View of gondola lift from Oz-en-Oisans to the ski area of l'Alpe d'Huez, showing valley.

Oz-en-Oisans

Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine, Savoie, French Alps

In the Grandes Rousses Massif, south-east of Grenoble and accessible via flights into Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille and Nice (plus Cuneo and Turin).

Not the most visible feature on the map, Oz is sited just off the route from Bourg d’Oisans to Vaujany – alternative bases from which to ski the huge Alpe d’Huez area.

Skier descending piste between rocky outcrops

The Ski Area

Snowfalls can be substantial thanks to the presence of multiple high peaks surrounding the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine ski area. Oz is lift-linked direct to 250km of terrain, with something for all levels of skier, although the emphasis is on relaxed intermediates. There’s also a safe and sheltered beginner area right next to the village. It’s easy to cover a lot of distance here, with lots of blue cruising runs, and if you’re up for something more energetic there’s some serious vertical drop on offer, too.

Black-run fans have a few long local pistes to tackle, including drops into Vaujany and Villard Reculas, but the main attraction, starting from the 3330m Pic Blanc, is Sarenne, at 16km, the world’s longest black-graded piste.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1125m - 2800m
Oz-Vaujany
Pistes Total:
75 km
12 Green
14 Blue
12 Red
3 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 22
1 Magic Carpets
8 Draglifts
3 Chairlifts
1 Cabriolet
6 Gondolas
2 Cable Cars
Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine
Pistes Total:
250 km
42 Green
37 Blue
39 Red
17 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 80
41 Draglifts
24 Chairlifts
3 Cabriolet
10 Gondolas
6 Cable Cars

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View through ski village to mountainside with visitors

The Ski Village

The relatively recent chalet-style ski village (founded in the late-1980s) is compact and has a pleasing low-rise skyline. Better still, the centre is blissfully traffic-free, with the lying snow being groomed overnight, so you can ski through it each morning direct to the lifts. The only downside is that the deep valley location means that in winter the village is in shade for much of the day, so people don’t tend to hang around outside for après-ski socialising.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Skier with instructor walking through village

Best For

Skiers or snowboarders looking for a sheltered, alternative base from which to explore the wealth of groomed terrain above Alpe d’Huez. It's also a solid choice for families with first-timers, who can learn beside the village while their experienced companions head up the mountain. If it’s not high on energy, Oz will appeal to anyone who prefers a clean, calm and compact village setting. Oz offers free car-parking – outdoors, although there’s also reasonably-priced covered parking. Some accommodation is desirably ski-in/ski-out, too.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Not the best base for boarders.
1 Snowparks


Cross-Country Skiing

Two circuits at 2100m, access via cable car.
30km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Big-mountain skiing for all levels.
  • Access to 250kms of skiing.
  • Attractive, traffic-free village.
  • Free open parking (reasonable charge for covered parking).
  • Retains snow-cover well.
  • Sheltered location.
  • Night-skiing evenings.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Deep valley keeps village in shade for much of the day.
  • Traffic-free means some carrying of baggage at either end of stays.
  • Return runs are quite steep (but less-confident skiers can ride the gondola down instead).

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Ski Red-graded return runs (not much more demanding than the Blues) whose surface holds up well.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

From Grenoble, take Exit 8 off the ring-road to the N51 signed for the ski stations of the Oisans, direction Briançon. At the Rochetaillée crossroads turn left onto the D526 for the valley l'Eau d'Olle, and follow the signs for Oz-en-Oisans ski station.

By air
The nearest airport is Grenoble.

You can transfer into Grenoble bus station or to Rochetaillée where you can pick up a local service up to Oz-en-Oisans. Useful websites include Grenoble Altitude, bensbus.co.uk or transisere.fr
From Lyon-St Exupéry there's connections via altibus.com to Bourg d'Oisans. From Chambery, use transisere.fr to get to Grenoble then change.

By train
TGV Paris (Gare de Lyon) - Grenoble (3 hours) with a regular bus connection Saturday and Sunday. For bus details and bookings see transaltitude.fr Adult return 25.50€ (reductions for under 26's or over 70yrs)

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with OUI.sncf

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Walking Itineraries

On foot or using snow-shoes, there's a number of signed walking routes starting at 2100m and accessible from either gondola lift in the village. Walkers can use 21 ski lifts with a pedestrian pass costing 30€ per day or 72€ per week (with Ski Plus - access to other activties included).


