Social Skiing meets City Break in the French Alpes – Family and solo fun in Grenoble, Vaujany and Les 2 Alpes

During  a recent ski trip to the Isère region, I coined the term Social Skiing. As a non-confident skier, socialising on the slopes becomes almost more important than racing down the mountain. Every opportunity to meet people during social activities is essential to the success of a week in the snow. Even the most experienced skiers would agree that modern ski technology allows people to be faster than ever. After a couple of hours exploring all slopes, you really want to do other things. Resorts in Isère are catering more and more for aprés-ski attractions, such as ice skating, snow trails, pétanque, gourmet tasting, cultural activities, night-clubbing and premium shopping.

On the slopes of Vaujany 

The Isère region is now closer than ever to the UK thanks to additional routes to Grenoble. Return direct flights from London Stansted to Grenoble Airport with either Easyjet or Ryanair cost from as little as £26.  

Grenoble by night

Grenoble is surrounded by three mountain chains, Vercors, Chartreuse, Belledonne with romantic views and the light that changes with the hours. Native Stendhal used to call the Chartreuse mountains “the Emerald of the Alps”, and they’re especially known for the namesake liqueur that has been produced here for more than 900 years. Families can do lots of outdoor activities, in winter and summer alike: hiking trails, orienteering courses, winter sports resorts, ropes courses, woodworking, and more.

View from Les 2 Alpes’ slopes

The Oisans mountains and their six valleys are easy to get to from Grenoble. They lead straight to great ski resorts like Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes. Along with skiing, sports like hiking or climbing, are deeply ingrained in the traditions of these mountains. Whether it’s with friends, family, or alone, to explore new territories, relax in preserved nature, or rise to athletic challenges, it’s all there, in and around Grenoble. 

Grenoble is a pretty city with a great cultural and historical heritage that is worth visiting with kids who are learning the French Revolution. Le Musée de la Révolution française, the only museum in the world dedicated to this key period in history, is the very same place where the Assembly of the Three Orders of the Dauphiné took place on 21 July in 1788.

I am here with chef Stéphane Froidevaux who runs contemporary restaurant Fantin Latour

Grenoble is overflowing with delicious restaurants run by particularly creative and innovative young chefs such as Stéphane Froidevaux who runs contemporary restaurant Fantin Latour from the 2020 MICHELIN Guide France. I had a superb dinner there: every dish was a taste sensation and an artistic delight. Lots of spices and aromas were sourced directly from the restaurant’s private garden or local suppliers. It was one of my best dining experiences ever. 

A creamy Pumpkin velute’ with Grenoble walnuts – original recipe created by chef Stéphane Froidevaux at Fantin Latour

The meal included an entree of Christmas spices-flavoured butter served with home-made bread, a creamy Pumpkin velute’ with Grenoble walnuts, cod with truffle sauce, biscuit sable with goat milk ice-cream, and Chartreuse liqueur. 

My highly recommended souvenirs from the region include home-made honey from Le Fantin Latour restaurant, Les Trucs a’ la Noix de Grenoble (praline walnuts), La Liqueur Chartreuse, a preciously-guarded secret for centuries. The green liqueur made by monks since 1605, also called “the liqueur of health” was perfected by monks in 1764, is made with more than 130 plants, for around 55°of alcohol. 

While in Grenoble I stayed at 4-star Hotel OKKO (a 2-night stay is priced from £83pp with breakfast, based on two sharing – 23 rue Hoche). I love its cutting-edge design and simplicity of the décor overlooking a park opposite the de Bonne eco-neighbourhood. There’s no welcome desk, no breakfast room but a single living area, the Club, inspired by airport lounges and open 24 hours a day.

Lounge at Hotel OKKO in Grenoble

Skiing is just 20 minutes away from the city. In just over one hour I transferred with Actibus cars to the old village resort of Vaujany (since 1663), a skiing location at 1250 m (the peak Blanc at 3300m) that was created in 1989, which is the ideal mountain destination for families. It’s a resort where you can truly rest and eat good food after skiing. Highlights of Vaujany include convenient escalators that connect all facilities (swimming pool, ice skating, game of pétanque on the ice rink, restaurants, shops) and lifts to the slopes.

Game of pétanque

I loved the variety of slopes available there, particularly the easy and safe beginners’ and children’s areas. Skiers of all levels can enjoy over 250km slopes thanks to the lift links to Alpe d’Huez.

The landscapes of the Oz-Vaujany are stunning and the local ESF ski schools organised a romantic sunset ski experience with a stop on the slopes to have a glass of champagne with a taste of local hams.

I enjoyed a chair ride pushed by a ski instructor that can be booked by those who cannot ski or grandparents who want to take part in the skiing experience or watch their grandchildren.

