Swiss Alps Retreat: Skiiers Guide To Morzine And The Portes du Soleil

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Morzine

I’ve been lucky enough to go skiing in the Alps every year for the past six years. Although I normally go to a different resort every time as there are so many to choose from, that all changed last year when I went to Morzine with a group of 10 friends. I loved it so much I decided to go back again this year, and it didn’t disappoint.

Morzine is one of the main towns within the Portes du Soleil, a massive alpine skiing resort with 404 miles (650 kilometers) of pistes that bridge 12 resorts across Switzerland and France. On the French side you’ve got Morzine, which lies at the heart of the Portes du Soleil; Avoriaz, a snowy town with high altitude and many ski-in/ski-out accommodations; Les Gets, which faces the sunshine and has some pleasant tree-lined runs; and Chatel, which offers a great base camp as it is well connected. Moreover, with the addition of 30 snow cannons covering the lower slopes, Chatel now has an extended skiing season. On the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil the resorts are smaller and more intimate with wooden chalets perched on cliff edges. We made a point of visiting them as they have great restaurants at the bottom of the slopes, so it’s possible to have lunch in Switzerland and go back to France for dinner.

Portes du Soleil offers worthwhile skiing for all abilities. Beginners will find it relatively easy to progress to skiing on the gentle blue slopes around Avoriaz. And very accomplished skiers can attempt the extreme ‘Swiss wall’ outside Les Crosets, which you can see in the video above.

For snowboarders there are a total of 10 snow parks to visit across all of the resorts suitable for newbies and pros. In the Avoriaz region there is the “La Chapelle” snowpark, which is the most notable and has some huge jumps and rails for grinding.

Even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. One of the most sedentary options for transporting yourself around the area is by horse-drawn sleighs across Avoriaz. Avoriaz is a car-free town so horses and sleighs also double up as resort taxis. If downhill skiing isn’t your thing there are many people snow shoeing up the mountains, but if you’re after high octane fun there is a surprising amount of people paragliding, dodging trees and chairs lift and — seemingly effortlessly — floating down to terra firma (land).

crepes

If you still have some energy after your active day you can sample the Apres Ski culture of the area. There are some great chalets between the major ski runs that offer vin chaud (mulled wine) and fondue with fantastic views. My personal favorite Apres Ski venue is the ‘L’Passage Café’ just outside the Super Morzine lift station. And when you disembark the lift be sure to stop at Morzine creperie Chez Martine for the best crepes you’ve ever tasted.

Because our trip was in March it meant we were able to experience the Rock the Pistes Festival. The annual event features French rock and pop bands, with open air stages set up on the slopes so you can ski straight to them. The festival is run at a different place within the resort every day for five days. Admission is free with your lift pass.

Enjoying the powder at Portes du Soleil. Image via Sander Westerveld.

Enjoying the powder at Portes du Soleil. Image via Sander Westerveld.

Portes du Soleil is not just open for the winter season, it’s also a very popular area for mountain bikers in the summer. Buying a multi-pass will help you get the bikes up the mountain on the ski lifts so you can have all the enjoyment of biking down without the exhaustion of biking up the mountains. Multi-passes are also suitable for locals as it includes unlimited use of the Aquariaz indoor pool complex, all the sports equipment for tennis and mini-golf in Avoriaz and Morzine’s new indoor pool and spa complex (pools only).

There are regular flights from the United Kingdom and across Europe to Geneva airport, and once there the Portes du Soleil region can be accessed in less than 90 minutes, this means that if you leave early in the morning you can be on the slopes in the afternoon which is great for a weekend away to the Alps.

About The Author

This guest post comes from Helen Payne from Wandering Albatross. She loves traveling and holidays. Now working full time, Helen makes efficient use of her holiday time to visit as many places as possible. Stay tuned for articles about Peru, US, South East Asia and Europe on her travel blog. You can also follow her on Twitter @Wanderin_Tweets.

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