It’s hard to say whether the Trois Vallées resorts of Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens or the vast “Gateway To The Sun’ network of 14 resorts spread far and wide across the French-Swiss border comprise the biggest ski region in the world. Either way the message is clear: there’s an awful of skiing to be had – around 650km! Car-free Avoriaz, at 1800m the highest of the region’s resorts , with its “space-age” architecture and strong snowboarding culture (along with its “chocolate-box” Savoyard neighbour Morzine), is regarded as effectively the “capital” of the Portes du Soleil. It’s ideally positioned as a base to explore the region in all directions. Morzine has 49 lifts which link with Les Gets on the local lift pass. Other French resorts include La Chapelle d’Abondance, Abondance, Les Gets, and Châtel. You’ll see the mighty Mont Blanc on the horizon from many locations. People often ask if you need a passport to cross the Swiss border to get to such resorts as Champéry, Champoussin, Morgins and Torgon. Technically the answer is yes, but the chances of being stopped and asked to “show your papers” is just about zero! There’s lots of easy skiing spread across this vast arena, but the link that some skiers and boarders might need to worry slightly about is Le Pas de Chavanette – AKA the Swiss Wall (Mur Suisse) - between Avoriaz and Planachaux. The descent, which starts right on the French-Swiss border – is uncomfortably steep and almost always heavily mogulled, especially near the top where the bumps can become huge. The good news is that you can “download” on the Chavanette chairlift instead of skiing down. This means a weaker skier can take the chair, while a stronger companion can ski down. Sometimes, depending on conditions, by veering off to the left at the top of the run, there’s a long powder field. So if you prefer powder to bumps, this might be the way to go. Either way wearing protective gear like a helmet and a back protector is recommended.
Morzine is a picturesque Sayoyard town, set in a beautiful valley with traditional chalet-style architecture. The local friendly skiing terrain is perfect for beginners and intermediates with the Pleney pistes overlooking the town and the 49 lifts linked with Les Gets on the local lift pass.More information
The purpose built, very snow sure resort of Avoriaz is the highest in the huge Portes du Soleil - the world’s largest international linked ski area, and, being traffic-free, appeals to families as well as to skiers and boarders of all abilities.More information