Avoriaz is located in the centre of the Portes Du Soleil, one of the most extensive MTB playgrounds in the world. I headed there in August for a summer family holiday and did enough riding to write this review of Avoriaz mountain biking holiday in Portes Du Soleil.
There are over 650 km of MTB trails criss crossing Portes Du Soleil that are linked together by 20 lifts. The area has 50 downhill tracks, freeride areas, five jump parks, huge amounts of single track, 4-cross routes, cross country trails and an 80km enduro circuit. Trails cater for all levels from complete beginner to pro.
Although part of the bigger Portes Du Soleil, the Avoriaz mountain biking alone offers plenty of options. There are three downhill routes in the Super Morzine area that flow through meadows and four technical downhill routes in the Foret des Lindarets area.
The Avoriaz village is car free so it is both quick, safe and easy to get riding – you can be downhilling just five minutes after leaving town or you can head higher by taking the newly installed TSD chairlift from near the lake. From here there is a nice easy run through the trees down to the Super Morzine area, or you can take a more challenging route across the meadows.
Super Morzine bikepark was new in 2014 and despite the misleading name is actually part of the Avoriaz mountain biking area. There are three sculpted downhill trails that have been carved from the meadow and flow into the trees at the bottom. There are huge berms, rollers, jumps and bumps in blue, red and black difficulties. When I was there it had been raining heavily so it was a bit of a mud-fest, but the trails are fast and a lot of fun with a great flow to them.
Dropping down the other side of the mountain towards Les Lindarets (the famous goat village) there are four trails of more technical nature again ranging from blue to black. Here nature provides most of the obstacles with just minor improvements to make the trails a great ride. This area is less flowing than Super Morzine but more challenging, there are switchbacks with scary looking drops, streams to cross, rocks to negotiate, trees to avoid and some uphills to get your legs pumping.
In this area it is mostly natural single track with a lot less people than you’ll find in Super Morzine. It is worth stopping in Lindarets to see the goats, they roam free and are everywhere. They will even pose for photos with you – although may demand some of your lunch as payment. The valley here is incredibly beautiful and a great spot to bring the family and stop for a picnic.
Avoriaz is in the centre of the Portes Du Soleil providing easy access to all that it offers – including Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel and Bike Park Suisse. So although you have great riding on your doorstep there is also a lot more to explore. From Super Morzine it is easy to reach Morzine town using the Super Morzine gondola, or via some extremely difficult freeride trails.
A short ride across down gives you access to the mountain biking area that Morzine and Les Gets have to offer. We spent a day in the area and barely scratched the surface. There was a good variety of well maintained sculpted and more natural trails, most of which run through trees and all of course lift serviced.
Although I liked the riding in Morzine and Les Gets it was fairly busy in comparison to the Lindarets area of Avoriaz. This means the towns are lively but also the trails are busier. A few times I found myself stuck behind families on inappropriate gear for the trails, or being overtaken at pace by much better riders who were less than considerate – particularly with the aforementioned slow families. But a great day of riding was had in the area.
On another day we headed up the Mossettes lift from the Lindarets area towards the Swiss border. From here you can access Bike Park Suisse covering Les Crosets, Champery and Champoussin, there are a huge range of trails around here which unfortunately I did not have time to visit.
Instead we rode around Montagne du L’Hiver down some fantastic single track to the beautiful Lac Vert on part of the 80km Enduro circuit. This was one of my favourite trails, partly because we only saw two other riders, but also as it is the highest summer lift access in the Portes Du Soleil you have great views. In my opinion a little cycling uphill, less people, and a stunning backdrop gives you more of a connection with riding in the mountain.
From Lindarets you can also take the Chaux Fleurie chairlift up the opposite side of valley from Avoriaz to gain access to the Chatel area, is has a further 20 downhill trails and is also part of the Enduro trail. Unfortunately we did not get to ride here, however I have heard there is an exceptional amount of trail variety in the area.
