Admire nature’s blazing autumn colours in oisans
Autumn is the time to embrace the last bursts of nature before it goes into hibernation for the winter. The mountainsides of Oisans are covered in blazing colours before the first snowflakes start to fall, and the peaks are already sporting a dazzling white layer of snow.
Come to Oisans in autumn, to experience the mountains at the calmest possible time. Just like the locals here, simply follow nature’s gentle, easy-going pace, enjoy the colours all around you, the sweet scents in the air and the changing light.
So what is there to do in Oisans in autumn? We’re here to give you a few ideas…
What is there to do in the alps in autumn?
Visit the traditional mountain villages
Come and explore the traditional villages of Oisans, take in the atmosphere and see how the locals live in our little mountain environment. After the hectic summer season, a sense of calm now reigns throughout the streets. You might run into some of the locals who have time to stop for a quick chat, before you then carry on exploring the area, from village to village.
You could also pay a visit to the members of the Savoir-Faire Route, for a chance to meet some of the local craftspeople, artists and producers! You’ll find them in almost all the villages and they’ll be delighted to welcome you, present their expertise, and share their passion. Make sure you contact them first to check their availability.
Villages worth exploring
Of the twenty-odd villages dotted around the local area, and featured in the ‘resorts & villages’ section, you’ll find:
- Besse-en-Oisans, a classified village: one of the most beautiful examples of a mountain village and an atypical village in Oisans. With its stone houses, Besse seems to be frozen in time…
- Venosc, an arts & crafts village: a small but extremely charming village with cobbled streets and plenty of arts & crafts shops.
- Villard-Reculas, a beautifully preserved village: this village is characteristic of the Alps and can be found nestled in amongst the peaks.
- Villard-Notre-Dame and Villard-Reymond, these 2 villages are linked: explore one of them and then get to the other via the Croix du Carrelet or a trail through the forest.
- La Grave and its hamlets have been added to the list of Most Beautiful Villages in France thanks to the high-mountain atmosphere, surprising Romanesque-style church and breathtaking panoramic view of La Meije! Make sure you take the time to visit the hamlets of the village, just a few minutes’ drive away.
go for a walk through the forest
An unmissable activity in autumn! Under the bare branches of the towering trees, you’ll feel at peace walking through the forest in autumn thanks to the carpet of leaves underfoot, the scents of humus, the chestnuts and the rustling leaves…
Come and explore the forests of Oisans. Depending on the altitude and which side of the mountain you are on, the atmosphere can vary quite significantly.
In the foothills of the Belledonne mountains, set off from Rivier d’Allemond and head towards York Mallory. In Oz-en-Oisans, on the west side of the Grandes Rousses, explore the surrounding area of the resort along the Bessey par le Plan du Cerf trail, which leads through a small hamlet and past a waterfall. On the east side of the Grandes Rousses, you can explore the highest spruce forest in Europe by either heading towards the hamlets of Auris or by following the Le Plancet trail.
Another forest that is well worth a visit is in Ornon with one of the biggest alder groves in Europe and a remarkable fir tree that is 42 m tall, with a circumference of 4 m. Set off along the Ornon loop trail! Our last recommendation for a walk through the forest is in La Garde-en-Oisans, along a balcony trail up over Le Bourg-d’Oisans and Romanche plain, from La Ville to L’Armentier.
Dare to climb the via ferrata trails
The via ferrata trails of Oisans are open right up until the first snowfall, or the first big drop in temperature. You’ll enjoy this experience, alone in the great outdoors, firmly attached to your harness on the side of a cliff, climbing up towards some magical viewpoints!
There are 7 via ferrata trails in Oisans, choose which one you’d like to follow before hiring your equipment from the local shops (make sure you check opening times before setting off). Depending on the year, these trails can be used until the end of October or November, so check beforehand with the local tourist office.
Hop on your electric bike!
Autumn is definitely the best time to set off along the wild itineraries of Oisans, either on the tracks or the road. The heatwaves and summer traffic are now long gone, and the snow hasn’t yet covered the trails so they can still be accessed. Mother Nature also has some colourful surprises up her sleeve for you!
