Beginners, snowboarders, freestylers and powder-snow experts – despite its apparently compact size, the Orcières 1850 ski area caters for all-comers. Located in the heart of the “Cirque du Grand Lac des Estaris” nature reserve, the area is best known for its 5 enchanting mountain lakes, all at altitudes between 2400m and 2560m: “Lac des Estaris”, “Lac Long”, “Lac Profond”, “Lac des Sirènes” and “Lac des Jumeaux”. The fact that 4 of these 5 lakes are taken in along the routes of blue-graded ski runs means that they can be enjoyed by all, almost regardless of skiing prowess.
This applies generally throughout the whole centre of the ski area. As one of the highest ski areas in the Southern Alps, one might expect the loftiest slopes, extending to an impressive altitude of 2725m, to be out of reach to all but the most experienced skiers. In reality, the majority of the runs throughout the ski area are rated as either easy or medium difficulty.
When it comes to the weather, Orcières 1850 gets the best of both worlds – a combination of the Alpine and Mediterranean climates. The “Massif des Écrins” in the north of the ski area ensures perfect snow conditions, whilst skiers also get to enjoy the many hours of sunshine typical of the Southern Alps.
|Length of ski slopes||100km|
|Number of ski slopes||50|
The vast majority of the 44 ski runs, totalling 100km in all, are easily accessible by modern lifts from the Orcières 1850 ski station. 3 of these are so-called “hybrid” lifts, which allow gondola cars and chairs to be carried on the same cable. New skiers will find 4 designated practice zones at their disposal, as well as a whole host of appropriate runs both near to the ski station and around the lakes. The ski area in general is dominated by a wonderful variety of red-graded runs, at all altitudes, whereas the most adventurous skiers can head for the more challenging runs underneath the peak of “Drouvet”.
Those looking to set themselves a more unusual challenge can head for the “Speed Riding” track by the “Les Lauzières” lift, or alternatively the slalom course near the “Méollion” run. Skiers and boarders alike can enjoy 2 “boardercross” runs and a floodlit slope that can be used after dark. Budding freestylers looking to pull their first few moves should make sure they don’t miss (literally) the “Big Air Bag” at the bottom end of the ski runs. This giant airbag makes sure everyone has a soft landing - even those who still haven’t quite got the hang of the jumps and stunts they are trying.
2 specially designated runs provide the ideal playground for those smallest of skiers. Both “Opoualand”, located near the “Drouvet 1” lift and the “Milka-Zone” on the “La Marmotte” run offer plenty to keep the next generation of skiers occupied.
The biggest magnet for boarders in Orcières 1850 is the snow park, situated at an altitude of 2280m and spread over on area of 16,000m², where whoops, tables, boxes, rails, jumps and a rainbow box are ready to delight both beginners and pro-boarders alike. The park is also equipped with its own drag lift and cable lift.
Of course there are other ways for visitors to take in the glorious alpine landscape of the Champsaur Valley, one of the most popular of which is cross-country skiing. To this end skiers have the pick of a total of 30km of routes, based around both the ski station Orcières 1850 and the lower-down valley station of Orcières 1450. A 3km circuit can be found on the Roche Rousse Plateau just above Orcières 1850, however, the majority of the routes start at Orcières 1450, which can be reached from its sister-station at any time by means of a free shuttle bus.
The selection of routes from the lower station includes: the green-rated “Branquet” route (3km), the blue-rated “Le Moulin” route (4km), the red-graded “Chauffarel” route (6km), the black-graded floodlit route (also called “Chauffarel” – 2km) and a 2km red-graded route leading to “Les Garnauds”. A further red-graded route leads away for 5km towards Champoléon Les Borels, and another for 6km towards Pont du Fossé.