About Winter Activities in Alpe d'Huez
Whatever you choose to do on your winter holiday you are sure to find a huge range of activities across Alpe d'Huez. From relaxing to full on adrenaline there is something for everyone, every ability and every age in Alpe d'Huez. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration!
Give indoor archery a try at the Palais des Sports over winter. It's available to from early December to the end of April and anyone over 8 years old can try it. They also offer compressed air shooting for anyone over 10 years old. Book and find prices at the main reception desk.
There are a number of badminton courts at the Palais des Sports (the main sports centre). In winter, the courts are open every day from early December to the end of April. The courts are also open throughout the summertime. Booking ahead is recommended at any time of year and you can rent equipment there.
You can play basketball indoors in the winter in Alpe d'Huez, at the Palais des Sports. The courts are open every day from early December to the end of April. Booking ahead is recommended at any time of year.
Catch the latest films and releases in Alpe d'Huez on your winter or summer holiday. There are two cinemas in Alpe d'Huez, Le Palais and Le Signal-Mégarama. Films are on in the evening, at around 18:00 and 20:30 with screenings at 14:30 when there is bad weather. Look out for VOST for English speaking films.
There are a total of 50km of perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails in Alpe d'Huez, with 5 main trails providing a wide array of terrain. The trails are loops (“boucles” in French) so you end up back where you started. Kept in tremendous condition, they are prepared in the same way as the normal pistes, with the addition of a pre-formed classic XC ski style tracks. You can hire the comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops and book a group or private lesson to learn the basics from most ski schools or private instructors. A number of adventure companies also offer cross-country skiing guiding, tours and lessons too. Find your way around with the cross country skiing maps.
Also see: Cross-country Skiing in Alpe d'Huez
There is a multisports court at the Sports Centre where you can play indoor football. Alternatively, you can try "Jorkyball"! Derived from football and inspired by squash, two teams play against each other to score a goal without using the arms... but you can use the court's walls.
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Alpe d'Huez! It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. And that’s exactly what Geocaching is…you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but nevertheless it’s quite exciting!
Gym / Fitness centres
A public gym & fitness classes can be found at the main sports centre in Alpe d'Huez. The gym has a great view through the windows over the Signal piste and all the cardio and fitness equipment you could want. Fitness classes include Zumba, Reggaeton, Dance, Step, Bike, Stretching, Gym ball, Pilates but do check at the centre on arrival as the programme is subject to change.
Handiski / sit-ski
Enjoying the thrill of being on the pistes need not escape you if you're less mobile or have special physical needs. ESF Alpe d'Huez has a number of instructors qualified in teaching skiing to people with disabilities; we recommend you book in advance to ensure availability. Sit-ski, taxi ski, Vertiski, Handiski.. whichever method you're used to, or would like to try there will be at least one ski school or activity company in Alpe d'Huez that offers this service.
Also see: Disabled Skiing in Alpe d'Huez
Unfortunately, heli-skiing is not permitted in France, however some of the ski schools, adventure companies, local flight companies and mountain guide companies will offer a pick-up/drop-off heli-skiing service for you where you will be taken over the border into Italy or Switzerland. A very popular route is the Glacier du Grand Sablat with over 2000m of descent; take a lift to the Pic Blanc, ski down and get picked up by a helicopter to get back to resort. It is expensive, but definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
Sit back and admire the mountains from even higher up. Daily panoramic helicopter flights are available (weather permitting) with a number of local flight companies. Relax and enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers and alpine forests of the Alps. From Alpe d'Huez, helicopters can take you over the Oisans region, seeing not only the resort but also Auris, Oz, Villard Reculas and the Grandes Rousses among many other places.
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths in winter. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, you set off following the guide’s team. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt for a less physical outing where you sit in the sled and the guide does all the hard work! It's a very popular winter activity, so booking at least 48 hours in advance is a must. They run from early December to the end of April (snow-permitting).
