Both resorts can become lively after the ski day is over..
There is an ever-improving selection of après-ski bars in Avoriaz, one of the more vibrant of the French purpose-built resorts. Popular choices include Le Yéti (tel: +33 450 741 278) and Le Shooters (tel: +33 450 740 722). At Le Yak nightclub (tel: +33 450 495 166) the music keeps pumping until the early hours.
Popular venues in Morzine include Chaudanne wine bar (tel: +33 450 791 268) for electro-jazz and Le Robinson (tel: +33 450 790 978), a Morzine institution that serves the famous Mutzig beer.
The free Rock the Pistes (www.rockthepistes.com) après-ski music festival takes over the area for a week each March.
There are around 30 restaurants in Avoriaz, predominantly serving French mountain staples or pizza. Among these is the popular Wild Horse Saloon (Centre Commercial du Snow), which is a lively, modern restaurant with good music and a menu including both traditional dishes and tapas.
There is a much bigger selection of restaurants in Morzine, with over 100 restaurants and cafes to choose from, including a wide choice of traditional French establishments. Among the options for local specialities is the cosy La Grange (tel: +33 450 759 640; www.lagrangemorzine.com), and La Ferme de l’Alpage (tel: +33 450 791 239), which is owned and run by the local fruitière (cheesemaker) – guaranteeing excellent cheese dishes.
For gourmet fare, L’Atelier d’Alexandre (tel: +33 450 790 079; www.hotel-lesamoyede.com) in the Samoyède Hotel has been awarded two Chef’s Hats – a high grade from the famous Michelin gourmet guide.
If it’s a quick bite you’re searching for, a pizza from Le Schuss (tel: +33 611 919 404) really hits the spot after a long day on the slopes.
Beyond the slopes:
Both resorts have a wide range of activities off the slopes. At Avoriaz there’s a cinema, bowling alley, ice rink and fitness centre. Morzine’s indoor ice rink stages national league ice hockey matches as well as providing leisure skating, while the resort also has a bowling alley, games arcade and two cinemas.
There are two large swimming complexes, Aquariaz in Avoriaz, a tropical-themed indoor water park, and Morzine’s water sports centre (tel: +33 450 790 169) with family pools and a wellness area.
Outdoors activities are plentiful and include sleigh rides, winter hikes, snowshoeing, sledging, dog sledding, guided snow biking tours and snowmobiling excursions. You can also take to the skies hang-gliding, paragliding or on a helicopter tour. For those with a penchant for underwater activities, try a guided scuba dive beneath Lake Montriond, organised by Caméléon Production (tel: +33 450 759 400; www.cameleon-organisation.com), an unorthodox off-slope offering from your traditional ski resort.
Both resorts are well equipped for families with good nursery provision (from three months of age) and a choice of high-quality children’s ski schools. Avoriaz also has the added attraction of its safe, car-free status, whilst Morzine has the traditional resort charm and wide choice of off-slope activities.
Morzine has a programme of free entertainment for children, as well as a special sledging run and a dedicated children’s ski area. A free guide is available from the tourist office with details of the various activities on offer.
Avoriaz has built a strong family-friendly reputation with its Village des Enfants (tel: +33 450 740 446), which offers a host of activities beyond skiing, including skijoring for children, where they are towed on skis behind a pony.
Although there are about 25 shops covering all the basics in Avoriaz, Morzine is the better destination for shoppers with 100 or so choices. This is partly due to the fact the area has been a regional market town since well before the arrival of winter sports.
Morzine’s wide selection includes stylish boutiques, jewellers and chocolatiers. Visitors also have the option of taking an empty backpack and skiing over to one of the Swiss resorts such as Champéry for Swiss souvenirs and delicacies.
Spend an hour drifting above the slopes aboard a hot-air balloon with Caméléon Production (tel: +33 450 759 400; www.cameleon-organisation.com). As the route depends to some extent on wind direction, the operators cannot guarantee the exact landing point, but they do promise to return customers to the resort.
The twin resorts of Morzine and Avoriaz vary in style and accommodation. Whilst Avoriaz is a mixture of futuristic design and traditional chalet-style buildings, Morzine has a cosier, quaint vibe. There are around 50 hotels in Morzine, as well as a wide choice of chalets and apartments and a handful of guest houses. Avoriaz has slightly less choice but is still well equipped with a good selection of hotels and chalets.
Club Med AvoriazTelephone: +33 450 742 870 | Website: http://www.clubmed.co.uk | Moderate
The Club Med Avoriaz is an all-inclusive resort complex designed in a traditional wooden-chalet style. The resort is a good choice for families, with a central location in the heart of the pedestrianised area and ski clubs for both younger children and teenagers. Other facilities include a restaurant and cosy bar.
Hotel L'AubergadeTelephone: +33 450 790 369 | Website: http://www.laubergade.com | Moderate
Blessed with an ideal central location granting easy access to both the town and ski lifts, the 2-star Hotel L'Aubergade has spacious rooms and serves up good food in its on-site restaurant.
The FarmhouseTelephone: +33 450 790 826 | Website: http://www.thefarmhouse.co.uk | Luxury
The oldest building in Morzine, built in 1771, The Farmhouse is a British-run, luxury chalet with 11 well-appointed rooms and an on-site restaurant that serves delicious gourmet fare to diners seated round a grand communal banqueting table.
Au Coin de FeuTelephone: +33 450 747 521 | Website: http://www.chillypowder.com | Luxury
A British-run, luxury catered chalet where attentive service is the priority. The slopeside Au Coin de Feu offers various rooms, including a honeymoon suite with a four-poster bed and a hot tub.
Chalert d’AmoTelephone: +33 640 924 637 | Website: http://www.chaletdamo.com | Cheap
Budget accommodation situated 2km (1.2 miles) from the centre of Morzine, Chalert d'Amo offers rooms with private or shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi access is available, as well as an on-site restaurant and resort transfer services. Airport transfers and ski storage can also be arranged.
Hotel L'Ours BlancTelephone: +33 450 790 402 | Website: http://www.oursblanc-morzine.com | Cheap
A pleasant little 2-star hotel with a family atmosphere, Hotel L'Ours Blanc is handily located 500m (1,600ft) from the Super Morzine cable car and the sports centre.