Alpe d’Huez – A Beautiful Ski Resort in Central France
Lying at 1869 meters above sea level at the centre of the Oisans, Alpe d’Huez is the main resort in the Grandes Rousses Massif. Split into a number of sectors or ‘quartiers’ Alpe d’Huez is a thriving year round resort with a steady community of 1700 permanent residents. The main quartiers are Quartier des Vieil Alpe, Quartier des Bergers and Quartier des Jeux. Quartier des Vieil Alpe is the oldest sector and is fairly quiet and residential. It is the most charming part of Alpe d’Huez however, retaining many of its original buildings. A wander round its little back streets is worthwhile and there are number of traditional family-run restaurants. Quartier des Jeux is the main ‘centre ville’ and the place to head for bars, shops and restaurants. Quartier Bergers is the most modern part of town and also contains its fair share of places to eat, drink and shop.
Nearby Huez is the original village of the resort. At an altitude of 1450m it overlooks the Sarenne gorge. A quaint mountain village, it has a labyrinth of tiny alleys, the historic Roman church of St Anne as well as a number of shops and bars, a bookshop and a cyber café. Access to the main resort of Alpe d’Huez takes just 5 minutes via the Télévillage cable car.
Named “L’Ile au Soleil” (Island of the Sun) Alpe d’Huez sits in a large south west facing bowl on a high plateau ensuring great weather and lots of sunshine. Averaging 300 days of sunshine per year you would have to be very unlucky to go home without a tan!
It is as a ski resort that Alpe d’Huez is best known; covering an area of 10,000 hectares the domain boasts 249km of linked pistes spanning an altitude range of 2,230m. The Sarennes ski run, the longest in Europe at 16km, joins the Pic Blanc to the Sarenne Gorge. As well as being the starting point for many off-piste itineraries it can also be skied by moonlight, as part of a monthly organized excursion. Pic Blanc (3330m), the highest point of the ski area, offers breathtaking views of the Alps including Mont Blanc, Mont Cervin and the Meije. On a clear day a fifth of France can be seen from this point. However, its not just skiing that’s on offer during the winter months; to read more about Alpe d’Huez winter events and activities.
With the expanses of the Ecrin National Park and the villages of the Oisans on its doorstep Alpe d’Huez is a paradise for summer visitors as well. There is a multitude of activities on offer such as walking, climbing, rafting, horse riding and more; but it is the mountain biking for which the region is most renowned. With 140 miles of marked routes Alpe d’Huez is one of the legendary mountain biking sites of Europe. Cross country, downhill, regular competitions and the world’s longest downhill route (20 miles) make this the ultimate destination for anyone with a passion for mountain biking.
The famous 21 bends of the road up to Alpe d’Huez provide one of the most challenging stages of the Tour de France. Over a distance of 14km the cyclists will climb 3670ft on an average 7.9% incline. Alpe d’Huez and the Oisans area is a mecca for cyclists of all standards, many of whom will attempt the challenge – each day in the summer an average of 1000 cyclists climb the 21 bends.
Unique in Europe is the Poutran International Equestrian Training Centre. Studies show that 3 weeks training at altitude will significantly improve a racehorse’s performance and stamina. At an altitude of 6562ft Alpe d’Huez has a one of a kind training facility; international champions from the worlds of show jumping, steeple chase and endurance riding have visited here to reap the benefits.
Facts & Figures
17 x Black runs (66km); 39 x Red runs (77km); 37 x Blue runs (55km); 42 x Green runs (52km), 2 x snow park, 1 x boarder cross, 1 x Half-pipe, 1 x night piste.
Lifts: 81 total (6 x cable car, 9 x Gondola, 23 x chair lift, 40 x drag lift, 3 x lifts & carpets
Snow cannons: 918
Altitude: Alpe d’Huez = 1850m
Highest lift: 3330m – Pic Blanc
What makes Alpe d’Huez unique:
- Pic Blanc 18km Black glacier run, from the Sarenne Glacier, this is Europe’s longest pisted run
- Pic Blanc through the tunnel is Europe’s steepest black run
- 21 Hairpin Tour de France stage finish