Full speed ahead in Oisans

Villard-Reculas © T.Joly
Ski resorts on a human scale in picturesque villages or built in a traditional architectural style. A vast skiable area with all levels of pistes. Near Grenoble, the Vallée de l’Eau d’Olle offers an ideal setting to practice winter sports.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
618 km from Paris on autoroutes A 6, A 46, A 42 and A 432 till Grenoble then on road D 1091 till vallée de l’Eau d’Olle.
- By train
TGV Paris Gare de Lyon – Grenoble in 2 h 55 + bus to the resorts on Saturday + taxi on other days
- By plane
Flights to Grenoble from several English, German and Polish cities. Shared taxi from the airport to the resorts on www.abcibus.com
- Vaujany
Résidence Maeva Les Portes de l'Oisans
Résidences Odalys Dome des Rousses et Cascade de Vaujany
Residence Les Valmonts de Vaujany
Bed and Breakfast Solneige and Maitreya.
- Oz-en-Oisans
Chalets Clos du Pré
Hôtel des Cristeaux
- Villard-Reculas
Chalets Il fera beau demain
Centrale de réservation Gest’Accueil
- Vaujany
La Table de la Fare
Auberge du Lac de Grandmaison
- Oz-en-Oisans
Chez Passoud
La Parisienne
- Villard-Reculas
La Bergerie
Ski lift passes
- Villard-Reculas
1 day : €19.50
6 days : €106
- Vaujany and Oz-en-Oisans
1 day : €38
6 days : €179
- Alpes d'Huez-Grandes Rousses
1 day : €54.50
6 days : €275
Reduced rates for children under 13 years old and seniors over 64 years old.
Information and bookings
- Office de Tourisme de Villard-Reculas
Tel : 0476804569
- Office de Tourisme de Vaujany
Tel : 0476807237
- Office de Tourisme d’Oz-en-Oisans
Tel : 0476807801
It’s not all about big ski resorts hosting thousands and thousands of skiers and offering never-ending vertiginous runs. In Isère, near Grenoble, the more intimate and authentic resorts of Vaujany, Oz-en-Oisans and Villard-Reculas have also got something to make ski enthusiasts mouths water with four tracks with inclines of around 2000 m !! Three finish at their feet, in Vallée de l’Eau d’Olle. One ends up in l’Alpes d’Huez, a famous stage of the Tour de France, with which they share the skiable area of Grandes Rousses.

Pic Blanc © T.Joly
 Vertiginous descent
All these tracks start in the same place: the Pic Blanc, at 3300 m of altitude. Reached by cable car and so also accessible to walkers, it commands a superb panorama encompassing Mont-blanc, La Meije, the Barre des Ecrins, the Pic de Bure, the Vercors range and in clear weather the view extends as far as the Jura and Mont Ventoux. Closer by one can make out the mountain slope where in November 1944 English Air Marshall Leigh Mallory died in a plane crash, just above the hamlet of Rivier d’Allemont.
From the Pic Blanc, the “queen” of these tracks follows successively a black piste going through a short tunnel and a mogul field, a red, then another black to arrive 2 230 m lower at Enversin d’Oz, near Vaujany. A dive into the valley passing through landscapes that range from glaciers to snow covered forests that only the best sportsmen can do in one go because, as the locals would say, a piste like this “makes your knees smoke”.

Grandes Rousses © T.Joly
 Family lunch
But the Grandes Rousses area is not only made up of exceptional tracks like this. It has 123 pistes with an overall length of 248 km where snow is guaranteed at all times by 870 snow cannons, several snow parks, a slalom field, and many opportunities for off piste and cross-country skiing. Moreover, there are beginner level pistes situated on two plateaus located at 2 100 and 2 800 m in altitude which offer skiing without any major difficulties. The lower one even has a 20 km Nordic ski track and 30 km of groomed and posted trails for hikers. And it’s all accessible by gondola and cable car. A stroke of luck for non-skiers who can enjoy the scenery and have lunch with friends and relatives in the mountain restaurants. Wilder spots can be reached by snowshoe trek led by guides, who, in Oz-en-Oisans also organise night treks!! A magical promenade with moonlight glimmering on the snow.

Grandes Rousses © T.Joly
 At your own pace
Those seeking other sensations can try out paragliding or climbing 10 to 50 m high frozen waterfalls found in winter along the rocky ridge that separates the two plateaus. All these activities are easy to combine thanks to the numerous lift passes available. 6 day passes are 198.50 €, day passes are 38.20 €, half day passes are 28.70 €, a 10 day card which can be used by different people on different days is 292 €, etc… In addition there are other less expensive passes which are restricted to smaller areas, around each resort, and cost from 13.50 to 24.50 € a day and 72.50 to 116.50 € for 6 days. A flexibility which allows everyone to enjoy the snow fields at his or her own pace, and to take the time to enjoy the charm and tranquillity of the Vallée de l’Eau d’Olle ‘s ski resorts. Most especially Villard-Reculas, the smallest of the resorts, with only 60 permanent inhabitants. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in the Alps thanks to its narrow streets and ancient stone and wood built houses. What’s more, the ski pistes cannot be seen from the village even though they are only a stone’s throw away. A picture postcard view undisturbed by the more recent chalets built in a traditional style. With, as a bonus, an exposure to the South which guarantees plenty of sun.

Grandes Rousses © T.Joly
 Authentic villages
Same orientation, facing the sun, for Vaujany, where the historical centre i flanked by tourist accommodation. Once again with respect to the local architecture. A village boasting an impressive number of services and facilities. A nursery, free covered car parks, an escalator linking the upper and lower part of the resort, new events every week, free bilingual museums, a leisure centre with swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, hammam and fitness room. Granted, the pistes are not just next door, but a 160 person cable car takes skiers to the heart of the skiable area of Grandes Rousses in five minutes. Lastly, Oz-en-Oisans is a resort built from scratch 20 years ago at the foot of the pistes and in the middle of the woods. Nevertheless, the buildings are reasonably sized with a traditional feel to them and the total number of beds is only 4000. So even if the atmosphere is more lively than in Vaujany or Villard-Reculas, particulary at night, it also a pleasant place to live. Just like the rest of the valley.

December 07, 2019
Thierry Joly