Grave, to which it is semi-linked (you’re pulled waterski-style by a snowcat over the Glacier de la Girose). Bring a guide with you if you want to return in one piece.
So what’s not to like about this Las Vegas of the Alps? Well firstly, the mountain has an ‘upside down’ feel. Instead of the easy pistes being near the bottom of the ski area, in Les 2 Alpes they are mostly near the top. This has some advantages: all skiers, whatever their standard, can experience high-altitude skiing on crisp snow and see amazing alpine views. But as nervous skiers descend, they get funnelled into steeper, icier, narrower and more crowded runs. The resort has tried to ease this by creating new gentle home runs but there is a limit to what can be done. And secondly, strong keen skiers who insist on sticking to the pistes will find there are simply not enough of them for a full week’s skiing. (The resort’s claim of 200 kms of runs is only true if the off-piste is included.)
But there is a solution to that: just to the north of Les Deux Alpes is the larger ski area of Alpe d’Huez. The two resorts are not (yet) connected by lift but they are by bus and helicopter, and most passes entitle you to at least one day’s free skiing in the other one, so use it. The tree-lined slopes of Serre Chevalier are also not much further away and make a good contrast to L2A’s high-altitude bowls.
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Les Deux Alpes Pros and Cons
+ High mountain runs to suit all standards
+ Excellent nursery slopes
+ Excellent off-piste, in L2A & La Grave
+ Lively nightlife
+ Less expensive than most high altitude resorts
+ Short transfers from Grenoble
– Fewer pistes than other major resorts
– Some very crowded slopes
– Limited tree skiing in bad visibility
– Spread-out, traffic congested, ugly resort