Alpe d'Huez ski resort guide Ski area, apres-ski, things to see & do

Overview

Alpe d'Huez - a ski resort in the Oisans Alpes and part of the Grandes Rousses Massif in France. The local Alpe d'Huez area is made up of five small hamlets, namely Auris-en-Oisans, Villard-Reculas, Oz en Oisans, Vaujany and La Garde.

Alpe d'Huez is also known as ‘L’Ile au Soleil’, because it really is an island of sun sitting on the south-facing plateau at 1860m, with an average of 300 sunny days a year - don’t ask us how there is ever enough bad weather days for there to be enough snow to ski, but there is!

Alpe d'Huez ski area

Being a world class resort, the skiing is superb with perfectly groomed pistes for all levels of skier and boarder.

L’Alpe d’Huez also offers some of the most incredible areas for off -piste skiing – it’s varied and accessible. There are over 20 truly legendary itineraries leaving from the summit of Le Pic Blanc 3330m and most of which cover a difference in height of 2000m. Easily accessible from the ski lifts, these trails always have good snow coverage.

One comment that comes up time and time again from visitors to Alpe d'Huez is that if the weather is bad (wind, fog) the lifts to these upper, more technical runs are closed. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does it can cut down the choice of pistes for good skiers and boarders.

Key information (whole area)
Altitude1860m
Top lift3330m
Family
Beginner
Intermediate
Expert
Piste (km)249
Longest run16km
Off piste
Cross country50km
SeasonDec - April
Snowboard parks2
Heli Skiing
Summer skiing
Glacier skiing
Babysitting
Creche
Apres skiLively and fun
alpe d-huez ski resort, ski holidays, ski chalets and apartments to rent, holiday rentals

Beginners

At the bottom of the bowl there is the "snowfront" with areas for kids and beginners. As for ski lessons in Alpe d'Huez, the ESF and other independent ski schools have high praise heaped on them for a good level of teaching and friendly instructors. There are also very good facilities for children with a municipal creche from three months to four year olds, as well as the kids’ clubs at the ski schools. There's even a snowfun club that offers sessions building snowmen, igloos and just larking about in the snow!

Intermediate

Alpe d'Huez is famous for the Sarenne run. At 16km it's the longest black run in Europe (some might say the world!) and is a real leg-burner. Beware that being south-facing the bottom of the Sarenne deteriorates fairly quickly, so if its open and you fancy skiing it make sure you do.

Advanced

The number of technical slopes off the Pic Blanc is impressive. Some have pitches at a vertigo-inducing 35 to 50 degrees, such as the Tunnel, which starts in a tunnel and then quickly leads you to a very challenging steep section. There are also other great black pistes such as Clocher de Macle, Combe Charbonniere, Balcons and onto Balme from Pic Blanc, or even Col de Cluy on the other side of the mountain.

Things to see & do in Alpe d'Huez

  • Ice skating
  • Winter walking and snowshoeing trails
  • Dog sleighs
  • Tobogganing
  • Ten-pin bowling
  • Parapenting

Après-ski

The après-ski is lively and fun with many cafes, bars and restauants to choose from in the main town centre plus live music bars and clubs.

Featured ski chalets

The accommodation is spread out in clusters over 5 hamlets with the majority of the hotels, ski chalets and apartments being close to the lifts, bars and restaurants.

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Our view on Alpe d'Huez ski holidays

We think it's no surprise that ski holidays in Alpe d'Huez are very popular. There is a vast ski area for all levels and some superb glacier skiing for a long season. Off the piste, there is a good balance between vibrant nightlife and quieter, more family-orientated residential areas so you have the choice of both worlds.

If you like Alpe d'Huez, then Zell am See-Kaprun in Austria has very lively après-ski and some superb winter and summer glacial skiing.

A few suggestions for your ski holidays...

  • Take the Alpauris chair lift from the east side of Alpe d’Huez towards Auris-en-Oisans. Not for the fainthearted, the lift plunges down a steep ravine, before winding up an equally steep slope the other side. So famous it’s known as the ‘Scarelift’!
  • Do a Sarenne run at full moon – local guides offer accompanied trips where you take the last lift up to Pic Blanc, head to a refuge for aperitif and then ski all the way back down in the moonlight. Magical
  • Flash the cash at the Altiport. Imagine flying in on a VIP transfer from Grenoble airport, or taking a quick helicopter transfer to ski in Les Deux Alpes. It’s all possible from this little airport at 1860m
  • See Alpe d'Huez on a Segway! In winter and summer you can take a trek on a Segway personal transporter to discover Alpe d'Huez
  • Take on the Tour de France challenge. If you think you’re fit enough, it’s 14km long, with those 21 hair pins to negotiate and a pitch of 8 degrees