Les Deux Alpes is one of the biggest seasonal worker draw cards in the French Alps, with a whole ton of British, in particular, making their way to Les Deux Alpes each season to live, work and ride.
Thanks to a glacier and its high elevation, Les Deux Alpes has a very long season which goes from November to April, and summer riding is also possible on the glacier. Also thanks to its high elevation, snow reliability is a little better here than elsewhere in the Alps.
With the better riding off-piste and the thriving nightlife in town and among seasonal workers, Les Deux Alpes is best for those looking for an energetic season rather than those looking for mountain tranquillity.
Les Deux Alpes is located in the French Alps, around one and a half hour's drive from the town of Grenoble.
Les Deux Alps is around 10km away from the resort of Alpe d’Huez and there are plans to link the two resorts in the coming years.
The nearest international airport is at Grenoble. From here, you can make your way into town to catch one of the regular buses that departs for Les Deux Alpes (see below).
The closest major international airport is at Geneva. www.bensbus.co.uk runs transfers directly from the airport to Les Deux Alpes. Book early as spots fill up fast.
Grenoble train station is linked to the extensive French train network which takes you to and from most cities in France. You can buy tickets online at www.sncf.com/en
From the train station, there are plenty of buses to take you up to Les Deux Alpes. The simplest bus is the Transiere Transaltitude service which goes directly to the resort. If you want a cheaper option, you can take the public bus. Line 3030 gets you from Grenoble to Les Deux Alpes (via Bourg d'Oisans) with extra stops along the way. You can also use this bus to get to Alpe d'Huez - you take 3030 from resort down to Bourg d'Oisans from where you get Bus 3020 which goes to Alpe d'Huez.
If you didn't buy your bus ticket online, you can pick up tickets from a few places in Grenoble including:
Bus tickets can also be bought from the Office du Tourisme in Les Deux Alpes.
To get you around the village, a free bus operates from end to end stopping at 23 places in town. These buses run every 15 to 20 minutes from 8am - 8pm. However, the town is very flat and you can walk from end to end in 20 minutes.
The 3030 Bus runs regularly to Bourg d'Oisans from where you can get to the ski areas of La Grave, Serre Chevalier and Alpe d'Huez.
There is a helicopter which takes you to Alpe d'Huez for only 50 euros for a scenic tour and 75 euros for a return trip which is worth doing once over the season if nothing for the view. See Alpe d'Huez Helicopter and www.saf-helico.com
The village at Les Deux Alpe is long and narrow, built into the side of a hill. Nestled high up in the Alps, it is purpose-built for the ski resort and consequently does not have the charm of other French mountain towns.
There is a huge seasonal worker contingent at Les Deux Alpes each season, particularly British, meaning that there is always something going on outside work, whether with your colleagues or those working in other jobs. You can expect a very social season at Les Deux Alpes.
Without a doubt, Les Deux Alpes is a big party town. Après-ski is the order of the day and, although there is no year-round population, the village comes to life in winter with over 30 bars in town.
A lot of the British tour companies operate in Les Deux Alpes, bringing in plenty of British tourists, which furthers gives the resort a British flavour over winter.
Apart from the British, you will find a lot of French and Italian seasonal workers.
If you enjoy off-piste riding and plan to spend your days off searching for powder stashes and untouched lines, Les Deux Alpes is an excellent choice, particularly as you have access to La Grave, one of the coolest off-piste areas in France.
If, on the other hand, if you like on-piste cruisers, you will probably find Les Deux Alpes quite limited for an entire season. The on-piste area is quite small, while the challenging on-piste is even smaller. Les Deux Alpes is smaller than French mega resorts such as Espace Killy, Chamonix or The Three Valleys.
The resort is inversely shaped in that many of the harder runs are lower down, while the top, up near the glacier, has more of the easier runs. For those of you who are not confident riders, there are steep and sometimes treacherously icy runs back to the village at the end of the day.
Undoubtedly, the best riding at Les Deux Alpes is off-piste and in the backcountry. As the terrain is not avalanche primed, you should ensure you take all avalanche precautions.
At the top of the mountain, at 3,568m, there are links over to La Grave (The Grave). This area has among the best lift-accessed off-piste in France, with rocky lines and open bowls to explore. It is reported to have the highest death rate in Europe, so take a guide for the first time as there are plenty of crevasses you need to avoid in addition to avalanches.
Another spot to take a guide is down the St Christophe where you end up in a small village in the valley.
The Ice Wall is further popular off-piste spot at the top of the glacier while Le Bons, on the opposite side of the valley (Pieds Moutets), also offers some good backcountry.
The terrain park is a huge highlight of Les Deux Alpes. There are three lifts to service the different beginner, intermediate and expert lines, and the choice of features is among the best in the French Alps. This includes a superpipe, halfpipe and a bordercross course.
