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Destination Inspiration: L'Alpe-d'Huez, France

Why go?

L'Alpe-d'Huez is a layer cake of adventure. Divided into four ‘quartiers’ and smothered with a thick blanket of snow for half the year, it almost looks good enough to eat.

Its vast playground spans 249 km of immaculate piste – 16 of which belong to the world’s longest black run – and 225 km of marked cycling routes, making it a year-round paradise for extreme sports connoisseurs.

The well-groomed slopes of Pic Blanc (3,330 metres) and Dome des Petites Rousses (2,808 metres) cater to all ability levels, and the off-piste skiing isn’t too shabby either. Both mountains contain massive, untracked powder fields, and steep couloirs, where thrill-seekers can slash, carve, and zig-zag to their hearts’ content.

Come summertime, L'Alpe-d'Huez turns into a cycling haven. The resort draws thousands of mountain bikers, and plays host to a number of intense competitions – including the notoriously difficult 21-hairpin bend ascent of the Tour de France.

And if extreme sports aren’t your thing, you can ramble through the rugged expanses of the Écrin National Park and quaint hillside villages of the Oisans at your own pace. The 13 km Route des Lacs is popular for its relative ease and fabulous panoramic views.

Back in town, Quartier des Jeux is the main ‘centre ville’ and the place to head for the resort’s best restaurants and après-ski scene. Meanwhile, a mooch through the tranquil back streets of Quartier des Vieil Alpe reveals a cluster of traditional buildings and family-run cafés

When to go?

The snowiest months are from January through to March. However, you can save big and avoid the crowds by visiting in low season (December and April) – when the resort’s trusty snowmakers work 24/7 to keep the slopes in good shape. Cycling and hiking are best enjoyed in the balmier summer months.

Where to stay?

Les Grandes Rousses, L'Alpe-d'Huez, France

Offering ski-in/out access at the heart of the resort, Les Grandes Rousses couldn’t be better placed. Guests get a warm welcome and a personal tour of the facilities, which include a high-end restaurant, trendy wine bar, and wellness centre. All rooms are renovated with a stylish modern mountain decór.

Hotel Le Pic Blanc, L'Alpe-d'Huez, France

Le Pic Blanc is just a few steps away from the nearest ski lift. Elegant rooms with a modern finish and fabulous mountain views set this property apart, though the undisputed highlight – according to guests – is the lavish indoor swimming pool.

Hôtel Le Royal Ours Blanc, L'Alpe-d'Huez, France

This cosy hotel keeps guests coming back thanks to its friendly staff and on-site restaurant, which serves both buffet and à la carte meals. After a long day of skiing or cycling, you can sink into the comfy beds with big head-burying pillows.