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High marks for Les Deux-Alpes

By Mark Hodson, Co-founder of 101 Holidays

There’s no such thing as a perfect ski resort – you need to decide what’s important for you. Are you looking for value, cosy mountain huts or ear-splitting nightlife? Guaranteed snow or pretty runs through the trees? You simply can’t find everything all in one place.

Les Deux-Alpes in France ticks a lot of boxes, but not all of them. It’s a large sprawling resort high in the southern Alps with a wide range of good-value accommodation. When the lifts open on 1 December this year – and run right through to 27 April 2019 – you can be sure there will be snow. Even if the lower slopes are bare, you can head up to the glacier for guaranteed skiing all the way to 3,600m (don’t go that high on your first day in resort, or you might fall victim to altitude sickness).

Also in the plus column, Les Deux-Alpes has sensational mountain views, lots of varied skiing and inexpensive mountain restaurants. In the minus column, the lift system isn’t world class and nobody would claim the resort is pretty. At this altitude, you don’t find many twisting woodland runs.

But the long season does mean you can book with confidence in December – when prices are low – or go late into the school Easter holidays, when many low-lying resorts are slushy and threadbare.

I went this year in Easter with my 14-year-old daughter and we saw the best – and worst – of the resort in just a few days. We arrived in a snow storm, which was great … until we found that on our first morning all the lifts on the higher slopes were closed due to winds gusting at 60mph.

High altitude means reliable snow from December through to April

Later that day, the lifts began to open and we enjoyed two further days of blistering sunshine, perfect crisp temperatures and uncrowded slopes. Millionaire’s skiing at discount prices.

We lucked out with our accommodation. The Hotel Ibiza is owned and run by Ski France, a French-owned company that sells its holidays across Europe. So, although it caters expertly to the British market with staff speaking impeccable English, there’s also a nice mix of nationalities including Scandinavian, German and French. Much better than being in a ghetto of Brits, in my view.

The hotel is a modest three-star set back from the slopes, but the food was excellent – particularly the constantly changing evening buffet – and there’s a ski shop next door and a regular shuttle bus to the lifts. During our stay we felt the swimming pool and sauna area looked a bit tired, but it has since been renovated.

Desserts buffet at the Hotel Ibiza

Eating out in Les Deux-Alpes is not as painful on the wallet as in other French resorts. It’s easy to find a meal for under €10 and most of the mountain restaurants offer quality food served cafeteria style. We liked the Pano Bar at the top of the Jandri Express lift, which after lunch slowly morphs into a full-on clubbing venue. Don’t take granny there for afternoon tea.

One of the unexpected charms of Les Deux-Alpes is the traditional village of Venosc, which pre-dates the ski resort by several hundred years. The steep cobbled streets are lined with pretty houses, cosy restaurants and bars and shops selling local produce. There’s a market every Tuesday from 3pm to 7pm and the gondola ride down to the village – close to the Hotel Ibiza – is free if you have a lift pass.

The pretty village of Venosc

How to do it

Ski France has a week’s B&B at the Hotel Ibiza from 12 December 2018 from £316.50 pp based on two sharing a standard room. Half board costs from £441 pp. One child up to the age of 18 can stay for free, with breakfast included, if sharing the parents’ room.

Private return transfers from Grenoble Airport cost £141 pp based on two sharing, reducing to £40 pp for eight sharing, with MV Transport. EasyJet flies from London to Grenoble from £53 return.

Find out more about Les Deux-Alpes.

 

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