Tried and testedLa Grotte de Glace

Grotte de Glace, Alpe d'Huez

Carved out of the snow, the Ice Grotto is situated at 2700m next to the arrival of the second Tronçon cable car. The grotto is packed with amazing sculptures in snow created with great skill and artistry. There's a different theme every year. Entry charge 4.50€ adult.


Tried and testedPanorama Pic Blanc

Choose a clear day to make the ascent to Pic Blanc at 3330m to see the exceptional panorama. It's said that you can see one fifth of France from here - a useful viewing platform helps you pinpoint some well-known landmarks. Confident skiers can descend from here on the longest piste in the world, La Sarenne is 16km in length.


Where to stay

Tried and testedLes Chalets des Neiges

Oz-en-Oisans

Chalets des Neiges, Oz-en-Oisans

This collection of six typical mountain style chalets housing 68 apartments is situated in a superb position above the pedestrianised village centre and has easy access to the ski lifts and the ESF ski school. There's the possibility to ski to and from the chalets if the snow conditions allow. Ski lockers are on the ground floor of each chalet.
We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment with one double bedroom, one twin and a sofa-bed. The balcony overlooked the slopes but don't expect to do much sun-bathing here, the village is largely in shade during the winter. Inside, it's warm and cosy with a high standard of furnishings and equipment. If you plan on cooking meals, note there's only a hob and a microwave in the kitchen unless you have one of the larger apartments. There's a well-stocked supermarket opposite the residence which sells fresh bread and pastries as well as take-away pizzas.
After a long day on the slopes you can relax in the private indoor heated swimming pool or sauna.
The only drawback of the chalet location is having to carry all your luggage from a drop off point to your apartment and then removing your car to a free open car park or covered car park (payable - 5€ per day or 29€ per week).
Marketed as a family ski station, there are only a handful of bars and restaurants in the village. There is a pool and ice-rink but otherwise après ski is a quiet affair.

For further information and bookings contact:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Chalets Pré Genty

Oz-en-Oisans

Chalets Pré Genty, Oz-en-Oisans

While we were staying in the village we viewed some of the 12 comfortable self-catering chalets owned by the ski station and situated in the quiet upper part of Oz village just metres from the Alpette gondola lift. Sleeping between 6 and 20 people in single beds, all chalets have a private jacuzzi and sauna, a large balcony and en-suite bathrooms in every bedroom.
With a large lounge area and open fire plus a well-equipped kitchen we thought the chalets would make an ideal base for extended families or groups of friends.
The chalets are bookable through the Oz-en-Oisans website (English version available).


Chalet Clementine

Oz-en-Oisans

Chalet Clementine, Oz-en-Oisans

Chalet Clementine is part of an exclusive development of 33 detached chalets tucked away in a quiet corner of the village. It has stunning views of the Belledonne Mountains from it's extended balcony. Sleeping 8 people, the chalet has 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms with separate toilets, and offers a convivial lounge and dining area. Free WiFi. Book direct with the English owner via their website or Owner's Direct.


Where to Eat

La Grange

Alpette
Tel: +33 (0)4 76 11 03 66

Located on-mountain near the Alpette-Rousses cable car La Grange serves pizzas au feu du bois (wood fired oven) and has a great reputation. Sadly we didn't get to eat there on our visit but the restaurant comes highly recommended.


Insight: Oz-Vaujany

Wide view of ski lifts, pistes and mountains at Oz-en-Oisans

Insight: Oz-Vaujany

Until now the only image we have of Oz-en-Oisans is of a gondola lift high above the village, so as we turn off the road up from Bourg d’Oisans and wind our way further up the mountain we’re more than usually curious to see just what actually awaits us in Oz. A few minutes later we have part of our answer as a huddle of large, chalet-style apartment blocks appears in the distance through the chill early-morning mist. As we draw closer there are few further clues until we park the car and start to transfer our bags, at which point we emerge from a large pedestrian lift to see before us an unexpected image.

