Culture and heritage

Les Orres heritage     ►Les Orres, history     ►Serre-Ponçon valley


Les Orres heritage

Eglise Sainte Marie Madeleine aux Orres In Les Orres, explore the 16th century Sainte Marie-Madeleine church in the main town, with its Lombard bell tower, plus the museum where traditional crafts are on display.

In the hamlet of Le Mélézet, look out for Notre Dame de la Présentation church, built in the 19th century on the site of an ancient chapel dating from 1546. On its Southern facade, there is a sundial from 1853, signed by the famous Italian sundial maker Zarbula.


Municipal museum

Open everyday except on saturday from 2pm to 5pm

Free access




History of Les Orres

Croquis Les Orres In the beginning, it was just an old village and a collection of hamlets overlooking the Durance valley, a little place that was only known for the traditional ski descent of La Portette. Little by little, the enormous possibilities offered by the ski area led to the idea of creating a winter sports resort. The first building work began in 1970.
Nothing could be constructed in the valley, as it was too narrow. So the decision was taken to build on the western slopes, between 1600 and 1700m, an altitude determined by the average snowfall at the start and end of the season. The land is divided into two adjoining areas. The town planner therefore designed the resort in two distinct sections: Pramouton and Bois Méan with an intermediate zone that acts as a link: Prébois.

The spirit of the region had to be conserved, so the modern buildings were designed in the traditional character and using the traditional materials of the region. The houses in Les Orres were grouped together in hamlets according to the level of the land. The resort architecture has usually followed the same principle, with a preponderance of traditional rustic buildings with wooden balconies and roofs.

The resort of Les Orres was created in November 1970




The Serre-Ponçon valley

Serre-Ponçon lake, in the Southern Alps, was created to regulate the flow of the Durance river. Following devastating floods in 1843 and 1856, followed by water shortages, particularly in 1895, the idea was put forward to build a large water reservoir. The construction of a dam over the Durance became a feasible possibility in 1948, given the progress of technological advance. In 1955, EDF was commissioned to carry out a project involving the production of electricity and the irrigation of the agricultural land in Provence. Construction on the dam commenced in 1955, and lasted for 54 months. The filling of the reservoir with water began on 16 November 1959 and was completed on 18 May 1961. The maximum capacity is 780m. Constructed from alluvial materials extracted from the river bed, Serre-Ponçon is the largest earth dam in Europe. In order to build it, some populations were forced to move and the villages of Savines and Ubaye were destroyed. Only Savines was rebuilt and is now known as Savines Le Lac.

Our region has a unique heritage, spread over 16 towns


Les Ecrins National Park

Parc National des EcrinsLes Orres resort is only 20 or so kilometres from Les Ecrins National Park, a popular centre for hiking during the summer season. The park is a nature reserve, which is protected by specific legislation, and the area it covers is defined in a charter agreed by the local town councils. Evaluated and revised every 15 years, this project demonstrates the ecological solidarity and commitment shared by the park and the surrounding areas, focusing on the area's economic assets and the sustainable development of the towns involved.