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THE BACK DOOR CREW - Max Cove, Oz-en-Oisans France
Saturday January 6, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

You will no doubt have heard of Alpe d'Huez - it's one of the most famous resorts in the French Alps. But what about Oz-en-Oisans? NEW




Bet you haven't heard of it?

It has the same ski area but is relatively uncrowded, cheaper and an altogether more relaxing affair.

It is one of the satellite resorts and sits on a plateau at 1,350m.

I was staying at the bottom of the main Poutran gondola lift that goes straight to the heart of the main Alpe d'Huez ski area.

Many people have heard of the other satellite village of Vaujany that sits beneath the resort at 1,250m but Oz is perhaps the better place to get in and out of the main ski area.

Oz-en-Oisaans, FranceOz-en-Oisaans, France












And just in case you can't spot it then Oz is above the lake at the bottom of the map to the left  Wink

The ski station is purpose-built and sits above the old village.

It is not the architectural eyesore that could be said of parts of Alpe d'Huez (along with other French ski resorts), rather it's an attractive mix of wood and stone.

It doesn't have the buzz and energy of Alpe d'Huez, but that is also one of its attractions.

Oz-en-Oisans, FranceOz-en-Oisans, France
















Oz-en-Oisans, FranceOz-en-Oisans, France















It has nursery slopes, bars/restaurants, supermarket and a couple of hotels.

Most people, though, stay in apartments and chalets.

It is an altogether more relaxed affair and the slopes above the village are some of the best in the area.

On my visit ahead of Christmas, with a bunch of old school friends, we had superb conditions and near-deserted slopes.

Oz en Oisans, FranceOz en Oisans, France


















Oz en Oisans, FranceOz en Oisans, France
















The Alpe d'Huez ski area is perhaps under-rated by many as, though large, it doesn't match the huge areas of Les3Vallees and Les Portes du Soleil but it is plenty big enough and where it wins out is in the variety of terrain.

Oz itself has 75kms of its own pistes - Alpe d'Huez boasts 250km.

This is not so much a cruisers' paradise as one that offers something for everyone - beginner through to expert.

On our visit we had great skiing at altitude above the clouds.

Oz en Oisans, FranceOz en Oisans, France















And some powder in the trees with sweet sunsets too.

Oz en Oisans, FranceOz en Oisans, France












And more powder elsewhere too:

Oz en Oisans, FranceOz en Oisans, France
















Top of any good skier's check list is the Sarenne run - it's claimed to be the longest black run in the Alps.

There is some debate if it is quite as long as the claimed 16km but it has a vertical descent of 1,800m.

Whether it is a genuine black run (maybe a couple of spots at the top?) is open to interpretation and the long blue path out at the end is virtually flat.

But that is not the point.

It is a fabulous long alpine run that every good skier should tick of their list.

Worth it for the views from the top alone.

Views from the start of the SarenneViews from the start of the Sarenne














On top of the worldOn top of the world















So, what about the season of 2017/18? What's going on?

It has a bunch a special attractions to draw people - to encourage people to try different activities and appeal to those that don't want to pound the pistes all day long.

  • Alternative ways to slide down the mountain - it offers airboards, snowscooters and trikes.
  • Telemark skiing  - special instruction in the old form of skiing
  • Nordic walking - staying with Scandinavian sports there are lessons in this too.
  • Snowshoeing at night - there are special programmes to hike to a mountain restaurant.
  • Evening out with the piste bashers - every Tuesday & Thursday there's the chance to see how the slopes are prepared.
  • Nature trek - adventures with a local mountain guide to study the nature and wildlife in the remote spots.

For details of all these activities then check them out on the resort's web site.

And me?

Well, I was too busy skiing and sampling the apres ski but next time I am back I will.

And I will be back, as staying in a small linked resort to access the wider ski area is a neat idea in my book.

I quite fancy an evening out with the piste bashers.

And the alternative ways to slide down the mountains look fun.

Oz en Oisans, FranceYours truly in Oz-en-Oisans, France












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