Mountain biking in Vaujany
Easily accessible and with more than 250km of trails to suit all levels, Vaujany is one of Europe's ultimate backdoor mountain biking resorts, writes local expert Jamie Purkhardt.
Vaujany is part of the sunniest resort in the French Alps, perched on a beautifully scenic corner of the Alpe d’Huez map. The incredible mountain biking tracks around Vaujany weave their way around an abundance of marked trails that link up with other surrounding villages such as Alpe d'Huez and Le Bourg-d'Osians.
The area is famed for its skiing and winter sports but in summer it uses that superb network of lifts and runs to become perhaps the ultimate backdoor biking resort.
GUIDE TO MOUNTAIN BIKING IN VAUJANY
Vaujany offers mountain bike holidays with easy access (on your doorstep!) to the entire Alpe d’Huez MTB domain with more than 250 kilometres of trails.
There are 35 tracks in total; eight greens, eight blues, 15 reds and four blacks, the highest of which sits at 3,300m and the lowest point 720m. This includes the unbelievable, death-defying 32kms of non-stop downhill tracks on the Megavalanche circuit, the longest in the world!
The Oisans and Vaujany area has something for everyone; from technically demanding and steep downhill sections crossing meadows, glaciers and undergrowth to more gentle trails on the Bourg d’Oisans plain, ideal for family rides. These are perfect trails if you are just starting out, weaving along ravines and through wooded hillsides.
Then there are the faster, steeper, adrenaline-pumping tracks for enthusiasts which wind their way through dense forests and French pastures. You can jump on the big, fast queue-less cable car every morning and in no time find yourself faced with a mind-boggling selection of downhill thrills to choose from.
The highly-rated German mountain bike manufacturer ROSE has selected Vaujany as the ideal base for its Alpine test centre. The local ski shop Ride4Life have joined forces with Rose, renting out these top class pieces of kit, along with all the gear you need to enjoy a day on the hill.
So with a combination of great facilities and gear, a fantastic lift system and superb mountain guides, the vast area of the Oisans has more than enough to satisfy any rider for the week with varied trails for all levels.
Vaujany is an exceptionally pretty area with picnic stops galore and views aplenty - so don't forget your camera!
THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKING EVENTS
Vaujany is also a great base for the world famous Megavalanche Challenge that takes place every July.
The event is the undisputed longest downhill race in the world. During this week Alpe d’Huez and the Grandes Rousses Massif becomes the focus for the entire mountain bike freeride world.
Over 1,400 participants from more than 20 countries come together to take part in, compete and survive a week-long MTB fiesta of practice, races and events before finally taking on the infamous Pic Blanc descent itself. Hurtling down a vertical drop of more than 2,600m in the company of more than a thousand like-minded thrill seekers is a truly unique experience. Just getting to the bottom in one piece and saying: “I did it” lives long in the memory!
French National Championships
The neighbouring village of Oz en Oisans has now become the firm venue for the French Championships including Cross Country, Four Cross, Trial biking and Downhill on the famous Poutran trail, aka the Mondial du VTT.
That's testament to just how good these tracks have become and the three days of death-defying riding make great viewing. And when the champs clear out, why not test yourself on the top tracks in France for mountain biking?
TOP 5 EXPERIENCES
1. The Megavalanche run
The greatest vertical descent IN THE WORLD (3,300m-720m).
2. Timed downhill
Timed MTB downhill runs on the 'Piste des Vaches' which is a blue slope. There are tables, bumps, two gangways and sweet banked corners, providing a fast and fun ride for all.
3. Stunning mountain restaurants
The likes of Chalet du Lac Besson and Plage des Neiges offer brilliant cuisine, incredibly reasonable prices and attentive service.
4. Backdoor access (1,250m to 3,300m)
Due to the lift system and the limited queues, you can enjoy all routes as quick as you want them. There are also some brilliant secret trails on the Col du Sabot.
5. Amazing scenery
The area is one of the most beautiful in the Alps, with lakes everywhere and views spanning into Switzerland and Italy.
WHEN TO VISIT
Best times to go:
The best time to go is in July and August. The whole lift system is open during this time and there are lots of other events going on around Vaujany and the surrounding area, leading to a fun-filled buzzing village. Weather-wise it's also superb, indeed there are more than 300 days of glorious blue skies a year.
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