Alpe d’Huez ski resort
About Alpe d’Huez
Although it doesn’t shout about it, Alpe d’Huez is actually one of the world’s largest ski areas – very few others can claim the 100,000 people per hour statistic that it’s more than 70 lifts can manage onto its 240 km (150 miles) of groomed piste.
There are still more impressive statistics – it’s upper runs at over 3,300m (10,800 ft) are some of Europe’s highest lift-served and open up a 2,000m (6,560 ft) skiable vertical, crowned by a glacier which gives snow surety all season long and is sometimes open for summer skiing. And then there’s the famous Sarenne black run, which at 16km (10 miles) is the planet’s longest groomed black trail, and now with snowmaking from top to bottom meaning its still accessible even if mother nature doesn’t play ball.
However don’t be fooled in thinking that Alpe d’Huez, which sits at the top of the most famous stretch of road in the Tour de France cycle race, is strictly an experts only resort. With plenty of après-ski fun to be had, as well as a wide selection of gentle slopes, the resort suits all levels of skier and the majority of winter holidaymakers.
Alpe d’Huez is situated in the Grandes Rousses Mountains in the southern French Alps, high above the Oisans Valley.
On the slopes
The main slopes in Alpe d’Huez run in a long line across the resort, with those at the bottom most suited to beginners. Go higher however, and you’ll find runs to suit all ability levels.
A prime example of this is the Sarenne run from the top of the glacier, which at 16km (10 miles) is the longest black run in the world. Floodlighting and snow making were recently installed on the full length of the slope, meaning its opening is more reliable and evening ruins are possible. More challenging off-piste terrain from the glacier funnels through the legendary Tunnel on to the front face and leads to more steep powder.
Intermediates can cruise for kilometres, taking long, sweeping pistes down to the villages of Vaujany and Oz amongst others. Even the most moderate of skiers can take the gondolas that crisscross the slopes, creating a thrilling sense of achievement for first-timers. The almost self-contained Signal and Signal de l’Homme areas, on either side of the village, are good for family excursions and confident beginners.
The resort’s southerly sun-drenched slopes can cause unreliability in snow cover in early and late season, but the ski resort generally operates from early December until late April.
For further options, the lift pass also includes skiing in Les Deux Alpes and Serre Chevalier – tour representatives can arrange trips to these resorts.