Why Alpe d'Huez in Oisans?
- Access to an impressive 250km of pistes, with a well-integrated lift system
- Varied ski terrain for all levels, excellent for beginners and an incredible vertical drop
- Sunny, friendly, ski resort, with a lively atmosphere
- 'Famille Plus' resort - good children’s facilities and great for families
- Great for family skiers and snowboarders, with many other activities
Known around the world thanks to the Tour de France, Alpe d'Huez has been growing since the 1930s on a large sunny plateau above the tree line. It is one of the Southern resorts that offers some direct competition to the mega resorts of the Tarentaise region further North.
An impressive modern ski lift system throughout Alpe d'Huez now links the ski villages of Auris-en-Oisans, Huez-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard-Reculas - making it the 5th largest ski area in France, known as the Grand Domaine (Auris, Oz and Vaujany we feature with our sister company Peak Retreats).
From its high altitude on the southern flank of the Grandes Rousses Massif at 1860m, the ski resort of Alpe d'Huez looks across the valley towards Les Deux Alpes and offers endless beautiful views of the Southern Alps from the Pic Blanc. Alpe d’Huez is also known as the ‘L'ile au Soleil’ meaning ‘island in the sun’ because of its glorious sunny south-facing ski slopes. On average, Alpe d’Huez is lucky enough to get an impressive 300 days of sunshine per year!
Though Alpe d’Huez is not a purpose-built ski resort, so great are the additions to the original village that it has all the convenience of one and is becoming an ever-more desirable ski holiday destination in the French Alps. Alpe d’Huez is livelier than many French ski resorts. Avenue des Jeux is the central focus of the resort, where you will find most of the shops, bars and restaurants. The rest of the Alpe d’Huez ski resort is fairly spread out into satellite self-contained hamlets.
The shuttle bus service around the resort is free to lift pass holders. Lower down in the valley at 1450m you will find the quaint mountain village of Huez, with tiny alleys leading to the Roman Church of Saint Anne and a very small selection of accommodation and amenities. The Tele-Village cable car links Huez to Alpe d’Huez in just 5 minutes. Being located only 1 hour from Grenoble and 5 hours from Paris, means Alpe d’Huez is a very accessible ski resort.
Alpe d’Huez is a great choice for family skiers and is proud to be a ‘Family Plus’ resort, a label issued by the French Ministry of Tourism for the resorts commitment to providing good facilities and a warm welcome to children and families.
ALPE D'HUEZ SKI AREA
Located on a fully south-facing plateau, Alpe d’Huez offers glorious sunshine all day long – up to 7½ hours per day in December and 11 per day during April! So don’t forget your sunglasses and sun cream! This impressive lift-linked ski area is formed of 5 ski resorts:
- Alpe d'Huez
- Auris en Oisans
- La Garde en Oisans
- Oz en Oisans
- Le Freney d’Oisans
The high altitude of Alpe d’Huez, which reaches 3300m combined with the high-tech snowmaking equipment covering 90km of the ski runs, guarantees snow cover from December to April. As it sits at 1800m, most slopes are open and only a few slopes are tree-lined towards Oz and Vaujany (featured with our sister company Peak Retreats).
The lift system is efficient and fast and any queues move relatively quickly.
There are few places to rival Alpe d'Huez for the extent and variety of ski terrain. The main bowl of Alpe d’Huez is conveniently naturally divided into zones suiting the different levels and abilities of skiers and snowboarders. It is literally suited to all levels from complete beginners to the elite.
The glacier in Alpe d’Huez reaches an altitude of 3300m. There are two access routes: via the Marmotte III funitel which will take you to 3060m or the Pic Blanc cable car which will take you to the very top at 3300m. From either of these two summits you will have truly breath-taking views across to Mont Blanc, Aiguilles d’Arves and La Meije. From here you can experience the legendary 16km long Sarenne black slope – arguably the world’s longest pisted ski run! Created in 1976, this run is the eldest of the fantastic runs connecting Pic Blanc at 3300m to the Sarenne gorges at 1510m. Fare and Château Noir (14km) also offer great length and amazing views.
The slopes of Alpe d’Huez can boast one of the world’s biggest vertical drop figures: in excess of 2200m! There are four descents, all between 12km and 16km long, allowing you to ski down a 2000m altitude drop without taking one single chairlift! Pretty impressive! If you complete all four descents you can donate €1 to the ‘A Chacun son Everest’ children’s charity in exchange for a certificate. The four routes are:
- Pic Blanc (3300m) – La Villette (1295m)
Pic Blanc – Piste du Tunnel – 2700 – Piste des Rousses – l’Alpette – Piste des Chalets –Montfrais – Piste de la Vaujaniate – La Villette.
- Pic Blanc (3330m) – Gorges de Sarenne (1510m)
Pic Blanc – Piste de la Sarenne - Gorges de Sarenne.
