- Rating: 5 Star
- Location: L’Eclose
- Room Type: Apartment: 2-5 Bedroom
Built in 1936, Alpe d’Huez is also known as ‘the Island in the Sunshine’ due to the fact that the resort enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine. The village is at an altitude of 1,450m and is as famous for its summer activities including being a stage on the Tour de France as for its winter sports. Bordering on the Ecrins National Park, the resort offers a massive range of sports from world class skiing to mountaineering and road and mountain biking.
This s a resort famed for its liveliness and for its wide range of activities both on and off the slopes. The centre is based around Avenue des Jeux , which is where you’ll find the swimming pool, sports centre and a selection of bars and restaurants. This area developed from the original village and you will find a couple of streets with a more traditional feel. Additionally ,there are two satellite areas, Les Bergers and L’Eclose which both have their own lift connections and shops and restaurants. All the areas of the resort are connected by a shuttle bus service (free on your lift pass) and during the day there is a bucket lift running through the resort up to the main lifts. There are also a number of lower villages that are connected to the ski area including Huez, Vaujany and Villard Reculas.
The main resort of Alpe d’Huez is made up of 3 main sectors with some new building extending out from there. The centre of the resort is built along the snow front and descends in almost a trianglular shape down with Avenue des Jeux almost in the centre. The other 2 main sectors are Les Bergers and L’Eclose – both just a walk or short shuttle bus ride away. Both these areas have their own shops, restaurants and ski lifts
Alpe d’Huez has mainly south or south-west facing slopes and has high sunny slopes with good snow-making capacity and a modern, efficient lift system. A particular highlight is the longest run in the Alps – the 16km Sarenne, a black run from Pic Blanc (3,320m) with a vertical descent of 2000m.
But this is truly a ski area with something for every level of skier – it has one of the largest nursery areas in the Alps with four free lifts for beginners and the green runs above the village and the Les Bergers area have lots of gentle, wide pistes to help beginners or timid skiers. Perfect for finding your ski legs before progressing to the blues and more challenging red runs.
Ski the lovely blue cruisy runs in the Signal sector or try the long, blue Champclotury run above Oz or the main Couloir blue from 2,700m. Once you’ve got your confidence ski the Canyon run from the Plat des Marmottes and if you’re feeling strong go for the ultimate 16km Sarenne run. There are some great black runs from the top of Pic Blanc and three to tick off your ‘to do list’ are Fare, Combe Charbonniere and La Fuma.
There is some fantastic off-piste to explore and you should hire a guide to explore the Gorges de Sarenne and the Glacier de Sarenne and the north facing Vaujany sector.
For boarder and freestylers there are 2 snow parks with everything from a beginner section to an airbag jump, half-pipe, rails and a boardercross.
There are 50kms of cross-country trails, most of which are loops which are clearly marked. The longest is a 16km loop ( La Boucle Rochette) so gives a good aerobic workout ! Most of the trails are blues and reds.
|Skiable Terrain||251 km of piste|
|Top Elevation||3,300 m|
|Base Elevation||1,860 m|
|Longest Run||16 km|
|Snowmaking||88 km covered|
Flying to Alpe d’Huez
Transfers to Resort
Minibus transfers to the resort operate from the airport, bus or train station.
Catching a Train to Alpe d’Huez
The nearest mainline train station is in Grenoble which is well connected with intercity train lines. The transfer from Grenoble train station is around 1hr 30mins.
Driving to Alpe d’Huez
The town in the valley is Bourg d’Oisans and the drive up to the resort of Alpe d’Huez is 15kms. The road up is very winding and there are the notorious 21 hairpin bends to negotiate, made famous in the Tour de France race.
The Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine pass covers the whole ski area including the neighbouring villages of Villard-Reculas, Vaujany and Oz en Oisans. A 6day+ pass also gives a day’s skiing in the resort of Deux Alpes and Serre Chevalier and you can add a supplement to give you access to the sports centre, outdoor (heated!) swimming pool and the ice rink. There are discounts for family passes and there are also beginner passes available.
There is night skiing available which is included on your lift pass.
Cross-country skiers will also need a pass to access the trails.
There are a number of ski schools in the resort offering everything from group lessons to private tuition and guiding. Group lessons typically start on Sunday or Monday and run for 5 or 6 mornings.
The ESF (French Ski School) run a ski club and ski lessons from age 2½ upwards.
Helicopter & Scenic Flights – See the area from the air by either taking a helicopter or scenic flight to see the Oisans and Grand Rousse area. Light aircraft and micro-light flights are also available. Or for something really exhilarating try a tandem paraglide.
Sports Centre & Swimming Pool – A great sports centre with a gym, badminton & squash courts, indoor football, climbing wall, and fitness studio. There is an indoor and outdoor (heated!) swimming pool so you can enjoy a relaxing swim with a view of the snow and mountains.
Ice Rink – The ice rink offers both leisure skating and there are regular ice hockey matches as well as curling.
Ski Joering – Try the ancient method of transport combing skis and horse.
Husky Dog Rides – Try your hand at ‘mushing’ driving a pack of husky dogs or enjoy the experience as a passenger from the comfort of your own sledge.
Ice Climbing & Mountaineering – Explore the Oisans summit and the Ecrins National Park with a guide. You can explore the ice caves found at 2,700 m (accessible via the Grand Rousses/DMC lift). Or try ice climbing on the sunny face of the Vaujany or on the Cascade de la Fare. For beginners there is a 12m indoor climbing wall with a boulder rock at the Sports Centre
Zip Wire – Alpe d’Huez has a 400m zip wire going over the piste and with an air bag landing at the XFly Centre
Toboggan – There is a dedicated sledge run from the top of the Grand Rousse/DMC lift as well as a dedicated area on the slope next to the Bergers shopping centre. There is also night sledging on the Butte de l’Eclose slope.
Night Skiing – If you want to ski some more, then try night skiing which takes place every Thursday (and Tuesday in the French school holiday) evening.
Cinema – There are 2 cinemas in the resort both of which show regular films in English ( look for VOST)
Heliskiing is not permitted in France but Alpe d’Huez’s has some impressive off-piste terrain so spend a day with a guide exploring the areas inaccessible by lift. Most of the ski hire shops have touring skis and off-piste equipment available for hire.
If you’re looking for even more of a challenge then head to La Grave, the legendary off-piste resort which is about 40 kms drive.
Alpe d’Huez has a great selection of restaurants both on and off the slopes and what it lacks in fine dining and Michelin stars, it more than makes up for in good simple food, local specialities and good value. You’ll find everything from fondues and raclettes to pizza, pasta and burgers as well as some great bars to keep you entertained from après-ski till late.
Particular favourites on the mountain are the Signal, the Perce Neige down in Oz en Oisans and the Chalet du Lac Besson which is also accessible for pedestrians. There is also a branch of the (in)famous Folie Douce with its good restaurant and excellent cabaret and après-ski.
In resort each of sectors have restaurants and bars but the biggest concentration is in the central sector where you’ll find a wide range of cuisines on offer. I would recommend La Cremaillere for local specialities and for vegetarian options and if you’re looking for great pizza, head to Pizzeria Pinocchio on Avenue des Jeux.
As you would expect, the resort offers a great selection of sports shops offering clothing and equipment for skiers, snow-boarders and mountaineers. You will also find some great clothes shops and plenty of selection of craft and souvenir shops.
The resort also has all the essentials including supermarkets, specialist food shops and pharmacy. There is also a weekly market down in Bourg d’Oisans.