The highest French mountain resort in the Portes du Soleil, Avoriaz is in the commune of Morzine. It is located on a south-facing plateau above Morzine in the department of Haute Savoie and is one of the earliest developments for skiing with the first lifts being installed in the early 1930s. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, Avoriaz is the ideal starting point for the largest linked international skiing area in the world and caters for all standards of snow sports. It ranks amongst the top snowboarding destinations and with snow parks such as The Stash and world-class events all winter long, it is a snowboarder’s paradise. Avoriaz is also a centre for trekking, golf, mountain biking and other outdoor activities during the summer. With its elevated position between steep cliff walls and gentle slopes, the resort has a favoured climatic advantage with continual snow and sunshine offering visitors fantastic opportunities all year round.
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Originally the area surrounding Avoriaz was used as alpine pasture land. Shepherds built simple wooden chalets which were only occupied in the spring and summer before taking their animals back down the mountain for the winter.
In the early 1960s, Jean Vuaret, a former Olympic ski champion, born in Morzine, had a vision to utilise the magnificent snow fields and encouraged the development of Avoriaz as a ski resort. Together with a team of three young architects, a new concept of winter skiing accommodation and leisure activities was explored. In December 1962 the contract to develop the ski slopes and install ski lifts was signed. The architects’ ideas were designed to work in harmony with the environment and much consideration was given to making the buildings blend in well with the mountains. In March 1966 the Hotel Dromont was completed including its restaurant and discothèque. Known as the ‘Saint Tropez de Neige’, the centre quickly became a favourite of the jet set and fashionable shops began a trend of winter sporting holidays for the élite. Today, Avoriaz is more of a mainstream family resort offering 130 km of piste and first class amenities.
Les Portes du Soleil is named after a pass between France and Switzerland. The entire region has nearly 700 km of piste – linked together by more than 200 lifts. The Avoriaz pistes are divided into four sectors: The Lindaret, Haut-Forts, Fornet and Super Morzine. The Lindaret is a beautiful valley with a number of picturesque red and blue runs and one black. It has several good restaurants and a small village at the bottom of the valley. Super Morzine is mostly used by ski schools and beginners whilst The Haut-Forts has the most demanding runs – many of which are for experts only. The Fornet area has skiing everywhere and includes The Swiss Wall, one of the steepest pistes in Europe.
Downhill mountain biking is very popular throughout Les Portes du Soleil and particularly in the area of Lindaret in Avoriaz where a number of chairlifts operate during the summer to accommodate the ever increasing enthusiasts. Hiking trails are an important feature for tourists particularly for ramblers interested in wildlife. Tobogganing, husky sledding, ice skating, cross country skiing and snow-shoeing activities are all available with experienced guides on hand if necessary. Transport around the resort includes horse-drawn sleighs during the winter – especially useful après ski.
Accommodation & Restaurants
Residences throughout Avoriaz are well situated to give visitors breathtaking views across the Morzine valley. Apartments are in great demand throughout the winter season and it is advisable to book well in advance. Self-catering chalets and hotels offer every facility for families and many are within easy reach of the ski slopes.
Nightlife and après-ski activities in Avoriaz are legend ! When the sun goes down there are numerous bars and restaurants to choose from with several hostelries at the bottom of the ski slopes to revive you after a hard day’s exercise.
By car: Take the D902, Route des Grandes Alpes from either Thonon at Lake Geneva or Cluses junction on the A40 motorway between Geneva and Chamonix to Morzine. Then the D338 from Morzine to Avoriaz.
By air: the closest airport is Geneva which is about 100 kms from Avoriaz.
By train: Eurostar + TGV. London to Paris or Lille and then change to TGV.