Overview of Ski Area
Portes du Soleil (“Gateway to the Sun”) is one of the largest skiing areas in the world, with 650km of piste which links 14 charming and distinctive villages straddling the French-Swiss border. As a result of its size, this is a ski area which is suited to families, beginners, intermediates and experts alike.
With villages in both Switzerland and France, you will find that the resorts vary greatly and each has their own unique character. They all boast spectacular views, and plenty of dining options and facilities to keep you entertained away from the slopes.
On the slopes, Portes du Soleil has great variety and all skiers will feel well accommodated for. Covering such a vast area, this region also has world-famous backcountry skiing for the more confident riders and plenty of this is easily reachable. Terrain parks are also a big deal here, making it just as popular with snowboarders as it is with ski enthusiasts.
Due to the sheer size of the region, it can be difficult to see it all and many simply stay around their resort (particularly if it is one of the larger ones, as they already have so much to offer).
Overview of Resorts in Portes du Soleil
At 1800m, Avoriaz provides sublime views of the surrounding area and is a modern and car-free resort. Nursery slopes are on the doorstep and many family-friendly activities away from the slopes make this a popular choice with families.
- Guaranteed snow
- Ski in, ski out accommodation
Groups often choose Morzine-Avoriaz due to the lively après scene. It is also a picturesque town with a selection of shops, boutiques and activities to try, as well as quick access to Portes du Soleil’s entire region.
- Après ski scene
- Lively atmosphere
A busy and compact resort; Les Gets is popular with families due to the easy access to nursery slopes and the range of off-piste activities. The wide selection of bars, restaurants and the outdoor ice rink create a unique atmosphere at night.
- Après ski scene
St Jean d’Aulps
Surrounded and hidden by fir trees, St Jean d’Aulps has a relaxing atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The skiing is suited to all levels and there is a popular 20km forest circuit, plus a handful of slopeside restaurants. Hikes, horse riding tours and snowshoe archery are a few activities away from the slopes.
- Quiet & peaceful ski slopes
- Ski opportunities for all levels
Montriond is home to one of the longest runs in the region, l’Albricotine (almost 8km). It also has a charming and scenic village with a lake, waterfalls and several trails to follow. Food lovers often choose Montriond due to the wide variety of high-quality dining options.
- Challenging slopes
Abondance offers many activities, including downhill and cross-country skiing, ice driving, husky sledging, water sports, biathlon and ski joering. This is within beautiful natural surroundings with lakes, thick forests and mountain views. It is also home to restaurants, shops and bars.
La Chapelle d’Abondance
A small, scenic village-resort with wonderful views; La Chaepelle d’Abondance has many great activities in a peaceful setting. It is a good choice for families, with farm tours, horse-drawn carriage tours and husky sledging available. It is also home to food tasting under an igloo, a micro brewery, and plenty of restaurants and shops.
- Small and intimate resort
- Traditional chalets & farmhouses
A peaceful resort but also one with many great activities and a cosy après scene, Châtel is practically on the border of Switzerland and this enables you to visit scenic Swiss villages. Ice diving, paragliding, a cheese farm and shopping plus a selection of bars and restaurants will keep most entertained.
- Pleasant après-ski scene
- Activities for non-skiers
Champéry is a car-free village which combines authentic alpine charm with luxury to create an attractive resort that has many renovated shops, hotels and facilities. It also features good valley downhill skiing and many claim it to be the best winter hiking spot in the entire region.
- Downhill valley skiing
- Winter Hikes
- Car-free village
Morgins is a small resort with plenty of ski slopes easily accessible from the village, with cross-country fans benefiting from access to around 20km of trails. The authentic village has a pleasant après scene, a microbrewery, horse riding tours, a spa, restaurants and shops, a skating rink and more.
- Cross country skiing
- Pleasant après ski scene
- Practice slope in village centre
Torgon is a family-friendly resort which has a number of red and black slopes, along with a charming village to retire to after a day on the slopes. Here you will find a quiz trail for kids, archery, a children’s sledging area, skating rink and a fun and unique Geocaching game.
- Advanced skiers
Val-d’Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin
Val-d’Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin is located right in the heart of Portes du Soleil and attracts many advanced skiers thanks to the off-piste skiing and easy access to the region. It also has night skiing, snowshoe walks, ice-climbing, a slalom slope and plenty more alpine fun.
- Advanced skiers
The size of Portes du Soleil ensures that all levels are catered for. Most areas have a selection for all abilities, whilst a few of the resorts are more suited to certain skill levels (outlined above). With 650km of pistes there is enough to keep the majority entertained for the duration of their stay, with the following runs often being the ones that many list as their favourite.
- The Belette – A beginner run which gives novices the chance to escape the nursery slopes and up the mountain; The Belette is 3.5km and winds through the trees before finishing at Pre La Joux.
- The Mossette – This blue/red run has a little bit of everything, with sublime views as you follow the ridge line between France and Switzerland as well as free-flowing action with fast schuss sections and rollercoasters through the trees at the bottom.
- The Swiss Wall – One not for the feint of heart; The Swiss Wall is one of the most famous runs in Europe due to its daunting steepness. Starting at 2217m, the wall is never groomed and consequently there is 400m of extremely steep moguls.
- The Stash – Packed full of natural jumps, wall rides, rails and all kinds of other extras; The Stash is over a mile long and a great option for snowboarders and freeriders.
Portes du Soleil has many new ski lifts and facilities, which means that access is usually quick and easy. Avoriaz has a new variable-speed 6 seater chairlift with a new blue piste underneath, whilst a new chairlift in St Jean d’Aulps has replaced the old draglift.
Elsewhere, you will find a combination of modern ski lifts and gondolas with a few older and more traditional 2-seater chairlifts. There are also 102 drag lifts in the region.
There are 11 snowparks which all contain tables, boxes, wall rides, raised bends, rails and big air jumps. All levels are accommodated for, with many of the parks having dedicated zones for different skill levels.
Unsurprisingly, the sheer size of Portes du Soleil means that the nightlife is varied and both families and party seekers are accommodated for. There is also a great variety of restaurants to choose from, with Abondance and Montriond always being popular with food lovers.
For those seeking quiet, cosy and atmospheric après ski; Morgins and Châtel both have a pleasant ambience at night with a few different places to visit.
If you have come to Portes du Soleil looking for a party (and many do), Les Gets and Morzine have the liveliest evenings and parties which last until the sun comes up. You can also find live music, themed evenings and bars broadcasting all the major sports fixtures.
Although Portes du Soleil accommodates for all, it is recommended to research your resort so that you can easily find the night you are looking for after the last run of the day.
How to Get There
Lying between Lake Geneva and Mt Blanc, this ski region is easy to reach and can be accessed from a number of airports. By far the easiest is Geneva (GVA), which is just 1 hour away.
The easiest way to reach your resort from Geneva is with a Shuttle Direct transfer. They can pick you up from the airport and transport your equipment to your resort for no added charge. Their direct routes include Avoriaz, Morzine, Chambéry and other resorts in the Portes du Soleil region. This enables you to relax and take in the views as you enter The Alps.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is a leader in European transfers from airports, cruise ports, hotels and train stations. They provide a fast, reliable and efficient service and can accommodate all group sizes and budgets.
They have extensive experience of winter transfers in The Alps, with transfer options from Geneva (GVA), Chambéry (CMF), Grenoble (GNB) and Lyon (LYS).
Their team of experts can arrange all your transport from port of arrival to hotel and back, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride.