Halfway between the Northern and the Southern Alps, Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez are two famous ski resorts in the Oisans range, in Isère, and are destinations coveted by residents of the Grenoble region as well as by foreigners in search of high altitude skiing.
Please note, this comparison is intentionally based on practical criteria: ease of access and parking, services/shops, childcare, après-ski … a lot of useful and practical information that will allow you, in the end, to choose between Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez or maybe try both.
General presentation of Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
- Les 2 Alpes: Internationally known for its high-altitude ski area (the largest glacier ski area in Europe) and its snowpark, Les 2 Alpes is a ski resort where you can ski in both in winter (this winter season as an example starts at the end of Nov to finish at the end of May!) and in summer. Installed on a plateau 1,600 m high, Les 2 Alpes resort has the particularity of being located along a 2 km main high street where shops and accommodation intermingle. Functional “ski in ski out” resort, the location of most of the real estate provides direct access to the slopes and ski lifts. Do check our new developments here.
- Alpe d’Huez: Nestled on a plateau facing south on the Grandes Rousses mountain chain, at an altitude of 1,860 m, Alpe d’Huez has continued to develop since 1936 and particularly since 2015 with the launch of the first five-star hotel, the Daria-I-Nor (Findhomeabroad marketed these apartments for the international market). Nicknamed “the sun island” for its sunshine abundance, Alpe d’Huez is nowadays an internationally renowned winter destination winning best ski resort awards for the last few years. Also renowned for the quality of its ski area (Alpe d´Huez Grand Domaine Ski), its highest point (Pic Blanc, 3330 m altitude) offers a grandiose panorama, ranked 3 stars in the Michelin Guide.
Access to Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
Only 30 km apart, Alpe d’Huez and Les 2 Alpes are in the same geographical area and therefore have identical access, except for the last few miles. Easily accessible thanks to the wealth of the French motorway network, they are located 1 hour from Grenoble, 2 hours from Lyon (many flights to UK),2.5 hours from Geneva (most flights from UK), 3 hours from Marseille and 6.30 hours from Paris. For the airports: Grenoble – Isère Airport (about 100 km), Chambéry – Savoie Airport (125 km), Lyon Saint-Exupéry (150 km) and Geneva (220 km).
By car, once you arrive in Grenoble, follow the direction to Sisteron / Gap on the A480 motorway until exit 8 “Vizille – Stations de l’Oisans” which joins the RD1091 to Bourg d’Oisans. Then go up the 21 legendary bends that lead to Alpe d’Huez (famous for the Tour de France). For Les 2 Alpes, continue on the D1091 towards Briançon and at the Chambon dam, turn right onto the D213.
Parking in both resorts
In Les 2 Alpes, free bus shuttles serve the various points of the ski resort (two different lines), from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day and on Saturdays until 11 p.m. They are even equipped with a geolocation system that allows you to know the waiting time at each stop. On the parking side, all of the resort’s car parks are free, except for a space of 20 spaces in the centre of the resort.
There is no problem parking in Alpe d’Huez as there are many car parks scattered throughout the resort. Paid underground car parks (around 10 € / day and 60 € per week) but also 9 free outdoor car parks, provided you have a blue zone disc (available in all public places as well as in all shops in the resort). Some parking places, near shops, are also in the blue zone but limited to 1h30. To get around without a car, free bus shuttles operate day and night: 4 day circuits + 1 night circuit. Note that Alpe d’Huez has an altiport and a heliport.
Comparison of the ski areas of 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
Les 2 Alpes: Located between 1,300 and 3,600 m above sea level, Les 2 Alpes ski area is spread over 410 hectares spread over 90 slopes, mostly blue, served by 55 ski lifts. Freestyler at heart, the resort has been developing a quality snowpark for the past fifteen years, which has become a European benchmark. The best in the discipline come to train all summer on varied and very well maintained modules. Open to new winter sports, the area also has a boardercross area, slide areas, freestyle initiation areas (on the Toura Lac Noir piste), a Big Air Bag installed at the bottom of the slopes, not to mention a Kids Park specially designed for children on the slopes, at an altitude of 2100 m.
Obviously, Les 2 Alpes is famous for being one of the few spots in the Europeans Alps where you can ski in summer on the glacier.
