© Alpe d'Huez
Alpe d’Huez’s reputation is largely, and rightly, founded on its merits as one of the world's leading winter sports destinations, after all, it has been voted Europe’s top ski resort twice in the past three years.
But away from the cold and snow and whirring of the ski lifts in winter, Alpe d'Huez is an equally wonderful summer destination. It’s all too easy to be only drawn to the Alps in winter but there is a whole host of reason to come here in the summer.
Away from the winter season, Alpe d’Huez genuinely feels a bit bigger. You can get around easily in your car and parking is really easy as well, such is the feeling of space in the summer.
The weather is great
The Alps in summer are normally really hot and sunny, so bring your shorts and sunscreen. From the cold of winter, we move swiftly onto the heat of summer and with lovely long days, there really is no better place to be.
No guide to Alpe d’Huez in the summer would be complete without mentioning cycling. Ever since the Tour de France first came to resort in the 1950s it has become a mecca for cyclists of all abilities. Every day in the summer, the road up to resort (D211) is awash with avid cyclists trying to emulate their pro peloton heroes. Official timed climbs of the 21 bends take place every Wednesday (10:00) starting at the EDF electricity plant at Bourg d’Oisans and finish in the old town at the entrance to Alpe d’Huez, but bear in mind that the official Tour de France finish line is a further 1.5km on next to the RifNel ski slope at the top end of town.
If you are planning to cycle in Alpe d’Huez, it’s not just about the famous 21 bend ascent to resort. Why not come up to resort via the climb of the Col de Sarenne (as used in the famous “double d’Huez” day in the 2013 Tour de France)? It’s a longer climb, at around 17km, and is fairly steep and steady, actually bringing you up “above” resort itself. Alternatively, ride up via Villard Reculas and come around the Pas de la Confession viewpoint for what is, without doubt, the best view in the area. For a real hidden gem, and my favourite climb of all, try the climb up to the tiny village of Ouilles – super steep with loads of switchbacks.
The grandeur of mother nature
The scenery in Alpe d'Huez is simply breathtaking in the summer and never fails to amaze. The views and walks around the medieval fort towards the Col de Sarenne are not to be missed.
There’s loads of things to do
Summer days can feel like an Olympic decathlon here in resort at times, with outdoor tennis courts at the tennis club up by the Altiport, ice skating at the ice rink in the middle of town, boules, archery, swimming, luge, zip-lines and paragliding all happening every day.
There’s golf as well
Many skiers will be unaware of the great nine-hole golf course up next to the Altiport. It’s a cracking little course with the opening six holes resembling a tricky pitch and putt course, whilst the final three holes provide a proper test for even the very best golfer. Every Tuesday in the summer is competition day and it’s well worth checking out if you are in resort.
It’s warm enough to go camping
The campervan site in Alpe d’Huez has been recently expanded and is fully serviced. At only €10.40 per night, it represents great value as well. It is located up by the golf course and tennis club, next to the Altiport. There are also several campsites down at the bottom of the hill in Bourg d’Oisans.
There’s plenty of events on
Every summer, Alpe d’Huez hosts a whole plethora of different events, the biggest of which this summer is the Megavalanche mountain bike race in early July. There is also the legendary triathlon, the Marmotte Granfondo cycle-sportive and the annual Dutch invasion for the charity Alpe d’Huzes challenge as well. The summer season also sees the return of weekly classical music concerts at the beautiful church.
The lifts run as well
Whether mountain biking or just sightseeing, the running of the lifts in summer make access to the hill very easy. The DMC 1 & 2 and Pic Blanc lifts will run again this summer from June 30th through until August 26th to give access to the top of the Pic Blanc at 3300m.