Epic skiing in a sun-drenched alpine valley, Alpe d'Huez is a consummate all-rounder. Famed for its sun-soaked skiing and sensational scenery, this french giant is modern and lively and genuinely offers exemplary skiing to all levels, making it perfect for those tricky mixed experience groups.
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The Ski Resort
The sunny bowl in which it sits, above the town of Bourg-d’Oisans, plays host to a village of hodge-podge ‘quartiers’ scattered at random across the valley, and while it may lack the rustic charm of others, the centre of town, le Quartier de Jeux, is vibrant and fun.
Numerous bars and restaurants along Avenue Des Jeux give it a party atmosphere but for a more relaxing stay, Quartier de Bergers is popular, with a smattering of bars and restaurants and great access to the slopes. The range of accommodation available make this a resort to tempt the spectrum of budgets.
Few mountains cater so well to so many. Home to the world’s longest black run and blessed with outstanding off piste, there is also a vast beginner area and the tuition available is excellent. The resort has an enviable rep for enjoying the most days of sunshine on the slopes in a year, giving rise to its nickname "l'Isle du Soleil", the Island of the Sun.
The highest point in Alpe d’Huez, the Pic Blanc Glacier, towers at 3300m and offers spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding valleys. Beginners can build their confidence on the gentle slopes on the outskirts of the resort while intermediates have a network of cruising blues and reds to dot around the mountain on. Two snowparks, a boardercross park, a halfpipe and some wicked off-piste cater to the more experienced.
Did you know: the weekly lift pass also includes two days in Les Deux Alpes, a day in each of the Grande Galaxie resorts of Serre Chevalier, Puy Saint Vincent and Montgenevre as well as night skiing and night sledging!
Feeling especially adventurous? Send for the chopper: return trips to Les Deux Alpes cost €70 per person via helicopter.
Having opened in Alpe d’Huez in 2014, infamous La Folie Douce kicks things off with the wouldn’t-be-La-Folie-without-it live music and table dancing from mid-afternoon. Sensibly positioned beside the Marmottes 1 gondola, for the safe return to the village option you’ll all obviously be taking, the sun-drenched terrace features spectacular views over the southern alps. Adjoining restaurant La Frutière serves up delicious waitered cuisine and provides balance against the self-service, champagne fuelled restaurant Folie.
Back in town, Freeride Café is a decent little bar with pool tables and TVs, with the quirky addition of stock-market style, moving drinks prices after 10pm and a ski-boot safety-conscious slide down to the loos. From the owners of Dick’s Tea bar in Val d’Isère comes Sphere, an excellent sun-terrace bar with some great drinks deals, and special mention should go to the institution that is Smithy’s Tavern, a hugely popular bar with DJs and live music from après until 2am. Clubs l’Igloo and Les Caves des Alpes will take all of your money until 4 and 5am.
At the top end of the spectrum, l’Altiport is the only Michelin starred restaurant in Alpe d’Huez, a small, chalet-style restaurant with a lovely terrace, that can be accessed via the Loup Blanc piste or on foot from resort. At the other, La Trappeur burger shack serves up delicious and great value burgers from the base of the Grande Rousses télécabine. In town, Smithy’s Tavern offers excellent tex-mex and further along the street you’ll find Lounge 21, a cool and contemporary bar and restaurant serving traditional Savoyarde-style food.
Resort altitude: 1869m
Highest point: 3300m
Area: Grandes Rousses Massif
Best spot for…
Après: La Folie
A lavish meal: L’Altiport
A rave: Igloo
Casual meal: Smithy’s Tavern
Posh coffee: Laurie’s Sweet and Coffee
Transfer: 1hr 30 - Grenoble