Morzine-Avoriaz ski resort
Morzine and Avoriaz are two neighbouring, but very different ski resorts in the Portes du Soleil area that stretches across the French-Swiss border. Both have grown remarkably in international significance and in dimensions with 650km (400 miles) of piste served by more than 200 lifts all on the open pass. However there are some notable differences between the two.
Morzine is one of the original ski resorts in the Alps, with skiers having visited here for more than 80 years. It’s located at quite a low altitude and is built in a traditional chalet style.
On the other hand, Avoriaz, 800m (2,625ft) above Morzine, was stylishly purpose-built in the late 1960s to a futuristic design using traditional wood and sloping roofs, in order to blend in to the surrounding environment. Avoriaz is also France’s first car-free resort and its authorities are quick to emphasise its environmental credentials.
The two are linked by a number of lifts, including an ultra modern giant gondola that was installed in 2014, which greatly improved both the speed and capacity of the connection. Among other recent developments, the large Aquariaz thermal swimming and leisure complex opened at the base of the slopes in Avoriaz, offering a great place for family fun.
Avoriaz and Morzine are located in the Haute Savoie department of the Rhône-Alpes region in the southeast of France, near the border with Switzerland.
On the slopes
Both resorts are at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area, which incorporates the skiing at 12 villages on either side of the French-Swiss border.
The skiing here is not quite fully interlinked, however, otherwise it would be more widely acknowledged as the world’s biggest ski area (as it claims to be). Its 650km (407 miles) of runs total more than the Trois Vallées, which is popularly regarded as the world’s biggest as all its runs are lift-linked – but who’s splitting hairs?
Needless to say, with such a huge area there’s a vast choice of terrain suiting accomplished skiers, intermediates and also beginners looking to take on their first few runs. The snow is reliable in both resorts, with Avoriaz offering the most snowsure slopes and Morzine having invested heavily in snowmaking – the ski season in both resorts runs from mid-December until mid-April.
The ski area between the two resorts is known as Super Morzine and offers plentiful options, but those staying in Morzine may instead opt for the ski area on Le Pleney/Les Chavannes rather than Mount Ranfolly, which is shared with another neighbour, Les Gets.
From Avoriaz, it’s easy to head over to the Swiss resorts like Champéry, with brave skiers having the option of taking the infamous Swiss Wall black run down (many others descend on the chairlift).