Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alps has the highest glacier skiing in France and great off-piste; and don’t forget less crowded Pied Moutet behind the village.
Les Deux Alpes Ski Area Overview
The main ski area in Les Deux Alps can be loosely split into four sections. The first is the steep east-facing slopes under the Cretes ridge, most of which are short blacks that are too steep to be bashed so are generally pretty bumpy. A path offers another option descend, but a lot of beginners choose to use the lifts.
There are nursery slopes at the foot of this flank. Three main lifts service the ski area: the affectionately named red eggs and white eggs (think 1970s four-man bubbles) and the more efficient Jandri Express. This takes you to the Toura peak (2,600m), from where you can take either the second stage up to the glacier or the new eight-man chair, which has done wonders to reduce congestion here.
The excellent snow park is situated above the Toura plateau and there is some marvellous off-piste off the back of the resort from the top of La Toura (2,914m). From here you can go either side of the ridge and ski the main thoroughfare runs in the Cretes valley (beware: these narrow pistes can get very busy) or the steep western slopes of the Gours valley down to La Fée (2,100m), where there is a choice of off-piste, red, black or blue. This deserted corner of the resort is a beautiful spot for a picnic. Alternatively, head north towards the Tête du Diable (2,868m) whose reds feed back into the Cretes valley. There are also some fine couloirs coming down from this point.
On the glacier, the highest skiable one in France (3,568m), most of the skiing is relatively gentle and has excellent snow conditions. T-bars serve mainly short runs. The route back to Toura is a narrow collection of pistes, with several natural canyons adapted for boarder-cross. Alternatively, the west-facing slopes of the Clot de Chalance totally open up the valley for off-piste skiers.
The Pied Moutet range (2,100m), on the other side of the town, is often overlooked by skiers chasing altitude. This is a mistake because it has some lovely skiing and gets the sun in the morning. There is an off-piste itinerary over the back to the village of Les Travers, the front flank has some gentle blues and more interesting reds, and Bons is a bumpy north-facing red that winds down through the trees to 1,300m. A good way to finish is to take the Vallée Blanche blue down the front side to the start of the red Mont de Lans which is another interesting route down to the village of the same name at 1,300m. From here you can take the chair back up and then another small linking chair takes you to the main mountain.
Beginner Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
High tuition levels and a whole flank of green nursery slopes at the foot of the resort make Les Deux Alps a good choice for beginners.
Les Deux Alpes is a good resort for beginners: the level of tuition is high and there is a whole flank of green nursery slopes at the foot of the resort, with the bonus of free, slow draglifts near the village for first-timers. There is also a roped off beginners’ area at Cretes and some wide blues to progress to from here. After a few days, the glacier runs will also become an option, together with their excellent snow and inspiring views.
The good news is that you can return in the cable car and avoid the busy thoroughfares though there’s also the option of skiing the entire mountain from top to bottom, for a maximum sense of achievement and of having got your money’s worth from your liftpass. In exceptional snow conditions, it’s even possible to descend on a blue run to Mont de Lans, the small village below Les Deux Alpes.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Les Deux Alpes
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Intermediate Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
The glacier is the natural playground of intermediates at Les Deux Alps, but the choice of runs is relatively modest.
Early intermediates are spoilt by the fine quality snow and gentle runs around the glacier and it is an excellent resort to hone your skills. But mileage-hungry piste-cruisers will exhaust these runs pretty quickly and after a few days exploring the bowls are well advised to try a day trip to one of the neighbouring resorts (included on the ski pass).
The natural canyons just below the glacier are good fun and the Gours valley and Diable ski area have some good cruising runs. All the west-facing runs on the Pied Moutet side are ideal cruising in good snow conditions.
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alps has much to offer advanced skiers: steep runs, natural canyons, plenty of couloirs and classic off-piste itineraries. And there is even more off-piste and freeriding at la Grave, just a snowcat’s ride away.
Strong skiers have come to the right place in Les Deux Alps. The steep reds and blacks are exactly what they should be, the natural canyons are great fun as are a few runs down through the snow park, while the narrow pistes mean only one thing: wide flanks of unpisted terrain. All the blacks just above the village are worth exploring and young trees have been planted between the pistes to act as avalanche protection and slalom poles. Both of the blacks under the La Fée chair are characterful runs and the Grand Couloir under the Bellecombe chair cuts a steep line down through the rocks.
The Rachasses couloirs to the side are more challenging still. The itinerary from the top of Diable cuts round the shoulder of the peak and joins the run of the same name and is particularly good in spring snow.
Much of the off-piste has been touched upon above but there are several classic descents. One follows the ridge line directly below the Clot de Chalance all the way down through the trees to the village of Cuculet, just above the lake. The marked itinerary skier’s left of the Clot, known locally as the Gully, is also an entertaining ski.
The only off-piste on the Glacier itself is skier’s right of Dôme and is called the Echines de Chevres, or ‘goat’s shins’. The other superlative itinerary is a 2,000m vertical descent from the top of La Toura to the village of St Christophe.
Access to legendary and hazardous off-piste skiing nearby at La Grave is via a snowcat tow or a short walk from the top of the Les Deux Alpes’ glacier.
Les Deux Alpes is not (yet) linked to Alpe d’Huez by lift but it is by bus or helicopter and a day there is included in most L2A ski passes. There is plenty of good black run and off-piste skiing here too.
Boarding & Freestyle in Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alpes is without question the freestyle capital of Europe, with Europe’s largest snow park and year-round action.
Les Deux Alpes is without question the freestyle capital of Europe. The resort has invested heavily in its snow park, which is a model example. There are two boarder-cross fields, one expert and one beginner, a free-cross area, half-pipe, axe-pipe, big air, rails, jumps and bumps. One whole peak has been completely given over to what they call the Slide Zone. Several routes are also carved out on the way down from the glacier.
In the summer, the park moves onto the glacier and many national teams have their summer base camp here. The sponsors are out in force and 30% of all summer visitors come here for the snow park. There is also a monitored kicker with landing airbag at the resort base which is open every afternoon for you to perfect your jumps. One word of warning though: boarders should be aware that the paths linking the different valleys are relatively flat.
Mountain Restaurants in Les Deux Alpes
Most of Les Deux Alpes’ mountain restaurants are of the self-service variety, but gourmands can take refuge in the new restaurant at the top of the Diable chair.
Le Diable au Coeur, at the top of the Diable chair is a wonderful mountain restaurant. The dishes are all very individual, lots of gratins, foie gras, fresh fish and succulent cuts of meat. Inevitably you pay for the pleasure, but it’s worth it. The Chalet la Toura is also good but most of the others are self-service without much to distinguish them.