A guide to Alpe d'Huez
In the Oisans region east of Grenoble in the French Alps and part of the Grand Domaine ski area, Alpe d'Huez is as summer as it is in the winter. Composed of 5 different villages, the main town sits at 1869m above sea level, at its highest point, the ski area reaches up to 3300m on the Pic Blanc glacier. Alpe d'Huez is regarded as particularly suitable for family holidays with extensive, high, sunny slopes, and reasonably priced. Well equipped with its Sports and Conference Centre (Palais des Sports et des Congres). Best of all, Alpe d’Huez benefits from 300 days of sun per year. Accommodation in Alpe d’Huez comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, ranging from small and functional studios to large flats with five-star luxury facilities and individual chalets to rent.
Other villages in the area are Auris en Oisans, La Garde, Le Freney d'Oisans, Oz en Oisans, Vaujany and Villard-Reculas. Of these, Vaujany – known unofficially as ‘the richest commune in France’, is a quiet unspoilt village efficiently connected to the ski area, it has some luxurious chalets and well equipped apartments, an impressive sports centre. The village has a few small shops, one supermarket, a 1,000-year-old church and lots of ancient barns and farmhouses.
Ski chalets and apartments for sale in Alpe d'Huez
A few recent luxury apartment blocks have been developed recently in Alpe d'Huez with their own spas, indoor pools and saunas. Located only a couple of minutes’ walk from the local lifts and in the middle of the resort’s busy nightlife these can be popular options for potential buyers as they rent well. Individual chalets are less common but can be found with values up to €2.5m, some charming converted farmhouses are also available for sale in the nearby villages.
Alpe d'Huez ski area
Highly regarded, the Grand Domaine ski area is extensive and varied, with some very long runs, good nursery slopes and efficient lifts. The variety extends to a well balanced mix of black runs, red and blue runs for intermediates and a good choice of green and nursery slopes for beginners.
The famous Sarenne piste claims to be the longest run in the world at 16km and around 1800m vertical, starting from 3330m at Pic Blanc. Montfrais has some beautiful tree skiing for those snowy days.
For the adventurous, a vast terrain off-piste beckons to be explored. The Grandes Rousses area on the Vaujany side is an off-piste heaven and a well kept secret. Or try Grand Sablat, a classic 2000m descent.
A future project is the connection with Les Deux Alpes, with this lift connection peak to peak it will become the second largest area in the world after the 3 Vallées with an enormous ski area of around 474km of linked pistes.
There are a total of 50km of groomed cross-country ski trails in Alpe d'Huez.
Après ski in Alpe d'Huez
Alpe d'Huez has its own Folie Douce. Once that is over, plenty of bars in the village will keep you entertained such as Vieile Alpe and Smithy’s Tavern, O’Bar and Etalon. Bar les Bergers is a good place to catch up with friends over a beer. Steif's Belgian beer bar in Vaujany is highly recommended. For more family friendly activities, the bowling alley and indoor ice skating rink are always good options.
Eating out in Alpe d'Huez
On the mountain there are some excellent rustic huts in the ski area, 18 in total. Chalet du Lac Besson is said to be an excellent cosy stop for lunch. Other popular mountain restaurants are Plage des Neiges, Combe Haute and Le Chatelard. In the village, locals recommend the pizzas at the Pinocchio (opposite the open air ice rink) and the Cafe l'Agua by the open air pool. Slightly off the beaten track, the rustic La Cordee in St Christophe is a hidden gem.
For an evening meal, pick up the pocket guide from the tourist office, with a selection of over 30 restaurants offering good value dining and a wide selection. Au Ble Noir is tipped by the locals, with a legendary creperie, grill and mountain specialities. At Le Petit Creux, Bernadette cooks traditional French food with mountain herbs and lots of passion.
Summer in Alpe d'Huez
During the summer months, Alpe d'Huez transforms into a haven for road cyclists drawn to the area because of the famous and gruelling 21 hairpin bends which regularly feature as a challenging stage on the Tour de France.
Equally, the MTB community is drawn to Alpe d'Huez with the Megavalanche, a mass-start mountain bike race that calls itself the longest & craziest MTB Downhill race and draws thousands of fans from around the world. It takes place in July, starting at 3330m on the peak of the Sarenne Glacier.
There are over 250km of MTB trails linking the 8 resort villages linked by gondolas or chair lifts all summer long, and a number of bike buses with trailers are also on hand. The resort also boasts 3 bike parks (in Alp d'Huez, Oz and Vaujany), 2 north shore areas (ADH and Bourg d'Oisans), 3 pump tracks and 2 four cross tracks.
Hikers and mountain bikers can also take advantage of the lifts running in July and August. from the top of the Pic Blanc, at 3300m, are truly breathtaking – on a clear day, it is said you can see one fifth of France taking in Mont Blanc, Les Deux Alpes and even as far as Mont Ventoux.
Other summer activities are the open air swimming complex, horseriding and golf; the via ferrata are great here too, especially at St Christophe and Vaujany.
Other Destinations in the French Alps: Chamonix Courchevel Courchevel La Tania Courchevel Le Praz Courchevel Moriond Courchevel Village La Toussuire Les Deux Alpes Les Gets Les Menuires Megève Méribel Méribel Les Allues Méribel Village Méribel-Mottaret Morzine Paradiski Pays du Mont Blanc Pralognan-la-Vanoise Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise St. Martin de Belleville Tignes Val d'Isère Val Thorens