View of ski apartments with snow-covered roofs and mountain background at Les Orres

Les Orres

Les Hautes-Alpes, southern French Alps

Set high above the vast Lac de Serre-Ponçon between Gap and Briançon, Les Orres’ significant snowfalls are triggered by the presence of nearby mountain ranges including the Massif du Parpaillon.

Being this far south brings lots of sunny weather, but the snow tends to stay put on the high-altitude, northwest-facing slopes. It’s an attractive combination.

It’s a long journey for those driving from the UK, but airport transfers are much more rapid, particularly from Genoble, Marseille, Turin and Cuneo (via the Col de Larche).

Lone skier descending red piste with beautiful mountain scenery.

The Ski Area

Whatever you were expecting, there’s real drama here, both in terms of the scenery and particularly the skiing potential. Novices and intermediates will enjoy gentle lower, mid-mountain areas, which are served by modern, high-speed chairlifts with plenty of skier capacity. There are also delightful sheltered woodland trails, including some little-used cut-throughs.

Higher up the mountain, though, there's the option of some significantly steeper terrain. Previously the topmost descents were accessible only by difficult drag-lifts but now there’s 1300m-long 4-seater chair. This added two further blue-graded runs, permitting even less-experienced skiers to experience the awe-inspiring scenery surrounding the topmost sector. Once up there you can combine genuinely panoramic views with a choice of long descents back through the tree-line, all the way down to 1650 if you so desire. It’s also the gateway to an extensive off-piste area.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1550m - 2720m
Les Orres
Pistes Total:
100 km
7 Green
6 Blue
20 Red
4 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 19
10 Draglifts
9 Chairlifts

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The Ski Village

Not one, but two. Les Orres’ origins as a purpose-built high-altitude ski area are reflected in the high-rise architecture of the original 1650 village, but in recent years, 1800 Bois-Méan, a much more traditionally-styled village has been taking shape above the old one. This offers higher comfort levels, more spacious accommodation and ski-in/ski-out convenience.

Don’t write-off the original village, though, which works well, offers a good range of shops and services and has a tangible buzz to it. There’s also free internet access via a WiFi network, which extends to the upper village. It’s a fun place.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Family skiers in original village centre at Les Orres.

Best For

While in absolute terms the groomed terrain may not appear that big, there’s plenty of varied terrain for all levels and interests, making this a very serious contender for most tastes. It’s therefore particularly suitable for families and mixed-ability groups.

Non-skiers should also find plenty to do, including walking, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, ice-climbing and ice-skating, in addition to exploring an assortment of boutiques, bars, restaurants (there’s even a very stylish tea & coffee lounge overlooking the indoor ice-rink), etc. Not to mention massage, reflexology and sunbathing, of course.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Snowpark has 3 themed areas with something for all abilities.
1 Snowparks
1 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Completely free trails for cross-country, snow-shoe and pedestrians.
27.5km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

Handiski...

  • Piste map indicates accessible lifts - 6 chairlifts (ski-buddy obligatory).
  • Reserved parking in front of the Tourist Office (3 places), and 1 place at Bois Méan at the front de neige.
  • Adapted WC on the ground floor of the shopping gallery in Les Orres 1650. At Bois Méan, there's an adapted WC next to the crêche on the front de neige. On-mountain, The Zenith restaurant has an accessible toilet and a wheelchair.
  • Ski pass reduced for disabled skier (conditions apply), helper pays full tarif.
  • Lessons from trained monitors and equipment loan available at ESF.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • High-altitude, big mountain skiing amid dramatic scenery.
  • Terrain for everyone, including the adventurous free-riders.
  • Accommodation for most budgets, now moving upmarket.
  • High-capacity lift system.
  • Free WIFI web access in main village area.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Long distances for those driving from the UK.
  • Not exactly limitless terrain.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Stay in the newer, higher (and quieter) 1800 village for ski-in/ski-out convenience.
  • Download the free iPhone app. It's compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

From Grenoble follow the RN85 (Route Napoléon) to Gap. Take the direction Briançon to Embrun then turn right following signs to Les Orres. Alternatively, take the N 75 through Lus La Croix Haute then Veynes, Gap and Embrun.
From the south take the A51 as far as La Saulce then the D 942 to Tallard and the N 94 to Embrun.

By air
It is possible to fly to Grenoble (140km), Turin (195km) or Cuneo, but there are no regular transfers. The most convenient airport is Marseille (189km), transferring by the Navette Blanche for around 35€ per adult. This winter service takes about 3 hours and operates from the airport and from the TGV station at Aix. See the Navettes Blanches website for details.

By train
Travel overnight by TGV to Briançon (alight at Embrun), or by day to Grenoble or Aix-en-Provence. Hire a car at the train stations or catch the Navette Blanche from Aix.
Trains from London offer regular services to Paris to pick up your connection.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with OUI.sncf

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Tried and testedEmbrun

Visit the nearby town of Embrun and its old centre with small squares and narrow shopping streets. After visiting the impressive cathedral, gaze up towards Les Orres and the surrounding peaks from pleasant gardens on the ramparts.


