Portes du Soleil is one of the largest ski areas in the world. Located between the Lac Leman and The Mont Blanc, the area expands between the French and the Swiss Alps and is part of the Massif du Chablais. It comprises 12 resorts, 8 of them being located on the French side. Among those there are Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz and Chatel.
The idea to create a huge skiing area by linking together several resorts came from a group of friends who took the example of American ski resorts. In 1964, their project was presented at Lausanne National exhibition and in 1965 was born the Portes du Soleil Franco-Swiss ski area.
Most of the resorts are connected by lifts so you can start your day in one of the resorts in France and ski all the way through the swiss side without ever taking your skis off.
WINTER IN PORTES DU SOLEIL
Walking in the snow as soon as you leave your door, being surrounded by traditional wood and stone chalets, looking up and all you can see is pine trees and mountains covered in snow, enjoying the quiet and the fresh mountain air. If this is how you pictured your perfect holidays in a ski resort then the resorts of Portes du Soleil are perfect for you! Whether you’re staying in Châtel, Les Gets or Morzine you will find the authenticity that you are looking for.
Châtel is split in two areas. Super-Châtel will be more appreciated by beginners and snow-park lovers while Linga-Pré La Joux will suit more confirmed skiers. From here you will also benefit from a direct link to Avoriaz and the Swiss resorts of Torgons and Morgins. There is now a direct lift system, linking Châtel with the rest of the Portes du Soleil. Châtel was always the forgotten cousin of Morzine, but now after recent infrastructure investment this picturesque village holds its own in the Portes du Soleil.
Our tips for eating and drinking:
La Poya for its delicious food and great service and L’Avalanche for its permanent party mode.
Les Gets is the perfect resort for all type of skiers, indeed there are special areas dedicated for kids and beginners and some good beginners’ slopes, but the most experts skiers won’t get bored either as there is a good selection of red and black slopes as well as some good powder snow spots and freestyle facilities. Les Gets is one of the prettiest resorts in the Alps, with a traditional Alpine atmosphere and a busting ‘High Street’ packed with slops, restaurants and bars. From here you also have access to Morzine or the greater area of Portes du Soleil.
Our tips for eating and drinking:
The‘rue de centre’ in Les Gets offers a great selection of bars. Head upstairs to the Canadian bar Black Bear and you won’t be disappointed by its lively atmosphere. La Pela offers great raclette and a charming traditional atmosphere.
Morzine is more of a family orientated ski area as there is a predominance of beginners to intermediate ski slopes but you can find more challenging ones towards the resort of Avoriaz which is linked to Morzine thanks to the Super Morzine gondola.
Avoriaz is a purpose-built ski-in ski-out resort completely car free. Designed by three young French architects, the buildings are designed to be an extension of the mountains when you look from the valley below. Motorised vehicles have been replaced by horse drawn sleighs. The resort was built so that anywhere you want to go, you can get there with your skis on. Ski wise, there is everything you can hope for, children and beginners areas for skiing and even snowparks where you can safely practice your tricks. Experts will also have their space to enjoy a good freeride session. No need to say that the domain offers green to black slopes and direct access to Portes du Soleil ski area.
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
Every resort offers a large range of activities besides skiing. The area totals 280km of cross-country skiing along with some good hiking and snowshoe itineraries. You will also be able to try out ice skating and have a fun sledge ride. You could also go husky sledging in Avoriaz or Les Gets. If you enjoy a good thrill then why not try paragliding. For a more relaxed time you can go for an ice fishing trip, a day at the spa or simply visit the local museums.
A SUMMER IN PORTES DU SOLEIL
Summer is also a great time to spend in the mountains and enjoy the great outdoors. There are lots of activities to do such as hiking, rock climbing or kayaking. The area is also a paradise for mountain and road bikers. Indeed it offers some of the best trails for MTB as well as amazing bike parks. Not to be missed is the Fantasticable zip line in Châtel and Aquoriaz which is the highest European water park in Avoriaz.
EVENTS IN PORTES DU SOLEIL
Portes du soleil is the host of some major events throughout the year in summer the season starts with Pass’ Portes du Soleil MTB which is a famous mountain bike trek and in winter the Rock the Pistes Festival animates the resorts for a week with concerts on and off pistes. Each resort organises events during the seasons to entertain the population and the tourists with concerts, night skiing, competitions, markets and many other fun activities are to be expected.
Portes du Soleil is located one and a half hour drive from Geneva which makes it a good place for short term stays. From Geneva airport, shuttles will drive you to the Portes du Soleil resorts. If you plan on coming by car you should expect a 9 hours drive from Calais. The nearest train stations are Thonons-Les-Bains and Cluses on the French side and Lausanne, Montreux and Aigle on the Swiss side. From there you can then book shuttles to bring you to your resort.