For the true mountain enthusiast, why not scale an amazing frozen waterfall or glacier? This is a fantastic sport, not just for experienced mountaineers. The Oisans and the Ecrins National Park are renowned for their spectacular ice formations. The sunny faces of Vaujany are the ultimate location for arming yourself with crampons and an axe and scaling your way up a frozen waterfall especially the Cascade de la Fare. There are also popular spots near the Chalet du Lac Besson in Alpe d'Huez and the Valon de la Selle above St Christophe. Although it sounds like a very specialised sport, ice climbing is suitable for everyone - from complete beginners to experienced climbers. Some knowledge of ropes and basic climbing skills will give you a head start, but if you are a complete novice then your guide should be able to teach you from scratch. The peak of the ice climbing season is between December and March. Safety is important, so it is advisable to take an experienced mountain guide to instruct you on the use of crampons, ropes and ice picks, or book in with one of the local adventure companies.
Ice-karting / Ice-driving
Have you ever fancied whizzing around on the ice in a car? Well, now you can in Alpe d'Huez. Ice driving is a specialised activity that will test your driving skills and push you and the car to your driving limit. The cars all have specialised studded tyres and, during an ice driving session, you can learn how to control and have fun with a car sliding around on ice. It is an exciting adrenaline pumping activity, but with special techniques and skills demonstrated and learned you come away having greater knowledge and experience on how to control a car in snow and ice. You can take part in a group or as an individual although we recommend you head down the ice driving circuit behind the Palais des sports with some friends and enjoy the icy fun together.
Ice-skating / Hockey
Get your skates on and enjoy the ice skating rink in Alpe d'Huez, the perfect activity for families and groups. There is an ice skating rink in the centre of Alpe d'Huez offering skate rental. They also organise figure skating and curling lessons, as well as human curling.
If you don't fancy climbing outdoors, or you're new to climbing and want to give it a go in an indoor centre, then Alpe d'Huez has an indoor climbing wall at the Palais des Sports. Climbing equipment is normally provided, or you can bring your own and insurance is normally needed before you hit the climbing wall. There are 21 routes to choose from starting from 4a up to 7a on a 12-metre high wall as well as a bouldering room. Book in and pay at the main desk of the sports centre.
Light Aircraft / Microlight Flights
If you've ever wondered what it's like to fly a plane, then this could be your chance to try. A microlight is a small, open aircraft for two people. They can have a fixed wing or a flexible wing with a seating unit suspended underneath for you and your pilot. From Alpe d'Huez's Altiport you can take 10 or 30-minute flights accompanied by an experienced pilot, and you can even learn how to fly one yourself. Book in for an experience you'll never forget, and see the mountains from a totally different perspective.
Alpe d'Huez has an indoor mini golf course at the Palais des Sports, open from early December until the end of April. Ask at the main desk on arrival for prices (free for children under 5).
There are a number of companies who can take you mountaineering in winter, from local guides to ski schools, private instructors and activity companies. You can explore the Oisans summits and the Ecrins National Park, from the iconic Rateau Ouest, Pic de la Grace or Pic Bayle to the challenging Goulotte Fantomas and Goulotte Allera-Pelatan. Many also offer ski mountaineering experiences.
The Alpe d'Huez ice caves are a magical grotto of glistening sculptures and fairytale figures. Dug out many years ago by two local guides they have become an annual feature; each winter expert ice sculptors arrive to create a new exhibition based on a different theme every year. At 2700m the caves are accessible via the Grandes Rousses / DMC gondola. Buy your pass on line - go to the pedestrian lift pass prices section if you're a non-skier.
Every Thursday (and Tuesday during French ski holidays) the Signal opens for night skiing. One of the most spectacular things you can do at night in Alpe d'Huez is to ski down the Sarenne at night. A restaurant meal is included and it's definitely one of those unforgettable holiday moments everyone should experience! Read our review.
Ice Laser Quest
For something a little different to do, challenge your family or friends to a game of Ice Laser Quest in an icy maze. This is something good for the kids to enjoy on a bad weather day, or even for grown-ups who want a bit of fun.
