The French ski resort of Vaujany is still very much a small working mountain community rather than a typical Alpine ski resort. Nestled in a quiet side valley at the northernmost extremity of the vast Grandes Rousses ski domain, with Alpe d'Huez at the centre, Vaujany is relatively modest in terms of altitude, at just 1,250m. That makes Vaujany the lowest-altitude ski resort in the Grandes Rousses. It also sits on the sunny, south-facing side of the valley. On the face of it, Vaujany shouldn't have any of the hallmarks of a successful ski resort village.
However, this smart little community has managed to evolve into a full-serviced micro-resort, thanks to a twist of fortune combined with some enterprising vision. The French national power authority built a large hydroelectric installation nearby, and the community of Vaujany receives a compensatory rent in respect of the resulting loss of farmland. Thanks to this windfall, the local council had the means to build new leisure facilities and underwrite projects assuring the viability of their otherwise marginal location.
Ambitious plans of action linked the village directly into the Grandes Rousses ski area, with two of the biggest and fastest cable cars in Europe. This has established Vaujany as a classy and attractive alternative to brash and busy Alpe d'Huez, with which it shares the ski slopes. With its lovely mountain lodges, and reputation as a highly family-friendly resort, Vaujany’s attractions include a spa, bowling alley, an indoor rink and a climbing wall. Being at the outer boundary of the domain, this area looks a bit wild and remote, yet it has a sheltered and welcoming feel: families and nervous novices can enjoy themselves here away from the crowded slopes of the core ski area.
Vaujany - Ski Map & Pistes:
The compact ski area of Montfrais 1650, just above the hamlet of La Villette further up the valley from Vaujany, serves as Vaujany's local ski area, with around 53km of runs. It's linked with the village by a valley-hugging gondola.
Vaujany's nearest slopes are tucked away down on the valley floor well below the village, in a peaceful little dell next to the hamlet of l'Enversin d'Oz; here there's just a tiny beginners' zone, alongside the finish area for Vaujany's sole 'home run' piste, the thigh-burning La Fare black run.
This level is connected to the village by gondola, which links into a central lifts hub opposite Vaujany's lower village square; the terminal's platform serves as the ski schools' meeting point and houses the base station for the huge cable car which links to a wide plateau of gentle slopes at Alpette 2050.
From Alpette 2050 it's possible to make on-piste links towards Montfrais 1650 or Oz-en-Oisans, or to connect with the twin of Vaujany's lower cable car to continue higher into the core Alpe d'Huez sectors via the summit of the Dome des Petites Rousses.
This side of the Grandes Rousses is traversed by a good range of great cruising pistes with plenty of tougher red-graded pitches, perfect for progressing intermediates; more advanced visitors can head for the glacial summit of Pic Blanc to tackle the many challenging black runs and off-piste routes off the peak..
Vaujany - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
The epitome of a hidden gem, Vaujany's location at the edge of the Grandes Rousses gives it a genuine backcountry feel and it is a favourite among locals. Vaujany offers extensive off-piste skiing from the Col du Couard across to the Dome des Petites Rousses, where there are some amazing couloir lines, taking you back down towards l'Alpette.
The playground of Montfrais has loads of easily accessible tree lined ski runs, including under the Montfrais cable car and the Roche Melon run which is still listed as a piste but is actually a great off-piste route down to Vaujany. If the visibility's good, however, the best off-piste skiing in the Vaujany area is right up at the top. Ride the lifts all the way up to the Pic Blanc at the top of Alpe d'Huez, at 3,300 metres. From there, you'll have the pick of some of the longest off-piste itineraries in France. Just make sure you leave enough time to catch all the connecting lifts back to Vaujany - otherwise it's a long old taxi ride home!
Vaujany - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
Vaujany remains a sleepy mountain village at heart, but there is après ski to be found. The resort's handful of pleasant restaurants and friendly bars can get fairly animated in the evenings during high season, and there are a couple of late-night bars to provide for some low-key provincial-style nightlife; check out Stieff's and La Grotte de Yeti which has replaced the old Swallow Bar.
Vaujany's municipal sports facilities include a natural ice rink and a leisure centre with a swimming pool. The village also houses a small museum and a centre for the study of this region's wildlife, giving visitors an opportunity to engage with the human and natural history of this interesting little community.
Vaujany - Ski Hire:
Vaujany - Ski School: