From the piste map, the Vaujany (Mont Frais) area does not appear to be very large and comparing it with the Alpe d'Huez area, this is correct. However, it does have a number of hidden surprises up its sleeve.
Vaujany is accessed via the Alpette chair from Oz (see the piste maps). Directions are simple - avoid the tendency to return to Oz and take the only other downhill path available and you will find yourself skiing down the Rousses/Chalets blue run, a wide saucer-shaped piste that becomes Les Travers and continues on for about 3kms to the Mont Frais sector.
From here, the Vallonnet 4-man chair takes you to about as far from Alpe d'Huez as it is possible to get. The run down (Edelweiss) is very much of a blue affair and returns to the base of the 4-man without deviation. Part way down, however, is a black off-piste run called Roche Melon (only open when conditions are good) that is never prepared (groomed) and descends through the trees to eventually join a blue run called the Vaujaniate. Slightly out of sight, you can also pick up the Vaujaniate piste from Mont Frais by taking the only downhill depart from the area. This is one of the best blue runs you are likely to ski - wide and magnificent this run descends alongside icicle clad walls through the trees until finally following the valley floor to a point where one can easily re-access the Vaujany bowl by the Villette-Montfrais Télécabine (or if you have skied your self to a standstill return direct to Vaujany on the Vaujany-Villette cabin).
Returning to the base of the Vaujany bowl at Mont Frais, you will find the second chairlift - Montfrais whisks you up to a surprising variety of runs that descend back to the base of the bowl. The Montfrais chairlift also serves as the access to retrace ones' steps back towards Alpe d'Huez. Turning right at the top and following the ridge will take you down the blue Cascade piste to the Clos Giraud chair, signposted Oz / Alpe d'Huez. It is quite important that revellers returning to Alpe d'Huez by this chair are aware of the closing time as missing it will result in a pricey taxi ride home from Vaujany. At the top of Clos Giraud, the skier can once again take the Alpette run to Oz to return to Alpe d'Huez.
An alternative is to take the Alpette-Rousses cable car up to the Dome. From here there are two ways back; the most direct route would appear to be the most fun as the ground steepens quickly to a short red – Le Dome. However, the boring part is the flat path at the end which has nothing to recommend it. The alternative appears to have a long boring flat start (it is!) but you will be well rewarded with a superb red called Belvedere that takes you past Lac Blanc and the base of the Pic Blanc cable car, from where you can access the higher runs of Alpe d'Huez or descend back to the resort itself.
More Alpe d'Huez Insights...
- Safety measures in Alpe d'Huez winter 2020/21
- Travellers welcome to Alpe d'Huez from June 15th 2020
- Flights to Geneva restart in June 2020
- Safety measures in Alpe d'Huez for summer 2020
- A farewell to the 2019/20 ski season in Alpe d'Huez
- French ski areas close on 15th March 2020