Paragliding / Parapenting
If you’ve never tried paragliding before then Alpe d'Huez is a great place to learn how to fly. Known as “parapenting” in France, there are a great number of clubs and organisations in the area whose sole purpose is to give you the experience of flying. From the heights of the mountain tops, you can glide down to the bottom of the valley on a tandem paraglider controlled by the instructor. He manoeuvres the parachute while the passenger enjoys the ride and fantastic views. Some of the instructors here also offer Speed Riding a combination of flying on skis. Discover the Alpe d'Huez, including the famous Tour de France bends, the Ecrins National Park, the Grandes Rousses and the whole Oisans massif from the ski. There are several departing points including the top of the Signal, the Marmotte 3 "3060", the Pic Blanc, The Clocher de Macle and other areas in the region.
Petanque / Boules
Petanque is a very popular sport in France. In Alpe d'Huez you can play boules all year at the "Boulodrome" in the Palais des Sports. You can also rent equipment here.
Many people would not automatically think of Alpe d'Huez as a place to shop. However the town boasts some great stores. As you would expect from an outdoor sports Mecca, there are plenty sports stores where you can get your hands on some of the top mountaineering, ski and snowboard brands but there are also some fashionable clothing stores, and plenty of shops selling traditional mountain goods.
In France, the preferred style for ski joering is to use a rider-less horse which is controlled by the skier. A rig with reigns is connected to the horse’s bridle and the skier is towed along behind the horse on skis, holding onto the rig. The skier steers with vocal commands and by pulling on lines connected to the horse's bit. The equestrian centre speak English and ensure you'll have a great time and to talk you through all the controls. Call or email to book, and meet at the Poutran Equestrian Centre to take part (see map for directions). Winter opening is from early December to the end of April each year.
Alpe d'Huez is popular for ski touring, whether it's going up the pistes that most people normally ski down, or tackling more of a backcountry route. A number of ski schools, private instructors and companies can show you around, or if you've got all the necessary equipment you can head out in your own group. Popular areas to explore include the Grandes Rousses Massif which has easy routes like the Grandes Buffes or the Croix de Cassini and more challenging one like the Grand Sauvage couloir or popular Traversée Integrale which crosses 5 cols and 5 glaciers. Other areas to explore from Alpe d'Huez are the Belledonne massif with the famous Brèche de Roche Fendue through a forest, the Taillefer massif or the Ecrins summits.
Skiing & snowboarding
The main draw for people coming to Alpe d'Huez in winter is, of course, the skiing and snowboarding. Alpe d’Huez forms part of the fabulous 'Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski Area' combining the resorts of Alpe d’Huez, Auris-en-Oisans, Huez-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas into one giant, heavenly playground. Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine has 249kms of pisted runs to explore and infinite off-piste possibilities, so you will find terrain to suit everyone here.
Also see: Ski Areas in Alpe d'Huez
Sledging / Tobogganing
Alpe d'Huez has its own sledging designated area. It opens daily and is located under the Grandes Rousses/DMC gondola lift; groomed and equipped with banked turns, sledges with brakes and helmets are required but not provided (can be bought or hired from most sports shops). Unlimited access to the area with ski and walking day passes, ski half-day passes and all Visalp passes. Cost without pass is €8.00 per gondola ascent. You can also sled for free on the piste next to the Bergers shopping centre or go night sledding on the Butte de l’Eclose slope. The illuminated sledding area opens on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 17:30 to 19:30. Again, sledges with brakes and helmets are required but not provided (can be bought or hired from most sports shops). Access is free with a Visalp pass.
