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Shred the reds & blacks in Alpe d'Huez in 2019

Test your skills on the hardest pistes

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| Rob Wood, Alpe d'Huez Reporter | Published
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After the recent decent amounts of fresh snow we've been receiving, there is a whole plethora of challenging red and black pistes awaiting you. Alpe d’Huez has so much more to offer than the often-skied pistes of the Sarenne and Tunnel up at the top of the Pic Blanc (3300 metres).  

The Grand Domaine ski area indeed offers some 27 red and 17 black pistes, many of which take to you the neighbouring villages of Villard Reculas (La Souveraine is particularly lovely), Mont Frais, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and down through the forest to the picturesque village of Maronne. Whilst it is all too easy to get drawn up to the top of the Pic Blanc for some action, why not try this guide for a bit of variety – and a few good coffee stops along the way?

Get the AlpAuris chairlift to Auris-en-Oisans to avoid the main area of Alpe d’Huez which is always far busier than the slopes over in Auris. Once across the AlpAuris link (known locally as the 'scare chair'), jump on the Fontfoide lift that is just off to your left. At the top, you are afforded wonderful views across to Les Deux Alpes and, from here. there are plenty of options for nice red and black runs. To the left, you have the black pistes of Col de Cluy or Bergeries, my favourite options, which take you the bottom of the Sarenne gorge. Alternatively, at the top take a right and pick up the red piste Fontfroide, taking you towards the village of Auris itself. The black run La Fuma down to the quaint village of Maronne is another cracker and the restaurant at the bottom of the piste, by the only lift back, up is a real hidden gem.

If you'd rather start from the mid-station of the DMC lift in the main Alpe d'Huez area, instead of following the hordes and heading up towards 3300m, follow the signs to the right and pick up the red piste Poutran, a lovely run down towards Oz-en-Oisans. At the top of the Poutran1 lift you'll naturally join up with L’Olmet and continue all the way down to Oz. Lined on both sides by trees and with some nice speedy sections, this run is a lot of fun and the trees offer some great definition in snowy conditions. The small, purpose-built village of Oz offers some nice little cafes and restaurants and is always better in the morning as it tends to go into the shade in the afternoons.

From the centre of Oz, jump in the L’Alpette cable car (it’s the right-hand of the two lifts) up to 2050 metres where there’s a picnic area, toilets, restaurant and some incredible views. From here, pick up the blue run Chalets (only for a couple of hundred metres) and then take a left onto La Fare, a lovely tree-lined black piste all the way down to the village of Vaujany. A rare chance to ski a black run down to such a low elevation of 1250metres, its trees also provide good definition in the event of poor visibility and snow. The village of Vaujany is a real beauty with plenty of bars and restaurants – although it is very affluent and prices are a bit higher than elsewhere in the Grand Domaine ski area. The village owes its long-established affluence to its donation of land to the EDF for the local hydroelectric station.

After a coffee and a mooch around in Vaujany, grab the big cable car, the Vaujany-Alpette, back up to 2050 metres (it’s the only lift so you can’t get lost). Then get the 'James Bond' cable car up to the Dome des Rousses (known locally as the Dome) up at 2800 metres. From here, you have a whole host of red pistes and wonderful views, that can be accessed. However, since it should be sometime around lunchtime now, head to Le Chalet du Lac Besson, one of the best, and less busy, restaurants in Alpe d'Huez. To get here, pick up the red piste Le Belvedere towards the DMC in the distance and then either Bartavelles or Rousses, both are really nice and bring you out at the restaurant. The area up at the Lac Besson is truly stunning and is not to be missed, even if it often is.

Hearty tartiflette in your belly, it's back onto Rousses – follow it naturally back to the Alpette 2050 lift station and jump back in the “James Bond” gondola car. This time, at the Dome, pick up Le Dome down to the DMC lift station, past the end of the Tunnel run. At the DMC top station, why not check out the Grotte de Glace with its ice sculptures, before skiing down the red piste Chamois to the mid-station of the DMC? This is home to Le Chantebrise 2100 restaurant which has a huge south-facing deck and a little takeaway shack as well.

If it’s mid-afternoon, you will be able to hear the tunes pumping out from La Folie Douce... après is calling! In front of the lift station and the restaurant is the small chairlift Lievre Blanc which takes you up to around 2600 metres. From here, grab the red piste Deversoir down to the now jumping La Folie Douce. Time for a sneaky drink and a bit of table dancing if you fancy. There’s only one lift up from the Folie, so grab Marmottes 2 and, rather than follow the masses up to 3060 metres, stay at 2800metres.

Time for the last run. There's no better way to finish the day than with the black run Combe Charbonnaire which runs in a parallel direction to the Sarenne but is much quieter and has great views across to Les Deux Alpes and the Sarenne gorge. This naturally joins up with red piste Campanulles and brings you out above the Sarenne gorge. The run eventually brings you back to resort at the Les Bergers lift and commercial centre (the last little bit is via the green pistes of Les Bergers).

Time for a beer now. The south-facing sundeck at the Le Tremplin is always a great way to finish off a good day on the slopes.

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