Les Portes du Soleil is a Franco Swiss ski area with 14 ski resorts, 650km of ski slopes and 202 ski lifts. On the French side, it is located in Haute Savoie departement (French Alps) and consists of Abondance, Avoriaz, Chatel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Morzine, Montriond and La Grande Terche ski resorts.
Avoriaz is a large, purpose-built resort in the commune of Morzine on the French side of the side of the Portes du Soleil ski area, one of the largest ski domains in the world. It shares Les Portes du Soleil with the Swiss resort of Les Crosets and Chatel and Morzine in France, and offers access to around 700km of runs, of which around 130km belong to Avoriaz itself. It is in a great position on the Portes du Soleil circuit, and generally enjoys the best snow in the Portes du Soleil. Of the purpose-built resorts that sprang up in the 1960’s, Avoriaz is one of the more sympathetically designed; it is compact, and, although some may find the non-traditional architecture something of an eyesore, the wooden buildings and their sloping roofs fit the mountains better than those of some of the other large purpose-built resorts. The scenery surrounding the area is truly breathtaking – Avoriaz is set above and below cliffs that are floodlit at night, providing a dramatic backdrop to evening activities off the slopes. Another of Avoriaz’s major selling points is the fact that it is entirely pedestrian; horse-drawn sleighs transport you around the resort, providing children with a constant source of entertainment!
Staying in Avoriaz
The choice of accommodation is, admittedly, slightly limited – there are few hotels or chalets to rent, so the resort is mostly dominated by apartments. These do provide excellent value for money, however, and are situated right on the slopes allowing guests the luxury of skiing right up to their doorstep. While there are a handful of hotels up to 3* such as the Hotel des Dromonts and the Hotel Neige-Roc, the best option for those in search of more up-market accommodation is to rent one of a range of luxury apartments, a number of which provide meals and wireless internet access. Maeva and Pierre et Vacances both have a good selection of apartments available to suit all tastes and budgets.
Skiing in Les Portes du Soleil
Avoriaz itself accounts for 130km of the 700km of pistes in Les Portes du Soleil. The huge area means that there is a huge variety of runs on offer, catering for everyone from complete beginners to experts. 40% of slopes are classed easy to medium, 37% are classed as medium, and black runs account for 10%. Adrenaline junkies might like to try the notorious ‘wall’ linking France with Switzerland, which features some of the toughest bumps around, or venture off-piste – Avoriaz offers what is probably the largest area for easily accessible off-piste skiing. Beginners are also amply provided for. A new beginner ski package called ‘Soft Ski’ was introduced in 2008/2009, which includes a lift pass, ski hire and lessons in a dedicated area on the Proclou sector near the top of the village. Avoriaz features an excellent ski school offering ski and snowboard tuition in English and French, either in small groups or privately. There are two freestyle parks for snowboarders to enjoy, as well as the rather imaginatively named “Superpipe”.
Other activities in Avoriaz
Avoriaz offers great opportunities for apres-ski – it has a range of options from quiet, cosy pubs to lively bars and nightclubs. There are also plenty of places to eat, both on the slopes and in the village itself. Sports enthusiasts can try their hand at mountain biking, snow shoeing, snowmobile and paragliding, or unwind in Avoriaz’s cinema or bowling alley, or with a spot of retail therapy in its boutiques.
Avoriaz with children
Avoriaz is a great place to come as a family. Very young children (3 months to 5 years) can make use of the creche facilities, which offer snow games on the large and sunny terrace, educational activities and meals on request upon production of a valid vaccination certificate. The ski school also runs a ‘ski nursery’ for children from 3 – 15 years old, and offer lessons specifically tailored to meet the needs of young skiers while their parents enjoy the slopes. The vast majority of the ski school staff speaks fluent English, and lessons tend to be a mixture of French and English children.
Avoriaz in summer
Avoriaz still has plenty to offer once the snow has melted. There is a wealth of outdoor activities set against the stunning backdrop of the mountains, including mountain biking, canyoning, tennis, fishing, horse riding, golf and hot air balloon rides.
Getting there and away
The nearest airport to Avoriaz is Geneva, which serves a number of destinations across the UK and worldwide. A bus runs between the airport and Avoriaz daily. The resort can also be reached by train – trains from Paris and Geneva arrive several times a day, with a shuttle bus transporting guests from the station to the resort.
