Top Lift: 3600m
Ski area: 200km of pistes
Adult lift pass: 252€ for six days
In a Nutshell
Les Deux Alpes has acquired a legion of fans over the years for its great expert terrain, its low-ish prices, gorgeous scenery and full-throttle nightlife. And after recent work developing multiple beginner zones, it stands up next the world’s biggest and best…
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Les Deux Alpes lies between Grenoble and Briançon in a remote corner of the Dauphiné. Its biggest asset is its high altitude, making it as ‘snow-sure’ as it gets, with skiing on the glacier in summer months – a popular venue for out-of-season ski and snowboard camps. It has been a ski resort since 1939 when a primitive rope-tow was installed. Unfortunately this fell down 15 minutes after the opening ceremony. Hostilities with Germany then got in the way of any further development plans until 1946, when a gondola paved the way for Les Deux Alpes to become an important French resort.
The purpose-built village was conceived as a station de ski on the sunny balcony above the ancient community of Venosc, to which it is connected by six-person gondola, but not by piste so you can’t ski there. Venosc, with its cobbled lanes, craft shops and enticing restaurants, provides a welcome contrast and a tranquil alternative bed-base to the functional ski factory above it.
L2A sprawls along a narrow ledge below what were once the high summer pastures of sheep and goat farmers. The village has very recently had a facelift, with exteriors becoming wood-clad with more spacious and modern interiors than previously.
The resort is suited to all levels of skier and rider. However, lower intermediates should note that on the main mountain the gradient is ‘reversed’. Some of the easiest skiing is higher up – both on and around the glacier. The benefit of this is that complete beginners can learn against the panoramic backdrop of the High Alps rather than on a shaded slope tucked away on the outskirts of a village.
The Jandri blue run practically spans the whole mountain’s vertical, meaning even beginners can ski from top to bottom on a whopping 16km run down to the resort from the glacier.
Then there’s the very recent and extensive developments to the ski area, improving lifts up to peak (/glacier), as well as the ski experience of beginners and lower intermediates in Les 2 Alpes.
While the skiing that reaches up to 3,600m on the east side of Les Deux Alpes is well known and loved by experienced skiers, the Vallée Blanche on the west side of the village, reaching 2,100m, has been far from optimised. But in 2023 two new lifts have been completed – Super Venosc Gondola and Vallee Blanche Telemix – plus a brand new green slope, complete with snow cannons for ultimate snow conditions. Three beginner areas sit around the village, each decked out with a brand new lift. All lifts in these beginner areas are free to use.
Advanced skiers will want to explore the glacial terrain of La Meije, reached by snowcat from the top of the ski area to the 3568m Dôme de la Lauze. From here you can ski all the way down to the ancient climbing village of La Grave.
Here and elsewhere in the L2A area, it is important always to be aware that you are in high mountains where the weather can change within minutes. It is the kind of territory where anyone who goes off-piste without a qualified local mountain guide is risking their life. Even then, it is up to the individual to take overall responsibility for his or her own safety. Mountain guides, like everyone else, are fallible.