I recently returned from a Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday and I think it is one of the best all round ski resorts in France. In order to explain why, at the end of my review of Les 2 Alpes I will focus on why it is great for advanced, intermediate and beginner snowboarders, and why it is good for both families and those who like some après action.
But first a little about Les 2 Alpes. It is high, the resort sits at 1300m with lifts reaching 3600m. It is snow sure, with a glacier at its summit that is open for snowboarding all year round. It has 222km of pisted slopes covering a 410 hectares and a further 800 hectares of available off piste (guide recommended).
My Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday
This year my Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday was unfortunately only 3 days long but I have been there for a week a couple of years ago. We stayed at the self catered Janremon apartments, located at the Venosc end of Les Deux Alpes. The accommodation is nicely decorated, comfy and has everything you need to cater for yourself. There were 4 guys on this snowboarding holiday so catering for ourselves was limited to crisps and croissants – we left the cooking to the pros and visited of a few of Les 2 Alpes 66 restaurants.
The Janremon apartments are a great spot at the edge of town with easy access to the Diable, a fast 6 man chairlift. Although it is not ski in ski out you can ski to within a minute or two walk from the apartments. The Diable lift takes you from 1600m to 2400m with a choice of a couple of black runs or a red back in to town. If you take the Diable 2 run and head right as you are getting close to the bottom you can cut across to the Jandri Express which is the main Gondola from town taking you from 1650 to 3200m.
Alternatively for those that want it easy there is a blue run from the top of Diable down to the Telepherique giant gondola at the heart of the tranquil zone. For those that just want to get high you can also hop onto the Super Diable which takes you straight up to 2800m and helps you reach the parks and boardercross. From the Telepherique or the Super Diable you can meet the Jandri Express at the midstation.
In our 3 days we had mixed weather but ultimately I would say we had a lucky trip. One perfect sunny day, one snowing day when you could hardly see a thing and one powder day with nearly knee deep fresh snow and good visibility.
Day 1: Sunny day in Les 2 Alpes
With the group being advanced snowboarders and a forecast of snow to come we began the first day with a few long runs to find our snow legs. We then spent some time in the park and boardercross.
There are 3 park areas in Les 2 Alpes ranging from easy kickers and boxes to expert rails and jumps the size of houses. There is also a super halfpipe, an easy halfpipe and 2 boardercross trails. All of it is in close proximity to each other and is accessed by 2 chairlifts and a drag. In particular the chairlifts give a great view across the park area so you can get an idea of what you are hitting and be entertained by others on your way up.
After a late lunch we headed high to the top of the glacier for a long fast decent back into town. On the way we came across the Pano Bar and its pounding dance music at 2600m. With a crowd of revellers going for it to the resident DJ’s tunes we decided to do one more run before ‘reluctantly’ joining them. The party starts at three and runs until five. Table dancing, fancy dress and drunkenness were not in short supply and its probably the best on mountain après I have experienced in France.
When the DJ finished at 5 a lot of drunk people strapped their chosen weapon on and headed down the mountain, although I was pleased to see a large number of people chose to take the gondola down. Having only caught the last half hour we were fine to snowboard down but there were a lot of people being questioned by the mountain patrol before they set off which was also good to see.
At the end of a great first day to our Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday and knowing the next day was going to be poor weather we headed into town for a night out. Fuelled by ‘did you see my 360’ and ‘you were lame on the boardercross’ kind of conversations we headed to Smithy’s where we had a few beers, followed by a very good Tex Mex style meal, a few more beers, a few shots and then ended up in L’Avalanche Discothèque having a good time until about 3:30 am.
Day 2: Snowy overcast day with hangovers
I am proud to say all 4 of us made it out of bed, into our boarding gear and up the mountain by 10:30 the next day. Conditions were poor, as it was snowing heavily and visibility clouded our vision as much as the hangovers clouded our minds. Two of our group used the conditions as an excuse to finish at lunch time but myself and one other hardy soul soldiered on to make the most of the day.
Visibility was so poor at points that I had the disorientating feeling that I was not moving only to look down and see the snow flowing past. On the plus side it seems that most people in the resort were staying home and we had a lot of runs almost entirely to ourselves. As it had been snowing heavily all day by the afternoon there was a layer of fresh snow over the pistes and we enjoyed some powder runs.
The evening was a low key but delicious meal in Gorichon Julien one of the many French restaurants. It was still snowing heavily so we had an early night as the weather was due to clear in the morning….
