- Highest Point: 2466m
- Descent: 1400m
- No. lifts: 201 (Portes du Soleil)
- Lift Pass: 1 Day - €51 / 6 Days - €255
Morzine and Avoriaz are two of the best ski towns in France and form part of the huge Portes du Soleil area. Purpose-built Avoriaz is perched seemingly precariously on a plateau at 1800m. It is very convenient, offering ski-in-ski-out accommodation, but lacks the friendly atmosphere of Morzine which breaks the traditional French stereotype not being as ugly as sin, and instead an attractive village full of wooden chalets with not a high-rise in sight!
Both resorts, especially Morzine, are incredibly popular with British snowboarders and seasonnaires. A large chunk of the UK scene is represented here with good camps and chalet-based companies offering well-rounded packages. Look into the likes of Treeline Chalets, More Mountain and Riders' Refuge for places to stay and Mint or Real Snowboarding for tuition. Look out for TSA, Subvert and Snowfit test weeks late in the season!
The Parks - 4/5
Morzine’s park offering is non-existent, instead look to Mont Chery in the neighbouring (and connected) Les Gets for basic freestyle fun. However, experienced riders need look no further than Avoriaz for the real freestyle deal. With two strong parks, a great halfpipe and the wood-themed Burton Stash, Avoriaz is properly switched on for freestyle - there’s even a small park for beginners.
The most popular spot is the Chapelle park. Serviced by a dedicated drag, it’s designed for everyone from beginners through to strong freestylers, with kicker lines ranging from greens to small blacks and at least two jib runs. It has a vibrant scene, reflecting the work that the shapers put in: music playing, well-groomed hits, daily re-shapes, and fresh design. Avoriaz’s trump card is perhaps The Stash – one of only two in Europe. Originally built for advanced riders, they’ve since added some more routes, including 'Main Street', so the Stash now caters for all levels of freestyle ability. However, with ski schools going through it, and deliberately little maintenance, things can get very rutted. There are easily 30 hits from top to bottom if the season is a good one: rails and boxes made from logs, picnic benches, rainbows, wall-rides, pow slashes, hips – awesome.
Come spring most head to the Arare park, boasting big booters, hips, plenty of rails with the odd wildcard thrown in - in the past they've added a halfpipe wall along the whole left-hand side of the park and even incorporated the rail line into a snake run!
The Powder - 3/5
The area averages a good 7.5m of snow a season above 1800m. However, the lower areas can be a bit hit and miss, and the fresh stuff tends to get tracked out very quickly. On busy days, head over to some of the quieter areas in the Portes du Soleil such as St Jean d’Aulps or parts of Les Gets, where you can often find freshies after other zones are tracked out. The whole lower area – especially Lindarets – has plenty of excellent, accessible trees.
In Morzine, head to the Chamossiere area for some good, challenging off-piste. For a more testing adventure you can hike from the Chamossiere chair or Le Fornet and drop round the back into the Vallee de la Manche. In Avoriaz, Les Lindarets is accessible for any level and offers fun off -piste riding when there’s fresh snow. Head to one of the 'snow cross' zones - un-pisted but controlled areas - and lap using the Brocheaux lift. Stepping things up a little is the Crozats bowl, and for some more easy terrain head to Happy Valley in Chatel.
The Pistes - 4/5
The amount of pistes here means you'll never get bored, and from Morzine you can easily access the slopes in Les Gets and Avoriaz. Beyond that, the options in the full Portes du Soleil are pretty much endless. The runs from the Pleney down into Morzine can be a little icy at times, but on the plus side, there is night-riding available here on Thursdays. Beginners won't find a better slope to learn on than the Super Morzine area, but getting from here to the first lift towards Avoriaz is frustratingly flat unless you're fully waxed up.
Once on the Proclou lift you'll have very few issues, but as with any large linked resort there are inevitably some flat areas; this is more than compensated by what else is on offer. Straight away you'll meet the locals' favourite piste: Prolays. Full of side hits and micro jibs, it leads you down into Lindarets and towards the connections to the Swiss side of the PDS. Advanced riders will like the black pistes off the Grandes Combes and the infamous ungroomed Swiss Wall.
How To Get There
Morzine-Avoriaz is just 1 hour 15 minutes' drive from Geneva Airport.
The Parties - 4/5
Morzine town is lively and has a good selection bars. Coming off the hill, Bar Robinsons, or 'Robbo’s', is a popular hangout for seasonnaires and snowboarders; it’s only open from four ‘til eight, but the only lager they have on tap is double-strength firewater known as Mutzig - four hours is more than enough time to make the walk back to your accommodation interesting.
"Find the lively, seasonairre-run Cafe Chaud, then on to the legendary Paradis nightclub"
Le Bec Jaune is a popular micro-brewery that serves a veritable feast of world cuisines that rotate out each season, though their fabled scotch eggs never quite fall off the menu. Satellite is a coffee shop in the day, but often converts into a pop-up restaurant/bar in the evening and hosts exhibitions from local artists. A bit out of the main town, but well worth the stretch, is La Marmotte d'Or, a friendly Irish-run bar that's as good for a quiet pint as it is in full swing on their weekly live music night, every Thursday. There are plenty of amazing boutique chalets - like Northstar Chalets - that will show you a great time in your own holiday home or point you in the direction of the night's best parties.
For bigger nights out head for a mojito at Crepu, a wood-clad French bar with a great range of rum. The Cavern Bar is next door, with a mainly English clientele, and opposite lies Coyote for pool and cheap shots, followed by the Opera which only closes at 5am. Alternatively, you can head over the other side of town to find the livel, seasonairre-run Cafe Chaud, recently taken over and refitted, then on to the legendary Paradis nightclub underneath the Rude Lodge for what are arguably the biggest parties going in town.
Being way up in the mountains Avoriaz’s nightlife is self-contained. The cable-car that snakes up the cliff from Morzine stays open late enough that you can sink a few après beers in the valley and still make it back to your bed. Just make sure you don’t miss the last one, as it’s a long old walk. Up in ‘Avo’ itself, there are several bars with good tunes and plenty of beer flowing throughout the night. It's best to ask a local if there's anything going on, as there are quite often guest DJ's in town.