The VIMOS VLT Deep Survey (VVDS) is underway to study the evolution of galaxies, large scale structures and AGNs, from the measurement of more than 100 000 spectra of faint objects. We present here the results from the first epoch observations of more than 20000 spectra. The main challenge of the program, the redshift measurements, is described, in particular entering the “redshift desert” in the range 1.5 < z < 3 for which only very weak features are detected in the observed wavelength range. The redshift distribution of a magnitude limited sample brighter than I AB = 24 is presented for the first time, showing a peak at a low redshift z ∼ 0.7, and a tail extending all the way above z = 4. The evolution of the luminosity function out to z = 1.5 is presented, with the LF of blue star forming galaxies carrying most of the evolution, with L* changing by more than two magnitudes for this sub-sample.