It's rare to find a resort that's great for beginners and experts alike as well as everything in between. Whether you're a skier or a snowboarder and regardless of your skill level, you'll have plenty of terrain to enjoy. The pistes go up to the lofty heights of 3,300m on the glacier providing serious snow sure credentials.
Home to the first drag lift in France (the lifts have been dramatically modernised since) the village sits in a sunny bowl above the town of Bourg-d'Oisans, so sunny in fact, it reportedly gets 300 days of sunshine a year (that's not 300 days of summer, thankfully). To top it off the 249km of pistes forms an extensive ski area you can really travel in, so what's the catch? Well, over the years the resort has sprawled out seemingly at random to create a bizarre and frankly ugly looking town. The council have spent a lot of money refreshing some of the worst offenders but it still can't be classed as pretty. That said it's a small price to pay for what is undoubtedly a top notch ski area.
There are numerous hubs to the resort but the best places to stay are the slope side Bergers district, which is a chalet suburb to the east of the resort, or, up towards the top of town near the Rond Point close to the huge DMC gondola and the best bars in town. There is also a yoghurt pot style lift that links the lower areas to the main ski terrain if you're staying further out.
Skiing in the resort
Essentially a huge sunny bowl over looked by the towering Pic Blanc with some of the most spectacular views in the Alps. This is where many of the black runs begin including the 16km Sarenne, one of the longest runs in the world (though it's more a test of endurance than ski ability) or the much more challenging Tunnel run where you emerge from a tunnel (predictably) onto a seriously steep and more often than not icy mogul run - it's not our favourite, but will certainly test the best of skiers.
Above the town is a vast array of easy slopes to learn on or get your ski legs back and above these is where the intermediate terrain really comes into its own with long blues and reds that give you a real sense of travelling when exploring the far reaches of the ski area. Ski villages and farming hamlets such as Oz, Vaujany, Auris and Villard Reculas are well worth a visit if the snow allows.
Alpe d'Huez is one of the livelier of the French resorts with a good selection of bars and busy late night venues. The Folie Douce starts the party on the slopes with some frantic live music and table dancing then it comes back down to town. It's generally quieter before dinner and the party really starts as the evening rolls on. The Freeride Café is a nice spot for a game of pool and as the evening progresses the drinks work on a stock market exchange, changing prices as they become more or less popular. L'Igloo is the late night spot to head to after 11pm as it keeps the party going until half five.
What we like
- Extensive and snow sure terrain
- Truly beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes
- Vibrant nightlife in town and on the piste
- The village isn't the prettiest
- It's worth making sure you know exactly where your accommodation is as the resort is sprawling
- The party tends to be in the evenings rather than straight after the lifts close, Folie Douce is the exception of course