Alpe d’Huez is best known as one of the Alps’ most popular ski resorts, but Catherine Cooper tells us how it also makes a brilliant family destination in summer too.
Says Catherine: “Alpe d’Huez is one of the most famous stages of the Tour de France, and as such it is a big centre for road cyclists setting themselves the challenge of cycling up the iconic road with 21 hairpin bends from the valley floor to the village.
“But as well as that, it’s also very popular mountain bikers who can take one of the selected lifts which are open all summer and roll (or slide, or fall) down various cycle pistes which are graded from green to black like ski pistes.
“As near-complete novices, we joined a 2-hour VTT initiation session in a group of about 15 with two patient instructors who taught us how to squeeze the brakes gently with our finger tips and push our bums back over the seat as the slope got steeper. After that they took us up the main DMC ski lift before guiding us down the mainly grassy but occasionally rocky slope.
“Looking at the rest of the group in near full body armour I began the lesson fairly convinced I was going to break something but thanks largely to the patience of the instructors, actually managed to enjoy the second run down and even gave it a go again another day.
“Another day we took two lifts all the way to the top – there was still snow on the ground up there and we were woefully underdressed – and another day took a lift up to walk alongside some stunning lakes joined by streams.
“Back down in the village we tried out summer luge and X-Fly – a collection of activities including two zip wires, climbing walls and an eight-metre jump into an air bag.
“On the one rainy day the children tried out the indoor adventure park In’Vertigo, played table tennis and indoor mini golf. The Palais des Sports offers a Premium Pass which gives you unlimited entry to the indoor and outdoor pools, ice rink, tennis courts, minigolf, table tennis and more, so it doesn’t even need to cost a fortune.
“On our last day in the resort Toby and Livi took their first parapente flight and then in the afternoon we went mountain biking. However I was feeling lazy so after one run down I swapped my ordinary bike for an electric one and spent the afternoon cycling up to the lake, down the hill a little so that I could power up past the proper cyclists aided by the little motor. As far as I’m concerned now, that’s the only way to cycle.
“We stayed in VIP Ski’s Chalet La Maison, a luxurious and comfortable chalet at 2,000 metres, above the main village of Alpe d’Huez in a quiet location but very close to the main DM1 telecabine and some chairlifts as well as shops, bars and a small supermarket.
The chalet has four en suite rooms with balconies, lovely big living room with a large sunny balcony with deckchairs and fabulous view, Freeview TV, Bose sound systems and fully-equipped kitchen. Best of all, downstairs there’s a sauna and jacuzzi. Summer prices start at £105 per room per night, self-catering. Breakfast can be added for an additional charge of £7.50 per person.
Find out more about VIP Ski’s Chalet La Maison here: www.vip-chalets.com/chalets/le-village,-chalet-la-maison.
Visit the official site of the Alpe d’Huez here: www.alpedhuez.com/.