The winter sports season is in full swing. Are you still looking for a nice area to enjoy a few days or a week in the snow? You might want to consider the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine ski area! Just two years ago, this was the area I stood on my snowboard for the first time. Despite the fact that I fell down a lot, I really liked this ski area in France. That’s why I am sharing six reasons why you should consider going skiing or boarding in ski resort Alpe d’Huez this winter.
Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine is a ski area in the southeast of France. With its 250 km of pistes, it’s quite large. The area is fairly remote and some villages in the area are car-free. Good to know if you go by car; you might have to walk for a bit with your stuff. We left at 5 o’clock in the afternoon with the sleeper bus from Utrecht, the Netherlands and arrived in Vaujany the next morning. A bus might not be the most comfortable way to get there, but it is affordable and easy. Flying is also possible, but the nearest airport is Grenoble, 106 km from the ski area. You could also go by train or decide to drive yourself.
1. There’s something for everybody
With its 250 km of slopes, the Alpe d’Huez ski area is certainly not a small one. Fortunately, the range of different pistes is also wide. With my two weeks of snowboarding experience, I am already very happy when I leave a blue track without any problems. But Juul has been a snowboard instructor and also wants a bit more challenge now and then. In the ski resort Alpe d’Huez has something for everyone. Long, black runs (about 45 km in total), challenging red runs (130 km), good blue (55 km) and some green (20 km). There are also two snow parks (one for beginners) and a border cross parc. There are two practice areas for children and novice skiers or boarders.
As an experienced snowboarder, Juul had his eyes on the slope called Sarenne. On paper, this is the longest black run in the world, but in practice, it’s mainly the first part that’s tricky. After that, you can just enjoy the beautiful landscape. If you want to do the complete 16 kilometers at once on a snowboard, you will feel your legs near the end 😉
The blue piste Chalets was my favorite of the Alpe d’Huez ski area. This track is nice and wide, challenging in some places (for a blue slope) and because of its location, it’s often covered in a decent layer of snow. The red slope Rousses gave us some beautiful views and a lot of fun on our last day. Moreover, Rousses ends at a hut where they make the tastiest pizzas!
2. The perfect place to stay: Vaujany
We stayed in Vaujany. A town we didn’t research much up front, but it turned out to be a gem! Some ski areas are filled with ugly concrete buildings, but none of that is true in Vaujany. It’s a lot more authentic and also quite small. There’re some ski shops, restaurants, two bakeries (hello, you’re in France! One definitely isn’t going to cut it :)) and of course an overpriced supermarket. Because the village lays against a mountain, there’s quite a lot of height difference from one side to the other. Fortunately, there are some escalators that take you from A to B faster. And that is certainly nice if you want to eat your freshly bought croissants as quickly as possible in the morning. The gondola in the center of town takes you straight up the mountain and drops you in the middle of the ski area. If you are an experienced skiër, you might enjoy the valley descent that goes all the way down to Vaujany.
Because of its location, you can enjoy a French glass of wine on your balcony in the sun or look at the beautiful sunrise in the morning.
We didn’t visit the other villages in the ski area that much. We came through Alpe d’Huez during one of our snowboarding trips, but we were not very enthusiastic about it. Quite a lot of ugly buildings and a lot less authentic than Vaujany. We did like Oz and Oisans. Here you will find that cozy winter feeling a lot of people associate with winter sports 🙂 From Oz and Oisans there are gondola’s going to both the small ski area near Vaujany and the area around Alpe d’Huez.
3. Something new every day
Alpe d’Huez is a fairly extensive ski area and you can make nice trips there. In some places, it’s too flat to continue and you’ll have to get off your board or use your sticks if you’re a skier, but that didn’t spoil our trip at all! In the evenings we enjoyed a glass of wine while figuring out the route we were going to take the next day. The first couple of days we stayed mainly in the area of Vaujany. Primarily because it was my first time on a snowboard and I was still learning! But as the week progressed and my skills improved, we kept going a little further. The ski area is fairly extensive. Because we were not able to cover so many kilometers at the beginning of the week, we have hardly been to the area near Auris and Oisans.
4. Snow is guaranteed!
Because of its location and the altitude, you are almost assured of snow in the Alpe d’Huez ski area. January, February, and March are the best months to go skiing in this area. Although we know from experience that in January it can be quite cold in the Alpe d’HuezGrand Domaine ski area. Because it is a fairly large area, you will notice that some slopes have more snow or are less icy than others. Especially in January you’ll have to deal with some icy slopes. But there are so many that you can always choose a different route.
5. Gorgeous views
The ski area is quite high up in the mountains and because of that, you’ll get some beautiful views! From the lifts, but certainly also during skiing or boarding. The highest point is the Pic Blanc (3330 meters). You can go here by chairlift, and this is also the starting point of the long black run Sarenne. There are also plenty of people who only go up for the beautiful view and then take the lift down again. On other parts of the slopes, you’ll also be treated on some gorgeous views. Various viewpoints are also indicated on the map of the ski area. When the weather good, it is well worth your time to make a detour to stop here.
6. The ski lifts are fine
Okay you may not get heated seats and on some lifts you may have to wait for a bit, but we found the chairlifts in this winter sports area generally well organized. There are a number of large gondolas, some smaller ones, a lot of chairlifts and some of those dreaded drag lifts. Keep in mind that you will always have to wait for the gondola heading up to Pic Blanc, even outside the main season.
Do you love to go boarding or skiing? Which ski area can you recommend? I hope we’ll still be able to go boarding for a few days, so any inspiration is welcome 🙂