The beautiful village of Vaujany offers cheap holidays for those on a budget and access to the large Alpe d'Huez ski area...
Vaujany is a small village connected by cable car to the much larger resort of Alpe d'Huez. Next door is the even smaller village of La Villette, where the smell of the middens still catches your nose whenever there's a thaw. Party animals will hate both, but anyone looking for a laidback destination, with good nursery slopes and big network of pistes nearby, will love Vaujany. Over the years, it has developed a loyal following of families and older skiers.
One of the benefits of staying in Vaujany is the surprising variety of accommodation on offer. There are several good chalets, a charming small hotel, and some great apartments, which are much more spacious than the ones you'll find in most French resorts.
Resort height: 1,250m
Alpe d'Huez is the big draw: just shy of 'mega-plex' size, it boasts 252km of pistes, spread out over several flanks of the 3,330m peak of Peak Blanc, and the big, treeless bowl above the main resort. The terrain here suits adventurous intermediates and advanced skiers and boarders best, and includes a couple of famously long (and, in places, steep) runs. One of them, the Sarenne, is thought to be the longest black in the Alps.
This is a resort that's best enjoyed in the middle of winter, rather than the end of the season. Many of the pistes face south, and get a lot of sun: which means slush in the afternoon and ice the following morning when the weather warms up.
Over on the Vaujany side of the mountain, the snow is usually in better condition as the runs face north-east. There are fewer of them, but they include a nice area of nursery slopes near La Villette, with a pleasant mountain restaurant (Les Airelles) on hand, where parents can relax and watch their children making their first turns.
You can drive there, take the train, or fly into Grenoble, which is very close...
Annoyingly, the airport is on the other side of the city, so transfers take 90 minutes.
The wide range of slopes accessible from Vaujany should please skiers and snowboarders of all levels...
Confident intermediates and experts in particular will have a great time exploring the ski area.
If you are after lively après-ski and wild nights out, Vaujany is not for you. It's a lovely place to relax, though...
The bar at the British run Hotel Rissiou is the place to go for a laidback drink in Vaujany after the lifts have shut. You could do a lot worse than sticking around for dinner too (La Remise is another spot for food - hung with Alpine artefacts and specialising in all the staples of French resort dining, including raclette, fondue and tartiflette). Teenagers, twentysomethings and resort workers go to Swallow bar to play pool, catch up on their emails, and complain about the lack of nightlife.
Vaujany is fine if you don't mind sitting on the balcony for a week with a good book, but otherwise this is an isolated outpost with little on offer for adults beyond excellent skiing. Children are rather better catered for, with an excellent indoor pool, indoor games hall and an ice skating rink.
8/10 Cost of living
If you stay in one of the highly-rated apartments and drive yourself to the resort, you can have a cheap holiday in Vaujany. The bars and restaurants are not expensive either.
8/10 Attractiveness of the resort
Gorgeous scenery and a laidback, villagey atmosphere make Vaujany a much-loved destination. Even bored teenagers will have to admit it looks lovely.