Avoriaz – Fast Facts
– 42 years old
– France’s first and only car-free resort
– Resort elevation: 1800m
– Between 1000m – 2,277m
– 10% black runs
– 37% red runs
– 40% blue runs
– 202 lifts
Like Avoriaz, Les Gets is situated in the heart of Les Portes du Soleil. The village is friendly, and has a very ‘French’ feel to it, with two local areas of slopes. It is an attractive chalet-style village, and, although cars are permitted, traffic is mainly kept on the fringes. It is one of the quieter resorts, more family-oriented resorts, so those looking to party until dawn may wish to try one of Les Gets’ more raucous neighbours, but there are still plenty of bars, pubs and restaurants to enjoy after a day on the slopes, all offering fairly good value. Les Gets shares its piste area with slightly lower Morzine, and offers a fair amount of variety – there is a good choice of intermediate slopes, although it is slightly lacking in the more advanced black runs that more advanced skiers are looking for. Having said that, Les Gets is part of the vast Portes du Soleil ski pass region, so expert skiers are sure to find plenty to keep them occupied if they venture a little further afield. A new bus service has also recently been introduced, linking Les Gets, Morzine, St. Jean-d’Aulps and Avoriaz, making it even easier to access the slopes of neighbouring resorts.
Staying in Les Gets
The choice of accommodation on offer in Les Gets is more varied than in neighbouring Avoriaz – there are a number of hotels from 1-3* and chalets to rent, as well as the usual apartment blocks. The architecture is surprisingly attractive, and the village is characterised by snow-clad chalet-style buildings which make a refreshing change from the high-rise apartment buildings that so frequently dominate the landscape in purpose-built ski resorts.
Skiing in Les Gets
Les Gets is situated in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, allowing visitors to access 650 km of runs. It is particularly well-equipped for beginner and intermediate skiers, as 76% of its pistes are classed easy/medium or medium, but more adventurous types can find plenty to keep them occupied if they venture further into the Portes du Soleil area. Adrenaline junkies might like to try the notorious ‘wall’ linking France with Switzerland, which features some of the toughest bumps around, or venture off-piste. The Les Gets area offers “discovery” circuits which allow visitors of all abilities to venture as far as Switzerland by using a network of slopes of varying degrees of difficulty. Les Gets also offers fantastic skiing for children – the “Territoire du Grand Cry” is an area entirely reserved for children, featuring Wild-West themed ski slopes and boarder-cross style pistes. Nearby Mont Chery is often overlooked, but offers excellent skiing and a fantastic snowpark. There are a number of private companies offering lessons in Les Gets, but the biggest is the Ecole de Ski Francais, which provides tuition in English and French, either in small groups or individually.
Other activities in Les Gets
Les Gets has a number of other activities to offer visitors besides skiing – sightseeing by cablecar, walking in the mountains, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and paragliding are all within easy reach. Alternatively, you can unwind with a little retail therapy or over a meal in one of the resort’s many restaurants, relax in Les Gets’ spa, or enjoy a little apres-ski in the disco or bars.
Les Gets with children
Les Gets is a great place to take the kids – as a resort, it is child-friendly and family-oriented. It tends not to attract hordes of raucous party animals, so it is quieter than some of its neighbours, allowing guests to enjoy a peaceful night after a hard day on the slopes. The “Territoire du Grand Cry” ski area is entirely dedicated to children, offering Wild-West themed ski slopes, a boarder-cross park and themed activities such as treasure hunts and drawing contests, and is guaranteed to keep the kids occupied, allowing their parents to make the most of all that Les Gets has to offer. The Ecole de Ski Francais runs a nursery for very young children, and an activity club with ski lessons for children aged between 3 and 12 years, with English speaking staff and a range of activities such as snow games, sledging and walking.
Les Gets in Summer
Les Gets isn’t only a winter resort – it has plenty to offer visitors in summer, too. It is a paradise for mountain bikers, and boasts a fantastic 18-hole golf course with panoramic views of Mont Blanc. The area surrounding Les Gets is great for walking and hiking, and there is even a large natural swimming lake with a water slide and playground for children. Other activities on offer include canyoning, fishing, mini-golf, tennis, horse riding, go-karting and water sports. The resort also puts on a programme of activities specifically for children, including ceramic painting workshops, acrobatics workshops, and farm visits.
Getting there and away
Les Gets is one of the more easily accessible resorts in the Alps. It is located only 1 hour from Geneva International airport, with daily bus links between the resort and the airport. It is also a relatively short (9 hours) drive from the UK – it is motorway all the way from Calais until the last half hour.
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Les Portes du Soleil. We have a large network of agents in the French Alps. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: flat, chalet, gite or B&B we will do our best to find a property in the French Alps matching your requirements. To find out more about our selection of properties for sale in Les Portes du Soleil do not hesitate to contact us.