Sunshine on the slopes – Les Deux Alpes, 2019

Last week we returned back from a sunny Les Deux Alpes –  a little bit tired (me a little bit broken but more of that later) but loving our skiing even more.

This was our third ski holiday the previous two holidays being in Morzine (check out 2017 and 2018).  We love Morzine but as we were unsure this year if we would make a ski-holiday due to the cost and our ongoing kitchen project we needed value for money.  It is such a costly holiday that when we were trying to work out costs and most places just pushed it way over what we wanted.

Booking

I had been checking out flight costs for weeks in the hope I would get the green light and when I finally found decent flights to Grenoble with Jet2 it was then my mission to find a good value hotel.  I knew that Mr TWB would prefer that our food was taken care of as that helps control the budget a bit so I finally found La Belle Etoile who were offering half-board in a family room and it was well within the budget I was trying to achieve, I checked out the reviews and was happy we were making a good choice and the communication with the hotel was great.  My review of the hotel is here

With our flights and hotels sorted it was just the transfers and wow what a range of prices – the best I found was with Ben’s Bus with a simple booking process and a much cheaper option than other transfer companies.  We then booked our lessons and this year opted for private (check out our review here) and the hotel were helping out with passes and equipment so we were done

Booking within four weeks of travel  we certainly surprised ourselves with the cost we achieved.   Now normally I would not recommend leaving booking a ski holiday in half-term to a few weeks before but if you have to there are definitely some good deals to be had by being a bit savvy.

Arrival and getting sorted

So the day arrived, an early start and still dark outside when we set off.  We had a real treat thought through the aeroplane window with the most stunning sunrise.  The picture certainly doesn’t do it justice but we couldn’t keep our eyes off it.

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On arrival at Grenoble we were swiftly through passport control and just as quickly picked up our bags.  The arrival lounge is small and we had a little while to wait for our transfer but this was no hardship.  Once the coach arrived we were loaded up and on the road in no time and soon started to snake up and around the mountains to get to our destination.  The views were pretty spectacular but I would definitely recommend if anyone gets even a little travel sick to stay away from reading, using tablets etc.  One passenger had to have the bus make an emergency stop.

We arrived into the resort and headed straight to our hotel.  As it was a standard transfer bus it didn’t drop right outside the hotel but it was only a few minute walk and we were really please to be told our room was ready as soon as we arrived.

The rooms were a little smaller than we have been used to but clean and tidy with plenty of storage space and an added bonus of a  balcony with views up to the main slope.  As we were only going to be sleeping here we were happy enough.  For a more information on the hotel – check out my review here.

So once we were checked in it was definitely time for a quick bite to eat and a refreshing drink so we headed to a lovely little café for beers (hot chocolate for Ella)  and crepes/galettes a perfect start.

The hotel had sorted out our lift passes so that was one less job we had to sort so it was just our equipment.  They work with Aalborg Sports Hire in the resort which was a 5 minute walk away from the hotel and the bonus of having storage for your equipment was something we had already decided was important to us.  The shop was right close to one of the lifts and you could also ski right down to the shop avoiding the walks with clunky boots and equipment.

We spent the rest of the afternoon having a little potter and a couple of snowball fights.  Ella loved the snowball makers that were around which made the perfect snowball. Although why she is modelling it as head wear here is beyond me.  I think this will definitely be coming with us again and Ella convinced it will work equally as well at the beach.

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The hotel as I mentioned was half-board and has a real Italian influence with a four course menu every night, a buffet starter and then two main courses (each a decent size) and dessert.  The food was pretty good and certainly filled you up after a day on the slopes they also had an pretty good selection of wines and beers at decent prices too.  In fact a litre carafe of house red was only 13 euros which is a bargain by French ski resort standards.

The main event – skiing

So on to the skiing.  The first day as we didn’t start our lesson until 1pm we didn’t need to be in a rush to get out and hit the mania of ski school meeting points.  This was certainly a welcome change to our usual crazy mornings.  The main Diable lift was still pretty busy but once we were up on the mountain it was pretty much plain sailing.

Having been a year since we had all strapped into our boots we wanted to take it easy and get our ski legs back so we started with a couple of greens and then headed to the Jandri.  This is a long sweeping blue that takes you from the top of the glacier right to down the resort.  It is supposed to be a slow run, so for us it was perfect as we are still very much beginners.  I don’t ever think I will be tackling and difficult reds or blacks, I just like to enjoy myself and take it all in.

We made it to the bottom in one piece and then took a quick refreshment break whilst we waited for our instructor.  To see what I thought about our lessons this week check our my review ESF Private Lessons .

We had a great lesson and was all feeling in good spirits on our first day after the lesson, albeit a bit weary, so soon after our lesson we stopped for some more cold drinks at Le Patachon the bottom of the Crete run which became our future meeting point for lessons and post lesson pit stop.  .

We were totally blessed with the most incredible weather whilst we were in Les Deux Alpes.  There wasn’t any new snowfall but that wasn’t really required,  the sun was shining and the blue skies were amazing every single day.  I know from previous experience that rain or even snowing when you are up on the mountains can make it a lot less enjoyable so being able to ski in these conditions (or have a stop for a cold beer and enjoy the view) was brilliant.  We totally know how lucky we are.

After a couple of days we were starting to find our groove on the slopes, all of us (particularly Ella) coming on quite a  bit.  I think we all hit stumbling blocks but after an hour and a half with Andreas after lunch we were back on it.

