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).
The Ski Area
- Novices and intermediates will enjoy the gentle mid- and lower slopes.
- Topmost terrain more challenging with dramatic scenery and long descents.
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.
Pistes Total: 100 km
The Ski Village
- Purpose-built ski village at 1650 has dated high-rise architecture.
- Recently developed 1800 Bois-Méan more traditionally styled with ski-in ski-out convenience.
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.
Why go skiing in Les Orres ?
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.
SnowboardingSnowpark has 3 themed areas with something for all abilities.
1 Snowboarder Cross
Cross-Country SkiingCompletely free trails for cross-country, snow-shoe and pedestrians.
27.5km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails
- 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.
- 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.
- Long distances for those driving from the UK.
- Not exactly limitless terrain.
- 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.
Résidence La Combe d'Or
Parc du Bois Méan
05200 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.