If you're an intermediate skier there's simply no excuse not to spread your wings and explore all that this wonderful ski area has to offer.
There are eight lovely blue runs in Alpe d’Huez itself and a total of 30 fabulous blue pistes across the whole of the Grand Domaine ski area, plus plenty of wonderful bars and restaurants to stop off and enjoy the views whilst you rest those weary legs.
The Intermediate Loop
There's a great blue run loop which takes in the neighbouring villages of Villard Reculas and Auris-en-Oisans with time for a quick drink at La Folie Douce. It also offers some great, often very quiet, pistes and combines blue run skiing with some fabulous views, restaurants and pit-stops along the way.
This route is circular so you can start and finish it wherever suits you best, but I’m starting up at the biggest of the lift station areas in Alpe d’Huez, the DMC at the Rond Point des Pistes which can be easily accessed from any one of the three free shuttle buses that run around resort throughout the season. You can also jump in the famous “lobster-pot” lift as well up to the DMC.
From the DMC, jump on the Signal six-man “chondola” (the left-hand lift as you walk up) up to the top of the Signal, at 2,100m. From there, simply ski straight across to the top of the Villard blue run. The views from here across the valley of the Romanche River and towards Grenoble are breathtaking.
Villard is a lovely wide blue run for most of its length and is a great warm-up piste that takes you all the way down to the village of Villard Reculas (1,500m). At the bottom, there is only one lift back up, Le Villarais, as well as a great restaurant or coffee stop, La Bergerie.
Over to Marcel's Farm
Once you've had a coffee, jump on the Le Villarais four-man chairlift back up to 2,100m and ski down the Marcel's Farm piste to the DMC station. It really is a fun area, and no day on the slopes is complete without a thrash down Marcel's Farm.
Once at the bottom, head to the right and pick up blue run Village, which takes you all the way down to the original village of the area, Huez. It’s flat for the first 200m and requires a bit of poling, but after that another fabulous, often unexplored piste awaits you. It takes you around the back of the resort and brings you out by the side of the main road up into town. You ski down through a forested area and end up in the beautifully quaint and typically alpine village of Huez. If you have time, take a little stroll around and take in the narrow cobbled streets and lanes.
At the bottom, there is only one lift so you can’t get lost. It’s the little bubble lift Télévillage which brings you back up to the old town area of Alpe d’Huez. Once back at the top, grab the L’Eclose and Bergers four-man chairlifts across town to the Les Bergers lift station area. Then jump on the legendary Alp-Auris “scare chair” across the Sarenne gorge to the Auris sector.
The Auris Sector
Then it’s up the Fontfroide lift to the top of the Signal de L’Homme (these four lifts only take around 12-15 minutes in total). At 2,180m, you have some great views again, this time across to nearby Les Deux Alpes. Blue run Pre-Rond takes you towards Auris. At the first junction, by the Auris-Express lift, take a left and pick up Le Col (it’s very straightforward) and keep heading towards Auris. Then, take a right onto the blue piste Les Farcis, a great blue all the way down to the hidden gem of Maronne at 1,450m, through the forest.
You’re a couple of hours in by now and the restaurant Le Forêt de Maronne is a real sun trap and a great spot for some lunch, always that bit warmer and sheltered.
Then it’s the two-man chairlift Maronne (be aware - it picks you up with a bit of a jolt). At the top join Les Gentiannes and then rejoin Le Col all the way down to the village of Auris-en-Oisans which is generally much quieter and offers plenty of cafés, restaurants, bars, shops and toilets.
From Auris, jump on the Auris Express four-man chairlift (it’s on the right hand as you look at the two lifts here) up and over to the top. Jump off and pick up Le Gua, a lovely wide blue run that runs across the steeper red runs that come down from the Signal. Follow it all the way across and finally down into the Sarenne gorge, where you pick up the “scare chair” from the bottom of the gorge. This brings you back up into resort at Les Bergers.
Time for some dancing
By now its mid-afternoon and there’s only one place to head: the legendary La Folie Douce at 2,300m. Straight off the “scare chair” and a 50m pole push away, jump on the six-man super-fast Marmottes1 lift. This brings you out at La Folie and by now the tunes will be banging and every table will have somebody dancing on it. You just have to pop in!
The last leg
After a quick bit of table-dancing, turn right and pick up blue piste Ancolies across the hill towards the DMC mid-station in the distance. Another restaurant, take away and sun terrace with DJs playing await you at the lovely Chantebrise 2100.
You're nearly there now – jump on the DMC2 gondola car up to the highest point of this route at 2,700m. At the top, ski off to the right for the final run back to resort – Couloir, a lovely run all the way back down to 1,800m that takes you past the lake. As you approach the lake, take a right and head down towards the DMC. From here it's nice and wide with great views all the way down.
Now you’re at the bottom, the sun deck of the Le Taburle restaurant awaits you. From here you can watch the skiers on the Signal slope as you enjoy a drink.
Vaujany is a very affluent neighbour of Alpe d’Huez, and a much smaller satellite village offering eight blue runs, all of which are well worth a look at.
You can get over there using only blue pistes – simply head up to the first station of the DMC and then pick up the Boulevard des Lutins runs, continue onto Champclotury and finally Chevreuils down to Auris-en-Oisans. From there, jump in the L’Alpette gondola up to 2,050m – from this point you can access all the great blue runs down to firstly Montfrais and then onto Vaujany.
Vaujany also has plenty of lovely restaurants and a fantastic leisure centre as well. The Vaujany-Alpette lift back up is a super quick way to get back to resort.
Hope you had a good day cruising the blue runs in Alpe d'Huez. Don't forget to book your ski pass!