- Pic Blanc (3330m) – Oz en Oisans (1340m)
Pic Blanc – Piste du Tunnel - 2700 - Piste des Chamois – 2100 – Piste de Poutran – Piste de l’Olmet - Oz en Oisans.
- Pic Blanc (3330m) – L’Enversin d’Oz (1125m)
Pic Blanc – Piste du Tunnel – 2700 - Piste des Rousses – l’Alpette – Piste des Chalets – Piste de la Fare - L’Enversin d’Oz.
ALPE D'HUEZ SKIING
ALPE D'HUEZ BEGINNERS
Beginners are very well catered for in Alpe d'Huez with a vast array of gentle nursery slopes just above the resort. The large network of green runs above the Alpe d'Huez village is as good a nursery area as you will find anywhere, probably one of the biggest in the French Alps. Several chairlifts serve this ideal area: Fontbelle, Lac Blanc and Romans.
There are 2 beginner areas in Alpe d’Huez:
- Rif Nel: Offers 10 well groomed green runs and a marked area specially equipped with baby modules to add a little extra fun. Access is via the 2 Rif Nel drag lifts and the new Rif Nel Express aerial ropeway.
- Les Jeux: Offers 6 beautiful green slopes. Access is via the Ecole 1 drag lifts and the Grenouilles rope tow or for the more confident the Jeux, Poutran and Babars drag lifts.
The Petit Rif Nel and Ecoles 1 drag lifts plus the Grenouilles rope tow are free to use, but please note a free lift pass must still be obtained from the lift pass office.
ALPE D'HUEZ INTERMEDIATES
Alpe d’Huez is a great starting base for intermediates to explore the whole of the Grand Domaine Massif. There are easy blues beside the expanse of greens above the village.
The west side of the bowl is home to the Signal 2115 station which offers a great mixture of blue and straight red runs. The purple Marcel from Signal is of blue gradient.
The north side goes above 2100m and is slightly steeper, again offering a good mixture of blue and red runs. The Grand Domaine gondola takes confident intermediates looking for more of a challenge to Pic Blanc on the south side at 3320m.
ALPE D'HUEZ EXPERTS
On the south side of the bowl, the Grand Domaine gondola takes experts to Pic Blanc at 3320m. The slopes in this sector are predominately black. The infamous and appropriately named Tunnel slope passes through a tunnel before dropping away steeply.
But the main attraction for experts here is the legendary Sarenne black run. This 16km run is one of the world’s longest pisted runs and takes you from Pic Blanc at 3300m right down to the Sarenne gorges at 1510m. It is also possible to book a special night time excursion on this run every Wednesday evening: accompanied by qualified ski instructors and ski patrollers, take the last cable car up to the top of Pic Blanc at 3300m and watch the sun set over the unique panorama whilst enjoying a lovely glass of mulled wine.
Ski the 16km Sarenne slope assisted by headlights and continue your evening with a traditional mountain dinner at the ‘Auberge de la Combe Haute’ restaurant. Finally, ski back to the village of Huez, where a shuttle bus is provided to take you back to Alpe d’Huez.
You must be a good skier to participate in this unforgettable experience. Not recommended for snowboarders due to the slight gradient on the return to Huez village. Must be pre-booked in resort.
ALPE D'HUEZ OFF-PISTE
The Grand Domaine gondola takes experts and intermediates to Pic Blanc at 3320m, where some great off-piste skiing can be accessed: the Combe du Loup, Côtes de Rivet, Pied Froid, Cerisier Combe and Corridor.
ALPE D'HUEZ SNOWBOARDERS
Alpe d’Huez organised the Ski Cross World Cup in 2010, 2011 and 2012, so snowboarders, snow park enthusiasts and freestyle skiers can rest assured that the recently redesigned and improved ski style areas are top-notch. 20 new snow cannons have also been installed in the freestyle area to make the snow coverage even better.
The intermediate/expert Alpe d’Huez snow park covers an impressive 21 hectares, making it one of the largest snow parks in the French Alps. It is conveniently located at the foot of the ski slopes, close to the resort, between the Lac Bleu drag lift and the DMC and is equipped with half-pipe, jumps and rollers near the main lift base.
You will also find a beginners’ snow park alongside the 1er Tronçon slope, which is perfect for those just starting out.
The Alpe d’Huez snow parks are equipped with an automatic video shoot system with three cameras on two ramps. By identifying yourself with your lift pass, you can view your jump directly on the big screen. Enter your mobile phone number and you’ll receive a text link to your video, enabling you to share your exploits immediately via the social networks. More information: http://www.freestylepark.fr
There is also a boarder-cross course and lots of free riding to be had due to the mountains’ extent and variety.
ALPE D'HUEZ CROSS COUNTRY
There are an impressive 55km/34 miles of cross-country ski trails, taking you around mountain lakes, the altiport area and Auris.