Overall Rating

Alpe d'Huez

Alpe d'Huez3.5/52
Alpe d'Huez3.5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
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Nearby Ski Resorts

La Grave
Les 2 Alpes

     Alpe d’Huez Ski Trail Map
  • Alpe d’Huez Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,125m – 3,330m (2,205m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8m+
  • Lifts (62)
    21 Cable cars/gondolas/funiculars
    19 Chairlifts
  • Opening Dates & Times
    December to end April
    8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 250km
    Longest run – 17km
    Advanced - 20%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 30%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 19/20
    Grand Domaine
    Adult - €43 to 53.50
    Child - €33 to 44
    Child u/5yr – Free
    Dynamically priced online!

    Oz - Vaujany sector only
    Adult - €38
    Child - €28.50
    Child u/5yr – Free

    Auris en Oisans sector only
    Adult - €37
    Child - €22
    Child u/5yr – Free
     Oz Vaujany Trail Map
  • Oz Vaujany Sector Map
     Auris en Oisans Sector Ski Trail Map
  • Auris en Oisans Sector Map

Alpe d'Huez - Reviews

Alpe d'Huez - Reviews

Amazing & Confuzzling All at Once

03/05/2020

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

Amazing & Confuzzling All at Once

03/05/2020

A first-time visitor to Alpe d’Huez may be totally confuzzled (new word – thanks mysterious 11yo!) by the breadth & complexity of this ski resort, particularly if starting out from the village of Vaujany where one is confronted with 3 ski lifts but no ski runs (more on that later!). The wide-open beginner terrain around Alpe d’Huez village is straight forward, but beyond that, the possibilities are nearly unfathomable during a short visit. From an off-piste freeride point of view, it seems to be a mountain best explored with the assistance of a local mountain guide in the first instance. Even with our extensive knowledge & sense of adventure, we struggled over a few days to get a real handle on it – and that is a good thing (more on that later!).

The many villages of Alpe d'Huez put it in a higher category of mega resort than its neighbour, Les 2 Alpes (which only has a measly 3 villages). The 7 lift connected villages, plus an eighth if one counts the disconnected valley hub of Le Bourg d’Oisans, are all incredibly varied in character & aspect.

Alpe d’Huez is a sprawling, but ordered, modern monstrosity replete with 6-storey hotels & apartment blocks. Better planned & somehow more acceptable to the eye than the hodgepodge development at Les 2 Alpes, it is still a resort village that in the end one either loves or hates. We err on the side of hate, by not so vehemently, so perhaps it is more of a mild distaste!

Alternatives include the original Huez, just down the road. It retains the traditional charm of a French Alps mountain village, albeit just surrounded by a busy (& nightmarish) road made famous by the pain it induces on professional cyclists in the Tour de France race. Off the Huez road is the quiet, traditional village of Villard Reculas. The perfect spot to rent a chalet in a rural setting, it has a small ski area base connected to the broader domain but few services & shops. Below that, Le Bourg d’Oisans is surrounded by precipitous mountain splendour at the bottom of the valley. Affordable & with better short notice availability than the higher villages, it does have the seriously flawed drawback of not being near a ski lift or trail! Above Le Bourg d’Oisans the tiny authentic hamlet of Maronne has lots going for it, but the circa 1970s chairlift may become annoying after a time. The hamlets location seemingly a world away from Alpe d’Huez until you note the high-rise apartment skyline visible in the background. Its opposite in the Auris sector is a dated resort style village called Auris en Oisans. Families may enjoy its sunny aspect, reasonable affordability & fewer skiers.

A better alternative is Vaujany at the opposite end of the Grand Domaine. A mix of tradition & modernity, it is a haven in a sea of ski resort village depravity. Its opposite number is the contemporary resort village of Oz en Oisans – perfect for those that want petite, modern functionality. The lifts out of Oz en Oisans provide the best initial coverage of any in the entire resort. Confuzzling enough for you?

We started our jaunt across the Grand Domaine in the Oz-Vaujany sector from the afore mentioned village of Vaujany. The lowest elevation of the interlinked resort villages, it has a wonderfully integrated village, car park & lift terminal. Free undercover parking. Walk straight through an exit onto the ski lift deck where 2 modern gondolas & cable car get one up & across to the action. There is no ability to ski to or from Vaujany directly, which aside from being a tad odd is also somewhat disappointing. The words ‘compulsory download’ are never great in a ski resort review, but there it is. Maybe ‘compulsory upload’ sounds better? An additional brand spanking new gondola simply links back up to Vaujany from the La Fare valley trail (rated advanced but doable by intermediates) across the other side of the valley. Vaujany is also the major base for its own smaller (& cheaper) ski domain, along with its opposite, Oz en Oisans. Easiest to drive to in bad weather, it still has some serious hairpins to manoeuvre in icy conditions.

The direct route to the 3330m summit of Pic Blanc from Vaujany involves three cable car rides with a short ski in between the Rousses top & Pic Blanc bottom stations. Typical of cable cars, all are packed & get worse as the morning wears on. There will generally be a wait for the Pic Blanc cable car – it is what it is. From Alpe d’Huez to the top involves 2 chairlifts & two gondolas. Not sure which journey is more tortuous but that is the price for a skiable vertical of over 2000m. It goes without saying that if heading up to the summit (& you should), start early.

