When the French government built Grand’Maison hydroelectric dam in the 1980s the small town of Vaujany (permanent population 350) suddenly found itself 3 million euros wealthier each year thanks to the rent it received. This income has allowed Vaujany to invest heavily in its infrastructure and offer world class facilities in a charming and quintessentially French small mountain town.
Vaujany (1300m-3300m) invested in a cable car and gondola lift to connect with the famous Alpe d’Huez ski resort. This allows for both winter sport and summer mountain tourism. The town has a particularly scenic location and receives more than 300 days of blue skies each year.
The town also has a very impressive leisure centre (complete with a full size ice skating rink, bowling alley, basketball court and more) as well as a series of pedestrian escalators throughout the resort. All of this has been completed in a style that is in keeping with the best of French mountain style architecture and design.
Vaujany has the charm of a small village with the resources of a large town. There are several restaurants, bars and shops and all of them are high quality.
As Vaujany now has extensive infrastructure in place to support world class skiing, it is offering a wider range of activities beyond skiing for those who want a day off the slopes or aren’t keen for whatever reason to ski but still want to experience the magic of the French Alps.
Here is my guide to the best things to do in Vaujany beyond skiing.
12 Great Things to do in Vaujany France
Table of Contents
- 12 Great Things to do in Vaujany France
- 1. Snowga
- 2. Snow Shoeing
- 3. La Grotte de Glace
- 4. Vaujany Museum
- 5. Vaujany Weekly Market
- 6. Nordic Walking
- 7. Have a Spa Treatment at V Spa
- 8. Fine Dining at IDA restaurant
- 9. Have a drink with the locals
- 10. Eat Pizza mountain style
- 11. Enjoy a High Altitude Lunch
- 12. Shop Local
- How to get to Vaujany
- Where to stay in Vaujany
Snowga is, of course, yoga in the snow. I have been doing yoga for a long time and have executed dog poses in many varied locations including the highest yoga in Europe in Verbier, Switzerland. However, this was definitely the coldest place I have ever done yoga as well as the most clothes I have ever worn before for yoga – no bare feet here!
Our wonderful instructor guided us to a flat patch of snow and set us up with mats/blankets. The moves were of course altered to fit the weather and the clothing – yes to dog poses but no shoulder stands. And the flow was adjusted to allow for a true appreciation of the unique environment and to really experience yoga in the open air.
I would highly recommend giving snowga a try. I felt the usual benefits of a yoga session but it absolutely felt much closer to nature.
2. Snow Shoeing
Snow Shoeing is essentially hiking in the snow. The snow shoes are added to your normal shoes and give you a much better grip on the surface of the snow – no ski boots required. The large size of the snowshoe spreads out the user’s weight and allows them to travel on top of the snow rather than into it making walking much easier.
Having said all of that, snow shoeing is a good work out! And it is a fantastic way to experience the mountains if you’re not in the mood to ski (and to make sure you burn enough calories for your mountain style lunch!).
The French ESF Ski School at Vaujany offers 1/2 or full day snowshoeing excursions or even excursions at sunset if the weather permits. There are a wide variety of itineraries that can be adjusted to suit all weather conditions and fitness levels.
3. La Grotte de Glace
La Grotte de Glace is an ice cave with sculptures that is entirely underground in the Oisans mountains. The creation of these ice cave galleries began in the area in the 1990s and each year features a new theme.
When I visited, the theme at La Grotte de Glace was the United States. Mount Rushmore appeared carved out of ice and snow as did the Las Vegas welcome sign, the Statue of Liberty and much more.
4. Vaujany Museum
When Vaujany Museum opened in 2020 it combined two pre-existing museums and turned them into a modern, interactive experience. The museum has a digital cinema space, an interactive scale model of the village, multi-sensory exhibits covering nature and animals, a multi-media immersion stroll through the forest, interactive wall displays, and even a professional flight simulator!
5. Vaujany Weekly Market
Markets run in different towns of the Oisans region six days a week. Friday is Vaujany’s day in summer and winter on Place du Téléphérique.
6. Nordic Walking
Next up on my desire to experience the mountains and burn enough calories to justify the consumption of a large amount of warm cheese was nordic walking. There are quite a few differences between snow shoeing and nordic walking but one of the main ones is that nordic walking means mostly walking on a footpath of sorts through the snow as nothing is attached to your shoes for this activity.
The walking poles are particularly helpful in the snow and in keeping up the pace!
7. Have a Spa Treatment at V Spa
Hotel V by Vaujany was the first 4 star hotel to open in town. I was lucky enough to stay there so there will be more to read about the hotel but first they have a fantastic spa with steam and sauna rooms and a lovely indoor pool.
