The Eau d’Olle Express is the first new generation valley lift, which has just appeared in the landscape of Oisans, France. Located less than 45 minutes from Grenoble and 1h30 from Lyon, since December 2020 it links the village of Allemond and Oz en Oisans (Isère) ski resort in 8 minutes (instead of 20 minutes by road). In addition, it opens up a shorter, direct and safer access both to Oz-Vaujany and Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine stations. This has been a great step to become a sustainable mountain without carbon.

Alain Ginies, mayor of the municipality of Allemond since 2001 and president of SIEPAVEO from 2008 to 2020 (Syndicat Intercommunal) talks with us about this structure, a real achievement for this territory.

“This project started in 2012 and made its debut in 2020, but which emerged in our chosen predecessors minds a few decades ago. The objective was to link the bottom of the valley with the snow fields. Today, this project fulfills a double objective:

  • continue supporting the tourism development of mountain resorts, and
  • create a social and human bond, promoting cable transport and connecting services from above and below.
eau olle express zero carbon ski lift
Image: Eau d’Olle Express chairlift

Our ambition is to remain authentic. We have 1000 inhabitants and an important tourist activity in summer. We want to implement it during the winter, with an increase from 500 to 600 beds in 10 years.

Towards a zero carbon mountain

Linking the valley with the ski slopes in 8 minutes, Eau d’Olle Express is a new generation type of cable transport. It responds to the needs of vacationers, seasonal workers and social professionals for the winter season, and in particular for day trips. But the team will also work in summer. Therefore, it will be part of the development of multi-seasonal tourism. It will allow access to the multiple outdoor activities developed both in height and in the valley (mountain biking, hiking, trail running, activities at the nautical base of Lake Verney, etc.), and ease of movement between each of them.

This single cable ski lift was built by the Leitner France Company. The line is equipped with 33 10-seater diamond cabins, spacious, panoramic and illuminated.

eau olle express arrival station zero carbon
Image: Eau d’Olle Express cable car arrival station

By ensuring a fast, safe and environmentally friendly connection between the valley and high-altitude resorts, the Eau d’Olle Express concretely heralds the evolution of travel practices that aim to achieve a carbon-free mountain.

“This device has a very advanced technology, without noise pollution, with little environmental impact, great comfort and safety of use. In the territory, we have a similar device that connects Venosc with Les 2 Alpes but is thirty years old, and the difference is meaningful”.

Eau d’Olle Express: the fastest and safest way to access high-altitude resorts!

Initially, Eau d’Olle Express was going to be able to transport 1,100 people/hour. But the structure has been designed to be able to adapt itself to the number of visitors and, as soon as necessary, it can increase its flow to 2000 people/hour.

Finally, access to Eau d’Olle Express will be free for pedestrians (no skis, snowboard, mountain bike or other gear), a firm decision desired by elected officials to encourage the use of this virtuous new gear.

© Oz en Oisans. L’Eau d’Olle Express is open

“We open 4 days in December and device will be open every WE in January and during February holidays. In the first days of its opening, we registered almost 2000 visits on the device. We are not in an area where the ski area is accessible and allow access to high altitude areas, so unfortunately today we are in reduced mode”.

“Today we can ensure that it has started its operation in perfect conditions“.

A means of transport that preserves our environment

Transportation accounts for 57% of greenhouse gas emissions linked to the winter sports economy (source ANMSM). Cable transport is one of the most effective solutions to reduce this impact. By directly linking Allemond with Oz en Oisans resort and Alpe d’Huez ski resort, Eau d’Olle Express will significantly reduce a part of road traffic that could represent up to 1,000 vehicles/day in high season. This represents a saving of more than 230 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) per year.

“For this winter, we are organizing an intramural electric transport service that runs through all the districts of the municipality of Allemond. We serve all stores, encouraging permanent residents not to take their vehicle. A transport link between Bourg and Oisans is planned at the heart of the system to reach the 2 elevators in the valley (Allemond/Oz and Venosc/Les Deux Alpes). This service should start in 2021”.

eau olle express zero carbon

A direct bus line between Grenoble and Allemond was introduced during weekends and school holidays this winter, which should further accentuate this reduction.

A free covered car park for light vehicles with 220 places and a bus car park with 15 places complete the system for other users who do not live in the valley.

A commitment to the future

SIEPAVEO has made important commitments regarding environmental monitoring, both in the next operational periods and during the works. They refer, in general, to the preservation of the fauna and flora ecosystem and, in particular, to protected species such as the hoof of Venus, as well as to an important vigilance related to the protection of water resources.

“THE MUNICIPALITY WANTED TO COMPENSATE THE IMPACT OF THE Gondola BY CONSERVING, TOTALLY, 32 HECTARES OF FOREST“.

At the same time, 32 hectares of communal forests have been placed in senescence, that is, preserved from any exploitation indefinitely. This largely compensates both the opening of forests along the cable car and maintains biodiversity in the territory.

L’Eau d’Olle Express: structuring equipment for the Oisans valley

Eau d’Olle Express is an essential equipment for sustainability and development of the economic activity of this territory and its tourism industry in particular. The project was carried out by SIEPAVEO (Syndicat Intercommunal de la Vallée de l’Eau d’Olle) with the support of the communities (Auvergne Rhône Alpes region, Department of Isère, Community of municipalities of Oisans) and the state .

Work began in October 2019, but slowed down last spring as a result of the health crisis. Thanks to the will of those elected and the commitment of the companies, the work never stopped.

Image: village of Allemond (Oisans)

“The total investment is about 18 million HT. This was possible thanks to the Grandmaison hydroelectric development that gave the municipality of Allemond some financing capacity. This investment includes the device itself, the covered parking and a connection device (in the form of of cabin that moves on rail and that allows to cover 100 m on 70 m of unevenness) that will be built in 2021 and will be accessible for pedestrians and PRMs “.

Territory revilization

The Municipality of Allemond still has land availability. “In the 65s, there were 4 hotels in the town that have been gradually disappearing. Today only one remains. We have rehabilitation projects for these establishments, with prospects for hotel development and investors interested in our territory,” concludes Alain Ginies.