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Overlooking the Durance Valley and the lake of Serre-Poncon, Les Orres has one of the largest ski areas in the Southern Alps. The resort has a sunny, southerly location with skiing up to snow-sure altitudes. Les Orres did seem to be losing its edge in the 1990s with increasingly old lifts and buildings, but three new high-speed six-seater chairs and plenty of new initiatives to enhance the 'guest experience' have definitely spiced it up. There are also more facilities to diversify the holiday options available including an ice rink, cyber cafe, training circuit, multi-media room, family area and health spa. Although an 'intermediate heaven' there are serious opportunities for off-piste. The only thing you won't find is a buzzing nightlife.

A local forester, Emile Hodoul, dreamed up les Orres in 1935, but the first lift was not installed until 1966. The resort has a sunny, southerly location, skiing up to snow-sure altitudes (despite latitude) with a good variety of more challenging terrain.

Mountain

There are 88km (55 miles) of marked trails at Les Orres which despite its southerly latitude, 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 southerly location. Its not a great choice for experts with the majority of terrain graded easy to intermediate but of the three blacks L'Horrible has the best name and meanest reputation. L'Ecureuil, cut through the trees beneath the Grand Clos double chair which serves it is also worth a shot, 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. 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 full day course (Monday to Friday) is available with a mountain guide to discover off-piste and ski touring across the local southern Alps. The plateau of Charance offers you five kilometres of cross country skiing through the forest. The 24km Mazelière loipe will excite more advanced skiers.

Families

For families Les Pitchounets nursery accepts children aged six months to six years at the newly built child care centre. From three years old care can include some ski lessons during the day. On DUO night during the school holidays children aged six to 12 years old are looked after for free from 5.30 to 10pm so that the parents can relax and have a nice dinner at the restaurant. Book through the tourist office. Every afternoon from 2 to 4.30pm during the school holidays, the Juni'Orres Club is led by a group leader who offers various activities to the children aged from 6 to 12. The ESF run snow garden is a sunny ski area with three ski lifts including a magic carpet conveyor. The garden has special ski training areas on which the children progress at their own pace under constant supervision of their instructors. The children learn how to ski in a fun and relaxed way. Skiing from age three, snowboarding from age five. The International Ski School offers beginners lessons for children aged four to six years old. The children start learning directly on the pistes and skis are equipped with a "try-ski" system which makes the first runs easier. There are no more than five In The Trapper's Excursion for six to twelve years old the group leader takes the kids on the tracks of the animals and helps them build an igloo in which they will eat a huge special snack : hot bananas and chocolate. There are several other attractions for families besides skiing including a merry-go-round in the resort centre and children's snowmobiling. Every Wednesday night, during the school holidays, children and adults alike light up the pistes with a special torch light descent.

Eating Out

Les Orres does not have a huge choice of places to eat, around half a dozen options in fact, most of them centred on Hodoul Square. On piste the Chalet des Fontaines is usually the best choice for varied food and service, the Zenith is a more basic operation.

Apres

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)

Boarding

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.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
1200m
Ski area
88
Resort height
1550m
Airport
Grenoble
Train station
Embrun
beginner
38%
intermediate
60%
expert
12%