Fitting with the vibe of Les Deux Alpes, the terrain park area has a party atmosphere, with beats pumping as you take the kickers, rails and nice jumps. It does get quite crowded so watch out for other riders.
With elevation reaching up close to 4000m, Les Deux Alpes has the advantage of being fairly snow sure at the top. The lower runs get icy if it hasn't snowed for a while.
The season starts in November and runs through to April and there is a small operation at the glacier during summer.
If your French is limited, the best way to get a job is with a tour company. If your French is workable, you could also look at local businesses in town.
See Jobs Available at Ski Resorts for a description of ski resort jobs.
Jobs with a local business
Jobs start to be advertised in September for the upcoming season. Generally, you will need a workable level of French to find a job with a local business such as in a restaurant, working in lift operations, retail, ski schools or with the Office of Tourism (Phone: + 33 (0)4 76 79 22 00).
If you can get a job with the mountain, this is probably preferable, given you will get a free season pass. If you do not speak French, lucky ones in the past have found jobs in restaurant back-of-house jobs (generally dishes).
Two resources to start are:
There is a branch of Pôle Emploi which is open from September until March each season at the town hall annex of Mont de Lans, 48 Avenue de la Muzelle. You can call them on 04 76 79 50 94. If that is closed, you can reach the branch at Echirolles.
This office houses the Espace Saisonnier (see www.les2alpes.com/fr/vie-locale/espace-saisonnier-pole-emploi) which is a dedicated office with information on jobs as well as accommodation. The office is set up to help all seasonal workers to look for jobs and accommodation. The office is open from Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 12pm/2pm - 5.30pm and Friday until 5pm.
Each year in early October (around the 10th), there is a big jobs fair held at the Foyer Municipal in Bourg d’Oisans. If you are in the country at this time, it is an excellent way and hassle free way to line up a job for the upcoming season. You can contact the Espace Saisonnier for exact dates.
Question Saison Guides Saisonniers has further information (in French) on working a season in the Rhône-Alps.
If you are not comfortable with your level of French, you could try finding a job with a tour operator. These companies offer full-service ski packages for tourists, often British, meaning you interact with the clients in English.
You can expect to work 6 days a week with one day off, including one day each week for transfer where new clients arrive.
See Jobs Available at Ski Resorts for a description of tour operator jobs.
Tour operators working out of Les Deux Alpes include:
For resort representatives on-mountain, a good tip is that most restaurants will let you eat free if you bring in 10 or more guests.
One good thing about Les Deux Alpes is that Alpe d'Huez and Serre Chevalier are close by and have easy buses running between them. This means if you do not find a job with Les Deux Alpes, you can continue your search at another resort quite easily.
Remember also that, with so many tour operators in Les Deux Alpes, people are bound to leave or get fired during the season. This means jobs do pop up as the season goes on, particularly just after Christmas.
Tour operators provide staff accommodation, a season pass, board and meals. Pay is around 80 pounds per week. For local businesses, you can expect around 1900 euros a month if staff accommodation is not included and a little less if it is.
Once you have found a job, you need to ask immediately whether staff accommodation is included. If it is, it is generally better to accept this rather than hunt around on your own for a place which will generally be much more experience, and much further away from your workmates and the action.
If staff accommodation is not included in the employment package, a good place to start is the Accommodation Service at the Espace Saisonnier (town hall annex of Mont de Lans, 48 avenue de la Muzelle (see www.les2alpes.com/fr/vie-locale/espace-saisonnier-pole-emploi).
The office is open from Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 12pm/2pm - 5.30pm and Friday until 5pm. You can call them on 04 76 79 50 94
Question Saison Guides Saisonniers has further information (in French) on finding accommodation at Les Deux Alpes.
Where to live
One of the most convenient places to live is the blocks at the bottom of the pistes. Among tour operators, a lot of staff housing is at the village end of the town, near the Club Med, or at the other end of the village near the Devil Chair. The Devil Chair end has cheaper accommodation. Many staff live at club hotels, but these are not as good to live for the season.
There are two main supermarkets to buy groceries The Super U and Casino. Casino is probably a little cheaper. In true French style, the bread from the Boulangerie is incredible.
Les Deux Alpes undoubtedly has one of the best après scenes in the French Alps which helps to account for the huge number of Brits that frequent the resorts. This is indeed a great resort if you are after a party season.
Pub Windsor has over 100 beers and is open from mid-afternoon until late. Le Pano Bar also has great après-ski, before the crowds move into town and continue the partying. L'Avalanche is a club with a French crowd which kicks on late into the night, closing time around 4am.
A few other cool little bars to check out over the season include Le Strike (for smooth cocktails), Monkey Schuss (for a hit of pool), Wine Not (for a beautiful, silky wine after a hard day working), and La Grotte du Yéti (for drinks early followed by a pumping crowd).