Located on the southern slopes of the Rissiou, opposite the Massif des Grandes Rousses and the Cascade de la Fare waterfall, Vaujany is a fine example of a resort-village combining tradition and modernity. Supported by the government “mountain law”, the resort was created within the old village in 1989, avoiding the need for any compromise between tourism and respect for its identity. With its wealth of history, old buildings and environment, the resort has developed around infrastructures perfectly adapted to modern tourism.
- Resort in the heart of the old village
- “Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine” Ski and mountain bike resort
- Sports & Leisure centre open year-round
- “Family Plus” and “Green Resort” labels
- Classified “Tourist Resort”
Vaujany boasts a number of leisure facilities in the village, including an ice rink and indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley, spa facilities (sauna, jacuzzi and hammam), a gym, gymnasium and indoor climbing wall. A full range of mountain activities are available in both summer (such as via ferrata, hiking, mountain biking, tennis and archery) and winter (skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, etc.), with a direct link to the Oz-Vaujany and Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine skiing and mountain biking areas. As regards culture, the village has 3 museums and a free-access library.
History and Heritage
Initially established on the road up to the Col de la Croix de Fer, and therefore the frontier with Savoie (Sabaudia), Vaujany didn’t use to be a village at the end of the valley, even if today, this position enables it to enjoy a certain tranquillity. Originally, a village was rarely established away from a thoroughfare and the village’s Latin name, Via Janus or Val Janus (God of gates and doors), indicates that the village was a gateway to Savoie. This role as a frontier village ended in 1850, when Savoie became part of France, and eventually led to the building of the current road that winds round the Rissiou.
For many years, village life centred on agriculture and the breeding of cows and goats. Although very busy in the summer, when locals took their animals up into the mountains and lived in the pastures, the pace slowed down in the winter, when most people had alternative work.
With the advent of the 20th century and the gradual development of hydroelectricity, the village entered the modern day era. Following on from the small plant in Verney (started in 1918) which brought electric lights to local households, the small mountain village was caught up in a whirlwind of modernity with the construction of the most powerful dam in France, the Grand Maison. Commissioned in 1988, it enabled the unprecedented development of tourism and the creation of a modern resort that remains strongly attached to its roots and identity.
Burning of La Villette by the Germans
On 17 June 1944, the Germans mounted an assault on La Villette – the last hamlet on the road up to the Col du Sabot. Searching for résistants belonging to the Maquis de l’Oisans, they interrogated the inhabitants, suspecting them of hiding members of the resistance and their equipment. With their perfect knowledge of the local area, however, the maquisards were easily able to get away. The resistance regularly came to Oisans since a hospital for the Maquis had been set up in the Massif des Grandes Rousses. For a period, the wounded hid from enemy troops in the Rajon hut on the banks of the Lac de la Fare.
Having spotted the Germans approaching well in advance, the inhabitants of La Villette fled the hamlet to hide in the surrounding mountains. Finding the houses empty, the frustrated Germans set fire to all the buildings. After their departure, the locals were unable to save anything from their houses. Fortunately, their animals were able to escape.
The hamlet was then rebuilt by the Ministry for Reconstruction, respecting the original appearance yet improving the comfort of the houses. Today it is difficult to imagine that this remote part of the mountains was the scene for such a tragic episode of the Second World War.
For more information, contact Office de Tourisme de Vaujany