Sitting at an elevation of 1869m, Alpe d’Huez is part of the monumental Grande Rousses Massif ski area in the French Alps. The resort encompasses parts of the 250km of linked pistes throughout this popular region and is renowned for its magnificent views across the Alps.
While its popularity as a winter resort is due to its diversity of south facing, high altitude slopes suitable for all skill levels, for advanced skiers, free riders and the just plain crazy adrenaline junkies it offers some of the most exciting and challenging opportunities going.
Fast Fact: Alpe d’Huez is also known as L’ile au Soleil – Island of the Sun – and, with an average of 300 days of sunshine annually, it lives up to the name.
Convenience and Facilities
If you’re looking to squeeze every last drop out of your ski holiday, it’s important to choose a resort that measures up in terms of its facilities and how easy it is to get around.
The resort is spread over eight districts, with the Alpe d’Huez Centre serving as the hub for entertainment and events. Bourg d’Oisans is best for grocery supplies if you’re self-catering, and Vaujany, just above the town centre, offers spectacular far-reaching views.
Because of its excellent conditions and snow reliability, the resort’s popularity has developed at a faster rate than some of its facilities, which means that getting out on to the mountain’s lift system can be a bit slow at peak times. On balance, though, it’s generally thought to be worth the wait and most of the areas for experts are a lot quieter.
Tip: If you stay in the Bergers district (which is ski-in, ski-out) or as close as you can to Rond Point, you’ll be first in the lines to access the Grandes Rousses gondola, which services the entire linked ski area. If you do stay a little further away, all is not lost as there’s a free people mover to get you to the gondola from the lower parts of town.
The Best Bits
Here’s the part you’re waiting for: just what does Alpe d’Huez have to offer for the fearless expert skier like your good self? Here’s a brief overview of the best bits – aka the down low on the down fast.
Head to the Glacier
Expert skiers in the know head straight for the on and off-piste thrills of the Pic Blanc Glacier, with an altitude of 3,330 and views over Mont Blanc, Mont Cervin and beyond. From the top of the glacier, which is serviced by a number of chair lifts, most of the pistes take you straight back down to the main ski area, so you can choose as long or short a session as you like without having to hike for miles.
On Piste Action: There are a number of short, steep black runs that go from the top of the glacier and down towards the Sarenne Gorge. Les Chocards is fast and furious, although definitely less hair-raising than the adjacent run, the infamous ‘The Tunnel’ – so named as it passes through ravines with sheer rock walls on either side. This steep, mogul filled run is 3km of pure fun – or pure terror, depending on your viewpoint. Be warned: The Tunnel is not for the faint hearted!
From the Marmottes lift (which gets you to the top of the glacier) there are some wicked runs from Clocher de Macle, at 2800m. If the Combe Charbonniere is open (although it often isn’t, due to avalanches), you’ll enjoy the most thrilling and dramatically beautifully drop back down to the resort.
Off Piste Action: There are also vast areas of open terrain around the glacier for the thrill-seeking free riders and off-pisters – but they should only be tackled with an experienced local guide.
Along the Sarenne ridge there are numerous routes around Chateau Noir, which loop around and rejoin the ridge trails. You can also head around the north side of the ridge and down to Clocher de Macle or Mine de I’Herpie, where you’ll find lots of fresh powder and chances are you’ll have the place to yourself (and your guide).
While you’ll need to hike for around 30 minutes to reach the couloirs (steep, narrow gullies) accessible from Pic Bayle, it’s well worth it for the ride of a lifetime across to the Rousses glacier. From here you can also access a number of impossibly narrow couloirs at Petites Rousses – if you dare. And you know you do!
If you’re out on the mountain for a good time not a long time, there are also some very steep downhills (dropping more than 2,000m) from the top of the glacier running right back into the ski lift areas of the resort.
Take On the Mighty Glacier at Alpe d’Huez
The vast networked skiable area of Alpe d’Huez is the fifth largest in France and, for experts and thrill seekers, the good news is that the best bits on the mountain are reserved for you…
How to Get to Alpe d’Huez
The most convenient airports to Alpe d’Huez are Grenoble, Chambéry or Lyon, which are all around two hours away by road. If it is more convenient from your destination, you can also fly in to Geneva, which will take about three hours by road. There are plenty of airlines that service these routes from the UK, with budget flights available during the busy ski season.
Whichever airport you choose, the most convenient way to get you and your ski equipment to Alpe d’Huez is on a Shuttle Direct airport transfer. Pre-book online and if you advise us you are travelling with your own ski equipment, we can transport it for free.
Where to Stay:
Hôtel Eliova Le Chaix – Set right in the heart of the resort and just 100 metres from the ski lift, Hôtel Eliova Le Chaix makes for a fantastic, casual home-from-home with magnificent views of the slopes you’ll be tackling. With free Wi-Fi, light, spacious rooms and an onsite restaurant and bar, the hotel offers all the facilities you need without the price tag you might expect.
Alp’azur – With free Wi-Fi, an onsite bar and fabulous views, you might never want to step outside the Alp’azur. But when you do, you’re just a few metres from the slopes! With comfortable soundproofed rooms, fabulous breakfasts and situated walking distance from the bars and restaurants of the resort, you’ll feel right at home in this cosy Alpine chalet accommodation.
Hotel Club MMV Les Bergers – With a prime ski-in, ski-out position at the foot of the ski slopes, the Hotel Club MMV Les Bergers offers an amazing range of facilities to keep you piste-ready. With free access to the spa, hot tub and Hammam, and an onsite bar, terrace and games room, you can ski hard all day and come home to party or be pampered to your heart’s content.
About Shuttle Direct:
If you’re looking for the most trusted name in airport transfers throughout Europe, look no further than Shuttle Direct. With many years of experience, Shuttle Direct is the go-to company for fast, efficient shared and private services to resorts in the Italian, French and Austrian Alps.
If you need an affordable transfer from Geneva, Chambéry, Lyon or Grenoble airports, book online with Shuttle Direct. With a range of services to cater to any group size and budget, all your travel arrangements will be in place before you leave. If you’re taking your own sporting or skiing equipment, simply advise us at the time of booking and it can be transported free of charge.
For the best value and most efficient service, contact the friendly team of professionals at Shuttle Direct.