THE IDEAL nursery slopes are wide, long, nearly flat, high, sunny and conveniently close to the village - to facilitate refreshments and to cut out any fear of getting lost. The slopes of Alpe d'Huez, a modern resort in the southern French Alps, are as near to this ideal as makes no difference: the resort sits in a vast, gentle, south-facing bowl, surrounded by long green and blue runs.

PLUS POINTS: big and varied ski area; long runs from Pic Blanc; long off-piste runs; serious black pistes; splendid scenery; extensive artificial snow; good mountain restaurants and sports facilities; easy access to skiing from many parts of village.

MINUS POINTS: hideous village; mainly south-facing - snow affected by sun in late season; peak-time queues for main gondola and top cable-car.

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