Wide view of skier on piste with mountains and Alpe d'Huez ski village in background.

Alpe d’Huez

Massif des Grandes-Rousses, French Alps

South-east of Grenoble and accessible via flights into Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille and Nice (plus Cuneo & Turin in Italy).

Alpe d’Huez lies just across the valley from Les 2 Alpes, and is lift-linked with Auris-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas.

Overview of skier on La Sarenne black piste with big mountain views

The Ski Area

The pistes of Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine boast the world’s highest vertical-drop figures - around 2200m, in fact. Impressive though this is, for the most part it’s less demanding than you might imagine, although all the long steeps include at least one Black-graded section.

Another attraction is the now-legendary Sarenne, the world’s longest pisted ski-run: 16km, with a 2000m vertical drop. Its Black grading is, however, more a reflection of the distance involved than of any particularly technical demands, unless snow conditions are particularly hostile.

Less ambitious skiers have a good selection of terrain to discover, including some fine Blue- and Red-graded cruises, while just above the village is enough gentle terrain to allow beginners to find their ski-legs with confidence.

Good news for skiers who may not ski all day every day - the introduction of the Alpe d’Huez Express pay-as-you-go ski pass. You pay a 20€ setup fee (5€ to renew the following season), after which you’re debited direct for the times when you use it. For more information visit skipass-alpedhuez.com

Resort Information

Altitude : 1100m - 3330m
Alpe d'Huez
Pistes Total:
250 km
Alpe d'Huez pistes
42 Green
37 Blue
39 Red
17 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 76
41 Draglifts
24 Chairlifts
3 Cabriolet
10 Gondolas
6 Cable Cars
Grand Domaine
Pistes Total:
250 km
Ski Domain Lifts: 76

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Family beside snow-covered hotels in ski village

The Ski Village

The village comprises two main centres, sited at Huez 1500 and the much larger Alpe d'Huez 1860.

Established in 1935, the ski village has since developed into a major tourism destination (and a classic stage-closer in the Tour de France), with a wealth of accommodation now on offer for most budgets. The emphasis, though, is on family skiers, and there are signs (not least the recent arrival of prestige developer MGM Constructeur) that Alpe d'Huez is becoming an ever-more desirable ski destination.

Alpe d’Huez has a dynamic, environmentally-aware vision for its future development. Not surprisingly, there’s a good range of boutiques and services, with year-round activities for non-skiers, including snow-shoeing, ice-skating, mountain-biking, etc.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Large group of skiers leaving gondola lift top station with mountains in background

Best For

Intermediate skiers or snowboarders looking for some high-altitude cruising, with a few challenges along the way for those with a taste for adventure. At peak times, around the principal departure-points it's not exactly unpressured, but once you head up the mountain (or across the valley to Auris-en-Oisans) you can find your own space.

Beginners have easily-accessible areas, and their progression can be gentle, if necessary. Snowboarders won’t be overjoyed at the number of drag-lifts, but the main hauls employ gondolas or cable-cars, which is good news if visibility should clamp down. Being this far south, though, it tends not to, apart from times of heavy snowfalls.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Beginners well-catered for, vast area to enjoy.
2 Snowparks
1 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Varied circuits with liaisons back to Alpe d'Huez.
50km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

Handiski...

  • Easy access to ski lifts, Sport and Convention Centre, swimming pool, shopping centre, etc.
  • Specialist instructors and adapted equipment (Uniski, Dualski, GMS) - www.esf-alpedhuez.com
  • Adapted self-catering and hotel accommodation. Contact booking center at Tourist Office Tel: +33 (0)4 76 11 59 90
  • Reduction in ski pass prices (proof required and conditions apply)
  • All lifts accessible except Poutran (no elevator),  Alpette Vaujany II and Pic Blanc.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Big-mountain skiing for all levels.
  • With all 6-15 day ski-passes you get one day each in Serre Chevalier, Montgenèvre and Puy-Saint-Vincent, 2 days in Les Deux-Alpes and a 25% reduction
    at La Grave-La Meije, plus one free access to pool, ice-rink and various activities.
  • Varied descents into neighbouring ski villages.
  • Well-integrated lift system.
  • Some sensational vertical-drop on offer here.
  • The village is moving steadily up-market, with attractive new developments and more planned.
  • Alpe d'Huez is a Famille Plus resort.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Still too many drag-lifts
  • Sprawling village layout
  • Confident intermediates and above get the best ski terrain.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Get fit before skiing (in good visibility) the 16km Sarenne piste.
  • Download the free iPhone app. It's compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

