Advanced/experts: The black, expert runs are accessible from the top of Pic Blanc and Les Marmottes III cable car. They attract thrill seekers and the more technically advanced skiers to experience the maximum vertical drop of 2,200m. Particularly noteworthy black runs include the Fare piste, the Combe Charbonniere, Balme, La Fuma and the Col de Cluy.

Alpe d (1,860 3330m) is a sizeable, modern resort known for its sunny, extensive terrain and spectacular views across the Southern Alps. The efficient lift system whisks skiers up to the vast, high altitude area of the Alpe d Grand Domain Ski (250km) with its wide choice of varied runs, well suited to all levels.

´╗┐Alpe d'Huez Destination Overview

On the pistes

Au Ble Noir, Chemin des Bergers, 38750 Alpe d (04 57 30 00 73). Housed in a beautifully restored old barn in the centre of town, serves traditional French dishes like crepes and fondues as well as wood fire specialities. Open from 12 2pm and 7 9:30pm.

Au P Creux, Chemin des Bergers, 38750 Alpe d (04 76 80 62 80). Housed in a beautifully restored alpine building with a south facing sun terrace and cosy pine interior. This reasonably priced restaurant serves traditional French dishes. Specialities include veal with Beaufort cheese and Cassolette de St. Jacques (scallop casserole). Open for lunch and dinner with a large south facing terrace and cosy interior.

Intermediates: A good selection of intermediate runs are spread throughout the ski area. Some of the most challenging reds can be found in the Women Canada Goose Constable Parka Red Outlet Nz Villard Reculas and Signal de l sectors. Confident intermediates can try the Canyon run from Plat des Marmottes or the 16km Sarenne black run. For less confident intermediates, there are some great blue cruisers from the Signal sector heading down to Alpe d or try the sector the long, blue Champclotury run above Oz or the main Couloir blue from 2,700m.

The resort efficient lift system whisks skiers up to the vast, high altitude slopes of the Alpe d Grand Domaine Ski (250km). Here you find a wealth of sunny, south facing runs high above the treeline, suitable for all levels and dotted with plenty of good mountain restaurants.

Alpe d is one of the liveliest resorts in the French Alps, but is divided into separate quarters, so you can often find yourself far away from the centre (Avenue des Jeux). A good tip is to stay in the prettier, more rustic village of Vaujany, which is linked to Alpe d by chairlift. Families are particularly fond of Alpe d for its friendly, laid back atmosphere and wide choice of accommodation apartments, chalets, hotels and B ski area is comprised of five ski resorts and two traditional mountain villages: Alpe d Auris en Oisans, La Garde, Le Freney d Oz en Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas.

Few resorts can rival Alpe d for size of ski area and variety of terrain, which is often compared to Espace Killy (Tignes and Val d In mid winter Alpe d high altitude slopes maintain great snow conditions, but the strong southern sun can mean late season snow becomes slushy in the afternoon.

Mountain highlights include the 16km Sarenne piste (primarily black) which offers 1hr30 of uninterrupted skiing. There also some serious off piste, plenty of steep verticals, a varied snow park and one of the biggest nursery ski areas in the Alps. The extensive and varied terrain is particularly well suited to the more adventurous freerider. Some of the most popular off piste powder can be found in areas such as Gorges de Sarenne and Glacier de Sarenne. Note: Always ride with a guide.

Beginners: Alpe d has one of the largest nursery areas in the Alps with four free lifts for beginners. The mass of green runs above the village (accessed by the Troncon cable car) and above the Les Bergers area (accessed by the Romains chair) offer plenty of wide, gentle slopes to help you find your snow legs. Although watch out for more advanced skiers whizzing through at the end of the day.

The legendary 16km black Sarenne piste stretches from Pic Blanc (3,330m) to Alpe d'Huez (1,860m). It consists of two sections: initially a fairly steep series of pitches which can get a bit mogulled and then a long flatter section along the valley. It is primarily a black ski run, but you can avoid the really steep section at the top by skiing off from the Marmottes 3 bubble instead. Open from 7am for toasted sandwiches, croissants and good coffee on the terrace or at the bar. A great start to the day before catching the first lift up the mountain.

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Smithy Tavern, Route du Coulet, 38750 Alpe d (04 76 11 32 29). This centrally located bar and restaurant appeals to all ages and has a solid reputation as a good value eatery (mains start at The Tex Mex menu features nachos, fajitas and burritos as well as plenty of bloodier options for enthusiastic carnivors, like homemade burgers, fillet steaks and the rack of ribs. Also has a lively apr scene with live music. Opens from 5pm Mon Fri; from 10am Sat; from 2:30pm Sun.

Caf Gourmand, La Menandiere, 38750 Alpe d (09 82 61 05 51). Great place for a quick stop and grab breakfast. Serves crepes, waffles, paninis and croquet monsieurs to scoff on the ski lift or eat on the south facing sun terrace. Wash it down with a hot chocolate, tea or coffee. This traditional mountain hut is built into the rock and is renowned for its roaring log fire. There a daily set menu offering salads, soups, omelettes, grilled meats and specialities like burgers with Reblochon cheese and au feu with truffles. Sit in one of three dining areas or out on the large sun terrace. From the second stage of the Vaujany Alpe d'Huez cable car, you can reach Les Airelles by following the Les Rousses piste as far as the middle station of the cable car at Alpette, then follow signs for Montfrais. You can also get there on foot via the Montfrais bubble lift and a short travelator.