Day 3: Knee deep powder, clear skies & heads
For once the weather forecast was spot on and we woke to clear skies and knee deep powder for the last day of our Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday. We were in the remarkably small queue for the first lift up the Diable and had a fresh tracks run back into town. We followed this by playing in the lower off piste until the higher lifts were opened after the slopes had been made safe.
It was a classic powder day barely spend on the piste. We stayed within easy reach of the pistes in Avalanche safe areas – there was so much snow that there was no need to head off backcountry. Of course as Michael Schumacher’s recent accident highlights its not just avalanches you need to be careful off. Rocks beneath the snow are an ever present off piste danger and to prove this I hit more than my share on this powder day. In Les 2 Alpes you also need to be aware that off piste on the glacier can be very dangerous as the ice moves and you could fall down a crevasse.
Warnings aside and safety equipment worn we rode within our limits and stuck to the ‘between piste’ off piste. We were lucky enough to be some of the first to play in the powder in the Diable, Signal and Crètes areas and I had one of the best powder days of my life.
It was a shame when collectively our legs began to fail and we reluctantly headed back to the apartment at around 3:30 pm to effectively end what had been an awesome Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday. All that remained was a long drive back to Geneva Airport.
Review of Les 2 Alpes
As I said at the start I feel Les 2 Alpes is one of the best all round ski resorts in France and possibly the world. And I am not alone in thinking this, as in a recent survey it was the most recalled French ski resort. Also amazingly around 10% of all people who have skied in France have done so in Les 2 Alpes. With all that in mind I am going to quickly review the resort for different people that may be thinking of booking a Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday.
Review of Les 2 Alpes for advanced snowboarders
With 3 long and challenging black runs into town and a few others dotted around resort, advanced snowboarders have plenty of challenging pistes to ride. However it is the off piste that advanced snowboarders crave and Les 2 Alpes has 800 hectares of lift accessible off piste terrain which is relatively safe (remember no off piste is ‘safe’). With the help of a guide you can snowboard backcountry into the resort of La Grave renowned internationally for its freeride terrain.
Les 2 Alpes also has a very good park area with plenty of features only suitable for experts, and smaller featured suitable for us merely advanced snowboarders.
Review of Les 2 Alpes for beginner and intermediate snowboarders
With around 60% of the runs aimed at beginners and intermediates there is a lot of piste to explore. There are a couple of key runs that are slow and flat, but they can be avoided. It is certainly not one of those resorts where beginners will be unstrapping all the time.
There is a very large skions tranquille (slow zone) aimed at helping beginners build their confidence without speeding lunatics such as myself scaring them witless. The resort is upside down compared to many with the harder runs at its base, this means the large beginners area is high to it has good snow all season for its 400+ instructors to teach you on.
Review of Les 2 Alpes après and eating out
The on mountain après in Les 2 Alpes is very good with Pano bar certainly the most lively I have experienced in France. There are a number of good bars in town, we enjoyed the Polar Bar and Smithy’s on this trip but there are plenty of others and a couple of clubs. As Les 2 Alpes is a single base resort rather than lots of smaller resorts spread over the mountain it concentrates the après action and leads to a very good vibe.
Likewise the eating out options are plentiful and vary from French to Chinese to Mexican. It is possible to eat out on the cheap and there is the Michelin stared Le p’tit Polyte for those wanting to splash out. For self catering lovers the supermarket is not too expensive either.
Review of Les 2 Alpes for families
I was in Les 2 Alpes with a group of guys but each year I also go on at least one family snowboarding holiday with the kids. As its a big resort and town the lively après scene in Les 2 Alpes can be easily avoided if you have children. To keep them busy off the slope there is a swimming pool, ice rink, ice gliders, bowling, an ice cave and a weekly program of free kids evening entertainment.
The resort childcare facilities are comprehensive, with a crèche for babies from 6 months, a nursery for 2-6 year olds, and a range of age appropriate kids ski lessons. Starting from the age of 3 children learn on specially designed facilities based on the PIOU PIOU concept which is all about learning while having fun. There is also ‘kids park’ to introduce children aged 8-10 to the joys of freestyle on features suitable for their physique. Best of all kids under 5 go free on all ski lifts.
Les 2 Alpes the best all round ski resort in France?
I have not snowboarded in every ski resort in France but I have been to the big guns of Val d’Isere, Tignes, Courchevel, Meribel, Les Arcs, La Plagne and Chamonix. These other resorts are better than Les 2 Alpes in some areas but they also have their weaknesses. So I will conclude my review of Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holidays by saying it is the best all round ski resort I have been to in France.
You can find out more about Les 2 Alpes by checking out the Office de Tourisme Les 2 Alpes website.