Tried and testedEntertainment Centre

L’Espace Rencontre et Culture
05200 Les Orres, +33 (0)4 92 66 60 60

This wonderful auditorium hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Be sure to check the programme on arrival.


Tried and testedLes Orres Museum

Les Orres village, +33 (0)4 92 44 00 40

Open 2pm-5pm six days a week, this small museum is a fascinating record of mountain life portrayed in displays of everyday items from the home and the workplace. Free entry.


Where to stay

Tried and testedRésidence La Combe d'Or

Parc du Bois Méan
05200 Les Orres

Résidence La Combe d'Or, Bois Méans 1800, Les Orres

Individual chalets situated above Les Orres 1800 'Le Bois Méan'. Spacious rooms with separate kitchen area, well equipped with plenty of storage. The only WC is on the ground floor, which is slightly inconvenient. Some chalets only have pedestrian access so the Résidence offers to take luggage to the door. Ski out onto a Green-graded piste not far above the lift-pass office and nearest lift.
This residence, while a little isolated from the main village, benefits from calm surroundings and a ski-in/ski-out location. There is a free shuttle service which stops at the Résidence entrance, and a lit pedestrian route to the resort centre.


Where to Eat

Tried and testedLa Bouscatière

Monts Du Bois D’Or
Bois Mean 05200
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 24 70 99

Situated in the main square at Le Bois Méan, La Bouscatière has a modern, welcoming feel. A huge chalk-board menu displays a tempting range of regional specialities ranging from 15€-22€ for a main dish. Reservations recommended during peak periods.


Tried and testedLe Chalet des Fontaines

Les Orres
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 44 05 92

This popular cafeteria-style restaurant with a huge sunny terrace is conveniently located in the heart of the ski area near the top of the Fontaines chairlift. The Chalet serves a good range of delicious food in generous portions served by a team of friendly staff. Expect to pay around 9.50€ for a main dish.


Tried and testedL'Orée des Pistes

Place Hodoul
Les Orres
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 44 01 98

In the centre of the resort, this restaurant offers a very French welcome and warm hospitality. We enjoyed a Fondue aux Morilles followed by Tarte Tatin.


Tried and testedThe Tea Room

L'Espace Rencontre et Culture
05200 Les Orres (above the ice rink)
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 52 75 93

Very calm and elegant lounge with magnificent views to the Lac de Serre Ponçon. Choose from a tempting selection of teas, coffee or chocolate, accompanied by cakes and pastries. A special treat.


Insight: Les Orres

Two walkers beside tree-lined ski piste at Les Orres 1850

Insight: Les Orres

A.fter driving by too many times while en-route to somewhere else, we finally leave the road near Embrun and make the long climb up to Les Orres. When we arrive the snow is already lying deep, there’s more expected overnight and we just know that we should have come much sooner.

The views from the ridge alone would justify the climb, with the added bonus of a choice of bracing Red-graded runs.
Le Boussolenc (2822m), Les Orres
Treeline and piste, Les Orres

Skiing with the locals

The following morning we leave our chalet in Bois-Méan and set off down to Les Orres 1650, getting a feel for things calmly before the arrival of local weekend skiers keen to make the most of perfect late-season conditions. From here we ride Prélongis, followed by Fontaines, two of the resort’s three new high-speed 6-seater chairlifts which take us smoothly up to 2430m. Once above the tree-line we see much of the area laid out before us, and spend some time skiing the central Red and Blue graded pistes back to the Fontaines loading area. While the snow remains firm we then drop right down to Pramouton and then Champ Lacas, which at 1550m are as low as it gets in Les Orres.

Having got that out of our system, we head right back up — all the way, this time. Our diagonal snakes-and-ladders route across the ski area eventually brings us to the steep Marmottes drag-lift, which deposits us at the highest lift-served point at 2703m. The views from the ridge alone would justify the climb, with the added bonus of a choice of bracing Red-graded runs. We opt for Genépi followed by Grand Cabane, which between them reward us with an epic descent which throws in just about everything along the way. For distance fans, it would be simple to continue all the way back to the Champ Lacas but we have other plans, which take us all the way back up.

Grand Cabane piste, Les Orres
Les Orres 1800 Bois-Méan

Les Orres rewards us with panoramic views

By now a few hours’ sunshine have softened the ice which had delayed the opening of the Boussolenc drag-lift, (replaced by a 4-seater chairlift in 2011/12). For now, though, we’re among the first up the steep drag, which in early morning conditions is a tough one. We therefore get to the top (2660m) with a certain degree of achievement. Our reward, apart from more panoramic views, is an exhilarating Red run below Le Boussolenc (2822m) to join Myrtilles, which takes us through the forest and back to Les Orres 1650.

A well-earned lunch break

By now we’re ready for lunch, so stop off at the Chalet des Fontaines to recharge our batteries. When we emerge later than planned our legs remind us what a long morning’s skiing we’ve had, and how much distance we’ve managed to cover. So from now on we relax and take things much easier, just cruising gently around the mountain in the company of the locals up for the day. All things considered, we have to say that Les Orres really would be quite a place to have on your doorstep.MountainPassions heart icon

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