Alpe d'Huez, France
Alpe d'Huez is a large, modern ski resort in the Western French Alps. The very extensive, high, sunny slopes are great for all abilities and as most of the pistes lead down to the resort centre the geography of the resort is easy to master, even for younger skiers. There are an increasing number of luxury ski in ski out chalets in Alpe d'Huez which give guests the ultimate in ease of access to the resort's large ski area. Apart from easy access to and from the slopes these properties also offer guests immediate proximity to the ski school meeting points and main lift stations.
Alpe d'Huez has an extensive ski area and when the snow is good there are plenty of pisted runs for all levels of skier and boarder, including the longest black run in the Alps, the Sarenne, which is a thigh burning 16km in length! The efficient lift system means there are very few queues and the snow-making facilities more than counter the effects of its South facing orientation. Snow cover, even late into the season, is hardly ever a problem on account of the snow making that goes on during the colder months of December, January and February.
Owing to the purpose built nature of this high altitude ski resort it's possible to ski back to a lot of the accommodation. The resort has good facilities for children, a highly rated ski school and a buzzing (but not too frenetic) nightlife which makes this a good all round ski destination.
Pros & Cons
- Extensive, high, sunny slopes and efficient, modern lift system. It has a great ski area
- Huge snowmaking installation great for late season ski holidays in Alpe d'Huez
- There are lovely ski in and ski out chalets in Alpe d'Huez
- Vast, gentle, sunny nursery slopes right next to the resort - the perfect learning environment
- A wide variety of lively apres ski and nightlife
- Icy morning and slushy afternoon conditions on the many South and West facing runs
- Overcrowding on the main runs in high season. Our tip is to head for Auris ski area
- Very little wooded areas to retreat to in bad weather. Again head for Auris
- Alpe d'Huez is a sprawling resort with a mis-match of chalet and apartment styles
Alpe d'Huez is not short of restaurants varying from high quality to cheap and cheerful but generally they are cheaper than some of France's other premier resort restaurants, so don't worry if you tire of the food in the chalets or hotels. Alpe d'Huez has some good dining - for genuinely tasty fare try the The Cremaillere, P'tit Creux (quite pricey), Genepi, Pomme de Pin. For pizzas and pasta L'Origan and Pinocchio are well recommended. Smithy's Tex Mex is far from shy about the size of the helpings and Edelweiss is excellent value for set menus and grills.
The mountain restaurants are generally good. The self-service places are welcoming and there are more rustic restaurants with table service than you'd find in other similarly sized French resorts. Chalet du Lac Besson is located on the cross-country loop north of the Les Grandes Rousses Gondola (aka DMC) mid station. The pretty Foret De Maronne hotel at Chatelard below Signal de L'Homme is a great sun trap and has a good menu. The Bergerie at Villard-Reculas also comes recommended for its views as does The Signal. The Plage des Neiges at the top of the nursery slopes is the best place for beginners. Chantebise 2100 at the DMC mid station is good for slick and cheerful service. Try skiing to Oz and Vaujany for better value for money.
There are are wide range of bars, some good ones straight off the slopes, some of which get lively later on, and there are also the bars found in the hotels. Alpe d'Huez night spots include the Roadhouse located under Crystal's Hotel Vallee Blanche and the Underground in Neilson's Hotel Chamois are established favourites amongst the British run bars. The Crowded House in Crystal's Hermitage hotel is a quiet alternative with a pool table. The Sphere Bar, O'Sharkey's and Pacific are popular after the lifts close.
Smithy's gets quite rowdy later on and the Yeti hosts some great live bands. The Sporting is a fun bar with great bands although it reputably the most expensive bar in town. This and the Igloo disco liven up when the French hit town en masse!
- Cable Car
- Chair lift
- Drag lift