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Alpes d'Huez The island of the Sun The French Alps are breathtaking no matter what season you choose to pay a visit. But if you’re fan of ski-ing then its impressive chain of picturesque mountains, which boast some of the highest and most spectacular peaks in Europe, will float your adrenaline-seeking boat during the winter months. Justine Halifax heads to Alpe D'Huez and finds its' fabulous for skiers at all levels... While there’s a host of great ski resorts to choose from, if you’re travelling as a family the Family Plus resort of Alpe d’Huez is a perfect location - and even manages to tick the sunshine box too. Poised on a mountain plateau that faces directly south, and enjoying an average of 300 days of sunshine, Alpe d’Huez has earned the apt nickname of “L’ile au Soleil”, or the island of the sun. Yet despite enjoying such prolonged warm weather, its ski area is open for an impressive four months, from mid-late December to midlate April, as natural snow fall is propped up by 1,033 snow cannons to deliver maximum snow coverage over its 840 ski-able hectares. High above the Oisans Valley, the ski area at your disposal in Alpe d’Huez is vast, stretching from 1,860 metres at village level to 3,330 metres at the summit of the magnificent Pic Blanc, where on a clear day you can look out over a fifth of France.
Just one of the breathtaking mountains that you can view from this spot include the Alps’ highest mountain Mont Blanc, or the white mountain. While it’s stunning, picture postcard views, sunshine and long ski season are enough to entice you to take a ski holiday here, the resort of Alpe d’Huez, in the Massif Des Grandes Rousses, also has some interesting claims to fame which might tick a few more boxes for you. It’s the most iconic Alpine ascent of the Tour de France - while the tour route varies year to year, Alpe d’Huez was first included in the race in 1952 and has been a stage finish regularly since 1976, and it hosted the bobsled event as part of the Winter Olympics in 1968. If you’re more of a daring skier then Alpe d’Huez is also home to what’s affectionately known as the “Mother of all black runs”, the Sarenne piste. At 16km it's the longest black run in Europe stretching from Pic Blanc (3300m) to Alpe d’Huez (1860m). This resort is great for all levels of skier as it boasts a varied mix of pistes mostly above the tree line. They range from beautiful wide blues just above the village, to more challenging reds higher up and at the top daring and steep bumpy blacks - as well as Sarenne, Le Tunnel is also another scary one if you’ve got the head and stomach for it! There are 43 green, 38 blue, 40 red and 17 black runs, two snow parks, recreational ski area, over 2120m of vertical drop with more than 250km of pistes, and the chance to enjoy night ski-ing and sledding.
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