The name « La Garde » refers to a a high place, enjoying an uninterrupted view and a strategic position, where a “guard” post was located. Here, the place is perfectly matches the definition. On the road up to Alpe d’Huez , this village.
- Village linked to the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski
- The panoramic Route des Roches
Thanks to its incline and surroundings, La Garde en Oisans is an outstanding location for cycling enthusiasts. Indeed, the commune includes 10 of the 21 switchbacks leading up to Alpe d’Huez. After a few kilometres of unequalled gradient, the incline becomes less severe at the steeple of the Eglise Saint-Pierre. For hiking enthusiasts, a network of paths starts from the village itself. In winter, the village is directly linked to Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski via the chairlift situated in the hamlet of Maronne.
History and Heritage
La Garde en Oisans is a historic village, first mentioned in the early Middle Ages. Its church, Saint-Pierre de La Garde en Oisans, was a former priory of the Massif des Grandes Rousses.
La Garde lost its vines and priory with the French Revolution, but agriculture developed, leading to an increase in population. However, as the incline of the land rendered any agricultural mechanisation impossible, a rural exodus began in the 20th century, resulting in the slow, yet inexorable abandon of farms and crops. But La Garde and its surrounding hamlets adapted to new economic opportunities, whilst preserving their traditional character and soul. The village then built a chairlift at Maronne, replacing the worn out ski lift, to link up with Alpe d’Huez. Tourism, both in summer and winter, is now the village’s economic driving force.
The church of Saint-Pierre de La Garde en Oisans was first mentioned in texts dating back to 1058, although archaeological digs have unearthed a building that preceded the current church and appears to have shared two of its walls.
The steeple is made of tufa stone and dates back to the 11th century (Romanesque period). It is the oldest part of the church and typical of Oisans architecture.
The position of the Church is significant, with the archives specifying a building “positioned so that it can be seen by a high proportion of communes in the canton”. Many churches in Oisans are similarly located, to be seen and heard.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the church of Saint-Pierre was the most important priory of the order of Saint-Augustine, governed from Oulx, near Turin. The prior of La Garde reigned over the parishes of Besse, Le Freney, Auris, Clavans,Villard-Reculas, La Garde, Huez and St-Nicolas de Brandes.
In 1677, the monks in charge of the Augustine Priory made a sundial for the southern facade of the Church. Known as “the watch”, this is one of the oldest sundials in Oisans and was renovated by the village in 2000.
For more information, contact Office de Tourisme de Bourg-d’Oisans
Oppening periodsFrom 01/01 to 31/12/2017.
Closed exceptionally on January 1st, May 1st, May 8th, November 1st, November 11th and December 25th.
September to June
Monday to Saturday : 9am - 12am and 2pm - 6pm
July and August
Everyday : 9am to 6pm.