Ski-Areas > Northern Alps > Isère (38) > Oisans > Vaujany


  1. History
  2. Vaujany Off Piste
  3. Travel
  4. Accomodation
  5. Restaurants and Bars
  6. Shopping
  7. Guides and Instructors
  8. Useful Information


The ski resort of Vaujany is situated in the Oisans area of the Isère department in the Northern Alps region. It is part of the Grands Rousses ski domain. The lift served area extends from 1250 metres to 2800 metres. There are 236 km of lift served runs. There are 50 km of cross country trails.

The village slopes from the col de la Gria


The name of Vaujany has its roots in the Latin Via-Janus which signifies an access or crossing point; in this case it is on the way to one of the principal mountain passes linking the Dauphiné with the Savoie. Until relatively recently the village was heavily reliant on agriculture including sheep crofting. Following the Second World War there was some small scale ski development in the villages of the l’Eau d’Olle valley. Drag lifts were built at Oz, Vaujany, the rivier d’Allemont and l’Enversin. The Enversin drag still exists as a children’s learning area apart from the massive l’Alpe d’Huez domain.

As an element of its nuclear power program the state owned electric company (EDF) decided to build a dam and reservoir under the col du Glandon. Giant pumps lift water from a lower reservoir up to the Grand Maison dam overnight when there is less load on the grid. This water is then released during the day during peak demand. The compensation paid by the EDF enabled Oz to construct the Poutron 1 and 2 links in 1987 and Vaujany the Dome des Petites Rousses cable car in 1989.

Vaujany Cable Car Tragedy

The opening of this cable car was marred by tragedy. On the 13th of January 1989, a week before the planned opening, the cable car slid and fell 200 meters from its cable killing eight passengers. The 8 technicians were conducting the final trial before opening the lift, said to be the biggest in Europe at the time, to the public.

The victims worked for ski lift builder Pomagalski and the lift company, SATA (Société d’aménagement touristique de la station de L’Alpe-d’Huez). A report on the accident by an expert witness said that the cable car was built hastily and corners were cut on safety in order to be ready for the winter season. In particular inadequate materials were used in its construction. Another expert witness claimed that the Vaujany cable car was a poor copy of an existing Swiss cable car system which itself had design flaws that rendered its operation dangerous. At the time Pomagalski did not have sufficient expertise in building such lifts. Pomagalski had agreed to build the lift in 10 months whereas the main competitors had suggested two years as more realistic timetable for a project of this scale. The inspectors from the Transport Ministry had also been dilatory in their controls. Denis Creissels, the consulting engineer said that there was a lack of proper communication between the various parties.

vaujany cable car
Vaujany cable car today

The project was supported by disgraced mayor of Grenoble, Alain Carignon. It enabled the small village of Vaujany to link into the large Grandes Rousses ski domain with huge economic benefits. A trial in Grenoble court seven years after the accident found three directors of Pomagalski, Jean-Pierre Cathiard, Serge Tarassoff and Michel Reylans guilty of corporate manslaughter. Denis Creissels was found not-guilty. The court decided that there were professional rivalries between Pomagalski and Creissels and he had not been sufficiently consulted during the project.

They were fined and given what was considered the lenient punishment of an 18 months suspended prison sentence. Families of the victims were scandalized when Vaujany began discussions as to how to restart the project just a few months after the tragedy.


Nearest Airports: Grenoble St Geoirs 100km (1h25), Lyon Saint-Exupery 145km (1h50), 120km (1h45) Chambéry

Road: Grenoble -> Vizille N91 -> Allemond -> D526 -> Vaujany

Rail: TGV Grenoble



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Stefan Garczynski, Guide de Haute Montagne lives and works locally: Alpe d'Huez, la Grave, les Deux Alpes tel: (33) 04 76 80 09 25 or mobile (33) 06 80 89 84 25

Useful Information


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