With over 650kms of piste to choose from, the vast Portes du Soleil is one of the largest ski areas in Europe, and is perfect for skiers of all abilities. Encompassing picturesque tree-lined runs, large open bowls and expansive free-ride areas, there is plenty for everyone in this little-known ski utopia.
Climbing to 2466m and covering 12 resorts between France and Switzerland (including Chatel, Avoriaz, Morzine and Les Gets), the 194 ski lifts will transport you quickly and efficiently around 296 uncrowded pistes, 11 challenging snowparks and over 90 traditional mountain restaurants.
Although parts of the ski area sit at a moderate altitude, its northern aspect around Avoriaz and Chatel ensure great quality snow that lasts late into the season.
The first ski resort you connect to after leaving the local Les Gets & Morzine ski area is Avoriaz. Based high up with a village height of 1800m, Avoriaz ski area is great for those looking for high altitude and open bowl skiing. Above the tree line, the open bowls and ridges provide great off piste and variegated terrain, quite different from the lower tree-lined ski runs. Avoriaz is also one of the best ski resorts in Europe for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. There are no less than 5 snow parks, everything from the smallest jumps for a budding skier’s first venture into snow parks, up to the size of jumps that are for top freestyle skiers only drawing in Europe’s best talent. Indeed it’s well worth taking 20 mins when you are skiing in Avoriaz just to sit and watch what the top skiers and snowboarders can do, it’s quite a spectacle. There’s also 2 half pipes and the Burton Stash, a forest rail park that uses the trees along with man mad wooden objects to make a unique park run through the forest.
For the piste skier Avoriaz has a lot to offer. Wide open runs, mostly blues and reds, that wind there way through several valleys. The uphill capacity of the ski lift system is world class, with the majority being high speed express chairlifts or bubble lifts. Also for a top quality mountain lunch you can try goat village in the Lindarets valley, this has some of the best mountain restaurants you’ll find anywhere.
From Avoriaz you can connect onto the Portes du Soleil loop – a circuit that will take you through seven resorts crossing into Switzerland and back. Comprised of blue and red pistes, this ski circuit is a wonderful day out for higher intermediates or advanced skiers. If you like to explore the surrounding mountains as you ski and get a taste of other ski resorts, then this loop is a must on your ski chalet holiday.
After Avoriaz you have a choice – you can ski into the Plaine Dranse area of Chatel, or over the Swiss boarder into Les Crosets. Either way you will be on the loop of the Portes du Soleil, a whole system of blues and reds that link village to village. There’s one notable exception to the blues and reds on this ski circuit – the infamous Swiss Wall! For the brave, the foolish, or both, you can tackle this infamous off-piste run from Avoriaz to Les Crosets, though there are plenty of far more gentle options too. By reputation as one of the hardest mogul runs in Europe, the Swiss Wall ski run is a thigh-punisher without equal. It’s long, steep and the moguls can be huge. It’s a great challenge for the advanced skier and certainly one to tick off the “I’ve done that” list. There’s a chair lift down over the ski run which makes a great viewing gallery for those fancying an easier way down. Please do note though that the conditions on the Swiss Wall can vary wildly – I’ve skiied it with small moguls of soft fresh snow, a pure pleasure. I’ve also skiied it with head-high moguls of ice, so it’s not to be undertaken lightly!
However you decide to enter Les Crosets, you are now skiing in Switzerland. After Les Crosets you move further into Swizerland and what feels further back in time too. Smaller, quieter and more relaxed, the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil ski area feels about 20 years behind the French side. Quiet runs through forests and old fashioned lifts (including some T-bars, which can mostly be avoided), it provides great variety to this ski area. You’ll end up in a Swiss resort called Morgins, which if you have the time, has a lovely old church with a huge arrange of bells outside it which is great to hear if you are passing a the right time. From then you climb back up to the French border and ski into the area of Chatel called Super-Chatel. The quieter and more old fashioned end of the French skiing, it has some hidden gems of quiet lifts and great off-piste skiing.
From Chatel’s Plaine Dranse area you head up into Avoriaz then it’s just the question of skiing down to Morzine and back into Les Gets! The full circuit makes quite the day out skiing, though it’s very much a full day so you’d want to head off early and with plenty of enthusiasm to do the full lap!
Some of our favorite skiing in the Portes du Soleil is the Pre la Joux/ Plaine Dranse area of Chatel. Situated next door to Avoriaz it has some wonderful high altitude skiing. Fast blues and reds, with great high speed lifts, it’s a pleasure to spend the whole day cruising up and down all the different pistes it has to offer. My favourite run has to be the red piste from the top of Tete de Linga that goes all the way down into La Linga ski village itself, a wonderful and varied run that’s wide and quick throughout, and always leaves a big smile on my face, and a painful burn in my thighs!
I hope this has given you a taste of the Portes du Soleil skiing. It really is so large and varied – this has hardly scratched the surface of what this wonderful ski area has to offer.
Best skiing holiday we have ever had.Richard and Jo, Elise des Alpes, Mar ’14 More reviews
We have had an excellent week of skiing and sun....The whole holiday and chalet has exceeded our expectations.Mike Hart & friends, Bruyeres, Jan ’14 More reviews
Incredible snow conditions ... Fantastic – we’ll be back.Wenda & Matthew, Forestiere, Jan ’15 More reviews
The skiing was perfectly suited to our mixed ability group, and nothing was too much trouble for you guys.Hannah & Charlie, March 2009 More reviews
Skiing around the whole of the Portes du Soleil in just 1 day!
You wouldn’t necessarily put these two together, but last week James and I went snowshoeing
Blue sky. That’s what we saw when we peeked out of the curtains on Thursday