Raquette à Neige or Snow-shoeing in and around Alpe d'Huez is a perfect activity for bad weather conditions or for non-skiers. Either set out on your own or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the Oisans mountains and the Grandes Rousses. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, or you can hire snowshoes from most Sports Shops or Ski Hire Shops, grab a trail map from the Tourist Office and head off on your own adventure. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
Snowmobile / Skidooing
Those who enjoy speed will love riding a powerful snowmobile (like a motorbike with caterpillar tracks) around Alpe d'Huez. Discover the different dimensions of driving; carving turns, accelerating in a straight line, ascents and descents. There are specific circuits for snowmobiles in the highest parts of Alpe d'Huez, at 2100m of altitude as well as snowmobile tours available around the resort from 17:15, when the lifts are closed. You can even head out when it's dark and have dinner at one of the mountain restaurants in Alpe d'Huez.
Snowmobiles are a great way to explore Alpe d'Huez especially as you get to ride them when the resort is at its quietest. Disappear into the woods and blast around empty snowfields on your scooter with your own guide. Remember to wrap up warmly especially if you go after dark, and bring goggles if there is powder.
There are two snowparks in Alpe d'Huez, one in Montfrais and a larger one beside the beginner runs above 1800, most easily accessed from the DMC 1st station. Although this last park is larger in size it is very beginner-friendly with a number of small features providing a gentle introduction to park riding.
Also see: Snowparks in Alpe d'Huez
Spas & massages
If it is calm and relaxation you are after then head to a luxury day spa or book in for massage therapies and beauty treatments. A day spa is also the perfect activity when the weather turns. You can keep warm and revive aching muscles in saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis or take a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Most hotels in Alpe d'Huez have spas that are open to the public while there is a public sauna at the Palais des Sports.
Speed-riding / Speed-flying
The idea behind speed riding is to combine the sensations of skiing and paragliding into one activity, and then descend off-piste sections of the mountain using a mini-wing to enable you to access areas that you might not normally go. Learning and having fun with speed riding comes very fast as long as you are a competent skier; you need to be able to ski red pistes with confidence in any type of snow. Speak to one of the companies offering this activity who can show you the ropes (literally). Speed riding flights often depart from the top of the Signal lift.
You can play squash at the Palais des Sports in winter from early December to the end of April, every day of the week. There are four courts to choose from and you should book ahead to avoid disappointment. Pay and book in at the main reception desk. Rackets and sports shoes are available to rent.
The main sports centre in Alpe d'Huez has a swimming pool where you can enjoy a few lengths, or even take part in aquabiking, aquapalming and aquaerobics classes. One entry is included with your ski pass or you can upgrade to a Premium pass for more visits. They have a paddling area for toddlers too.
Telemarking is a form of downhill skiing where you are only attached into the binding at the toe, so to turn, you have to lunge and bring your heel upwards. Talk to one of the ski schools or private instructors who can teach you how to telemark and take you out on excursions using this technique.
Play a game of tennis with friends and family in Alpe d'Huez, a great all year round activity to enjoy in the Alps. For those of you who like to build up a sweat, you will find a number of indoor and outdoor tennis courts in Alpe d'Huez. In winter, the tennis courts are open every day from early December to the end of April. They are also open throughout the summer months. Booking ahead is recommended at any time of year, especially if you require lessons. You'll also find 15 tennis tables in the sports centre.
Tree-top / Forest adventures
Alpe d'Huez has a 400m zip wire that's open in winter and summer at the XFly centre. Here you can also do some climbing and jump on a giant airbag, and you don't have to be a child to enjoy it! At the Palais des Sports, there is also an indoor adventure trail hung 8m above the floor open every day from December to April for anyone over 6 years old.
Alpe d'Huez is a winter walker's paradise, with lifts giving access to the higher ground and a network of groomed trails in the winter, it's very easy to discover the resort on foot. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you set out as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. You do not need any particular equipment, just a pair of sturdy boots and layers of warm clothing that you can take off or put on as necessary. A pair of walking poles will come in handy for extra balance on icy patches and for checking snow depth before you go striding forth. Top tip: buy ‘grippers’ for your walking boots to prevent slipping which you can buy from most local Sport Shops.
Also see: Walking Routes in Alpe d'Huez
Location: Alpe d'Huez