From Grenoble, take the A480 towards Sisteron/Gap. Exit no.8 Vizille/Stations de l'Oisans off the ring-road to the N51, direction Briançon. Follow signs to Alpe d'Huez and ascend on the celebrated high-mountain stage of the Tour de France.

By air
The nearest airport is Grenoble (99km).

Book your cheap ski flights to Grenoble with Monarch Flights. Monarch is the UK’s longest-established, privately owned travel group. The company includes a scheduled airline, in-house tour operator and an award-winning engineering division. Flying from 5 UK bases, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds-Bradford and Luton where it is headquartered; the airline offers 7million sector seats to leisure destinations. The tour operating division offers package holidays across the airlines scheduled network focusing on beach and city breaks.

You can transfer direct to Alpe d'Huez by bensbus.co.uk or by the bus service Transaltitude from Grenoble train station.
From Lyon-St Exupéry there's connections via transisere.fr to Grenoble bus station where you will have to change. From Chambery, use altibus.com to get to Grenoble then change.

Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.

By train
TGV Paris (Gare de Lyon) - Grenoble (3 hours) with daily bus connections by Autocars VFD to Alpe d'Huez (approx. 1hr30mins) for a return fare of 26€ (reductions if booked online). For bus details and bookings see transaltitude.fr

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with .


Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with OUI.sncf

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Ski Grande Galaxie

With a 6 day ski pass (or more) you are entitled to ski 2 days in Les Deux Alpes, plus a free day skiing in any of the following areas: Puy Saint Vincent, Serre Chevalier, The Milky Way (Italy). You also get 25% discount on the Day Pass at La Grave (pass and purchase receipt required and it's subject to weather conditions).
There's a shuttle bus service once a week between Alpe d'Huez and Les Deux Alpes (11€ return fare, book in advance at Agence VFD, Palais des Sports et des Congrès), alternatively SAF Helicopters offer a connecting flights for 65€ per person.


Walking Itineraries

On foot or using snow-shoes, there's a number of signed and groomed walking routes giving you the chance to enjoy highlights such as the Pic Blanc, gorges de sarenne, lac Besson, Oz-en-Oisans and Vaujany. A pedestrian pass costs 30€ per day or 72€ per week (with Ski Plus - access to other activties included). Get a detailed plan of all the routes and ski lifts from Alpe d'Huez Tourism.

Guided snowshoe hikes are available including moonlight excursions and weekends with a night in a mountain shelter.
Useful contacts:
France Raquettes
Tel: +33 (0)6 89 03 70 15
Visit website

ESF
Tel: +33 (0)4 76 80 42 55
Visit website

Alpe Sports Loisirs
Tel: +33 (0)6 09 85 95 38
Email: alpe.sportsloisirs@yahoo.fr


Seen, tried and tested.La Grotte de Glace

Grotte de Glace, Alpe d'Huez

Carved out of the snow, the Ice Grotto is situated at 2700m next to the arrival of the Second Tronçon (DMC) gondola lift. The grotto is packed with amazing sculptures in snow created with great skill and artistry. There's a different theme every year.
Entry charge 4.50€ adult.


Seen, tried and tested.Panorama from le Pic Blanc

Choose a clear day to make the ascent to le Pic Blanc at 3330m to see the exceptional panorama. It's said that you can see one fifth of France from here - a useful viewing platform helps you pinpoint some well-known landmarks. Confident skiers can descend from here on the longest piste in the world - the 16km La Sarenne.


