Alpe d'Huez Resort Review
Our Alpe d’Huez ski resort review has been written by Simon Cook, known to everyone as Cookie. Cookie has been calling the French Alpes his winter home for more than 15 years. With experience all across the Alpes Cookie decided 6 years ago that Alpe d’Huez would be the place to make a more permanent base and begun working as a full time (and fully qualified) Ski & Snowboard instructor and off-piste guide for the Ecole de ski Français (ESF). He mixes his time between all levels of both disciplines, on and off piste, and as such gets to explore the best conditions on offer in the area.
The ski area is big! More than 250km of pistes with over 2000m vertical drop, stretched across 6 villages linked together with a healthy blend of green, blue, red and black pistes. Add that to the endless off-piste skiing that is some of the best I’ve found in anywhere!
At its highest point, the mountain reaches up to 3300m on the Pic Blanc glacier, which you have access to in both winter and summer. Its reputation for having the most days of sunshine on the ski slopes in a year has given rise to its nickname 'l'Isle du Soleil' or The Island of the Sun. Alpe d’Huez has been voted Europes Best Ski Resort on numerous occasions, and it’s easy to see why. The ski fields are easy to navigate and it’s almost like the mountain was designed specifically for snow sports. The main bowl in the central point in the area with Alp d’Huez right in the middle. Lower slopes are wide, open and shallow, with dozens of nursery slopes and green runs interlocking and meandering around allow beginners within their first day to go on adventures and explore- not just up and down the same piste.
If you’re looking for harder slopes simply go a little higher up the mountain. A selection of very modern “Tele-Mix” lifts, where you can choose between chairs or gondolas on the same cable allow access higher and towards harder runs and connecting villages.
The highest point in the area is the Pic Blanc at 3330m, offering unparalleled 360° views around. All the way across to neighbouring resort Les Deux Alpes, the the other direction the pic of Mont Blanc is clearly visable, across and up the valley to Italy and behind you all the way across the Isère area. From this point you have a huge selection off-piste routes, but the most common way down is La Serenne, famous for being the longest black run in Europe at 16km! Another famous (or maybe infamous) piste in Alpe d’Huez is La Tunnel, a 200m hand carved horizontal tunnel carved into the mountain takes you through the rock just below the Pic Blanc then spits you out onto a sheer face just over 35° just linked with waist high moguls! Not for the faint hearted!
Where to stay
There is a huge mix of accommodation options available in Alpe d’Huez. Large 4* hotels like hotelgrandesrousses.com and hotel-picblanc-alpes.com. Family fun “home from home” options like lecamigane.com or a the traditional chalet Hamlet by the Altiport with options like chaletnamika.co.uk. There also an abundance of apartments and houses to rent, best information on these can be found with @Alpedhuezhouses.
Food, drinks & Nightlife
Alpe d’Huez comes to life at night! With a network of restaurants, bars and clubs it’s easy to see why Alpe d’Huez is a popular choice for people who like to carry on the party after the slopes close. La Folie Douce is the well know party bar, located at 2300m well above the station the party is full power every afternoon, then find your way home with fun blue or red pistes to ski down to the village. Smithys Tavern is the classic apres and late night spot with everyone; regular live music, DJ’s and apres party’s, great Tex-Mex Food and usual craziness carries on well into the night. The Underground Bar for some great live music and the house special slammer shots, Indiana for sports, snack and the last sun on the terrace each day of spring, Lounge 21 for steaks and Pinocchio for the best pizza in town! Not forgetting of course the classic French fondu can be found all across the village, my personal favourite is Le Fondu en Folie.
Non-skiers or snowy days
Alpe d’Huez has plenty to do should the weather come in or you’re traveling with non-skiies in the group. A huge indoor sports centre with indoor pool, rock climbing, crazy golf, badminton, squash, ping pong, and areal assault course for kids. And a stunning outdoor pool right in the centre of town! 2 cinemas offering films in English and French. A world famous church a unique hand shaped organ bigger than an average house. Plus hand carved Ice caves and sculptures at 2800m high inside of the mountain!
Who to ski with!
As a British expect I decided to work exclusively for ESF. The French school has had mixed reports in British press across the years, there’s no hiding that, but as a British Instructor I could not be happier working with them; and I know all the clients that going with me and my colleagues are blow away with their professionalism and skills. We offer group and private lessons for all ages and all disciplines, both on and off-piste, more information can be found here ski-school-alpedhuez.co.uk. All the instructors in the team are friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and speak great english. Weather you join me or my colleagues you’ll be leaving Alpe d’Huez already thinking about when you can return!
Stay tuned on Instagram and YouTube for the latest updates from the mountain, and some great videos and photos of course too!
See you on the snow soon!