Up and away from it all … Vaujany, France

Er, where?

Vaujany’s village, an hour by car from Grenoble, unexpected gold in the 1980s when the government forced to buy a huge land for France’s largest hydropower program. Savvy villagers ‘money was invested in the country’s largest cable car to reach the ski resort on the slopes above Alpe d’ Huez.

Why try it?

The vast size of the ski area, gobsmacking scenery and the family facilities, including a state-of-the-art creche and leisure complex. Vaujany is an unspoilt destination offering great skiing without the big resort hubbub. It won’t suit partygoers and keen shoppers though.

Mountain lowdown

Mountain lowdown
Mountain lowdown

On Montfrais’s own ski area, above Vaujany, is a nursery slope covered by a magic blanket, especially for children. The gentle bowls at Alpe d ‘Huez can be said to be the best beginners in the Alps. The intermediates can be skipped from the village on the fully open slopes. Experts skiers, 16 km Sarenne black run is not to be missed, there are some incredibly serious terrain, all higher than Alpe d ‘Huez Vaujany itself and around. Do not miss the La Canyon du Scotland jump (Wolf Valley), its view of the serious and powerful La Meije Mountains in Los Angeles. The first part is steep and it usually has a good powder. In the natural steel pipe and the undulating terrain you may not see another soul.

Off the hill?

The village has a few small shops, one supermarket, a 1,000-year-old church and lots of ancient barns and farmhouses. The focal point for families is the leisure centre, with swimming pool and ice-skating rink, as well as the creche and a restaurant. There’s also a toboggan run, zorbing and visits to an ice cave.

Après any good?

This is not a party resort: the few bars are all pretty quiet. Neighbouring Alpe d’Huez is the place for après action, but La Folie Douce, at the top of the Marmotte chair lift has live music and entertainment on its terrace.

Where do I eat?

A dish at Chalet Saskia.
A dish at Chalet Saskia.

Some of the best food in the Alps is at Chalet Saskia, where Kiwi chef Marcus Cull has worked for 20 years: expect lots of tiny courses, with a host of creative amuse-bouches. Otherwise there’s La Remise (wood-fired pizzas, old farming implements hanging from the ceiling) in the village. Up on the slopes, there are some excellent lunch places. Try cosy Chalet du Lac Besson on the cross-country track (regional dishes beside a log fire) or L’Altibar, next to the altiport, where you can eat while watching microlights take off. La Combe Haute, near the end of the Sarenne run, is a traditional mountain eatery, with tartiflette, pizzas and salads at good prices. Then there’s the Folie Douce bar/self-service with its adjacent gourmet restaurant La Fruitière.

Where do I stay?

Chalet Saskia.
Chalet Saskia.

Chalet Saskia is the most comfortable place to stay. It’s an attractive chalet that sleeps 10 in each of its two halves, and is convenient for the main cable car and the leisure centre, though the main reason to choose this chalet is for its great food. The smaller chalets also have excellent food. Chalets Rostaing, Lucette, Gentiane and Dibona are all in the hamlet of La Villette, with a week half-board from £485pp. Higher up in the main village is Residence La Perle de l’Oisans , with 11 spacious apartments from €600 a week. Those on tighter budgets could try Résidence Maeva Le Dome des Rousses, with studios for three from €390 a week.

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