Avoriaz, the main resort in the famed ski sports destination ‘Portes du Soleil’, is considered by many the most advanced and alluring Alpine resort in Europe.
Easily accessible from Lake Geneva’s Thonon and the Cluses-junction between Geneva and Chamonix, Avoriaz overlooks Morzine, the legendary skiing town, and is mostly known for its excellent snow coverage and for catering for the needs of skiers and snowboarders of all levels of skill and experience, while offering several other recreation and activity options, from mountain biking to golf.
At an altitude of roughly 1800 metres, Avoriaz marks the peak of the Portes du Soleil area, resting on a sun-drenched slope while engulfed by typical alpine peaks of Dents du Midi and Dents Blanches and offering wonderful views of the valley below. Snow coverage is great for at least five months of the year, starting in early November.
Avoriaz is no more than an hour’s drive from the Geneva airport, but cars and other wheeled vehicles are not allowed inside town limits, making skis and sleighs during and snow caps the handiest transport option in the area. Largely consisting of high-rise hotels and apartment complexes, Avoriaz offers so wide an array of accommodation options therefore it’s next to impossible not to find something to suit your needs and budget. Of course, all apartments provide self-catering facilities for those who prefer to enjoy an in-room meal.
Avoriaz is on the main lift circuit of the Portes du Soleil, with links to Chatel from one side and Switzerland’s Champery on the other. Being among the oldest Alpine resorts, Avoriaz has evolved into a something-for-all snow-sports destination.
Overlooking over 250 km of greatly preserved pistes, Avoriaz offers novice skiers and children with no previous experience plenty of space to master the basics, without getting in the way of the professionals.
Beginners & Families
Most nursery slopes run right by the resort, Ski-in and -out lodging and 5-hour, 1-, 2- or 3-day passes make the whole experience even easier for families with toddlers that are hitting the slopes for the first time. Note also that special rates for ski passes for children and families of up to 4 members are available, as well as discounts on week-long ski passes for the whole Porte du Soleil region. Several schools are also available.
Should you feel a little more confident on your skis, the place is probably ideal for you. Blue and red level slopes cover more than 240km of varying but moderate difficulty and inspiring routes. Most intermediate slopes are wide enough to allow for some extra experimentation and hours of leisurely exploring.
True, Avoriaz is the intermediate’s alpine paradise, but experts do get their generous share of fun and challenges too. There are over 20 black slopes, with the notorious ‘Jean Vuarnet’ World Cup Downhill Run being by far the wildest and most exhilarating. Another great magnet for skiing veterans is the ‘Wall’, a very steep mogul field separating the French from the Swiss Alps. Of course, nothing stops you from crossing over to the Swiss side for even more red and black runs, and other exciting off-piste ventures.
Avoriaz is indeed a great choice for families, especially after considering its facilities, with a wide range of outdoor and indoor activities. Aside from ski schools dedicated to toddlers and small children within the resort limits, all sorts of professional guidance and tutoring is available for any snow-sport enthusiast. Avoriaz boasts its own water park, the amply named ‘Aquariaz’, which is ideal for energetic youngsters and parents who fancy a break from the slopes for a few hours.
If you are not so keen on skiing after all and just visited to relax with the family and friends, then Avoriaz is just ideal for you. A whole bunch of activities out there have nothing to do with skis – or even snow for that matter. A few memorable options include snowshoe walking – the perfect way to explore the surrounding landscapes.
Several family-friendly events are also held during the winter and early spring, like the Igloo Music Contest and the Magical festival of light. Skiing season is ended by mid-spring, though still very popular with tourists well after May and into the summer, mostly for off-road mountain biking, hiking and trekking.
Following a non-stop slopes session, fun and food options are as numerous and exciting as expected in a top French Alpine resort. High-end restaurants and sophisticated bars offer the very best of French cuisine and wines, but for those seeking a more relaxed cuisine experience, you can get your hands on a decent burger and chips.
Despite being more family oriented, Avoriaz’ Après ski lives up to its reputation, teaming with an array of bars, bowling alleys, cinemas and ice rinks, fun-packing your nights well into the morning hours.