Strapped to a ski instructor, skis pointed straight down the mountain it suddenly dawned on me that paragliding just might not come without a heady dose of adrenalin. But it’s too late for u-turns as my expert pilot shifts my hands to ‘take off’ position and we plough forward, catching the breeze towards a black run.
Those who know me will confirm that I’m not often found on a black run, but to be found high above one … well, that was definitely a first! Before long we’re tracing its route down towards Les Deux Alpes, and I remind myself that I’m a sail away from a crash landing, but my pilot’s reassuring and my mind races between ‘This is utter madness’ to ‘Wow, this is so very Mary Poppins’.
I was the last of my group to take off – everyone seemed to take it in their stride – but WHY came to mind as the wind caught us and we zipped swiftly forwards, out over the steep valley. The resort looked so small, peppered with flecks that became hotels and apartments as the flight descended. Landing was another thing to get your head around – you’re told to stand up and keep your skis straight, and nothing feels more unnatural!
This activity was my natural high, and stood out on a trip where several adrenalin sports vied for top place. My group loved the new electric mountain biking on snow proudly offered by the Bureau des Guides des 2 Alpes, which saw us motor up the pistes with assisted pedal power. The bureau is one of the first companies in France to offer these guided tours, giving groups the chance to go far from the madding crowd to the peace of the mountains.
Those with much more mettle than me took part in the fourth Les 2 Alpes Night Snow Trail, running 10 or 20kms in the snow. After a day of great skiing the only place I wanted to run to was the bar, but absolute respect for those who did take on this uber challenge.
And what better way to get back down the mountain than on the new resort-return blue run – which cost an eye-watering 10m, and gives people the option to ski between 3,600 and 1,600 metres solely on easy routes.
There’s a lot to love about Les Deux Alpes. It’s snow sure year (almost) round thanks to its glacier, boasts the world’s longest ski run without using a lift (2,300m of vertical drop between the glacier at 3,600 metres and the village of Mont de Lans at 1,300m), and it’s freestyle heaven. There are also slow zone safe areas as well as a ski area specifically for families.
On top of that it’s a cracking place to go out, by day and by night. Good mountain restaurants include the Chalet de la Fée and Le Diable au Cœur. Those seeking a fine dining experience will find it at gastronomic restaurant l’Alisier, and those who like to build up an appetite ahead of dinner should try the night snow shoe outing to mountain restaurant, La Ferme de la Molière – it’s a great experience.
If you’re more keen to fling yourself at the party on the dance floor head to Avalanche. We spent a great night at this lively club, hosted by its flamboyant owner and manager, Boris Ney. Boris is a leading figure in Les Deux Alpes, and has been part of the party scene here for the past 25 years. He also helps to organise the Mountain of Hell dirt mountain bike race each summer – a three-day, down-hill derby from the top of the glacier. It was as much as I could do to get down the mountain on skis after a night at this club, but it was worth it.