Mention Bourg d’Oisans and most travellers will think of Alpe d’Huez, the world-famous ski resort that sits 21 hairpins above the bustling town. Advanced cyclists are likely to froth with excitement; they view these mountain bends the same way that Catholics view Lourdes, harbouring lifelong desires to visit. It’s not for the actively-challenged, however: the climb is steep and it can take three hours to pedal to the top (under an hour for the pros), but once there you can buy a certificate testifying that you’ve conquered what was the first Alpine climb introduced to the Tour de France, in 1911.
Alpe d’Huez may also boast the longest black ski run in the world, the 16km ‘La Sarenne’, but as thrilling as the snow-covered mountain range is, summers here are truly special. Regardless of whether cycling is your bag or not, time spent sprawled on the lawns of Bourg d’Oisans’ outdoor swimming pool will do wonders for your limbs. It will bronze them at the very least; and after a tartiflette lunch in town, you can march off the frighteningly calorific local dishes on the 680km of walking trails at Ecrins National Park. It’s the largest of France’s six national parks, with a landscape that’s a helter-skelter of peaks and valleys, visible in all their glory from the Ferme Noemie campsite at Les Sables, just up the road from Le Bourg d’Oisans.
Ferme Noemie has 20 numbered pitches, in homage to the Alpe d’Huez hairpins. The owners Melanie and Jeremy are great skiers. They met working for a UK ski-holiday company in the late 1980s and basically never returned home. He’s good with his hands; the chalet shower block and loft apartments are all his own work. And Melanie is a consummate hostess. Should the nights turn chilly at this high altitude, warm blankets are handed out. An office reception is crammed with information leaflets, a coffee-making machine, microwave and fridge. If you’ve run out of beer, the couple will lend you theirs; they won’t want anyone to go dry. In fact, they give away the cider made from their own apples for free.
The adjoining cliff-face is striking and majestic. Caravans have to park on the right of the driveway so that they don’t spoil the alpine serenity. ‘Camping for softies’ is the couple’s latest project: bell tents with beds, duvets, wine glasses and a sheltered cooking stove. So successful are these tents that there are now four on site, cosy and contemporary in green and cream.
The nearest places of interest are all pretty niche – various museums celebrating minerals, hydro-electricity and crystals. But you could spend a day perusing the Domaine de Vizille’s exhibitions on the French Revolution, set in a stunning deer park. Then, perhaps, you could try a spot rock-climbing, rafting, horseriding or, er, ‘parapenting’,’ which involves running off the side of one of the mountains with a large gliding canopy attached. This certainly isn’t a campsite to be idle – you’ll be fighting fit and ready to tackle those hairpins yourself by the end of your stay!
Twenty pitches and 4 part-furnished bell tents (sleeping 4 each). 1 chalet-style wash block, gorgeous inside and out, with showers and disabled facilities. In reception there’s a coffee machine, fridge, freezer and microwave. Bread and croissants can be delivered to your pitch in high season. Washing machine and drier €4. Badminton net. Free Wi-Fi. Communal BBQ, no campfires.
Suitable ForTents, campervans, caravans, dogs, large groups, young groups – yes.
Cycle the Alpe d’Huez, a 13km climb from Bourg d’Oisans to Alpe d’Huez, renting a bike from town – road bikes, mountain bikes and electric bikes all available (reserve online or at the campsite). There are also 2 riding centres nearby, if you fancy exploring on horseback. For info on the Domaine de Vizille 18km drive call 00 33 4 76 68 07 35 or visit www.domaine-vizille.fr.
Food & Drink
La Muzelle (0033 4 76 79 58 02) in Bourg d’Oisans is highly recommended and there’s a pizzeria just at the end of the campsite road. For something different, make a detour to the right to stop off at the kind of bonkers art-deco restaurant that you’d expect to see on a film set. Hôtel de La Poste in Corps-la-Salette (00 33 4 76 30 00 03) serves a 5-course set lunch that you’ll not forget in a hurry. Chintzy decorations fill every inch of space inside and huge serving plates of oysters, pastry canapés, sweet roulades, and shell fish are served on the balcony terrace or indoors.
The Owner Says
A big Cool Camping thanks to all who stayed with us over the summer of 2013. The Tour de France was totally bonkers, the village was packed, the weather was kind to us, so all in all a success all round. The Dutch Cancer charity event Alpe d'HuZes was amazing with many people riding the Alpe d'Huez hill up to six times in one day. The pain of riding the hill is nothing compared to the pain of the people suffering with the illness or the pain of having lost someone dear to you. The atmosphere of this special event is second to none and was the most touching event of the year.
For early bird 2014 campers we are offering the possibility of an emplacement in May a 10.50 euros per night. This price also applies if you wish to stay in October. Prices for June are 15.50 euros per night, and 25.00 euros for July and August.
This summer (2013) we discovered the most wonderful place for a lazy, uncomplicated late lunch /early supper at the Moliere near Les Deux Alpes. Very informal, beautiful views and really good home cooked food. A real MUST during your stay in 2014.
For a really reasonable winter ski offer, please get in touch. Apartments for four people from 350.00 euros per week (not during school holidays.) Please contact Mel for details.
Thanks again to all who visited us, and a big thanks to all at Cool Camping for their wonderful book.
Ferme Noemie, Les Sables, 38520 Bourg d’Oisans, Isère, France
Plane or TGV train to Grenoble. The ‘Romans’ route is very easy, most of it is a long, straight, fast road that leads you on to the Grenoble bypass, the Rocade Sud, and up to the Oisans Valley. Follow A48, A41, or A51 into the region and you will finally find the town lying on D91/D1091. More windy, but with spectacular scenery, is the route de Napoléon that runs via Corps-la-Salette.
From Grenoble and Lyon buses run to Bourg d’Oisans (€15). Then take a taxi the 21⁄2 miles (4 km) to Les Sables.
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