Having spent time on riding an enduro bike downhill on natural single track and on a heavy duty downhill bike on more sculptured trails, I was surprised to find I preferred the enduro bike. A little riding uphill (but not too much of course!) really makes you appreciate the downs, plus there were a lot less people so I felt more connected to nature taking on the mainly natural, technical trails. Don’t get me wrong I loved riding the incredible trails of Super Morzine, Morzine and Les Gets, but it is a different type of riding to what I normally do and I slightly prefer being away from the buzz exploring the mountains.
The riding is absolutely brilliant and I barely scratched the surface of what’s available in the area, however for a holiday to be good you also need the place you are staying to work for you. With two young kids we chose Avoriaz mainly because it is car free and child friendly. Avoriaz is certainly not as lively as the likes of Morzine but it has great kids clubs and childcare.
My three year old spent a couple of days in the excellent Childrens Village (suitable for 3+) where they spend the days doing fun activities – he tried horse riding and judo and would have tried climbing but for bad weather. My youngest who at the time was just under a year old was cared for in the Petits Loups nursery which is very similar to a British nursery.
There are also plenty of other things going on to keep the little ones happy. Aquariaz, the highest waterpark in Europe, is a fantastic place to spend some time – particularly during bad weather – and the the kids loved it. There is also a kids adventure trail, trampolines, bungee trampolines, crazy golf and giant outdoor games. While we were in Avoriaz the big stage in town hosted a few events that the kids enjoyed watching and dancing along to.
As with most ski resorts in the summer, not everything was open so the choice of bars and restaurants was reduced but there were more than enough to keep the adults entertained. Overall Avoriaz has a relaxed vibe, it never seemed busy but that is probably because during the day people are out enjoying the fresh air and great outdoors, we spent most of the evenings in our apartment as the kids were in bed by 8pm.
I have been to other car free resorts that have car parking under the resort. In Avoriaz you leave your car at a car park at the entrance and take a shuttle to your accommodation. This would have not been a problem except that we arrived in the middle of the night with two sleeping boys who were transferred from vehicle to vehicle and by the time we got to the apartment they were convinced it was morning already. So please bear that in mind if you are driving over.
To get to Avoriaz you can fly into Geneva and either hire a car or arrange a transfer. Alternatively you can get the Eurostar from London to Geneva (Via Lille) which is a very easy journey. As we were also visiting other resorts we decided to drive over, so we took the DFDS Seaways ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and from there is was an eight hour drive to Avoriaz. I have written about driving a Kia Carens across France and how it worked out for a family holiday.
No review of Avoriaz mountain biking would be complete without talking about the accommodation. We stayed in the Atria Crozats self catering apartments, which are part of the Pierre & Vacance empire. It is in the new Crozats district of Avoriaz which overlooks the town with exceptional panoramic views.
The apartments are new and decorated in a modern style that makes them nice to spend time in. You can tell they have put a lot of thought into making them child friendly, as storage was out of reach, there was lots of open space to play in and there was not much mischief the kids could get up to. With two large sofas, a well equipped kitchen and dining area they were perfect for a family. The bedrooms were on the small side but very comfortable, one room came with a double bed and the other bunk beds.
From the Atria Crozats it is easy to access the town via two covered walkways which have a combination of escalators for the uphill – particularly good after a hard day riding – and stairs for the downhill. However the walkways are not pushchair friendly so we normally walked the long route round the winding street with the kids. Pierre Vacance offer a lot of different accommodation in Avoriaz, to find out more visit: www.pierreetvacances.com
The Avoriaz mountain biking is very good, and combined with the wider Portes Du Soleil it is exceptional. There is a huge amount of trail variety in the area so you are sure to have a great time whatever your style or ability. There is also a lot going on in the town, plus many other outdoor activities you can get involved in making this a great family destination.
To conclude this review of Avoriaz mountain biking holiday in Portes Du Soleil, I would say that if you want to stay somewhere in the Portes Du Soleil that is fairly quiet and laid back plus exceptionally child friendly then Avoriaz is a great option. To find out more and book accommodation and activities visit www.avoriaz.com