Isère / France
This busy year-round resort in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes sits at an altitude of 1869m, rising to 3300m on the Pic blanc glacier. Known as the Isle du Soleil, or Island of the Sun, it is renowned for having the most sunny days on the French slopes.
Alpe d’Huez is part of the Grand Domaine ski area, which also includes resorts of Auris-en-Oisans, Huez-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas. It has earned the Famille Plus label, which recognises its great offering for family holidays.
It’s a popular destination with cyclists in the summer, some of whom are attracted by its famous 21 hairpin bends, which feature regularly in the Tour de France. Lifts run throughout July and August, making life easier for hikers and mountain bikers.
There are many more summer activities, including climbing, rafting, horse-riding and golf.
One of France’s lesser known ski resorts, perhaps due to its more southerly location, Alpe d’Huez still packs a great punch, with plenty to satisfy skiers and boarders of all levels.
Part of the Grand Domain ski area, it links to Auris-en-Oisans, Huez-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas, offering 250km of pistes and great challenge for every level of skier and snowboarder. There are wide gentle slopes for beginners, but plenty of challenge for more experienced skiers too, with Europe’s longest black run, the 16km La Sarenne and Le Tunnel mogul field - the area’s most challenging piste. There’s great off-piste skiing in the Pic Blanc area, and a snow park for budding freestylers lower down.
Further afield, there’s skiing bwo the tree line in Vaujany and Oz-en-Oisans and some challenging reds and blacks in Auris En Oisans.
If you have non-skiers in your group, or if you just fancy a break from the slopes, other activities include glacier-walking, dog-sledding, ice-driving, sledging and snowmobiling. There’s an ice rink in Alpe d’Huez, and most of the large hotels offer spa treatments.
There’s just as much, if not more, to do in Alpe d’Huez in the summer.
Road cyclists come to try the 21 hairpin bends that regularly form part of the Tour de France route, and there are plenty of options for mountain biking too, with the lifts open through July and August.
Rock climbing is a great family activity - hire a guide to show you the best routes for your group. There’s an indoor climbing wall at the Palais des Sports, with 21 routes to choose from.
Walkers and hikers can choose from gentle valley and lakeside routes, or can buy a summer lift pass to take advantage of the spectacular views in the Grandes Rousses and the Ecrins National Park.
Several rivers in the Ecrins National Park offer watersports, such as canoeing, canyoning and white water rafting.
The Palais des Sports in Alpe d’Huez offers a range of racquet sports, and there are also opportunities to try horse-riding, fishing, golf, via ferrata and many more.
Skiing and boarding are the main activities that bring guests to Alpe d’Huez in the winter, and in the summer, hiking, biking and climbing are the most popular. But when you stay at an OVO Network property, there is so much more to see and do.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Alpe d’Huez - you’ll find the details below.
Soar over the snowy peaks on an exhilarating discovery flight. You’ll fly in tandem with an experienced pilot, so this experience is available even if you’re a beginner skier. You’ll leave from the Signal piste and fly over Alpe d’Huez, with great views of the Oisans and the Ecrins National Park. Prices vary according to the length of your flight, but start at €50.
Enjoy the water at a gentle pace with a spot of paddleboarding or canoeing on the Rive, at Bourg d’Oisans. You’ll need light clothing for this summer activity, and your rental includes a life jacket. Prices start at €15 for a canoe, €20 for a paddleboard, and it will take you about 90 minutes to make the 5km journey down the river.
You don’t need any experience of skiing or horseriding to enjoy this incredible experience - horse-drawn skiing! As long as you can keep your skis parallel, you’ll love this unforgettable adventure, which is available to anyone over the age of 10. It takes place at the equestrian centre on the Route des Lacs in Alpe d’Huez.
Open all season, Golfe de l’Alpe d’Huez is open every day from 9am to 7pm. There’s a nine-hole golf course surrounded by the Oisan mountains, as well as a driving range, a pro-shop and a clubhouse serving snacks and drinks. There are friendly competitions on Thursdays, open to members and non-members and lessons are available with the resident coach.
Sledging doesn’t have to stop when the snow melts - this year-round rail sledge offers a thrilling ride for all, with jumps, chicanes and turns. Each sledge can take two people - a driver and a passenger - and VR headsets can be worn to add to the magical experience.
You can take to the ice all year round at the rink in the centre of Alpe d’Huez. It’s open to the public, but also hosts curling sessions, ice hockey demos and games. Entry for skating is €7 for adults and €5 for children.
