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Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez


Quick Overview

Everyone likes good neighbours and, in terms of skiing at least, the Rhone Alp ski centres of Les Deux Alpes and Alpes d’Huez in France are about as good as they come.

Though these two French ski resorts are barely six miles apart as the crow flies, they are, however, a little like chalk and cheese when it comes to comparison and therefore appeal to very different tourist markets. 

These resorts would also make for a great two centre ski break if you like a little après ski action to start your holiday followed by some R&R to end your stay before the journey home.

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By night the main streets of Les Deux Alpes twinkle and hum. The neon lights promoting the numerous bars and restaurants and music thudding from the myriad night spots here transform an otherwise gentile French ski centre into Ibiza with snow once the sun goes down.

If you stayed here three weeks you’d struggle to sample every venue, so in three nights you’ll certainly have your work cut out in choosing which you should visit.

Les Deux Alpes started life as an up market ski resort in 1946 but slowly and surely has mutated into a livelier, yet more attractive proposition for families and low-budget skiers.
If you like to set up base in a three star hotel, then Les Deux Alpes has several, but if you fancy skiing on a budget then there are hundreds of rooms available here for under £10 a night. The staple diet for economy skiing of tartiflette (boiled and sliced potato, fried onion and bacon all mixed with melted reblochon cheese), is equally plentiful and features on most menus.

Fancy something a little more upmarket, then you could try in Avenue de la Muzelle, a snow-smothered log cabin straight off the front of a chocolate box, it specialises in fondue and pierrade – in other words, DIY cooking.

The chef delivers prepared cuts of various meats to your table which you cook to your liking on a heated granite slab or, in the case of fondue, boiling oil, adding cheese or a marinade to suit your tastes. It makes for a fun, convivial night out, especially when the mulled wine (vin chaud) starts to flow.

‘What about the skiing’, I hear you shouting, well that’s pretty tasty at Les Deux Alpes too.

The resort is surrounded by an inverted mountain range with the Glacier de Mont-de-Lans nearing its peak which, in layman’s terms, means the higher you go the easier the skiing generally becomes. 

The glacier includes an ice cave visitor centre that includes stunning life-sized, hand carved ice sculptures of polar bears and even dinosaurs.

There are 57 pistes here covering 1,200 hectares so you won’t have to ski the same run unless you really want to. Be warned though, the going gets tougher and icier towards the foot of the mountains, so if you’re tired or you’re a beginner, then be sensible and take one of the 60-odd lifts here.

Part two of my trip took me down the mountain and up the next, a total of 40 miles, to the more sophisticated neighbouring resort of Alpe d’Huez where I stayed at the delightfully quirky Hôtel-Spa Royal Ours Blanc.

A monolith of wood and rock, so much so that Fred Flintstone may even have had a hand in the architecture, but it is a delightful 48-bedroom hotel situated barely 100 metres from the ski lifts.

In lots of ways the four-star Hôtel-Spa Royal Ours Blanc sums up the resort, it’s just that little bit different, off the wall so to speak, and unlike Les Deux Alpes, the easier pistes here are situated toward the foot of the mountain range.

If you’re up to it, a string of tough black runs cascade down from the mountain’s high point, Pic Blanc at 3,300m, to an area below that boasts two glaciers Des Rousses and Sarenne. 

The Sarenne Glacier also marks the start of the infamous Chateau Noir or La Fare black run which, at the time of writing, was the longest single piste in Europe measuring up at 14 kilometres.

If that seems a little too much for one morning, then content yourself with the 39 green runs, 30 blues, 26 reds or 15 other black runs on offer at Alpe d’Huez.


Mark Pennell travelled to the French Alps courtesy of P&O Ferries and stayed at the Mercure Hotel Coralia and Hotel Royal Ours Blanc.


July 11, 2023


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