The V Spa also offers a range of treatments using Pure Altitude products which are made from mountain plants. I had an amazing massage that was the perfect way to end a day out in the mountains.
The spa itself has a lovely environment and if you book a treatment make sure you take the time to use the steam and sauna rooms as well as the lovely pool and its comfortable loungers.
8. Fine Dining at IDA restaurant
After your massage why not head downstairs for some fine dining at IDA restaurant? This beautiful room is high end but cosy with a glassed in fire and lots of wood and scandi style. The menu is modern European and chef Arnault Baldereschi uses local ingredients wherever possible.
9. Have a drink with the locals
Vaujany isn’t known for its major apres ski scene but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fun places to grab a drink at the end of a day out in the mountains. If you feel like a fun drink with the locals head to Le QG. This comfortable pub has a wide selection of beers and serves local cold cuts plus a large screen tv if there are major sporting events on.
10. Eat Pizza mountain style
La Remise sits in the main square at the top of the village and is a bit of a Vaujany institution. It has a great reputation and is known for doing fantastic mountain dishes. The restaurant is also known for having outstanding pizzas (it has its own wood fired pizza oven) so I decided to combine the two with a tartiflette pizza and it was fantastic!
The atmosphere is super cosy with wooden walls and old farming implements hanging from the ceiling. La Remise is a must visit in Vaujany.
11. Enjoy a High Altitude Lunch
The highlight of many mountain holidays is the high altitude lunch complete with large outdoor terraces bathed in sunlight. Vaujany has two fantastic options. Airelles is was a shepherd’s alpine chalet and serves traditional dishes with local ingredients – and it has two large sunny terraces.
Le Vaujaniat does outstanding burgers as well as great local dishes with large spaces both inside and on the terrace.
12. Shop Local
Whether you are staying in a chalet and looking to fill the fridge or seeking some tasty local products to take home as souvenirs, Vaujany has you covered.
Affaire de Gouts, which translates as a matter of taste, is full of delicious looking sausages and cheeses. Raclette or fondue kits can be reserved to take away the day before and there is a wide range of local jams and honey.
If you’re after something sweet head to the charming little L’Eterlou near the QC pub.
Or Le Cairn has a great range of local cheese, digestifs, sausages and more near the cable car station.
How to get to Vaujany
The closest airport to Vaujany is Chambery. This small international airport has decent connections with the UK from December to April. Geneva and Lyon airports are a similar distance from Vaujany, about a good 3 hours.
Trains between Chambery and Paris take about 3 hours and run every couple of hours.
Many travelers use the lovely city of Grenoble as a stopping point on their way in or out of the Alpes – although it deserves much more time. There are regular shuttle buses between the Vaujany and Grenoble and it generally takes about one hour to drive the 33 miles (NB this can be much longer in peak season on changeover days).
Where to stay in Vaujany
I absolutely loved my stay at Hotel Le V de Vaujany. This charming and chic hotel is exactly what you want from your boutique hotel in the mountains. There are 21 stylish rooms and 4 suites. The standard rooms are a great size at 25 to 40 sqm.
Most of the rooms at Hotel Le V de Vaujany have south facing balconies with views over the village. My room had a small entry area with the right space to get my suitcase out of the way whilst making it easily accessible. In addition to the large very comfortable bed there was a small desk and the essential coffee machine.
Interiors wise it is scandinavian simplicity with lots of wood and some autumnal colour pops. I loved the bathroom in particular with its mix of textures and shades of grey and brown – plus a wonderful large walk in shower.
Head up to the roof top to experience the wooden Nordic bath. It faces the mountains and La Fare waterfall and is warm as toast!
It was quite difficult to leave Hotel Le V de Vaujany at any point in my stay. I felt so comfortable there and everything was so wonderfully done. The bar area on the ground floor is drenched in natural light during the day and the perfect place for coffee – as is the outdoor terrace weather dependent. And everywhere you turn there is a soft furry stylish blanket just waiting to cover you in stylish warmth.
Unsurprisingly, the hotel also does a great breakfast in the main restaurant each morning. It is a big spread of all things continental and local where possible plus of course meats, smoked salmon and always pastries. Make sure you order the scrambled eggs at least one morning – they are known for them for good reason.
And if unlike me you are skiing, Hotel Le V de Vaujany has the best located ski room in town just near the cable car to store all your equipment.
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The Isere Regional Tourist Board covered all of the costs associated with writing this article – thanks guys. However, as always my opinions are my own. Also, this Vaujany post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.