From Pic Blanc summit piste trail options include the long, long Sarenne & legendary Tunnel advanced runs. They act like a honeypot, attracting every snow-slider regardless of ability to their extended pistes. Sadly, the Tunnel was closed during our visit (for no obvious reason either). Skiing the 16km Sarenne is a true test of one’s mettle. Sure, the run is long, but dodging others proves to be the greater challenge. It is a run to do once (& early in the day) then stick to greener pastures. Snowboarders will need to keep the speed up once it flattens along the valley – a walk is likely.

I could harp on about the on-piste trails at Alpe d’Huez and lengthen this review significantly, but I think its verbose enough. So, in short – with over 250km of trails, it will suffice to say that there is something for everyone & unusually a lot more for advanced riders than most ski areas. Alpe d’Huez is perfect for novices & beginners right around the main village. Some of the intermediate runs feel a touch too ‘traversing road-like’ rather than piste, but I am quibbling. Plenty for everyone – put it in the bank!

The freeride off-piste terrain, particularly for experts, is off the charts at Alpe d’Huez. Not nearly as obvious or approachable as Les 2 Alpes, the many permutations from Pic Blanc (3330m elevation), Dôme Des Rousses (2800m) or the backside of Signal (2100m) are mind-bending. It is hard to find entry points & routes but having tasted a few, it leaves you wanting to come back for more. And that is a good thing. Get a guide to simplify the more difficult freeride terrain – you will know what I am talking about when you see it!

On a powder day do not ignore the smaller ski sector of Auris en Oisans (& Maronne) on the north-aspect Signal de l’Homme. Steeps off the sunny backside into Auris would be fun in deep, safe snow. Otherwise, nicely pitched alpine meadows and some trees into Maronne are perfect for poor visibility outings. Piste trails in the sector are quiet & varied enough for all abilities. As with Oz-Vaujany, the sector has a cheap lift pass valid only on the Auris side of the Alpauris chair. The Alpauris chair traverses the gulch from Alpe d’Huez & is one of the weirder ski lift experiences in the world as it goes along, steeply down & finally up – be wary of your ski tips at the awkward valley mid station.

Unlike some French ski resorts, there are no old banged-up gondolas at Alpe d’Huez (OK there is one, but it doesn’t serve any ski terrain). There are however numerous old banger chairs across the entire domain – some of which are quite important for getting around efficiently! In such a thoroughly modern ski resort, chairs from the 70s & 80s are out of place. Up near Pic Blanc, whilst not that old (less than 20yr), we avoided the Herpie chair for obvious reasons!

Food wise on the mountain there are loads of options, some great, some not so. Rule of thumb for us was the further away from Huez, the better it got. At Maronne, despite some initially surly service, lunch was delicious at the Le Foret de Maronne restaurant. Above Villard Reculas, the Restaurant La Bergerie is another fine choice. When in doubt, go the plat du jour. The L'Île d'Oz & others near L'Alpette above Vaujany & Oz en Oisans are rated amongst the best in the entire Grand Domaine.

Missed the après ski action at La Folie Douce, mainly because of the huge line ups at the Marmottes-1 chair late in the day. We know how fun it can be having experienced the franchise previously at Val d’Isere & Meribel, noting that the drink prices can be steep, but the vibe & entertainment are usually first class. There are plenty of opportunities for after ski drinks everywhere across the resort, but nothing stood out to us, mainly due to the lack of people.

At the end of our short stay at Alpe d’Huez, it felt like we did not do justice to the mountain. We will have to return to properly tease out all those possibilities (i.e. the Grand Sablat Glacier descent) & be less confuzzled…. It is a big, mega, super-size ski hill after all & deserving of further exploration.

You can see our thoughts on the pros & cons on the Alpe d’Huez overview page and also see our European ski resort ratings regarding how we score it compared to other skiing areas.

Spring in Alpe d'Heuz

Mr Lee
02/07/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    3

Spring in Alpe d'Heuz

Mr Lee
02/07/2019
We went in march for a week after a barren spell of weather with very little snow for 2 - 3 weeks and warm temps so snow quality wasn't the best with the daily freeze / thaw cycle. As ADH (Alpe d'Huez) is high, the pistes were not too bad (thanks to the pistuers) but the lower parts of the resort like Vaujany were grass.
There is loads of potential for off piste and some great lines to be had when conditions suit but not when we were there. The longest black run - Sarenne (16km?) is a bit of a let down - reasonably steep at the start for maybe 3-4km and then a loooong flatish cattrack run out that seemed to go on forever which I would imagine be a nightmare for boarders in deep snow. Most of the lifts had a queue of some sort but the longest wait was only 10mins as they run at a reasonable rate.
La Folie Douce provides early apres on the mountain and gets lively, whilst in town there is a couple nightclubs and plenty of bars to satisfy the Party Harder Crew.
Prices were your typical French ski resort - 7/8 euro beers , burger and fries 15 euro , pizza 10 euro and every meal we had was good.
We had a good time even though snow conditions were crap (bad timing) and we would go back.