Alpe d'Huez's ski area offers something for every level of skier and snowboarder, from gentle beginner pistes to more challenging descents like the Sarenne. With a reputation for being one of the sunniest ski resorts in the Alps, it's definitely somewhere you can make the most of with the right lift pass.
And as we all know, when it comes to planning a ski trip, buying a lift pass is one of the bigger investments. So, before you take the plunge, take a look at our guide full of tips and tricks of what to buy, when to buy it and what to do with it once you've got it.
Here's a quick run down of our best insights:
- Buy ski-passes online, saving time and money in resort
- Look out for web-only ski-pass deals
- Ski early or late season, for more money off
- Get up early and ski the whole area till your legs fall off (maybe do some fitness training before coming)
- Avoid faffing in lift-queues, spend more time skiing
- Play in the fun zones and piste-side extras
- Ski in the dark (we mean there's floodlit skiing on some evenings of the week)
- Ski in the other resorts included in your pass
- Use the leisure pass options for extra fun / relaxation / exhaustion
Whilst it's possible to buy your lift passes when you get to resort, instead of spending your first morning standing in a long lift pass queue in the cold, buying in advance means you're straight up the mountain on day one. Buying online couldn't be easier, and the pass card itself can be reloaded / recharged if you visit resort again.
Top Tip: Rather than opt for them to be mailed to your home address, simply pick them up in resort - it's just one less thing to remember to pack.
As with many things these days, the deals tend to be online, and that's no different when it comes to lift passes, especially if you buy well in advance taking advantage of any 'early bird' specials.
Web exclusive deals offer fantastic value for families and groups on the six-days plus passes especially, these are only available if you buy online (even though you can opt to pick them up in resort). There is the option to post the passes to you, or to top up existing passes (card reference numbers required). The Family Package (two adults + at least two children) essentially means everyone skis at the children's rate, and if you're coming in a group of friends take a look at the web exclusive 'Tribe' package for savings galore.
Ski early or late season
They say the early bird catches the worm (don't they?). If you can sneak in a trip to the mountains pre-Christmas there are great ticket reductions on offer, with similar discounts offered on passes at the end of season. Just think of all those empty pistes and keep your fingers crossed for snow. In spring there are some great online deals, such as one child pass free with every adult and reduced rates on leisure passes.
Top Tip: Just bear in mind, most passes are non-refundable and non-transferable, bar any Covid travel-restriction exceptions that may still in place.
Make the most of the pistes
Top Tip: The easiest way to make the most of your lift pass is to set yourself the goal of experiencing the whole area. The Alpe d'Huez ski area has:
- 111 piste-basher prepared slopes for you
- 250km of skiable distance on those slopes
- 3,300m highest peak
- 300 days of sunshine per year (admittedly, that's a bit of a weird stat the resort tells everyone about - some of those days are in the summer. The lifts are open in summer too, for biking / hiking, but that's a different pass. Anyhow, you get the gist, it's quite sunny here)
- For the advanced skiers and snowboarders there's the Sarenne piste, the longest black run in Europe - 16km of pure pleasure with fantastic views
- Fun zones
- Snow parks
Get up early and avoid rush hour
To make the most of your lift pass, catch the first and last lifts every day for six days in a row and ski it all. Then start on the off-piste. This way, you'll be maximising your piste-to-buck ratio.
More realistically, take your time, enjoy it, and like us, take a long leisurely lunch after three pistes.
Avoid faffing around in lift queues
The lift-barriers check hands-free passes on the LEFT SIDE, remember to:
- Put your lift pass in a pocket on the left side of your ski jacket or trousers and you'll whizz through the turnstiles. Often ski jackets come with a small pocket on the left sleeve exactly for this purpose.
- Don't put any credit cards or phones in the same pocket as your pass, you'll simply confuse the machines.
- Kids trouser pockets are often lower than the sensors - use their sleeve pockets.
There are often single person lift queues to fill spaces on the chairlifts, don't neglect to use these and make some new friends on the way up.
And in all seriousness, take-off rucksacks and hold them in front of you. The straps can get caught on the lifts if they're still on your back, or you can be pushed to the front of the seat with the extra depth, and this is dangerous.
There is so much to do in the resort's fun zones. You'll find kiddy snow parks like Marcel's Farm and Roger's Slope, and for the older ones there's the sledge on rails - France's first sledging experience whilst wearing a virtual reality mask. The six-day plus pass includes discounts on tickets for the sledge on rails, which kids will definitely enjoy.
Ski in the dark after everyone else has gone home
Your ski pass enables a discount on skiing the Sarenne by night, organised by the lift-company, with limited numbers. Or can get a cheaper rate to access night skiing every Thursday on the floodlit Signal piste.
Ski in other resorts too
Personally, we're not convinced about this one during a week-long stay. But if the above is not enough for you, on a six to 15-day pass you'll get two days in Les Deux Alpes and one day in Serre Chevalier, Puy Saint Vincent, Montgenevre and in the Italian region of the Milky Way. It also gives you 25% discount on a pass to the off-piste powder playground that is La Grave. Alternatively, if you plan to spend one day skiing in La Grave, the six-day Alpe d’Huez / La Grave pass gives you five days in Alpe d’Huez and one in La Grave. A word of warning though, La Grave is extreme off-piste skiing - it's no fun for families or the faint-hearted.
Get the Leisure Plus option
If you're not already exhausted by the prospect of all that skiing, also opt for the Leisure Plus pass, that comes with your ski pass. For an additional fee you will have access to the resort's outdoor swimming pool, indoor swimming pool, outdoor ice rink and sports centre where you can play mini golf, table tennis and use the gym.
These are great options for a day off the skiing, in the event of poor weather or a great way to spend a few hours after the slopes close.
Families, at the very least, may finally have a shot at exhausting the kids with this option!
Top Tip: This one's for the boys. Remember to pack your speedos as surf style / baggy swimming shorts are still not allowed in the majority of French swimming pools.
All of these tips will help you get the most out of your ski pass. Now, all you need to do is get out here and see for yourself why Alpe d’Huez regularly wins European best ski resort awards. Read our resort guide for all you need to know, and we look forward to seeing you on the slopes.