Where to stay

Seen, tried and tested.Residence CGH Le Cristal de l'Alpe

Avenue de l'Etendard
Quartier Les Jeux
38750 Alpe d'Huez

Residence CGH Le Cristal de l'Alpe, Alpe d'Huez, snow

This 4* chalet-style development by Savoyard developer MGM Constructeur offers 70 self-catering apartments. Managed by MGM's subsidiary CGH, the interior style is calm and contemporary, with home comforts and high levels of equipment.
There's also a stylish heated indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzis, saunas, hammams, fitness-suite, etc. In addition, the on-site Ô des Cimes Spas d'Altitude Centre offers a range of beauty and relaxation treatments including massage. Guests also benefit from a secure underground parking space plus free WiFi internet access in the apartment.

For further information and bookings contact:
Ski Collection
023 9289 0960
reservations@skicollection.co.uk


Where to Eat

Seen, tried and tested.Le Sporting

Avenue des Jeux
Quartier les Jeux
38750 Alpe d'Huez
Tel: +33 (0)4 76 80 33 45

Le Sporting restaurant interior, Alpe d'Huez

Popular bar and restaurant with an interior decor of clubby glitz with a dash of Alpine chalet. There's a nice terrace for sunny days. The menu consists of regional and traditional dishes to pizzas with a plat du jour costing around 10€. Meals are served until 23h00 when the atmosphere steps up a gear with a disco which is open until 05h00.


Seen, tried and tested.l'Authentique

Avenue des Jeux
Quartier les Jeux
38750 Alpe d'Huez
Tel: +33 (0)4 76 80 43 31

Unique to Alpe d'Huez, this small restaurant serves fondues and raclettes made with award winning cheese from Master Cheesemaker and world champion B. Mure Ravaud. Warm atmosphere created by the restaurant's authentic chalet interior and the generous amounts of food which emerge from the busy kitchen. A speciality is Reblochon Lasagne, though ensure that you have a large appetite... Fixed menus cost between 23€ and 31€, a la carte available.


La Grange

Alpette
Tel: +33 (0)4 76 11 03 66

Located on-mountain near the Alpette-Rousses cable car La Grange serves pizzas au feu du bois (wood fired oven) and has a great reputation. Sadly we didn't get to eat there on our visit but the restaurant comes highly recommended.


Insight: Alpe d'Huez

Skiers and snowbaorders climbing steps to gondola ski lift at Alpe d'Huez

Insight: Alpe d'Huez

Seeing it from the inside, of course, turns out to be a much more hands-on experience. When we finally arrive by car Alpe d’Huez actually feels a lot bigger on the ground than it had looked when we skied down into it from the mountain, a result of the purpose-built village – ‘town’ now feels a lot more appropriate – having gradually evolved and expanded over a period of more than seventy years.
Architecturally things have changed a lot, particularly around the Jeux area, where the latest developments (and redevelopments) have responded to what today’s increasingly-discerning visitors are looking for.

When TV coverage of the Tour de France included the gruelling climb to Alpe d’Huez, it wasn’t only the epic battle to win the stage which fired our imagination.
Wide view of skier on piste with mountains and Alped'Huez ski village in background.

Installed, up and away

After making ourselves at home in our apartment in the Résidence le Cristal de l’Alpe, we resist the temptation to relax and instead make our way over to join the nearby Télécentre cabriolet-style lift. This endearingly-quirky device from the early-’80s offers step-on/step-off convenience and transports skiers to and from the ski-school meeting points. It’s not the speediest of lifts, but at least allows skiers plenty of time to enjoy bird’s-eye views of the eastern side of the village, plus events on assorted pistes and drag-lifts.When we step off we transfer to the DMC (Double Mono-Cable) gondola lift and join the other skiers and snowboarders heading smoothly up to 2100m. From this point it’s possible to ski over into Oz-en-Oisans without taking another lift, but we transfer instead to the gondola’s second stage (or ‘tronçon’), this time up to around 2700m.

At the top, in addition to longer descents into Oz, you can continue all the way over to the Vaujany -Villette gondola – in fact, competent Black-run skiers can even descend to below the village itself without taking a single lift. As we’ve discovered, the lift system has been very well-planned.
Our target today is the 3330m Pic Blanc, which is accessible from the village either via the three-stage Marmottes gondola/funitel lifts, or by our route today, the final stage of which uses the Pic Blanc cable-car.