Les Deux Alpes is a great resort, I feel, for all abilities.  As I have mentioned we are very much novices and I think as I have learnt a bit older in age than most that I my confidence on the slopes does fluctuate but the resort with its sweeping blue runs really suited us.  The fact they have areas that are designed to be a bit slower in pace helps too as you feel you don’t have to worry so much about all the die hards wizzing past you, throwing you off balance.

There are also enough red/blacks for those more experienced as well as a Freestyle Zone.  We never made it there for obvious reasons but wish we had checked it out.

The resort also on a glacier sitting at 3600 feet and it is classed as a “upside down” resort as a lot of the easier slopes are higher up with some of the slopes closer to the town being steeper.

Apres-ski

Whatever board basis you are on you will no doubt experience some of the apres-ski at some point during your stay in Les Deux Alpes.  Whilst we may no longer be clubbing (there are clubs available) we do like to pop to the pub and there are loads to choose from so in addition to the daily pit stop on the mountains we did partake in a few venues.

Ella has pretty good staying power, even after a day on the slopes and likes a visit to the pub almost as much as us.  She particularly liked the The Secret Bar  as it had a whole array of games and she took pleasure in beating me at draughts.

All the pubs seem to be pretty child friendly, although we were not in them particularly late.  There are also a number of great cafés/restaurants that are lovely to visit just for a drink and we like Crepes a GoGo which is just opposite our hotel.  We enjoyed listening to the soothing music one afternoon over a vin chaud.

There is also an abundance of restaurants/cafes/fast food places – anything to suit your requirements.  We snacked on a decent burger, shared a couple of good pizzas and became completely cheesed out one evening when the three of us shared a fabulous Fondue at Le Paellou.

However, for those looking for a bit of a party on the slopes then you cannot go wrong with a couple of hours dancing on the tables at The Pano Bar.  This is definitely altitude clubbing sitting at 2600metres.  From 1500 to 1700 each day there is a DJ playing some great tunes and to be honest it really goes off.

Despite my clubbing days being behind me I couldn’t resist and after I had a bit of a nasty fall on the Thursday that wiped me out of skiing for the last two days I jumped on the Jandri Express Gondola and met my little family up on the mountain.  We had a couple of drinks, we had a bit of a dance (I did feel a bit old at times but pretended I was back in my twenties for a short while) Ella was flossing like a champ on the tales and we all had a great time.

 

Les Deux Alpes – The Town

Being one of the oldest ski resorts in France it is definitely well established.  It has an array of shops selling everything from ski equipment, chocolate, cheese and other local produce as well as the usual tourist souvenir shops.  For any self-caterers there are a couple of supermarkets as well as a number of bakeries.

The resort also offers a number of activities for the non-skier or if you just want to have a day off.  You can, ice-skate, skidoo, take a husky ride or horse drawn cart ride.  There are also a couple of villages close by that could be worth a visit.  Check out my Top 10 Non-Ski Activities in Les Deux Alpes for full details.

Every Friday during the winter season they have the Haribo Challenge whereby families compete against each other in a number of non-ski challenges.  We did this and it was great fun (I was an observer due to my strapped up arm but still enjoyed watching).  Ella and Mr TWB tried out human curling, seated skiing, and caterpillar tobogganing.  They didn’t win but came away with a big bag of sweets and a happy child.

There are also a couple of areas on the bottom slopes where you can get the sledges out.  We hired one from one of the shops for 5 euros and spent a good hour running up and zooming down.  Ella loved it and had she not been hungry and a bit cold she would have stayed out for much longer.

The Glacier

On our last day in Les Deux Alpes, Ella and hubby decided not to ski so that they could spend the day with me.  We really wanted to go check out the Ice Caves and the Belvedere des Ecrins – a suspended footbridge overlooking the mountains.

If you are a non-skier you will need to purchase a lift pass for the day but as we already had a week long pass we could head up.  You take the Jandri Express up and then the Jandri 2 right to the top of the Glacier and then just in front you will see a little hut in front of you this is the entrance to the Ice Caves.  It is 5 euros per adult and 4 euros per child which you must pay in cash or purchase tickets in the village.

You are then transported into a prehistoric era with dinosaurs carved out of the ice.  The caves are lit in a number of colours and they are really pretty and the 200 metre long corridors are pretty impressive.    High enough for my 6ft husband to get around and a great addition to being on the mountains.  It doesn’t take long to get around but they are pretty special and it apparently takes 5 months to create the caves.

After visiting the caves we headed back up the hill and then around the back of the café there is a small funicular that takes you to the main funicular which in turn takes you underground up the mountain to the highest point.

Looking at the map this looks like a short distance and like any other mountain railway but it really is an unbelievable fete of engineering.  Tunnelling its way under the mountain it transports you 1.7K at a surprising speed.

When you alight you have about a 10 minute walk to the walkway which affords you breathtaking views, probably up there in the top 10 best views I have seen and I have been to a lot of countries.

The whole trip took up the morning and then we headed back down the mountain for some lunch and a spot of souvenir shopping.

Summary

Despite my injury we had a brilliant time in Les Deux Alpes.  The hotel staff were amazing, the skiing was perfect for our ability, our instructor brilliant (and patient).  The resort really will suit all tastes, abilities and requirements including non-skiers.

Team TWB would definitely recommend it.

If you would like to know anything else then please post a comment and I will add to the blog.

 

 

 

 


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