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Alpe-d'Huez visitor guide

Photo of Alpe-d'Huez

Visit Alpe-d'Huez, France

Alpe d'Huez is one of the most important of the Alpine Ski resorts. The resort is in the Isère department of the Rhone Alps, at one hour drive to the south-east of Grenoble.

First developed as a resort in the 1930's it is the central resort of the Grandes Causses ski region, now often simply known as the 'Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine' and one of the best known ski resorts in France. There are a few original villages in the region that are now more or less part of the Alpe d'Huez resort including Villard Reculas, Auris en Oisans, Vaujany and Oz-en-Oisans.

Alpe d'Huez ski resort

The mountains around Alpe d'Huez are a very popular - and very extensive - winter ski and winter sports resort. Part of the reason for the popularity of Alpe d'Huez is its south facing position, which makes it one of the most reliably sunny of the resorts in the Alps.

Most of the Alpe d'Huez resort is between 1500 metres and 3300 metres above sea level, with most of the skiing above 1900 metres altitude. There are more than 250 kilometres of ski-runs reached by 80 ski lifts, and the 133 pistes include 43 green, 34 blue, 40 red and 16 black runs (including Sarenne, which at 11 kilometres is among the longest ski runs in the world).

mushing in alpe d'huez

The views from the highest point, the Pic Blanc, are stunning and it is also here that you can access the most challenging of the ski runs. The more easy runs are lower down the mountain. The resort is also well known for the off-piste opportunities through the dramatic mountain scenery, although the slopes are also very popular with those learning to ski and the less experienced.

As with several of the most developed ski resorts here you will also find a snowpark, half-pipe and many other related snow activities including a luge and the chance for nighttime skiing. Hanggliding, ice skating and driving on ice are also among the activities available in Alpe d'Huez.

The resort is extensive and offers a wide range of accommodation, and all facilities including numerous aprés-ski bars and restaurants to keep you entertained. You can also use the unique Palais des Sports where you will find lots of regular sports such as a gym, basketball, tennis, archery and a climbing wall and many others.

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Be sure to also visit the Ice Cave, where a cave system carved into the snow features different ice sculptures each year. And if you are a lot more brave than me you can even try ice-diving near Alpe d'Huez - diving under the ice of Lake Besson to admire an underwater spectacle of fabulous ice-formations (so they tell me)!

Alpe d'Huez winter season is open from early December to the end of April. Almost 1000 snow cannons are in place to help guarantee that snow is available!

Alpe d'Huez in summer

The presence of the Palais des Sports with its numerous activities helps make Alpe d'Huez one of the liveliest resorts in the summer, during July and August. In the area around Alpe d'Huez summer activities such as cycling, hiking and mountain biking are very popular.

The ski lifts to the highest peaks are open during the summer, and it is possible to take your mountain bike up with you. Marked trails are then available for the descent.

Other activities in the region during the summer are numerous as you would expect of an attractive mountain destination and include canoeing and rafting. If you have a head for heights you can try rock-climbing or paragliding, and if you have a large wallet you will enjoy taking a helicopter ride over the surrounding region.

tour de france climb to alpe d'huez

Cycling the Alpe d'Huez

The road ascent to Alpe d'Huez appears very often as one of the mountain stages in the Tour de France: the route to get here is famous for being a challenging cycling climb.

The ascent by bike covers approximately 14km and Tour de France leaders complete it in around 40 minutes. 21 hairpin bends and an average gradient of more than 8% make it one of the grand challenges of the Tour de France, and one of the best places to watch a stage of the race if you are in the region. The names marked at the hairpin bends are the previous winners of this arduous mountain stage.

A lot of cyclists like to cycle the Alpe d'Huez climb because of this fame - rest assured, it is a long difficult climb even if you are an experienced cyclist. All the same more than 1000 enthusiastic amateurs cycle up the mountain each year.

Remember also that the weather at the top of the climb can be very different to that at the bottom so you should carry something warm with you - but not too heavy!.

Attractions nearby

Although most visitors are here for the outdoors sports and the scenery, there are a few places you will want to visit when you stay here (although because of the mountains, roads are slow and journeys can take longer than you expect).

The village of La Grave is one of the prettiest villages in the area around Alpe d'Huez, and to the south (along sinuous roads) you can reach the church and pilgrimage destination at Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette.

You can find more travel ideas in the Isere guide and the Rhone-Alpes guide.

See also: 

Map of Alpe-d'Huez and places nearby

 
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Visit near Alpe-d'Huez with France This Way reviews

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The French version of this page is at Alpe-d'Huez (Francais)

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