Alpe d’Huez Ski Holidays

Alpe d’Huez Ski Holidays

Located in the Rhone-Alps region of the Central French Alps, Alpe d’Huez is as famous for its ski resort as it is for its summer Tour de France stage finish. Set on a mountain pasture at base 1,120m rising to 3,330m, the resort area is one of Europe’s premier ski venues, established in the 1930s. Now one of the largest resorts in the wolrd with 249km of on-piste runs, 84 lifts and a battery of snow cannons on its warmer south-facing slopes, Alpe d’Huez appeals both to beginners and more experienced skiers and snowboarders.

The 123 runs divide into 38 beginner, 68 intermediate and 17 advanced and expert, with the longest descending over an impressive 17kms. The lift capacity of 95,000 skiers per hour is served by 10 gondolas, six cable cars, 41 drag lifts, 24 chairs and three access lifts, with snowfall averaging just under six metres per year. There’s even night skiing available two days a week via one lift. The terrain is high-altitude and known for its steep free-skiing options.

Set just over an hour and a half from Grenoble on the twisting Tour de France route and five hours from Paris, the resort is popular with skiers on a budget, but doesn’t have the upscale style of the northern French resorts. Although the town isn’t all purpose-built ugliness as found in La Plagne, it’s not a picturesque Alpine village either, with a few 60’s apartment buildings in its centre and little to offer as regards top-flight accommodation. What it does offer, however, is fantastic on- and off-piste skiing in reliable almost season-round sunshine and far more affordable hospitality options than the smarter resorts.

Bus links around the sprawling town come free with lift passes, so staying outside the centre is no problem. The largest ski sector is above the village on Pic Blanc’s slopes, with the high point of the mountain’s small Sarenne glacier located at 3,330m – the start of the longest run in the Alps. The Sarenne Gorge cuts between the two ski sectors from Signal de l’Homme, crossed by a fast chair from Bergers, in the village,, giving access to excellent north-facing slopes. The small Signal sector holds the night-skiing blue run, floodlit twice a week, and the quieter Vaujany-Oz area has mostly northwest facing slopes. Using black, blue and red pistes from here down to L’Enversin gives one of the world’s biggest vertical runs, with a 2,230m altitude change.