Situated above the original village of the same name, the picturesque resort of Oz en Oisans was purpose built in the 1980s as a satellite base of bustling Alpe d’Huez. The buildings are mostly traditional wooden chalets, meaning that as well as benefiting from pedestrianised streets and a compact centre, the resort also offers the charm of an authentic Savoyard village.
At 1350 m, Oz has a good snowfall record and 62 km of pisted runs – over half of which are graded easy, making this a fantastic resort for families, beginners and mixed ability groups. Although all levels of skier and boarder will find something suited to them around the resort, intermediates and experts may want to take the two short cable car rides up to Alpe d’Huez, where they’ll find an incredible 220 km of pistes to explore, with quite a few excellent black runs at Pic Blanc. There’s also an impressive beginners’ area up at Alpe d’Huez, with no less than 20 green slopes just above the village.
Despite its small size, Oz actually has an impressive range of attractions for those looking for activities to get involved in off the slopes. Everything being conveniently nearby also means that no buses or cars are needed to enjoy these attractions, making the experience as hassle-free as possible.
As well as several delightful traditional restaurants, pizzerias and bars dotted around the central street, there’s also a selection of shops, the majority of these being well-stocked ski and sport shops, and a couple selling delicious regional foods and souvenirs.
The swimming pool at the Villages Clubs du Soleil is open to all and has jacuzzi baths, sauna and steam room, as well as aquagym classes.
There’s an ice rink in the centre of the village during winter, and floodlit tobogganing is also possible.
Jump on Poutran I & II gondolas at the eastern end of the village, and you’ll be whisked up into the main Alpe d’Huez area – where mellow blues and motorway-wide run down the sides of a famously sun-kissed bowl to the main village. Alternatively, you can catch the Alpette lift to the peak of the same name, above Vaujany. From here, a large cable car whisks you rapidly up to the Dome des Petites Rousses where there are fewer, more challenging runs, chiefly reds and blacks, and some great off-piste. Or you can carry on further right up to the Pic Blanc at 3,300 m, from where there are some epic descents.
This area is huge, and wildly varied – from tree runs, to high alpine couloirs, from gently winding greens to step, gnarly blacks, so there’s more than enough to keep skiers of all ability levels occupied. As always, when you base yourself in one of the outlying villages in a massive ski area, it’s worth making a note of the times that lifts close, as you don’t want to end up stuck over in Auris, on the far side of the mountain. But Alpe d’Huez’ modern, well-connected lift system, and clear signposting makes this unlikely.
The ski season here runs from December to April and is perfectly maintained, ensuring a fantastic experience for visitors.
The closest airport to Oz-en-Oisans is Chambery, which is around 90 minutes away.