The French Alps are an ideal destination for skiing and other winter sports, but for me, they were much more than that.
I don’t like the cold, but I love snow, and unfortunately, I rarely see a true winter landscape in Romania. So, at the end of December, I set out in search of the winter of my childhood. I found it in two of the beautiful resorts in the French Alps: Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez. Most tourists come here for skiing, but I had never skied before. Nevertheless, I eagerly awaited this trip, knowing that it could not disappoint me. And it certainly didn’t.
The French Alps are full of wonderful places and offer a range of diverse activities even for those who don’t ski. If that’s your case and you want to read more about how you can indulge yourself beyond skiing, you’ll find that here too. The charming village of Venosc, La Grotte de Glace, and a sled ride pulled by huskies are just a few examples. For now, let’s give the skiers what is due to them!
France as a Ski Destination
France is one of the top ski destinations in the world, with over 10,000 kilometers of slopes and the largest interconnected ski area in the world, with over 600 kilometers of slopes in the Les Trois Vallées region. Courchevel and Meribel will host the 2023 Ski World Championships, while Val Thorens is the highest altitude ski resort in Europe. Les 2 Alpes offers summer skiing thanks to its high-altitude glacier, and Alpes d’Huez boasts the most sunny days on the slopes due to its positioning.
However, most French ski resorts are for those with a generous budget. There are certainly middle-range options, especially if you avoid peak season and opt for simpler accommodation. A recommendation I received from the tourism office is to look for packages from tour operators, as they receive considerable discounts compared to what a tourist can obtain on their own.
Les 2 Alpes is one of the oldest resorts in the French Alps
I arrived in Les 2 Alpes by plane to Lyon and from there took a transfer that lasted about two hours. My biggest desire was to see snow, lots of snow, white landscapes, like in winters past. When I arrived, there wasn’t that magical scenery yet, but there were very good skiing conditions everywhere.
What makes Les 2 Alpes special for winter sports enthusiasts?
It is one of the oldest ski resorts in the French Alps, the second established after Chamonix.
It has over 220 km of ski slopes (11 black, 19 red, 43 blue, and 19 green) and 53 cable transport facilities, including an underground cabin that takes you from 3000 to 3400 m.
Les 2 Alpes is one of the few ski resorts in the French Alps where you can ski all year round, even in the middle of summer, thanks to a natural glacier at high altitude. However, it is intended in the future to limit skiing on the glacier in July and August to protect it.
The slopes are of all categories, which means that if you are a beginner, you don’t have to stay only at the base of the mountain. There are beginner slopes at high altitude as well.
You can go up to high altitude with or without skis, where you have a spectacular view of Mont Blanc.
The longest groomed slope is over 10 km long, but in Les 2 Alpes, it is one of the largest freeride areas in Europe, with over 60 km of unprepared and off-piste slopes.
We went up to see Mont Blanc on the day of arrival because the next day it was cloudy and we would not have had the opportunity. The climb was splendid and the view to the top of Mont Blanc was well worth it. It’s the most beautiful view from a height I’ve seen in winter.
As predicted, the weather changed the same evening. But for me it was the greatest joy: it snowed like a fairytale all night and the next morning the winter of my childhood was beating on my window.
The second day in Les 2 Alpes was a first for me: I put my skis on for the first time in my life. I think it’s one of the best places to do it for the first time, because everything is so well set up for beginners. There are extremely well-trained ski instructors, slopes designed for every step, magic carpet that gets you up. I’ve tried, I’ve had fun, but I admit I’m not seriously considering taking up the sport in the future.
Les 2 Alpes organizes Snow Fest every year, and the organizers are Romanians. This is the reason why Romanians are well-known and highly appreciated tourists there. Everywhere I went and said I was from Romania, I heard nothing but praise for Romanian tourists and I was very happy to hear that.
Venosc, the neighbouring village of irresistible beauty
From Les 2 Alpes, a cable car takes you to the absolutely beautiful village of Venosc in 8 minutes.
It is situated at the foot of the Ecrins Massif and is the perfect place to experience the picturesque charm of a French mountain village.
With narrow streets, stone and wooden houses, beautiful views, artists’ and craftsmen’s workshops, Venosc is quiet and charming, especially in winter when it is also quite deserted. Incidentally, the main hotel, which looks like a castle, was closed, but from what I understand in summer the place is much busier.
Venosc has all sorts of surprises when you walk through the narrow streets. The church in the old village was built in the 13th century, a black rock that stands testimony to a time 20 million years ago when the Venosc area was covered in a thick layer of ash and lava, the result of the eruption of a volcano called “La Grave”. This volcano is now extinct and inactive, and the region is known for its spectacular mountain and glacier scenery.
What to do in the French Alps besides skiing
First of all, apart from skiing or skiing you can eat very well! For me this trip was also an exceptional gastronomic destination! We ate everywhere very well, raclette, fondue, duck, fish and everything was superlative.
A relaxing spa session, hiking, paragliding, helicopter flight or sleigh rides are just some of the options for non-skiers. In the summer you can add many biking trails, climbing trails and even fishing or rafting.
Read also about our days in Alpe D’Huez, a visit to the Ice Cave and the experience of a husky dog sleigh ride. If you enjoyed it, please pass the story on. I also recommend reading about The seven wonders of Jordan.
This trip was made at the invitation of Atout France, the French Tourist Promotion Office. The articles and opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not form part of a contract. All collaborations on danagont.ro are selected to correspond to my preferences, rigours and values I believe in.