News from the snow
Alpe d'Huez France
One of the world's major ski centres, the Grandes Rousses ski area above Alpe d'Huez is a huge and high domain served by an extensive lift system. The resort itself is one of Europe's highest and largest with a massive vertical drop, crowned by the Sarenne Glacier. Built above the original village of Huez, the resort has expanded in all directions over the past 20 years. Today the resort is big and vibrant with far more shopping and 'things to do generally' off the slopes than in most other ski centres, especially by French standards. Architecturally the place is a mish mash of traditional Alpine chalet style wood and stone buildings, some rather ugly rectangular concrete developments and one tasteful modern construction. There are two huge beginners areas directly above the resort and those going on to the top of the lifts will be able to see a fifth of France, on a clear day, from the top station. The resort has a reputation for both good snow falls and good sunshine with south facing slopes - the areas protected by 900 snow cannon. Alpe d'Huez is one of the most southerly located major international resorts in the French Alps.
One of the world's top resorts, Alpe d'Huez offers one of the greatest unbroken verticals in the world. Built above the original village of Huez, the resort has expanded in all directions over the past 20 years. There is a huge beginners area directly above the resort and those going on to the top of the lifts will be able to see a fifth of France, on a clear day, from the top station.
For intermediates there is almost endless terrain, with some of the best around the slopes of Le Signal d'Homme and the Plat des Marmottes. Passes of six days or longer also include a day or more in several neighbouring resorts including Serre Chevalier. There is also a joint ticket with Les 2 Alpes.
The Ecole du Ski Français in Alpe d'Huez is more than 400 instructors strong and offers tuition in all disciplines and in a wide range of languages. It has a particularly good reputation and regularly dominates the annual 'Instructor Challenge' competition for French ski schools. The International Ski School also operates in Alpe d'Huez and the Mountain Guides Office can arrange a multitude of snow-based activities including off-piste runs one evening a week to a mountain restaurant for a fondue.
Cross country skiers have three signposted and maintained tracks, the easiest being the Brandes loop leaving from the Altiport. The 10km Poutran loop is classified blue whilst the 'Loop of the Lakes' is graded red and is 20km long.
Their two children's villages at Grandes Rousses and Bergers are equipped with figurines and private ski tows. Children who have not skied before are encouraged to win their first medal. For older children more specialised courses are available, in snowboarding and freestyle for example. The International Ski School also offers lessons from age 4 in the Marmottes Club, with children aged up to six months younger welcomed in the Baby Club. After that there is the Eagles Club then a choice of taking a Fun Course (for good skiing teenagers), joining the racing team, or trying a snowboard training course.
(sliced potatoes cooked in a creamy sauce) The traditional local after dinner drink is a glass of Genepi. The Pomme de Pin, Passe Montagne, Genepi or P'tit Creux are good choices if you want to try French cuisine.
International dishes such as Mexican are served at Smithy's and there's pizza at Le Roi Ladre and others.
A variety of events are staged throughout the season, including an ice driving competition in December and a comedy film festival in January. A classical music concert is organised every week.
The resort has hosted the World Snowboard Cup in recent years and a member of the Alpe d'Huez sports club, Isabelle Blanc won in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.
The Mountain Guides Office can arrange snowboarding excursions on the glacier and off-piste.