Some way above the mid-station the climb eventually eases and as things open out there are some fine views across to the surrounding mountain ranges. Already Oz seems a long way away.
Top station of the Oz-en-Oisans gondola to Alpe d'Huez
The Poutran gondola drops skiers at 2100m beside the mid-station of the Grandes Rousses DMC lift from Alpe d'Huez.

Skiing in the heart of Oz-en-Oisans

As in Avoriaz, the streets of Oz are covered with freshly-groomed snow, only here the style is not high-rise but almost chocolate-box – delightful to look at, even if it makes access to our apartment something of a hike. But it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of being in a ski-in/ski-out location, a point which comes home to us when we snap into our bindings and ski down to the front-de-neige, to board the Poutran gondola lift.

In fact, the lift is one of two gondolas sited at opposite ends of the village. The other lift provides direct access to the same Alpette (2050m) area we’ve already explored via the cable-car from Vaujany, so we take Poutrans instead, and relax on a smooth haul up to around the 2100m mark, for a look at the access to terrain above Alpe d’Huez. It’s quite a ride, with a mid-station which opens up the possibility of skiing down to accommodation at the opposite end of the village, or to pick up the other gondola. Some way above the mid-station the climb eventually eases and as things open out there are some fine views across to the surrounding mountain ranges. Already Oz seems a long way away.

Ski options from Oz-en-Oisans

From the top arrival point there are several possibilities, the most popular being to simply ski on gentle, blue- and green-graded runs straight down into Alpe d’Huez. A less tame option is to transfer to the Lièvre Blanc chairlift round to just above the Plat des Marmottes (2300m) and pick up a blue, red or black piste down, again into Alpe d’Huez. Since we’re time-limited by our morning arrival in Oz and consequent late start, we merely take the nearest, most direct blue down for an exploratory look around around the village.

Somehow ‘town’ seems more appropriate, given the scale of things here. Given more time we’d now take the chairlift which heads back up to the Signal (2115m) sector which we effectively bypassed during the gondola ride up from Oz. A worthwhile detour, it’s the arrival point for a high-speed chairlift up from the village of Villard Reculas 1480, and offers a selection of blue, red and black-graded runs all the way back down – the blue option being satisfyingly long.

Freshly-groomed snow keeps the traffic-free heart of Oz-en-Oisans looking welcoming.
Skier descending piste to Oz-en_oisans

Steep and deep

It’ll have to wait for now, though. Instead we board one of the big, 25-person cabins of the muscular-looking Grandes Rousses DMC (Double-Mono-Cable) gondola-lift up to 2700m. For most skiers it’s an essential stage in the climb (completed via a cable-car) to the sensational 3330m Pic Blanc, another pleasure which we’ll have to forgo for now. We leave the lift at its intermediate station, a useful feature which allows tired skiers to transfer to the Poutran gondola for a snug ride back down to Oz, or in our case to ski some of the return runs. The terrain looked surprisingly steep from the gondola, and while a couple of sections of even the blue-graded Boulevard des Lutins certainly are, there’s nothing here which need deter intermediate skiers. Our preferred route down, though, has to be the red-graded (and therefore less-skied) combination of Poutran and l’Olmet, whose snow quality remains excellent for so late in the day. It’s also an eloquent demonstration of the fact that Oz’s steep-and-deep location allows it to retain snow cover even when south-facing areas elsewhere might be starting to struggle.

Skiing the Big One

The following day we ride back up on a mission: to ski Sarenne, the world’s longest black-graded piste, all the way from the Pic Blanc (3330m) down to the valley between l’Alpe d’Huez and Auris-en-Oisans, around 16km later. It’s something we have to do before the present fine weather is replaced by a fast-approaching weather front which is destined to produce truly epic snowfalls and temporarily close the run. We can report that we skied Sarenne as planned, and won’t forget it either, as you’ll read in our Alpe d’Huez Resort Review. We’ve enjoyed our time in Oz-en-Oisans, which offers one of the more sheltered locations from which to access (very rapidly) all that world-class skiing just waiting to be discovered above its world-famous neighbour.MountainPassions heart icon

The Sarenne piste, Alpe d'Huez