Working in Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux (2) Alpes is one of the biggest ski resorts in the world. It has 35,000 beds and 220 kms of pistes which are not shared with any satellite villages. The village is 2 kms long and was built piecemeal, starting in 1947 so is not (as often suggested) a purpose built resort. It’s not one of the prettiest towns in the Alps, but neither is it high rise, and its erratic structure has its own charm. LDA also has a real community feel which is almost always noticed by visitors. Around 3,500 people live here all the year round. It is peculiarly international without any one nationality being too dominant which adds to the friendly atmosphere.
In spite of an average 300 days of sunshine a year, LDA is one of the top snowfall resorts in France, and with our huge glacier have no problems with snow cover. The majority of runs are North West North facing, so hold excellent snow conditions until the end of the season at the first weekend of May.
LDA is not so named because of the two mountains we ski on, but because of the two original villages of Venosc at one end and Mont de Lans at the other. The two communes (local councils) still run everything, and never the twain shall meet.
Work in Les Deux Alpes
Because of its large size there are lots of job opportunities in LDA. Most of the major British tour operators are here, so working for one of them is always an option. If opting for this be careful which company you work for they’re not all the same! If you want to work in a bar/hotel/shop that is not run by a tour operator you will probably need to speak at least adequate French. Most people here can speak a leetle Eengleesh, but that’s mostly what it is! There are a vast number of job opportunities, some are very basic like plongeur (washer-upper) or weekends only like transfer rep, but most are full time. There are notices pinned up in the Marche U supermarket, and outside the Tourist Office in the centre of town. There is also a temporary employment agency set up in the Mairie Annexe de Mont de Lans early in the season. If you really want a job in town, the best thing is to go to the Mondial week (23 Oct.- 1 Nov) where you can walk around and ask. In the interseason most businesses are closed.
The Skiing in Les Deux Alpes
We have both winter and summer seasons in LDA, and the largest skiable glacier in France which is also the widest in Europe. The ski-ing here is the business! We really do have everything, but you should be aware that many of the runs are more difficult for their colour than in many other resorts. If LDA says it’s black, then it is steep and with no easy bits for novices to save themselves on. One of the curious things about the pistes here is that the mountain in upside-down. Many of the black runs are down to the village and the glacier at the top of the mountain is really easy. Of course there are blacks in other places too, but you should note that there is only one easy run down the last part of the mountain. It is a (revolting) green path which is just 5kms of straight snowplough at the end of the day, otherwise you’re on black. The best way down for intermediates is by chairlift or gondola. This really shouldn’t matter as you could already have skied from 3,568m down to 2,200m (1368 vertical meters or nearly 4,000 vertical feet). The piste map shows a preponderance of blue runs, and not much for the experienced skier, but the reality is that we have fantastic beginner’s pistes, amazing off piste/freeride areas and challenging blacks, but the average “blue” skier might be disappointed.
The smaller side (the Pied Moutet) can be excellent in powder and is usually pretty quiet, but although there are mostly blue runs marked there, they’re really all red! In the spring this area tends to be icy first thing and slushy in the afternoon as it gets sun all day. Late morning can be tremendous though.
LDA has 450 hectares of off piste ski-ing WITHOUT counting La Grave. This is apparently the second biggest off piste area in France (after Chamonix). There are steeps, itineraries, just general off piste areas and then there’s La Grave... (accessible on your LDA liftpass via a piste machine tow from the top of the mountain). However in addition to all the gnarly stuff, we also have lots of very easy off piste areas where even beginners can try the deep stuff.
There is a large snowpark at 2,600m in the winter and an even bigger one on the glacier in the summer. The winter park includes half-pipe, 3 big air jumps, a slope-style area, spine and boarder/skier-cross track. In the summer there are two half-pipes and what seems to be hundreds of jumps and rails etc. The mountain is also covered with natural half pipes, just waiting!
Seasonal accommodation is a major problem. It’s not as expensive as some of the posh resorts, but it’s really difficult to find. If you get a job independently then you need to have your accommodation fixed up before the Mondial, ditto if you’re just planning on bumming for the season. The tour operators normally provide accommodation, but don’t expect much. A fairly normal price for a small 14 sq.m apartment would be around 400 euros per month. If you leave it late, even if you do find something it’s likely to be much more than this. Accommodation is available in the villages below LDA much more easily and at reasonable cost, but you would need a car, and someone would have to be a non-drinker every time you go up for a night in the town.
LDA is a very lively resort in the evenings, with something for all tastes. There are 70 bars and restaurants, so I can’t list all of them, but there are English bars, French bars, Dutch bars, several pubs (open to debate), and restaurants of most types, including two Thai restaurants, but no Indians or Chinese. Personal favourites are Le Mezzanine bar & Le Bangkok restaurant with Il Caminetto for the best pizzas & pasta in town.
There is a bar/disco Le Brasilien which is excellent, and two discos L’Avalanche (nearer the town centre) and L’Opera in the Village area. Supermarkets are reasonably priced and several stock some British food like Raspberry Jelly, Baked Beans and Heinz Tomato Soup.