Southeast of Chambery and northwest of Turin, the Orelle ski area has crazy big mountain freeriding routes when there's enough snow. The main lifts service 6 pistes with a maximum vertical descent of 880m The Orelle ski area is part of Les Trois Vallees ski arena that accesses 600km of pistes served by 173 lifts with a maximum vertical descent of 1,980m (6,500 feet). As the quieter side of Les Trois Vallees, you can expect to find fresh tracks in overnight snowfall throughout the entire day.
While the quiet village of Orelle is down at 830m, you will need to take the 3 Vallees Express lift 5km up the the mid-mountain station Plan Bouchet (2350m). There is no piste leading back down to Orelle, so you need to take the lift down at the end of the day. From Plan Bouchet, there are two lift routes heading further up. First, the Peyron lift heads up and connects to the Bouchet lift. There are good red groomers leading back down to either lift bases. Second, the Rosael lift heads up from Plan Bouchet to Bresche de Rosael. There are intermediate routes back down to PLan Bouchet. Alternately, you can continue riding to the northeast into the Val Thorens sector of Les Trois Vallees.
Orelle is well-known for its amazing off-piste freeriding. While there is some good side-country accessible from the Rosael lift such as the steeps under Cime de Carron, most freeriders head up Peyron/Bouchet in search of freshies. On either side of the Bouchet lift line, there are big sidecountry lines under Glacier de la Pointe Renod flowing all the way back down to Plan Bouchet. For experienced backcountry riders looking for a challenging experience, head to the top of the Bouchet lift and continue straight out the back gate leading onto the Glacier du Bouchet. The entrance is steep, but once down on the glacier the route flows on a winding route back out to Plan Bouchet. The later sections of the route can be a little flat so make sure to carry your speed. By the way, a guide is highly recommended for the unmarked, uncontrolled Glacier du Bouchet route.
To reach the snowboarding at Orelle by air, fly into Lyon or Turin, Italy. Then, drive about one hour from Chambery or about one hour from Turin on the main motorway. There is free parking available at the base of the 3 Vallees Express telecabine terminal.
TIP: If you are staying in Orelle, make sure to plan a day trip to the southeast up to the Valloire-Valmeinier ski area in the Maurienne valley. The Valloire-Valmeinier area is locally called the little trois vallees. It is accessible from the village of Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (west of Orelle) and then head up route D902 to Valloire.
Overall, Orelle is the 23rd most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 50 snowboarding resorts in France. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Orelle including Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel.
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