- Rating: 3 Star
- Location: Crozats
- Room Type: Studio, 1 Bedroom
Built in the 1960’s, Avoriaz is a purpose built resort that got it right – brilliant architectural design, good town planning and car free with easy access to the slopes at all points. It was the brainchild of local Olympic skier, Jean Vuarnet and architects Jacques Labro, Jean-Jacques Orzoni and Jean-Marc Roques who created the, fantasy-inspired getaway high on a steep cliff overlooking the town of Morzine. The village which over the years has kept its character and design is all angular and wood-clad and blends into the mountains.
Avoriaz is at 1,800m and as it is at the centre of the Portes du Soleil ski area, is ideally situated to make the most of the 650 kms of skiing. It offers good skiing for all levels and as it is truly a car free resort, it is popular with families. It also benefits from being one of the closest French resorts to Geneva airport meaning short transfer times and for such a modern masterpiece, the final leg of the journey is romantically old fashioned as horse drawn sleighs take you from the car park/taxi stop at the entrance to the resort to your accommodation.
Set in a bowl the skiing and lifts fan out in all directions and the slopes are easily accessible from most accommodations. There are lots of après-ski activities and a plentiful supply of bars and restaurants ensuring that Avoriaz ticks all the holiday boxes.
Avoriaz is a compact and well-designed village, built into the slope with a series of linking walkways, escalators and lifts. As the resort is car free, parking or transfer stops are at the resort entrance and transfer to the village and accommodation is either by horse-drawn slight of in a caterpillar-tracked shuttle bus (la navette chenille).
The town centre is the Place Centrale and the resort fans out around this with most accommodations being ski-in/out. There are 2 lower hamlets of Ardent & Prodains and the area close to the resort entrance is Amara with Crozats at the top far side of the resort.
Avoriaz and the larger Portes du Soleil ski area has plenty to please all levels of skiers with long cruisy blues and reds and a chance to clock up the kilometres skiing the 12 linked resorts. It is also a mecca for boarders and freestylers with five snow parks and a superpipe for freestyler as well as fast, technical off-piste routes for expert skiers and boarders.
For really good skiers looking for a challenge head to the (in)famous ‘Swiss Wall’ – a steep unforgiving slope at the top of the Chavanette sector just beyond the Swiss border. Go early morning before the moguls are formed and don’t attempt when its icy! After that (!) enjoy the long, steep blacks from the top of the Grand Combs lift down to Prodains. Or have fun on the great selection of long reds which weave through the trees, between Les Lindarets and Chatel.
If you’re into off-piste skiing, there are 3 runs that should be on your ‘to do list’ – the Vallée de la Manche – a 10km descent with views of the Mont Blanc; La Pointe de Vorlaz – a fast and technical run; and on the Swiss side Mossette which starts with a narrow passage before opening into a large plateau.
Skiers of all abilities and confidence levels will enjoy the huge variety of Snowcross Zones where you can enjoy the thrill of an un-pisted slope in a safe and patrolled area – these zones are grade black, red and blue so choose your level and enjoy.
Avoriaz is boarder and freestyle paradise, this was one of the pioneering resorts for the sport and it built its first snow park back in the 1990’s. There are four terrain parks and some great off-piste riding. There are also lots of wide slopes and very few drag lifts!
|Skiable Terrain||75.5 km of piste|
|Top Elevation||2,277 m|
|Base Elevation||1,150 m|
|Average Snowfall||7.5 m|
|Winter lifts Total||34|
|Longest Run||5 km|
|Snowmaking||18.5 km covered|
Minibus transfers to the resort operate from the airport, bus or train station.
The local train station is at Cluses in the valley which is about 55 mins drive from the resort. There are no intercity direct trains to Cluses so train travel would involve several changes.
From Cluses in the valley it is a 42 kms drive to Avoriaz. Snow tyres/ chains are recommended. As Avoriaz is a car free resort, compulsory parking is at the resort entrance. This needs to be pre-booked. From there you can get a horse-drawn sleigh or snowmobile to your accommodation
In Avoriaz there are two main types of lift pass – the Portes du Soleil Pass (which covers the full area) and the Avoriaz Pass (which covers the local area). The Portes du Soleil is more comprehensive, covering all the lifts in 12 linked resorts in France and Switzerland and is recommended for all but beginner skiers.
For complete beginners there are 5-hour, 1 and 2-day beginner passes which give access to nursery slopes via the Prodains cable car.
Children under 5 years are free but you will need to show proof of age to get these passes. These passes need a photo (though this can be taken at the lift office counter) and there is a 3 euro charge for the ‘hands free card’
There are discounts for families based on 2 adults and a minimum of 2 children and for 2 or more passes bought for 6 days+ for the same ski area.