Alpe d’Huez: The Alpe d’Huez ski area stretches to the neighbouring resort villages (Auris-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany, Villard-Reculas, La Garde and Le Freney) to create an area of exceptional variety: the Grand Domaine ski area. Intended for all types of skiers, the 250 km of slopes, 135 slopes (42 green, 37 blue, 39 red and 17 black) and 80 lifts form a progressive area thanks to the natural terrain of the site. Two legendary tracks are to be discovered: the “Sarenne”, 16 km long (the longest piste in France) and the “Tunnel” piste which crosses the mountain. For freestylers, two snowparks await them (1 beginner and 1 expert) as well as a giant airbag and a ski cross track. Freeride enthusiasts will find many off-piste routes. Alpe d’Huez also does not forget those who practice Nordic activities with 50 km of cross-country ski trails and 35 km of pedestrian trails.
All-year-round life in Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
With around 2,000 permanent residents, the Alpe d’Huez and Les 2 Alpes resorts are like small, active towns that have all the shops and services needed to live year-round in peace: medical services, (doctors, physiotherapists, dental practice, etc.), administrative service (post office), banking services (numerous banks), etc. All these services are uniformly distributed over all the ski resorts.
“Après ski” offer for Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
Both in Alpe d’Huez and Les 2 Alpes, après-ski activities abound. It is also important not to get trapped in a bar when the slopes close!
Alpe d’Huez: Known as very sporty, Alpe d’Huez ski resort offers a wide choice of sports activities thanks to its numerous infrastructures as well as diverse opportunities to relax thanks to the spas and different health institutes. To make your life easier, the Premium card sold at the tourist office (from 6 euros/day) offers unlimited access to more than 30 sports and fun activities: tickets to the Palais des Sports, to the outdoor swimming pool, to the ice rink, 50% off weekly classical music concerts, etc.
As sporty as Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes has numerous infrastructures allowing you to indulge in a variety of sporting activities as well as relax whenever you wish. The Amphibia sports complex, as well as the Espace 1800 Fitness centre or La Croisette swimming pool, are popular places for après-ski. Renowned for its active nightlife, the resort has no shortage of bars, pubs and nightclubs to make the most of your stay until the end of the night.
Welcoming children in Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
Happy about welcoming families, the Alpe d’Huez and Les 2 Alpes resorts have been awarded the Family Plus label thanks to their numerous structures, activities and events dedicated to children of all ages.
For several years in Les 2 Alpes, all the family structures have been brought together in the heart of the resort: crèche, nursery and leisure centre welcome children from 6 months to 12 years old. To discover the pleasures of skiing, the ESF, Evolution 2 and ESI snow gardens offer lessons from beginners to advanced.
From the age of one, you can have your first sensation of sliding thanks to the baby snow. This exclusive sliding device consists of a snowboard, a handlebar, a saddle and a handle piloted by a third party. Of course, many other activities, and not the least original, are on offer: toboggan area, ice cave, ice glider, mini snowmobile, treasure hunt, children’s boom and even a week-long festival, the Junior Foliz.
In Alpe d’Huez, around 40 partners are engaged via the Family Plus label. Families thus will find hotels, restaurants, holiday residences, activities and infrastructures which are dedicated to the little ones. The “Children’s Chalet”, for example, is a unique “ski + nursery” structure supervised by ESF instructors, for children from the age of 2.5 years old.
For children aged 3 months to 4 years, “Les Intrépides” day nursery welcomes the little ones every day. An exclusive “Alpe Cartable Buissonnier” service offers school, educational and fun activities for children aged 6 to 11, for half-days or weekly, supervised by a teacher. On the leisure side, the classic ice rink (discovery) and swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) are accompanied by frenzied activities: adventure course, X Fly park with giant zip line, vertical labyrinth, free fall jump (4 to 8 m from the ground), etc. At the bottom of the slopes, two protected areas are available to beginners and four ski lifts are accessible free of charge for children.
Conclusion of the comparative match between Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez
Sporty, family-friendly and festive… the two Isère ski resorts are playing the versatility card. Very much alike, both ski resorts can attract a very diverse clientele ranging from families with young children, to young party animals to sports skiers in search of beautiful slopes. Freestyle enthusiasts will however have a clear preference for Les 2 Alpes and its quality snowpark. Thanks to the last few years and the increase of new developments and restaurants, Alpe d’Huez is more high-end but with new real estate projects now starting in Les 2 Alpes we expect this resort soon to make up in better quality activities and real estate. Alpe d’Huez in 2015 was selling around 5,000€/sqm for new-builds now reaching between 8,000-12,000€/sqm… Incidentally, Les 2 Alpes is now selling around 6,000€ with scope within five years to reach today’s Alpe d’Huez prices.