Alpe d’Huez from the village of Oz
Our in resort guest bloggers today are Andy Christodolo and Gill Lawrence who own Le Château d’Oz in the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski area. Andy first moved to the Alps more than 30 years ago and he and Gill bought Le Château d’Oz in January 2011. Passionate skiers and hikers, they live and work in the area all year round and know the mountains and the resorts very well.
Alpe d’Huez is one of the biggest ski resorts in France with a large and varied terrain. It is one of the few resorts that has extensive slopes for beginners as well as challenging slopes for experts and confidence building runs for those looking to improve their skills.
The centre of the main resort is gathered around the village of Alpe d’Huez, but the “Grand Domaine Ski” is made up of 7 villages, each one its own small resort, with its own advantages and character.
The 2 villages on the Northern side, Oz & Vaujany even have their own ski area with their own ski pass, though this is included in the “normal” Grand Domaine pass. The separate, cheaper pass only makes sense if you are staying in Oz or Vaujany and covers about 30% of the entire Grand Domaine.
The accommodation in all 7 villages is dominated by typical French apartments but there are also some independent chalet operators as well as some Travel Agent run Hotels.
For the French, Alpe d’Huez is a prestigious, classy resort much visited by French Celebrities though this aspect is usually missed by the other nationalities that come.
Much loved by the French it’s also a sought-after destination for British, Dutch and Belgian skiers who return year after year.
With a “piste length” of around 250km, Alpe d’Huez is spread over 4 mountains of varying terrain. The lower slopes, just above the main centre, form a fabulous bowl for beginners with long, wide runs that are perfectly groomed.
There are “SnowParks”, with jumps, rails and other obstacles in Alpe d’Huez and in the Oz-Vaujany sectors. Around the whole Domaine are some other fun areas with small tunnels and easy obstacles that are great fun to negotiate.
With the highest point of the resort at 3330m and the lowest at 1100m there are runs of terrific length, 4 of them with a vertical descent of 2000m. Nearly all the skiing is above 2000m and with over 1000 snow making machines, this is one of the most snow-sure resorts.
Generally, as you get higher, the runs become more challenging. Alpe d’Huez has 2 world-famous runs: the “Sarenne” black run, the longest black piste in the world, and the “Tunnel” black, with its steep and technical start.
Each of the mountains feature terrain of different types according to its aspect. Though the middle of the resort faces south it keeps its snow well into April. The north facing parts, notably the Oz-Vaujany sector, are usually still in good condition right up to the end of the season in mid-April.
The Domaine is linked by an extensive lift system which is one of the most modern in Europe. Most of the Domaine is covered with large, high-speed detachable chairs and gondolas. It is so well integrated that non-skiers can access almost the entire ski area which makes meeting up with mixed groups amazingly easy. There are also excellent pisted walking paths.
Each of the 7 village resorts has its own ski schools and beginner areas making lessons an easy start to every day.
The off-piste terrain for Freeride is extensive and easily accessible. The Bureau des Guides is excellent for those that want to explore the more difficult to find places and some truly challenging couloirs. They also run day trips to La Grave for those seeking extra thrills and après-ski credibility.
Food & Drink:
During the day, the Domaine has the usual variety of mountain restaurants with the Oz-Vaujany sector having the greatest density and the best value for money.
There is a “Folie Douce” for those that seek dance music in the afternoons as well as its well-known mix of luxury décor, food and drink.
There are a few restaurants tucked away on the outer fringes of the resort, only accessible to skiers, that are fun to ski to for lunch. Our favourites include the “Forêt de Maronne” tucked away in Auris, and the “Ile d’Oz” on Alpette.
The fringes of the main village offer all sorts of restaurants and these are mainly open in the evening too. Each of the villages has at least one restaurant where the food is especially good. Oz village, a few kms down the road from the ski resort has La Cure, one of the nicest restaurants in the area.
If you are after night life, you should stick to the center of Alpe d’Huez itself. The other villages in the Domaine all have something to offer in the evenings though none of them are particularly late-night places. Small bars and friendly restaurants are what you will find. The whole Domaine is more about skiing and less about après-ski.
Alpe d’Huez is a resort with one of the shortest transfer times in the French Alps. The closest airport is Grenoble, just 75 minutes away from Oz, the most easily accessible part of the Grand Domaine, with regular links to the center of the resort. For those travelling mid-week, Lyon is a better option and only 90 minutes away.
There are regular bus services and the usual taxis and private transfer companies.
Getting to the resort by car is an easy drive down the Auto route from Calais. Its 8.5hours of driving, plus any stops you want to make.
Where to stay:
In Oz village, Le Château d’Oz has huge rooms, most with their own sitting area. Great food including special diets from Vegan to Keto. Private parking in our own car park, Comfort and relaxation after your day on the slopes. Well placed for a relaxing ski holiday, the owners have arranged everything so that everything is conveniently close at hand. If you are interested in a skiing holiday get in touch at www.lechateaudoz.ski .