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Avoriaz is the highest and most convenient ski resort in the vast Portes du Soleil ski area, which offers more than 600km of pistes on both sides of the French-Swiss border.
Part of the resort’s appeal is that it genuinely offers something for everyone, from gentle snow-sure nursery slopes to some of the toughest black runs in France.
In between there is also a wealth of intermediate terrain, not forgetting easy access to the rest of the Portes du Soleil, one of the largest interlinked ski areas in the world.
Where is Avoriaz?
Geneva - 1hr30
Avoriaz is in the northern French Alps (Haute-Savoie), close to the border with Switzerland, and is part of the vast Portes du Soleil ski area, which also includes neighbouring Morzine just down the valley.
Avoriaz - the resort
Resort height: 1800m
Avoriaz is a purpose-built ski resort like no other, with a dramatic cliff-top location and uniquely futuristic architecture that is cleverly designed to blend into its rocky surroundings.
Both traffic-free and genuinely ski-in, ski-out, it is ideal for families looking for a safe and snowy, yet vibrant ski resort atmosphere.
Avoriaz's ski area
|(950-2275m - Portes du Soleil)|
|(650km - Portes du Soleil)|
Avoriaz’s local slopes are split into several distinct sectors. Immediately above the resort are the open bowls and peaks of Les Hauts Forts, Arare and La Chavanette. From Les Hauts Forts you can ski down long, partially wooded runs to Les Prodains, not far from Morzine. Les Hauts Forts is also home to a number of excellent black runs.
From the top of La Chavanette you can tackle the famous “Swiss Wall” (or take a chair down) which leads you to the Swiss area of Champéry-Les Crosets. Beyond Les Crosets you can continue to Morgins via Champoussin and, if you are skiing the circuit, back to Avoriaz via Châtel.
On the other side of Avoriaz, just over the ridge which extends around the back of the resort, you have the heavily wooded Les Lindarets area. Not only is this an excellent place to ski in bad weather, but it is also home to “The Stash”, an innovative eco-friendly snow-park using 100% natural materials for its multitude of tricks and jumps.
Beyond Les Lindarets you can continue on to the Châtel ski area, and from there right round the famous Portes du Soleil circuit, ending up back in the Swiss resort of Les Crosets.
In normal snow conditions, the Portes du Soleil circuit is easily manageable in a day by an average intermediate and can be skied in either direction. The only place you have to take your skis off is in Morgins (and only for a very short distance if you are skiing the circuit anti-clockwise from Avoriaz - i.e. through Châtel first).
Avoriaz's snow record
Our snow rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
With a seasonal snowfall average of around 7.5m at resort level, Avoriaz is officially the snowiest ski resort in France. Not surprisingly, its local slopes are very reliable for snow, especially on the north-facing Les Hauts Forts, Arare and La Chavanette sectors.
Elsewhere in the Portes du Soleil, Châtel’s Linga and Plaine Dranse areas also hold their snow well. However, the Portes du Soleil area is generally quite low and some of it (especially on the Swiss side) is south-facing, which means that snow quality can be a bit more hit and miss, particularly later in the season.
Where to find the best snow in Avoriaz
The best snow quality in Avoriaz is usually found at the top of the Arare and Les Hauts Forts sectors.
Later in the season, avoid the sunnier aspects of the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil (i.e. Les Crosets and Champoussin) if you don’t want to ski on slush by late morning.
Where to ski in bad weather
The Lindarets sector of Avoriaz has the greatest concentration of trees, and is the best place to head to in bad weather or poor visibility. The runs below Avoriaz down to Prodains also afford some shelter, as long as you avoid the higher of the two chairs back up.
If you can get there, and assuming the snow is ok, Morzine has some of the best wooded terrain in the Portes du Soleil.
Avoriaz for expert skiers
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Avoriaz has the greatest concentration of black runs in the Portes du Soleil and is an excellent choice for expert skiers and snow-boarders.
The Hauts Forts sector is the place to head, with three long blacks of around 1000m vertical and lots of off-piste variants.
Expert skiers will also want to tackle the infamous “Swiss Wall” off the top of La Chavanette, where moguls are left to grow to the size of small cars!
Avoriaz for intermediate skiers
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Avoriaz is an intermediate’s paradise with seemingly unlimited options whichever way you look. Keen intermediates will want to try the famous Portes du Soleil circuit, which can be skied in both directions but which is marginally more rewarding tackled clockwise.
The Morzine-Les Gets ski area is also well worth exploring in good snow conditions. However, there is more than enough to keep even the most enthusiastic intermediate happy for a week in and around Avoriaz itself.
Avoriaz for beginner skiers
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Avoriaz is a great ski resort for beginners with convenient-snow-sure nursery slopes, both in and above the village, and a fabulous long, gentle green run (Proclou) to progress to.
Avoriaz for cross country skiers
Avoriaz has 29.5km of excellent snow-sure cross-country ski trails spread over eight loops on a high plateau close to the resort.
Mountain restaurants in Avoriaz
Avoriaz and the Portes du Soleil, in general, have an excellent choice of mountain restaurants. Those clustered in the old village of Les Lindarets are renowned for their rustic charm, with La Cremaillère and La Terrasse des Lindarets coming particularly recommended.
In the Super-Morzine sector, Le Passage is another atmospheric place with a big reputation. Further afield there is another group of excellent mountain restaurants in the Plaine Dranse sector, en-route to Châtel.
Avoriaz for non-skiers
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Avoriaz has more to entertain non-skiers than many French purpose-built ski resorts, including the state-of-the-art Aquariaz swimming pool complex, an ice rink, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
Non-skiers can also explore the much larger town of Morzine, a short journey down the valley via cable-car and bus.
Our rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Avoriaz is relatively lively for a purpose-built ski resort, with a good choice of bars and clubs lining its main street.
Top après-ski recommendations include the Chalet d’Avoriaz (also known as Chez L’Envers) for a lively post-ski atmosphere, the Le Chapka sports bar in the Falaise district or, if you have stamina for a late night dance, The Place.
Eating out in Avoriaz
Avoriaz has a wide range of restaurants to choose from, most of which can be found on the main street, but two or three options are also available up in the Falaise district.
In the centre of the resort, Le Bistro has a wide ranging menu and a solid reputation. The Chalet d’Avoriaz (also known as Chez L’Envers) is also praised for its cosy atmosphere and friendly service.
Snow-wise's top tip
The infamous “Swiss Wall” may get all the publicity but if you like long black mogul runs you should try the Combe du Machon in the Les Hauts Forts area, which is at least as challenging and often has the better snow.
Considering a luxury ski holiday or short break in Avoriaz?
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