In Vaujany I enjoyed a 2-night stay at the luxury 4-star chalet La Perle de Oisans (priced from £103pp, based on two sharing) including a balcony with spectacular views, a spa, comfortable beds with fluffy cushions, a cosy lounge with a fireplace and kitchen where a fresh and abundant breakfast was delivered every morning. Here I had the best locally sourced baguette, butter and jams.

Lots of fairy lights at La Perle de Oisans chalet

Cosy comfort in the luxury bedrooms at the La Perle de Oisans chalet in Vaujany

Spectacular night views of Vaujany from La Perle de Oisans chalet

For lunch and tea breaks on the slopes I stopped twice at Les Airelles Restaurant where I had a delicious pumpkin velute’ and a warming vin chaud as well as a gourmand coffee (including a selection of pastries). 

In the evening I dined at gourmet restaurant Ida which served lovely original cocktails and a delicate fish-based nouvelle cuisine prepared in an open kitchen.

To experience a completely different resort in the Isère area, I visited Les 2 Alpes which is less than one hour away from Vaujany and the perfect destination for the social skiing experience, popular with singletons, party-goers and those who like apres-ski entertainment as much as the skiing itself.

I stayed 2 nights at the basic but comfortable 3-star Le Souleil’Or hotel (priced from £433pp for a 5-night stay with breakfast, based on two people sharing). The best feature of this accommodation (and most hotels in Les 2 Alpes) is that you are at walking distance from the chair lifts.

For skiers of all skills there’s a great variety of slopes and my personal highlight was reaching the peak (the highest mountain in France at 3600 metres) to enjoy 360 degrees panoramic view of the Ecrins Massif even at minus 21 degrees Celsius.

With the cold wind  blowing on my back at my highest point and the lowest temperature in my life, my joyful tears froze on my cheeks. It was an emotional moment that I will never forget.

Le Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the distance

To keep the momentum, I ate a huge omelette with black truffles on the slopes at  Le Diable au Coeur at 2400 metres. Afterwards I chillaxed on their sun-bathing terrace with stunning views at the rhythm of ‘80s classic anthems. In the afternoon it’s fun and quirky to take part in disco dancing with friendly people in ski gear.

  

My favourite local French restaurants for the finest dining in Les 2 Alpes are Chamois Lodge, a gourmet bistro offering delicious seasonal homemade cuisine made from fresh produce with the chef’s grandmothers’ recipes, and Le Rouge et Le Noir, specialised in mountain and cheese dishes.

Snow Trail – a marathon on the mountains

Les 2 Alpes extends like a strip filled with cool and premium shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

Les 2 Alpes from the lift

For someone like myself who has no ski equipment, Ski Hire was the easiest solution – I went to Jacques Sports.

Ski gear from Jacques Sports and clothing kindly supplied by Mountain Warehouse

Les 2 Alpes is the ultimate party town. I can hardly remember having so many fun nights out until the break of dawn mingling with the friendliest locals at the Windsor pub then at Le Cafe Bresilien nightclub. I’ll be going back to Les 2 Alpes even just for party time.

Les 2 Alpes by night

Vin Chaud and Super Vin Chaud are the only drinks I have – the lovely Windsor pub in Les 2 Alpes was the witness of our regular apres-ski antiques for a couple of nights

For more information about Isere Tourism visit www.isere-tourisme.com

Les 2 Alpes 

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel LE SOULEIL’OR ***-  http://www.le-souleil-or.fr/

From €107 per night for a SINGLE room with breakfast

From €180 per night for a DOUBLE room with breakfast

SKIING

200km of runs between 3,600m and 1,300m. 70% of the ski area is above 2,000m.

Ski pass:

Adult 1-day: €52.50 – 6-day: €262.50

Children 1-day: €42 – 6-day: €210

PASS FOR NON SKIEUR

  • From 1.600m to 2.600m = 18€ per adult / 14.40€ per child
  • From 1.600m to 3.400m = 27€ per adult / 21.60€ per child
  • Venosc village = 6.30€
  • 6 days / pedestrial = 57€ per adult / 47€ per child

 

SKI HIRE: JACQUES SPORTS – Prices are depending of an expert or beginner ski equipment (ski, snowboard, off pist, pist, freestyle, carving, race,…)

  • One day between 15€ and 20€
  • On 6 days between 64€ (10€ per day) and 125€ (20€ per day)

www.sport2000-les2alpes.com / [email protected]

 

SKI SCHOOL / ESF – www.esf2alpes.com

It depends of your level, kids, adults, freestyle, guiding, collective or private lessons, one day or a week,…

Kids / 6 half – days / Group / with or without a skipass

Mornings       between 183€ and 191€                 With skipass between 310€ and 383€

Afternoon      between 178€ and 186€                 With skipass between 305€ and 378€

Beginners / 6 half – days / Group / with a skipass         

Mornings                               403€

Afternoon                              398€

All day                                                351€

  • Snowboard group lessons, private lessons, off piste lessons, handiski, races, freestyle,…
  • Skiing area discovering in ski = 38€ / on Sunday / from 2.30pm to 5pm

RESTAURANTS and BARS

Le Chamois Lodge: bistronomique restaurant with a 3-course menu at €28 / https://www.chamoislodge.fr/fr/restaurant.html

 

Le Rouge et noir: http://www.lerougeetnoir.fr/s534809544.onlinehome.fr/Accueil.html

Open until 2am

 

On the slopes

Le Diable au Coeur: gastronomic restaurant on the slopes : https://www.lediableaucoeur.com/

 

POLAR BEAR https://www.thepolarbearpub.com/

 

Activities to do:

  • Paragliding, speed riding, Ebiking, ice waterfall, ice cave (3200m), belvedere des glaciers (3400m/skyfall), Dogsledding, Doughtnut style inflatable rubber ring slide, snowmobiling, iceskating, hiking, ruisseling, snowscoot, ski touring, squash, swimming pool, horse drawn carriage, yoga, spa, bowling, cinema, laser game, museums, villages (Mont de Lans, venosc), …
  • And:
  • FREERIDE ATTITUDE TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF GOING OFF-PISTE

Going off-piste requires great caution and should only be done with a professional. In conjunction with Les 2 Alpes mountain guides office, every Tuesday the Tourist Office runs a «FREERIDE ATTITUDE» workshop: raising awareness about the risks of going off-piste, giving presentations on the use of safety equipment (avalanche beacon, shovel and probe), answering questions and organising professionally run Freeride sessions. free

  • ON DUTY WITH THE SKI PATROL… FIRST TRACKS…

Every Wednesday, Les 2 Alpes’ ski patrollers invite you to find out more about their work: work stations, organisation of their day, maintaining safety on the slopes, customer information, rescue missions, dog handlers, avalanche blasters, opening the slopes … Share this special experience in the early hours of the morning! 16€

  • A MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE: RIDE IN A PISTE GROOMER

Every Thursday, visitors to the resort can embark on an adventure aboard a piste grooming vehicle at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres – taking in breathtaking views and learning all about the work of a piste groomer: architects of the slopes! 30€ PER 2

their colour and grain. He also organises wood sculpting workshops and demonstrations on request (sculpting, carving, polishing…. the different stges required to create each piece of work).

  • BE SUSPENDED ABOVE THE VOID AT THE ECRINS VIEWING PLATFORM AT AN ALTITUDE OF 3,400 METRES

Set on the Soreiller summit, and accessible to both skiers and non-skiers, the Ecrins viewing platform is located at an altitude of 3,400 metres. It boasts unique panoramic views of the Ecrins Massif in particular. The 7-metre long step into the void overlooks La Selle valley 1,500 metres below. free

 

ROAD INFORMATION / TRANSFER

Grenoble Isère Airport/ 120K from Les 2 Alpes – between 1.30 and 2 hours (car or bus)

Grenoble Train station / 70K from Les 2 Alpes – between 1.40 and 2 hours (bus)

 

Transfer between Grenoble station and Les 2 Alpes: www.transaltitude.fr / 0033 4 26 16 38 38 / from 15.50€

 

Transfer between Grenoble airport and Les 2 Alpes: www.bensbus.co.uk (32€ FOR A SINGLE AND 62.50€ FOR A RETURN TICKET), https://www.transisere.fr/en,

https://reservation.actibus.com/navette/

Grenoble – Vaujany 

For more information about Grenoble Airport visit www.grenoble-airport.com

For more information about Vaujany visit www.vaujany.com/en/ 
For more information about Les 2 Alpes visit www.les2alpes.com/en

For more information about Isere Tourism visit www.isere-tourisme.com

 

Flights 

Return direct flights from London Stansted to Grenoble Airport cost from £26 with Ryanair 

Return direct flights from London Stansted to Grenoble Airport cost from £45 with Easyjet

 

Accommodation

A 2-night stay at the 4*Hotel OKKO is priced from £83pp with breakfast, based on two sharing.

 

A 2-night stay at the 4*La Perle de Oisans is priced from £103pp, based on two sharing.

 

A 5-night stay at the 3* Le Souleil’Or is priced from £433pp with breakfast, based on two people sharing.

 

Ski Hire

Jacques Sports – https://www.jacquessports.sport2000.fr      

 

Meals

Le Fantin Latour – http://www.fantin-latour.fr/

Chamois Lodge Restaurant – https://www.chamoislodge.fr/

Le Diable au Coeur – https://www.lediableaucoeur.com

Le Stou – +33 4 76 11 11 93

La Table de La Fare – +33 4 76 80 82 40
Les Airelles Restaurant – http://www.restaurant-lesairelles.com/

Ida Restaurant – https://ida-vaujany.com/

Stiefs Steak House Café – http://www.stiefs-steakhouse.com/

Le Rouge et le Noir – http://www.lerougeetnoir.fr/s534809544.onlinehome.fr/Accueil.html        

 

Transfers

Actibus: https://www.actibus.com/

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