As expected, the ride is sensational, as the scenery slowly falls away all around us. At the top we surge out wobbly-legged to find the purpose-built orientation platform, from which it is said that in clear conditions around one-fifth of France is visible. Either way, there’s no doubting that it’s one of the classic panoramas of the French Alps.

Pic Blanc cable car Alpe d'Huez
The vast panorama from Pic Blanc, Alpe d'Huez

Alpe d’Huez Sarenne: the Big One

But it’s not merely the views, however arresting, which have brought us here. Right now both visibility and snow conditions are excellent, but not destined to remain that way for long, since an approaching depression looks set to bring ‘substantial and potentially prolonged’ snowfalls. Since our time in Alpe d’Huez is limited to just a couple of days, if we’re finally going to ski the legendary Sarenne (at 16km, the world’s longest pisted run), it’s clearly a case of now or who-knows-when.

Sarenne is classified Black, mainly on account of the distance involved, but apart from two or three steep sections, it’s not overly demanding technically. Once a steep and quite narrow launch-point is out of the way, the piste turns and then widens at the head of a steep but not-too-deep section, after which things ease to something more akin to a Blue cruise. Somewhere deep beneath the snow is the Glacier de Sarenne.

On our right we soon pass the turn-off which feeds onto the famous Tunnel piste, said to be the toughest on the mountain. A few minutes later we’ve passed the base of the Cristallière chairlift, and all is peaceful, apart from the occasional passage of a skier or snowboarder.
From now on the mood is one of away-from-it-all ski-touring, our progress being marked by a succession of steep walls followed by long, relatively gentle cruises. We can imagine that it must all feel very different in less perfect visibility, particularly after fresh powder lies deep, but even on a fine day like today it’s a great place to be.

The Sarenne piste, Alpe d'Huez
Picnic on La Sarenne piste, Alpe-d'Huez

The perfect picnic spot

We’re not the only ones who feel that way; around the half-way point we pass a relaxed group of skiers and ’boarders seated around a perfectly-sited picnic table. Visible in the far distance beyond is what must be Les 2 Alpes. Like everything else, right now it seems a very long way away.Further down things begin to narrow as we drop into the Gorges de la Sarenne, through which we snake our way serenely, enjoying the unspoilt landscape of dormant larch trees and the snow-covered stream after which the piste is named.

As we drop ever deeper the shadows close in around us and temperatures drop correspondingly, so we’re grateful to see ahead of us the first signs of life for a very long time, in the shape of a cosy chalet-style mountain restaurant. Beside it is a welcoming snack-bar, complete with a partly-sunlit area of tables for hungry and by now mile-weary skiers like us. We therefore grab a table, place our order and recharge our batteries, while reflecting on what we’ve just experienced.

Job done – and yet…

Normally we’d settle for that and work our way back up to the main village for a shower, a change of clothing and a look around. But having come this far (and aware that the fast-approaching bad weather must soon be upon us) we climb aboard the nearby Alpauris chairlift at its mid-station and ride up to the opposite side of the valley. At the top we transfer to the Louvets high-speed chairlift and ski off onto Col, a Blue-graded scenic run around the side of the mountain which then serves up an overview of the compact ski village of Auris-en-Oisans. The scenery is very different over here, and the pistes are mostly north-facing, which helps maintain snow quality.

While not the most attractive or traditional-looking development, in its own way Auris is a charmer and packs a surprising variety of terrain into its relatively modest area. It’s also quick and easy to cross the Gorges de Sarenne and reach Alpe d’Huez, as we discover when we take the Auris Express chairlift and ski back down to rejoin the bi-directional Alpauris chair. In either direction, the spectacular ride is almost worthy of a theme-park.

Did someone say ‘snow’..?

It’s just as well that we’ve packed such a lot of skiing into our first day, for no sooner have we returned to our apartment than the anticipated weather front sweeps in with a vengeance, producing some of the heaviest snowfalls of the season. When we awake the following morning the village is subsumed in great billows of drifted snow, allowing the clearance crews to demonstrate their impressive skills in keeping things moving for visitors. Alpe d’Huez really is quite a place. heart, end feature