Loveskiing’s Les Orres Review
Les Orres is a purpose-built resort and despite its beautiful location above the Durance Valley and the lake of Serre-Ponçon surrounded by superb mountain views, the resort itself is a bit concrete and rather unattractive. However, there is an old traditional town of Les Orres, some new chalets and the newer Les Orres 1800m, which are all more aesthetically pleasing. There are 88km (55 miles) of marked trails at Les Orres and, despite its southerly latitude, the resort has skiing right up to a snowsure 2730m, creating a 1200m vertical – big for a resort of this size (it would be one of the five biggest if this were North America!) and for its southerly location. It is not a great choice for experts with the majority of terrain suited to intermediate users: there are only three blacks. One of which, L’Horrible, has the best name and meanest reputation. L’Ecureuil, a black which cuts through the trees beneath the Grand Clos double chair, is also worth a go, especially when bumpy as well as steep. Two thirds of the trails are graded intermediate and there are wonderful long runs, especially the Grand Cabane trail accessed via trail three which descends for four kilometres along the boundaries of the marked area, first above the treeline and then making its solitary way through the forest, far from all the other trails. A third six-seater chair was added recently to access the Fontaines area. Access to the resort is a minimum 2.5 hour coach transfer from the nearest airport Grenoble. So, quite a trek!!!
• Good resort for intermediates and beginners
• One of the cheapest French resorts in the Alps, a 6 day lift pass starts at €173 (2014/2015 season)
• A few of the big UK tour operators have moved to the area meaning a better deal for the UK customers
• Picturesque tree-lined runs
• Snow-sure thanks to the high altitude
• Good ski schools and nursery care available for young children (6 months and up)
• Limited restaurants in the resort and generally poor cuisine which makes eating-out a bit of a disappointment
• Nightlife is a bit lacklustre with one club and a few bars
• Long transfer times from either Grenoble (2.5hrs) or Lyon (4hrs)
• Small resort, 55km of pistes may be limiting for cruisers or advanced skiers or boarders
• Unattractive purpose-built areas to the resort
• Families – families are well looked after with good childcare and an intermediate/beginner orientated resort
• Improving beginners – the majority of the pistes are suited to intermediate and beginners
• Those on a budget – one of the more reasonable resorts in the Alps
• Tree lovers – plenty of chance for tree skiing
• Experts – the limiting size of the resort and lack of black runs will be disappointing
• Night owls – the structure of the resort at two levels, 1650 and 1800, and lack of bars/clubs provide a limited après-ski scene
• Food lovers – if you come to the Alps to enjoy the skiing and delicious French food then Les Orres is not for you with few restaurants and on the whole average food.
• Those who don’t like travelling – long transfer times
There are plenty of off-piste opportunities above Les Orres, some of the best reached with a ridge hike from the top of three drag lifts that access Grand Vallon and Petit Vallon sectors, but beware the off-limits zones marked on the map. To be on the safe side and find the best powder, a five day full-day course (Monday to Friday) is available with a mountain guide to discover off-piste and ski touring across the local southern Alps.
Cross country and Freestyle
The plateau of Charance offers you five kilometres of cross country skiing through the forest. The 24km Mazelière loop will excite more advanced skiers.
The snowpark at Les Orres has slides, five tables, two quarters and two big airs. The resort also has a boardercross course and tuition provided by several ski and board schools which run a range of specialised classes from complete beginner to boardercross skills.
There are more than a dozen bars and a lone nightclub, Les Caves.
The mini-bowling alley, Le Bowlingo, located in the shopping arcade can make part of an entertaining evening or L’Ubac Cinema shows two different movies a day, with more in bad weather (Not all films are shown in English, check before you buy your ticket)