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February 28, 2023

We’ve always loved mountains and one of our favourite things to do in the mountains in winter is to ski. So before we started travelling we decided that we wanted to spend some time in the Alps in winter to try and improve our technique and to enjoy all that comes with skiing.

La Fare Black Run through the Trees

Our last trip out to the French Alps – Val Thorens in 2020, had ended very abruptly when about 2 hours after we arrived at our hotel the French government announced that from midnight all ski resorts were closing. Then ensued the utter chaos of independently trying to find our way home when our travel agency failed to step up to the plate.  A week later, back in London, lockdown commenced.

Ski Run in Alpe D’Huez

There is no denying that skiing is a very expensive hobby and the prices in ski resorts are very high during the winter season so we had to find a way to ski for a couple of months without breaking the bank.  We knew we wanted to ski in France – which is home to the biggest ski areas in the world and an easy drive from the UK.

After much research we came to realise that in recent years a number of the largest resorts have been building cable cars from the surrounding valleys to directly access the ski areas. These allow large car parks to be built and easy access without the long, slow, sometimes wheel-chained drive up the switchback roads for those who are not staying in resort.  Another positive of course is that accommodation in the valleys, away from the resorts is much cheaper (and less busy).  So, the small towns and villages surrounding the bigger resorts became our focus.

Run from Top of Alpette lift to Vaujany

The small village of Allemond (at approx. 700m), better known for being on some of the best alpine cycle routes, has recently had a fast gondola lift built to directly access into Oz de Oisans, which is part of the sizable Alpe D’Huez Grande Domaine. There is a large car park at the bottom of the lift and a free shuttle bus through the village to and from the lift  (although not as frequently as one would like). 

Allemond Church on the hill above the town

The lift from Allemond is called the Eau D’Olle and takes about 10 minutes to reach Oz de Oisans. From Oz there are 2 different lifts which in another 10 minutes or so take you to over 2000m – one on the Vaujany side of the resort and one to the Alpe D’Huez side.

Burger with a Waffle Bun at Les Gauffrettes in Allemond

Unlike many of the valleys in the Alps, Allemond receives sunshine for most of the day which given its altitude of only 700m makes it a warm and pleasant place to be.  It is a quiet and peaceful village (this may not be the case in the summer, there are quite a lot of campsites and public toilets for such a small place, which makes us wonder if it is much busier in the summer months with cyclists) with four cafes/restaurants, a Spar, post office, newsagent, medical centre, an excellent bakery, pharmacy, tourist office and church (in the upper village).   

River in Allemond

A pretty river runs through Allemond village from the large lake/hydroelectric dam (used for water sports in the summer), and in addition there is an outdoor swimming pool and climbing pinnacle (open only in the summer months).  The village also has a square where they host a (small) market on Sunday mornings and live music and food/drinks tents on Wednesday evenings.

Bourg de Oisans High Street

If like us you are staying in town for longer than a couple of weeks, then you can find a larger supermarket a 10 minute drive away (called Casino) in the larger town of Bourg de Oisans.   The supermarket conveniently has washing machines outside.  Very handy, if like us, your accommodation does not have a washing machine.  I will admit when we first drove through the village we were underwhelmed and wondered what we would do with our time.  However, after spending just a couple of weeks here we have grown quite fond of the village and its hidden gems.

Cloud Inversion in Valley from the Alpe D’Huez Ski Area

The ski area of Alpe D’Huez is fairly large with the sprawling town itself in the middle at 1800m but stretching to a number of outlying villages which are lower down. The top of the ski area is at the peak of Pic Blanc which is at 3300m and the lowest point is Vaujany at 1250m. There is a good spread of different slopes with 35 greens, 30 blues, 31 reds and 19 blacks.

View of Alpe D’Huez Town from the Slopes

One of the highlights of the ski area is the 9km long Sarenne slope which drops from the top of Pic Blanc at 3300m down into the deep valley below Alpe D’Huez. It is categorised as a black but in reality it is more like a tough red although conditions can vary considerably along its length and parts can get fairly moguled later in the day.

View from Mid Way Down Sarenne

My personal favourite is a fabulous run which drops from the 2800m Dome de Rousses to below the town of Vaujany. This goes down the black rated La Fare run which is a steep run through the trees to its own cable car.  It is a pretty run, around 7.5km long with 1500m of vertical and tends to be a bit quieter than the rest of the resort, making it without doubt more serene than Sarenne.

View from the Top of La Fare
One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan Hann permalink
    March 1, 2023 8:57 am

    As always great photos and good that you managed to stay this time best place for snow on your photos🤣
    Really enjoying travelling through your eyes.

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