A choice of gondolas and cable-cars provides the main mountain access for Les Deux Alpes (“the lift system was fast and efficient with minimal queues”). The most important of these, the Jandri Express jumbo gondola, takes you to an underground funicular station at 3200m for the final ride to the top of the glacier. The whole journey from the village takes around 45 minutes, a practical indication of the enormous vertical drop here.
The bulk of the skiing revolves around the hubs of Les Crêtes at 2100m and Toura at 2600m. The terrain flattens out on the lower reaches of the glacier (where there’s summer skiing) to provide easy pistes where the snow quality is always excellent.
It used to be that inexperienced skiers found the steep home run beyond their capabilities, which meant they had to download by gondola. However, a new blue piste now runs from the Crêtes ridge back to the resort, providing a more pleasant home run. In fact it is now possible to ski from the glacier all the way back down to resort on a continuous blue run.
La Fée sector, off the shoulder below Toura, is usually uncrowded and offers some of the best blue and black runs on the mountain. On the other side of the resort, the Pied Moutet sector provides gentle sunny blue runs served by three lifts. From here, snow conditions permitting, you can also ski down to the village of Bons at 1300m.
An important resort for riders and freestylers
Looking for steeps and deeps? You’re in the right place. For starters, La Grave (that’s right; it means ‘The Grave’) is linked to the ski area, and is home to some of the most demanding high-altitude skiing and snowboarding in Europe. There is an extraordinary vertical drop of 2200m through dramatic glacial scenery, but you’ll need to hike (on occasion you can grab a lift with a snowcat; it’s included in your pass) from the Dome de la Lauze at the top of the Deux Alpes ski area to get there.
In Les Deux Alpes, you’ll find a plethora of powder-friendly gullies, whilst the generally narrow pistes mean there’s a lot of unpisted terrain which can be a delight when there’s fresh snow. In particular, check out the Grand Couloir, and if you can get a guide, then the ridge below the Clot de Chalance which leads down to the small village of Cuculet.
The resort also has a worldwide reputation for its snowpark, which continues to live up to the ever-increasing expectations of riders. It boasts big kickers varying from an 8m tabletop gap to a 20-metre-long big air, a technical area of quarters and hips, a huge array of rails, and a 120-metre, FIS-regulation half-pipe.
To cap it all, there’s a cool zone with a barbeque, music, open DJ turntable, and some deckchairs to take a breather. Maintenance is a daily duty for the park team, and the resort has splashed out on some high-end shaping machinery. For something different, there’s also a snowcross course on the Toura piste. The course offers a 185m drop over more than 1000m of terrain.