There are plenty of thrills to be had for children and adults at the Parc Aventure in Bourg d’Oisans. There’s a choice of eight trails through the pine forests, offering different degrees of height and challenge, culminating in the zipline challenge. Children as young as three can take part, and you’re always attached to a safety line. The park is open from June to September - outside of those months it’s bookings only.
Learn about Alpine flora, fauna and minerals at the Fauna museum in Vaujany, the Bourg d’Oisans museum, or the Maison du Bouquetin in Allemont. The Espace Patrimoine in Alpe d’Huez reveals the lives of the miners who lived in the area in the 121th-14th centuries, and you can get a guided tour of a former silver mine the Brandes archaeological site!
These fascinating ice caves at the top of the DMC lift are completely recarved with a new theme every year! Past themes at this 120m gallery have included the Caribbean, the Incas, the circus and ancient Greece, but you never know what you’ll find when you visit.
With so much to see and do in Alpe d’Huez, one of the best ways to make sure your kids make the most of it is to enrol them in a summer camp. Activities for the Mini Cats, for ages 3-6, include rock climbing, mini golf, circus skills and pony trekking and there are athletic courses at the Palais des Sports for those aged 6-16.
26 Chemin des Bergers, Alpe d’Huez, tel: 33 4 76 80 49 48
This popular town centre restaurant has earned a great reputation for its meat dishes cooked over coals and its local specialities - try the wood-fired raclette! Other offerings include great burgers, and there’s a children’s menu too. Vegetarians will be fine, as long as they like cheese. In the winter cosy evenings are guaranteed around the fire, and there’s a warm welcome from the staff too. Open evenings only.
55 Route Romaine, Alpe d’Huez, tel: 33 4 76 79 04 95
There’s a good mix of classic French dishes and local delicacies here, often with a bit of a twist. If you can’t make up your mind what to have, there’s always the tasting menu! There’s a great view from the sunny terrace.
Gorge de Sarenne, Alpe d’Huez, tel +33 4 76 80 61 38
You’ll find all of your Alpine favourites at this traditional mountain restaurant at the bottom of the Sarenne piste. It’s open from noon to 4pm and is a popular coffee break for skiers, but if you’re feeling peckish, it’s worth trying their salads and burgers.
279 avenue des Jeux La Ménandière, Alpe d’Huez
If you just want a quick coffee and a snack (or even a full English) before you head out for the day, or a wrap, crêpe or burger to see you through until dinner, you’ll find plenty of choice here at good prices. There are good veggie and gluten-free options too.
1142 Route d’Huez, Alpe d’Huez, tel: 33 6 51 50 08 28
Book up in advance if you want to be sure of a table at this busy restaurant. Their tapas are very popular as are the meat dishes cooked over the fire. There’s also a good choice of raclettes and fondues, and there’s no sign of chicken nuggets and chips on the children’s menu. Good vegetarian options, and a tempting selection of homemade desserts - if you can’t choose, there’s always the Café Gourmand, which comes with a selection of desserts!
Avenue des Jeux, Alpes d’Huez, tel +33 4 76 80 44 29
Sometimes, only pizza will do, especially if you’ve got young children. You’ll find a great choice here, as well as pasta and Italian desserts (the tiramisu is great). It’s only small, so book to make sure of a table.
There’s a great variety of shops in Alpe d’Huez, apart from the usual sports shops you’d expect to see in a mountain resort.
You’ll also find street-style clothing shops and designer boutiques, souvenirs and delis selling local produce.
In the town, there are two main shopping areas - Les Bergers shopping centre and Avenue les Jeux, the main street near the ice rink.
The Saturday morning market is a great place to stock up on local produce such as cheeses, jams and charcuterie, as well as ready-made dishes like tartiflette, curries and roast chicken.
Remember that most shops will close for a long lunch, often from 12.30pm to 3pm, but open into the evening so that you can do a bit of browsing when you head down from the mountain.
By air - Alpe d’Huez is just 105km from Grenoble International airport, but there are more options from Geneva (210km).
By train - High-speed TGV trains run from Paris to Grenoble, which is about 1h 15mins from Alpe d’Huez. You’ll need to book a transfer for the rest of the journey.
By car - Driving is a great choice if you want to bring more luggage and have more independence during your stay, but there are free shuttle buses for getting around the resort. The drive from Calais is about nine hours (930km), mainly on motorways. The 15km drive from Bourg d’Oisans is particularly windy, and driving conditions can be challenging. It’s mandatory to have snow tyres, or to carry snow chains, and local police carry out spot checks.