Your experience can be very different, depending on the altitude…
- A little ride around the valley, along the Plaine du Bourg loop trail or the Route de La Bérarde.
- A climb up along the secret mountain passes such as the Col du Sabot or the Col de Sarenne.
- A ride up to the hilltop villages along the Villard loop trail, a ride around the Signal de l’Homme or the hamlets of Villar-d’Arène.
Go skiing during the autumn school holidays at Les 2 Alpes
As soon as the first snowflakes start to fall on the peaks, skiing enthusiasts begin to feel the urge to get on the slopes! Luckily the Les 2 Alpes ski resort is open for the autumn school holidays thanks to the glacier at an altitude of 3,600 m. Get a sneak preview of the winter holidays, at a lively resort with a wide range of après-ski activities!
but that is not all…
Here is a list of other ways to occupy your time in Oisans in the autumn, that’s when you’re not reading a good book or enjoying an afternoon nap:
- Climbing, paragliding… Contact the guides and professionals in Oisans to find out when they’re available.
- The orienteering courses in Vaujany, from the Col d’Ornon (adult or child), or from Auris-en-Oisans, courses for adults or children, and the heritage trails in the hamlets ‘Les Certs – La Balme‘ or ‘Les Cours – Les Châtains‘.
- The themed trails all over Oisans
- ‘Natural heritage’ sightseeing trail in Venosc.
- ‘Medicinal plants’ ethnobotany trail in La Grave.
- ‘The lumberjack’s ethnobotany trail’ in Auris.
- ‘Oratories route’ in Besse-en-Oisans.
- ‘Edible plants’ ethnobotany trail in Villar d’Arène.
- ‘Built heritage’ sightseeing trail in Venosc.
- Remember that there are a dozen museums dotted all over the area, showcasing the many different sides of Oisans: from geological history to recent history, fauna, flora, industry, daily life, etc.
Fancy A 5-day autumn break in oisans?
Get to know the area by going on a short hike over Emparis plateau. Park in the village of Besse-en-Oisans or up at the plateau, then explore this ocean of nature to your heart’s content, all the way to Lérié lake.
This morning you’ll be heading to Venosc to explore the peaceful little streets, then tackle the Via Ferrata in St-Christophe-en-Oisans that will lead you up over the raging Vénéon. Once you arrive at the top, we recommend exploring the village and why not stop by the ‘Mémoires d’Alpinisme’ (mountaineering museum).
A day out on an electric bike either along the Villard loop trail if you’re looking for something sporty, or the Plaine du Bourg loop trail for a much less strenuous ride. If you opt for the first option, you’ll be exploring 2 of Oisans’ little treasures, charming little hilltop villages. The other option will lead you from Allemond to Venosc, across the Romanche plain.
Another option: pick up the ‘MTB in Oisans‘ guide or browse the website Bike-Oisans, and choose a route through the colourful forests.
Today, it’s time to slow down the pace, with a drive along the picturesque roads of Oisans. From Le Bourg-d’Oisans, head towards Allemond and then up to Villard-Reculas. From there, follow the signs to Huez along the Route de la Confession, that runs right along the cliff edge. Then climb up to the resort of Alpe d’Huez until you reach the Col de Sarenne and go back down along a pretty road that crosses through Le Ferrand valley. When you reach Chambon dam, go down to Freney-d’Oisans and then follow signs to Auris-en-Oisans. Halfway there, take a detour along Roche scenic route until you reach La Garde-en-Oisans. Then go around a few bends on the Alpe d’Huez road and head back to Le Bourg-d’Oisans. What an adventure!
End on a high note with a walk in the forest! There are so many beautiful forests in Oisans with a wide variety of trees, it’ll be difficult to choose just one. You can expect to see spruce, alder and birch trees, among others, and the range of colours is spectacular! Ask the locals about their favourite places to go, depending on when in autumn you decide to come here…
You’re guaranteed to enjoy spending time in Oisans in autumn. Now you’ve chosen your destination, it’s time to choose your accommodation, before you come and embrace the energy of the mountains.
11 tourist offices in Oisans
Stop by our tourist offices if you’d like even more ideas, the experts of the ‘Oisans’ destination will be delighted to assist you: