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December in Deux Alpes: What's On & Weather
It may be the last month of the year, but in Les Deux Alpes, December is when the lifts are preparing to open and the Christmas holidays are on the horizon.
Early season skiing is a great way to beat the crowds, and December before the Christmas holidays is one of the quietest times of the year. Off the slopes there will be plenty of entertainment in the form of opening parties, and of course celebrations will include a visit from a certain Papa Noël. As you are no doubt aware, most things in December revolve around the last two weeks of the month, schools break up and travellers from near and far descend to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Read on for a look at what we like to do in resort throughout December.
What are the weather & snow conditions like in Les 2 Alpes in December?
One downside of December skiing is that snow conditions can sometimes be poor, however the temperatures regularly drop below zero, averaging a high of 2°C and a low of -5°C, so the snow we do get should stick around. The glacier skiing at over 3,000 metres guarantees good snow but can be extremely cold, so be sure to pack lots of thermals and warm layers.
December days are short and night falls quickly after the lifts close, but there's plenty of evening entertainment to enjoy whilst you warm up with a glass of vin chaud.
What's on in Les Deux Alpes in December?
Rise Festival is fast becoming something of a fixture on the Deux Alpes calendar. Previous years have hosted some big names, such as Craig David, Clean Bandit, Sigma, Annie Mac and more. The main events take place on a stage in the town square and in the indoor Rise Arena. The festival is about more than the main venues though, bars around town and on the mountain will be getting involved and there will be a full programme of snowy activities as well.
Christmas in Les Deux Alpes
With so many families visiting for the festive season, there is a real child-like excitement as the big day draws ever closer, and usually there's an opportunity to spot the main man himself meeting and greeting people around the resort.
To prepare you for your French Christmas, here are a few festive facts that make the French Santa Claus a little different:
- Rather than a red hat, Père Noël wears a red cloak with a hood trimmed in white fur - a small difference easily unnoticed.
- Children do not wake up to presents under the tree on Christmas morning, because traditionally le Père Noël brings toys to good little boys and girls after evening Mass on Christmas Eve.
- Children do not leave milk and cookies for Papa Noël, but at the very least they'll leave him a glass of Calvados or wine.
- Children do not hang stockings, but rather leave their shoes and slippers out and if they have been good Père Noël will fill them with treats.
- Children in France behave around the holidays out of fear of Le Père Fouettard, who follows Père Noël to discipline naughty children.
Les Deux Alpes is full of great après-ski spots, early December is when the resort’s bars and venues re-open for the winter. This is a chance for new staff to meet each other and get into the swing of things before the holidays. It is also a friendly competition as to who can throw the best party. Often news spreads by word-of-mouth, so the best way to find the parties is to ask a friendly barperson or resort worker.
Mountain Rescue Training
Cementing Les Deux Alpes’ growing reputation as a top class, snow-sure resort, the annual avalanche rescue dog training course takes place on the glacier, so early season visitors will have a good chance of seeing the dogs and their masters out practicing.
Also, the DSFF – the French ski areas’ training association's ski patroller instruction will finish in mid-December. Visitors might witness the spectacle of multiple simulated casualties being stretchered down the pistes. Don’t be alarmed, this is all part of the training. On completion of their qualifications, these new ski patrollers will be keeping people safe at ski resorts all over France.
School holidays Skiing
The date the lift company opens the ski areas obviously greatly depends on the snow conditions, so keep an eye on our news page and social media as we'll let you know as soon as there's any new information.
Christmas and New Year is a popular time for families so the slopes are noticeably busier as soon as the holidays begin. Here are our insider's top tips for the school holidays:
- It will be almost impossible to book private lessons over this period, group lessons are the best option. Make sure to get your ski and snowboard lessons booked well in advance to avoid disappointment.
- If you're not in ski school, be an early bird. Arrive at the lifts before they open so that you get up and away before the ski school classes set out around 09:15.
- Ski over lunchtime. The slopes are calmer between 12:00 and 14:00 while the French take a leisurely lunch break.
- Pre-book your lunch and avoid the queues. Some restaurants offer a Click & Collect service. It's the best way to avoid the queues and make the most of your time in the mountains.
- Seek out the peripheral areas - The Jandri Express and Diable chairlift can have big queues at times. Instead, use the White Eggs, Belle Etoile or Village lifts to access Les Crêtes where a new eight-man chairlift should reduce the queuing time. From here, the Bellecombes and Super Diable chairlifts give access to the central part of the ski area. To access the spectacular high-altitude runs on the glacier, ski past the queue for the Jandri Express 2 and follow the Pierre Grosse 1 blue piste towards the La Fée sector. From here, the brand-new Pierre Grosse gondola offers an alternate fast route to the top of the mountain. Finally - the smaller, lower Vallée Blanche sector is often overlooked. However, it holds some very pleasant blue runs, a challenging black, good off-piste with the right snow conditions and some unique views of the Romanche valley and the Bourg d’Oisans plain. It also tends to be a lot quieter than the main ski area.
- Get off-piste. Competent off-piste skiers can book a local mountain guide and explore the vast off-piste areas in the valley or even go touring to find complete solitude in the backcountry.
Things to Do
Les Deux Alpes has a huge range of activities to try out, both on and off the snow. You can ride a horse-drawn sleigh, snowmobile or husky sled. There are swimming pools, gyms, spas and an ice rink. Two lifts down from the village allow you to explore the local heritage through artisanal shops and a local history museum. On the slopes, the weekly events include learning how the glacier funicular works, opening the pistes with the ski patrol, and riding in a piste basher.
There is a world-class freestyle park, two avalanche transceiver practice parks, an ice cave, and some great mountain restaurants to explore.
Bars & Clubs
If, like a lot of people, you like to follow several hours of exercise with several hours of drinking, especially during the festive season, you can hit up any number of local après-ski sessions. For late-night entertainment, the bars and clubs hold special nights most days of the week.
New Year's Eve
Always a big night, Les Deux Alpes is full of revellers, the restaurants will be busy, so it would be prudent to make a reservation to ensure you can get a table, and many of the bars and clubs are ticket-only, so if there's somewhere you plan to see in the New Year, make sure you've planned ahead.
Whether you want to get the first tracks of the new winter or enjoy some parties and live DJ sets, December is a great time to ski in Les Deux Alpes. Book your holiday now and enjoy the snowy Alps.
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