Stage town for the 23rd time
Capital of a canton in Isère (38)
Population: 3,300 (Bourcats), 10,700 (Uissans) in the Oisans Community of Communes (20 communes)
Personalities: Isabelle Blanc (Olympic medallist in parallel giant at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics), Sylvain Miallet (bronze medallist in Ski Cross at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics), Jennifer Piot (in the French team, 20th in the super-G at Pyeongchang 2018 for her first Olympics), Florian Jouanny (para-cycling, triple medallist at the Tokyo Olympics), Pierre Puybaret (chainsaw world record-holder), Jean-Marc Rochette (painter and sculptor).
Specialities: Farcis de l'Oisans (cabbage + pork), gratin dauphinois, crozets (potato gnocchi), génépi, goat cheese. Goodwin brewery. Crafts: about fifty crystal makers extract minerals from the mountain walls and put them on display. There is a partnership with the Chamonix Crystal Museum.
Sport: about fifty associations (1,200 members). Events: Triathlon du Vénéon (mountain bike-canoe-walking race, May), "Alpe d'HuZes" (Dutch charity operation, 5,000 cyclists, June), Raid Chauds Patates (multi-sport raid, June), Défi des 3 Villards en Oisans (mountain race, June), Look Marmotte Granfondo Alpes (cyclosportive, July), Trail de l'étendard (July), Women’s MX French championship final (motocross, July), Alpe d'Huez 21 (running, July) Cycling club: Union Cycliste Oisans (cycling club).
Economy: tourism, outdoor activities, crafts (circuit of the "Route des savoir-faire")
Culture: French Chainsaw Sculptors' Championship (May), Mountain Image Meetings with the Ecrins Park (June). "Vogue de la Saint-Laurent" (funfair, August), Grande Foire de Bourg d'Oisans (fairs, market, September)
Signature: A plain in the heart of the mountains
Labels: Cycling town of the Tour de France (3) / Listed tourist resort / Green resort / Snow village.
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LE BOURG D'OISANS TODAY
The municipal territory, with a surface area of 5,600 hectares, stretches over 22 km and presents two very different aspects:
- An inhabited and developed plain to the north. A bucolic area bordered by rugged cliffs and steep wooded slopes, the Romanche river takes a short respite before resuming its tumultuous course in a deep valley.
- A high wild valley to the south. A renowned natural area, it encloses Lake Lauvitel, the jewel of the Ecrins National Park.
The environmental quality of the commune is rare: almost the entire commune is classified as a ZNIEFF, 34 pc as a Natura 2000 zone, about 40 hectares as a Sensitive Natural Area, and 700 hectares (at Lauvitel) as an "integral reserve", a unique area in France dedicated to the study of natural ecosystems. With a third of its territory located in the "heart zone" of the Ecrins National Park.
The Bourg d'Oisans plain, once the granary of the Oisans region, is now trying to preserve its bocage landscape by maintaining agricultural activity.
A base camp for ski enthusiasts in winter, Le Bourg d'Oisans becomes the most important green tourism resort in Isère during the summer months: cyclists from all over the world enjoy the proximity of the mythical passes of the Tour de France, and lovers of outdoor activities come to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horse riding, fishing, etc.
LE BOURG D'OISANS AND CYCLING
The peloton usually passes through Bourg d'Oisans before tackling the climb to Alpe d'Huez. The commune of Isère has also given many historic mountain stage starts, such as the first one in 1952 with a demonstration by Fausto Coppi in the direction of Sestrières. The Tour left Bourg d'Oisans to head west on five occasions, most often with Saint-Étienne as its destination. Marcus Burghardt was the last winner on this model in 2008.
Because of its position, Bourg d'Oisans is also the starting point for many Grand Fondos, some of which are among the most popular in the world. In the summer, tens of thousands of amateur cycling flock in the Oisans valley to climb the mythical passes of the Tour. It is this vocation that led to the creation in 2017 of Cycling-Lab-Oisans, a laboratory for cycling professionals with the aim of making Bourg d'Oisans and the valley a testing ground for the cycling sector as a whole. At the last start in town, in 2018, Peter Sagan won the stage finishing in Valence, clinching the eleventh of his twelve stage victories in the Tour.
Museum of minerals and wildlife in the Alps
Located in the attic of the Saint Laurent Church, the museum of minerals and wildlife in the Alps occupies a privileged and original space. The richness of its mineralogical collection and the dynamism of its wildlife display make it a great place to discover the natural and cultural heritage of the Oisans. The museum is a reception centre for the Ecrins National Park and transports the visitor to the heart of the Park through video projections.
Rochetaillée Roman road
The road cut into the cliff of Rochetaillée with the corbelled path that overhangs the hamlet, is there to show us that the name (which means carved rock) is not accidental. The origin of this road cut into the rock is lost in the folds of local history. Whether it was a Roman road or a road cut into the rock at a time when the valley was covered by a lake remains a mystery. In any case, the history of the commune is closely linked to the tumultuous hydraulic life of the plain. The ancient Roman road allowed the passage of men between Gaul and Italy along Lake Saint Laurent, which covered the plain of Bourg d'Oisans until 1219. This Roman road is listed in the Peutinger Table.
Installed in the Saint-Laurent church in Bourg-d'Oisans, the organ of the Resurrection found its place in the complex architecture of the building at the end of 2015. The adventure of its creation is the result of audacity, imagination, inventiveness and open-mindedness. In the shape of a skylight, the instrument was also named the Colette-Anne organ, after the organist Colette Oudet, whose husband financed the work. The organ was built by the organ builder Giroud to plans by the architect Martin Bacot.
Whether it is the Lauvitel, accessible by hiking (part of which is listed as an integral reserve), the Petites sources-Lac bleu, or Buclet, the Bourg d'Oisans is distinguished by the exceptional environment of these areas. Deep turquoise blue or icy in winter, these natural areas are real jewels of the commune.
Gaspard le cristallier, giant of Bourg d'Oisans
This is a traditional giant, like the ones that exist in the North of France, in Belgium, in Spain and almost everywhere in the world. However, it is the only one in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Named in 2018, in reference to Gaspard de la Meije (mountaineer) and to the profession of crystal-maker still present in the commune, it is a real attraction but also a promotional vector for the territory.
The Vernes factory
History: the Vernes hydroelectric power station is a model of prestigious industrial architecture. Today, only three listed hydroelectric power stations are still producing electricity. Its exceptionally rapid construction (two years) was to contribute to the war effort. The celebration of its centenary was an opportunity to honour its creator, Charles-Albert Keller, a great industrialist who contributed greatly to shaping the Val de Livet, but also wanted to demonstrate that white coal and tourism could work hand in hand.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1994.
Ecrins National Park
The Ecrins National Park is one of the 10 French national parks. With a core area of 91,800 ha (protected zone), it is home to a rich and diverse natural heritage, including many rare or threatened species. Wildlife, plants and trees can be discovered in the museum area of the Maison du Parc in Bourg d'Oisans or in the field with the help of mountain guides. The "Rando Ecrins" website offers a hundred or so itineraries online with descriptions of more than 800 illustrated heritage features.
The Goodwin Brewery, which opened at the end of 2015, is the first brewery in the Oisans, nestled in the valley below the resorts of Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d'Huez, at the start of one of the legendary climbs of the Tour de France.
It produces British-style beers (ales), combining ingredients from around the world with the very pure water that flows from the surrounding mountains. The brewery produces four varieties of beer, Red Herring (dark ale), Scallywag (Idia pale ale), Codswallop (pale ale) and Last Straw (wheat beer).