Resort Profile: Alpe d'Huez

By adamrowden, 14 Nov '12 at 14:19

One of the world's major ski centres, the Grandes Rousses ski area above Alpe d'Huez is a huge and high domain served by an extensive lift system. The resort itself is one of Europe's highest and largest with a massive vertical drop, crowned by the Sarenne Glacier. Built above the original village of Huez, the resort has expanded in all directions over the past 20 years or so.

Today the resort is big and vibrant with far more shopping and 'things to do generally' off the slopes than in most other ski centres, especially by French standards. Architecturally the place is a mish mash of traditional Alpine chalet style wood and stone buildings, some rather ugly rectangular concrete developments and one tasteful modern construction.

There are two huge beginners areas directly above the resort and those going on to the top of the lifts will be able to see a fifth of France, on a clear day, from the top station. The resort has a reputation for both good snow falls and good sunshine with south facing slopes - the areas protected by nearly 800 snow cannon.

Alpe d'Huez is one of the most southerly located major international resorts in the French Alps that has an extensive range of high and sunny slopes, which are split interestingly into different sectors. The nursery slopes are large and offer beginners a gentle introduction into the sport. However, the intermediate runs in resort, which are not of poor quality, can become rather crowded in the peak weeks of the season - this is obviously not an issue for you if you are going in one of the quieter weeks.

Whilst the resort does offer you some splendid panoramic views of its surroundings, if you like tree runs, then you may be left a little bit wanting. Regarding the more difficult runs, there are a number of challenging runs located high up. These are great to test yourself on, so long as they are not closed due to poor weather conditions. It does play host to ‘La Sarenne', which is the longest black run in Europe. This fearsome run is 16km long and an incredible 2210m in vertical drop.

Though the resort is not the most extensive in France, it remains one of the most popular, which is mainly due to the fact that it caters for all abilities and has a varying selection of terrain to be explored.

If you are looking for an après ski drink or a decent night out, then you are in luck as this resort will not leave you wanting. Smithy’s Tavern is great, The Underground in Vieil Alpe is also very good, with some cracking live music, and Lounge21, O’Bar and the Pacific are all well worth visiting. If you want a really late night then you can also head to The Sporting (which is not very cheap so be prepared for that!); the brilliant Igloo and the Caves des Alpes.

Alpe d’Huez is a resort with a cracking buzz and there is always something to do. It is far more lively than many other resorts in France and is sure to please those of you who like a beer after a hard day on the mountain.

The Highlights:


- Great resort for all abilities
- Longest black run in Europe
- Great nightlife
- Brilliant après bars
- Good mountain restaurants

For more resort profiles click here. Or, to find a good transfer company to take you to Alpe d’Huez click here.

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