There are also 45 kms of prepared cross-country ski tracks – a third of which are classified as black run mainly between Avoriaz and Super-Moraine
You can add ski insurance to your lift pass to cover you in case of accidents but you do need to check against your holiday insurance to see if you need this additional cover.
There are a number of ski schools in the resort offering everything from group lessons to private tuition and guiding. Group lessons typically start on Sunday or Monday and run for 5 or 6 mornings.
The ESF (French Ski School) run a nursery for children from 6 months and offer a ski club and ski lessons from age 4 upwards.
Horse-drawn Sleigh – As this is a pedestrianised resort you will find an abundance of horse drawn vehicles which can transport people, luggage and goods from the car park to accommodations. You can also take a more leisurely scenic to see the resort and surrounding area.
Ice skating – The ice rink in Avoriaz is opposite the Carrefour supermarket and it’s the perfect place to go at the end of a ski day skate and enjoy a hot chocolate. Perfect for families and free for under 5 years and discounted for 5-16 years.
Snowshoe Outings – This is a wonderful way to see the area and to work up an appetite for dinner. You can hire racquettes and follow the trail maps or you can join an organised group but either way don’t forget your camera as the scenery is magnificent and you may see some local wildlife. There is also an organised evening outing with dinner in a mountain refuge.
Farm Visit – This is still a very agricultural area and you can visit a working cattle farm, La Ferme de Seraussaix which is on the Route d’Avoriaz. It is open daily and you can visit the cows and calves and then taste the local chees that is produced. You can even stay for a fondue lunch.
Igloo Visit – Visit a bar and restaurant with a difference. Located near the Prodains bubble is the Igloo Village. See the intricately designed igloos and stay for a drink at the ice bar and sample the local cheese and charcuterie. Open for dinner on Wednesdays and Saturday – but you do need to book.
Water Park – Aquariaz is an amazing water park in the centre of Avoriaz with swimming pool, indoor river, a slidewinder (an aquatic halfpipe), a toddlers’ paddling pool & water playhouse, a large pool with natural climbing walls. The centre also offers aquatic sports classes including aqua zumba, fitness, and aqua step.
Night Sledging – After the ski lifts have closed experience the pistes from a different angle. Starting in the centre of Avoriaz toboggan over 1,000 m downhill to Prodains. The piste is supervised and you do need a valid ski pass, helmet and be over 14 years.
Take to the Skies – Avoriaz offers a number of activities that allow you to appreciate the stunning scenery from the skies. Try a tandem paraglide or maybe view the peaks of Mont Blanc on a scenic helicopter flight. Or to have a bird’s eye view at a gentler pace, take to the sky in a hot air balloon ride
Festival – Avoriaz is one of the hosts of the annual Rock the Pistes festival where various daytime stages are set up around the Portes du Soleil ski are, with bands and DJs belting out the tunes, and music events and gigs happening in the resort in the evenings too.
Although heliskiing is not permitted in France, due to Avoriaz’s proximity to Switzerland it is possible to arrange a day’s heliskiing over the border.
There is an enormous range of off-piste and back-country skiing in the Portes du Soleil area. Spend a day with a guide exploring the areas inaccessible by lift. Most of the ski hire shops have touring skis and off-piste equipment available for hire.
Avoriaz has a good selection of restaurants and as most are on the snow front or close to it, they are also a good option for lunch as well as in the evening. A new addition to the restaurant scene is La Reserve where chef Jean-Luc Woehl cooks in front of 20 diners using only fresh local ingredients so the menu changes daily. For a special occasion head to Table du Marche at the Hotel des Dromonts where chef Christophe Leroy prepares a fine dining menu. Avoriaz has a number of friendly, cheerful and well-priced restaurants serving local specialities, fondues and pizza.
The Portes du Soleil is well supplied with great mountain restaurants but not to be missed are those in Les Lindarets, a hamlet of rustic charm often known as the ‘goat village’ although more appropriate in the summer than during the ski season. Try La Cremaillere , La Terrasse and Chez Flo for great food.
Avoriaz has some lovely bars and après-ski, which is from 3pm onwards is relaxed and easily accessed on your ski home. Try the Igloo Bar, which is at the bottom of the Arrare piste, and admire the beautiful ice carvings while sipping an ice-cold beverage and enjoy the music and the views. The sunny terrace at Le Brasserie where there is usually a live band playing is also a great stop-off at the end of the ski day.
Avoriaz is also home to the legendary Folie Douce with its restaurant, bar and cabaret – all of which are well worth the visit.
There is everything you need for your stay in Avoriaz including a couple of small supermarkets, bakery, pharmacy, cheese shop and a deli selling local specialities. There are a number of ski shops hiring and selling ski kit and the resort is particularly good if you’re looking to buy a snowboard or boarding clothing. But this is not the resort for indulging in retail therapy – better to go down the hill to Morzine where you will find more extensive shopping and a weekly farmer’s market.