Lively resort with a frontier-town feel and glacier skiing.
Located in the southern French Alps, close to (but not linked with) places such as Alpe d’Huez and Serre Chevalier, Les Deux Alpes is a large, sprawling town, as opposed to a village. Much of it has been purpose-built as a ski resort, but the area also incorporates some old mountain hamlets.
Les Deux Alpes – often simply written as Les 2 Alpes – has a ski area that rises up to an impressive 3,600m, as well as a glacier that allows virtually year-round skiing. The runs back down to resort level are quite steep and sometimes icy, which means nervous or inexperienced skiers might prefer to take the lift back home at the end of the day.
Although there is a small ski area to the west of the village, the majority of the skiing and boarding takes place between the resort itself and La Toura to the east. The principal access is via the Jandri Express jumbo gondola, sometimes subject to queues at peak times, as are the alternative routes on what is admittedly a fairly modern lift system. The routine journey time to glacier level (2,600m) is about 45 minutes.
Around here the pistes can get quite busy with skiers and boarders of varying abilities. Higher up, however, there are some marvellous snowsure green and blue runs, many of them served by an underground funicular as well as surface lifts.
Off-piste fanatics will find plenty of challenges if they take a qualified guide. After all, a mere 20-minute hike separates this resort’s terrain from that of the notoriously difficult slopes of nearby La Grave.
There is a big, lively and relatively young après-ski scene, much of it centred on Alpe de Venosc, at the southern end of the town. For true grown-ups the best place to eat out at night is the Michelin starred restaurant at the Chalet Mounier hotel. Those on more modest budgets can try the Bel’Auberge , Les Bleue or Smokey Joe’s Tex-Mex.
There are plenty of other bars such as the Gogo , the Irish Bar , the Windsor and the Secret Bar , and discos (many of them themed) staying open until the early hours. The Avalanche is the best disco in town, but many locals prefer the Opera Music Temple.