Last Updated on March 13, 2022
Avoriaz Ski Resort – the perfect resort for discovering the Portes du Soleil ski area, France
Have you been longing to get back to the mountains to ski? I certainly have, and with restrictions easing across Europe, it couldn’t be a better time to pack your bags and head for the pistes.
For me, this time, a holiday with my daughter rather than working a season, planned carefully to avoid the stress of crowded airports, hotels, and chalets. We booked a self-catering apartment in Avoriaz for two weeks at the beginning of February to miss the peak holiday times and decided to drive using Eurotunnel. A great option for us, with flexibility on the time we left and returned. We packed the car full of our skiing gear and some basic provisions and set off.
The journey was easy- we had all the paperwork required at the border controls as well as the NHS proof of being fully vaccinated with booster shots. It was good to be able to stop for a coffee, snack or just to stretch our legs. When we arrived at Avoriaz transport, by snowcat, took us to the apartment block – Avoriaz is car-free, so snowcat or horse and sleigh are the only forms of transport. We left the car behind and had booked a slot in the covered, underground car park for peace of mind.
Perched high on the clifftop above the Morzine Valley, Avoriaz 1800 is certainly dramatic with buildings covered in cedarwood and larch reaching into the sky. The resort was designed to be eco-responsible, with many initiatives from transport to the design of the buildings. The skiing is truly ski-in; ski-out, great for the end of the day when your legs get tired. Our apartment, part of the Residence Antares by Pierre et Vacances, was built into the hillside; we were on the thirteenth floor with amazing views over the resort and down into the Morzine valley from the sunny balcony.
Supermarkets, bars, and restaurants line the main street, easily accessible by lifts within the buildings to get you down to street level. Non-skiers can take a ride in one of the horse-drawn sleighs or spend time in Aquariaz, Europe’s highest water park with lush, tropical vegetation. There are plenty of bars to finish the day with an après ski drink, the Folie Douce, the Yeti, and Globetrotters to name a few.
There’s a huge amount of skiing to suit all abilities in the Portes du Soleil, which links 12 resorts, stretching from Les Gets to Morzine, Avoriaz, Châtel and even Morgins and Les Crosets in Switzerland; the area in total has more than 600km of pistes. From the Avoriaz ski resort, you can ski down a long blue to Prodains and catch the bus to Morzine. It’s well worth buying a full Portes du Soleil lift pass rather than a local one so you can explore the whole area. We really enjoyed the variety of the skiing and found quieter slopes away from the main routes down into Avoriaz and were fortunate to have several days of fresh snow during our stay, always a bonus. We especially loved spending time skiing on the tree-lined runs down to Châtel, which were beautiful after a night of snowfall.
When it’s time for a hot chocolate or tasty mountain lunch it’s easy to find a restaurant or bar from one of the many dotted around the mountains. Les Lindarets, one of my favourite stopping places, has a cluster of places to eat or sit in the sun and enjoy a drink. A short ski down from here towards the Ardent car park is the Goat village, or le village des chèvres, named because it is home to herds of goats in the summer.
Further afield ski into Switzerland to take a break at one of the traditional looking Swiss restaurants by the side of the pistes on the way to Les Crosets. Or stop at the border at the O’Padcha restaurant which has stunning views over both France and Switzerland. This is the starting point for the famous Swiss Wall Itinerary run for expert skiers, you can also take the chair lift down over the run as it goes in both directions, before deciding whether to attempt it.
As we were self-catering, we chose to take advantage of having lunch at a mountain restaurant when the weather was good. Our favourite was, without doubt, La Crémaillère one of the many to be found in the Goat village. This pretty, traditional, chalet has a lovely patio and an enticing menu of mountain specialities, difficult to choose from. We were tempted by the sound of fondue with speciality mushrooms but decided on Véritable Tartichèvre, with salade verte. There’s nothing better than a tartiflette, a classic Savoie dish of potatoes, cheese, lardons, and cream when you are skiing – we just had to try the version with goat’s cheese. It was a generous portion and came piping hot with a side salad. It was delicious and one of the highlights of our holiday.
Another memorable lunch was at the Blattin restaurant situated just off the piste in Châtel area, a hearty dish of camembert pané, camembert cooked in breadcrumbs, with potatoes and charcuterie, which we chose to share. It was very tasty and perfect for two hungry skiers.
We mainly cooked in the evenings but treated ourselves to a superb dinner at La Cabane in the centre of the resort one evening. This cosily lit restaurant is very popular and serves a good choice of menu including the traditional mountain dishes such as fondue and tartiflette. We decided to share the Côte du Boeuf with bearnaise sauce which was excellent.
Booking is essential if you want to have dinner at one of the restaurants in the resort. Masks are currently mandatory in France for shops, restaurants, and bars. If you want to eat indoors at the moment you need to show your “pass sanitaire” – proof of being fully vaccinated and having had your booster jab.
On a clear day, the sunset in Avoriaz is stunning, as the sky turns a beautiful orange as the sun slowly disappears behind the mountains. Our apartment was perfectly situated to make the most of the spectacular view.
We certainly had a great holiday in Avoriaz and will return in the future. The skiing was excellent, self-catering was a good choice of accommodation and driving made it easy for us to choose when to travel. If you are thinking of booking a ski holiday, why not consider Avoriaz – central to exploring the Portes du Soleil?
For information on fares and booking, Eurotunnel visit Le Shuttle
For further details on Avoriaz the resort
Travel restrictions are constantly changing, you can find what you need to travel to France on the Foreign Travel advice for France.
Pierre et Vacances has details of lots of apartments throughout the French Alps. You can also pre-book your lift passes at a discounted rate so they are ready for you on arrival.