Autrans is located on the Vercors Plateau in the Vercors Regional Natural Park some 10 km west of Grenoble and 11 km east of Vinay. Access to the commune is solely by the D106C which branches north from the D106 and passes in a loop through the village then back south to Méaudre. A local road goes north from the village along to the valley to the ski fields in the north of the commune. There is farmland in the valley but the slopes of the surrounding mountains are rugged and heavily forested.
The Meaudret rises in the north of the commune and flows south down the valley through the village and continues south to join the Bourne at Les Jarrands.
The name Autrans is derived from the name of a village called Lans (the oldest village on the plateau) and originated from oultre-Lans meaning "beyond the village of Lans" which, over the course of time, was transformed into Autrans.
The 1968 Olympics in Grenoble (which were the first to be aired on TV) included cross-country skiing, biathlon, ski-jumping (90m ski-jump) and combined Nordic skiing (jumping and cross-country). For many French people the TV images of Nordic skiing at Autrans were a revelation. This would mark the beginning of the development of skiing in France and throughout Europe;
The Grenoble Olympic Winter Games 1968 ski-jumps were part of a long local tradition of ski jumping (first ski competition in 1911). Today jumps of 90 m, 56 m, and 20 m are equipped to be used in winter and in summer for many national and international competitions. There is a viewing platform at the top of the 90 m ramp.
In 2010 the commune had 1,702 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger communes that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]
In the early 1900s there were nearly 130 farms. Today there are 17 farms including 13 dairy farms in Autrans. Milk production is transformed into the Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage AOC in Col Vert, Brique, Saint Marcellin. Autrans also has cattle farms for meat and farm produce and a pigeon farm to serve the best restaurants. Every year on the 1st weekend in May the operation "Take the key to the fields" can visit the farms on the Vercors Plateau and discover their products.
A Romanesque church is located on a hill in the centre of the village. Only the bell tower is from the Middle Ages (12th to 13th centuries), its stone spire dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, the choir and the nave of the building are from 1875.
Autrans has three sites: a Motte-and-bailey castle and two fortified houses at Malatan and La Tour hamlets. Of these three sites nothing remains except mounds and that can be seen today in the landscape.
The Motte du Chateau is located approximately 1 km to the east of Autrans Church on a Moraine. A wattle and daub building existed on the mound in the 11th century.
Malatan is located approximately 300 m south-east of the Motte du Chateau and is an old fortified house probably dating from the 14th century.
The Tower is located approximately 200 m to the north of the hamlet of Andrevières and excavations have identified the remains of a round tower probably dating from the 12th century.
The Gève Domain is located 1,300 m above sea level and has an international reputation. Located to the north of the Massif du Vercors, the snow conditions are exceptional. This area is accessible by car and there are free shuttles to all valid ski pass holders for the Autrans ski resort.
^At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force in 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.