A village steeped in history
Halfway between Bourg-d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez, between the capital and one of the economic lungs of the Oisans region, you’ll find La Garde reigning over the Vallée de la Romanche.
La Garde-en-Oisans is one of the most vertical villages in France: Eleven stepped hamlets between 720 m and 1,450 m in altitude.
Every year, fans of the ‘Petite Reine’ take on the villages sloping roads. In fact, La Garde-en-Oisans has 10 of the 21 turns that take you up to Alpe d’Huez! After a few kilometres of unparalleled steepness, the slope becomes gentler as soon as you reach the bell tower of Saint-Pierre church.
As for hiking, there is a network of paths starting from the village itself. In winter, the connection to Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski is operated by the Maronne chairlift.
The name ‘La Garde’ means a raised area, with a clear view, in a strategic position for guarding and surveillance. This name fits the areas to a tee! Nowadays, the gardillons and gardillones, residents of La Garde, watch over the heart of the village.
What to see and do in La garde
Route de la Roche
This spectacular hiking itinerary on one of the most breathtaking routes in the Oisans (we promise!), the Route de la Roche, opened in 1902 thanks to true technical prowess. This route, between Armentier-le-Haut (La Garde) and Le Cert (Auris), was the first to link Auris to its hamlets. This feat of progress was remarkable compared to what was there before: the Sentier de la ‘Cheminée’, which was the only access route before 1895 and could only be taken by foot or by mule. After the hamlet of l’Armentier-le-haut, the road opens up onto a breathtaking panoramic view. Please note: the road is narrow and at certain points is tricky to cross.
Maronne chairlift – 1450 m
Due to its location in the foothills of the Alpe d’Huez and Auris-en-Oisans resorts, it was a easy choice for La Garde to link its skiable area, to allow winter holidaymakers to fully enjoy the slopes in Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski. Between 1976 and 2001, a small button lift took skiers to the Col de Maronne where they can then ski on slopes of Auris. A chairlift replaced the button lift in 2001. It’s a wonderful experience for all skiers that love nature!
Saint Peter’s Church and its sundial
The Eglise Saint-Pierre de La Garde-en-Oisans was first mentioned in texts in 1058. However, archaeological excavations uncovered a structure that is older than the present one, with two walls that appeared to be joined. The current tuff bell tower (Romanesque period), which is the oldest part, was built in the 11th century and is very characteristic of the Oisans region. The church’s location is by no means insignificant, as the archives mention a building that was ‘[…] placed so that it could be seen from a good portion of the towns in the canton’. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Eglise Saint-Pierre was the first priory of the Order of St. Augustine, belonging to Oulx, Italy. The prior of La Garde controlled the parishes of Besse, Le Freney, Auris, Clavans, Villard-Reculas, La Garde, Huez and St-Nicolas de Brandes. In 1677, the monks created a sundial, placed on the southern side of the church. Named ‘la montre’ (the watch), it is one of the oldest in the Oisans region and was renovated in 2000 by the local council.