As one of the first European ski resorts to embrace snowboarding, Avoriaz has a place close to many snowboarders hearts. In this review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil I will look at the various elements that mean Avoriaz should be on every snowboarders list.
I have visited Morzine quite a few times so I know the Portes du Soleil ski area very well. However I had only ever stayed in Avoriaz in the summer. Having heard it has a good vibe in the winter I was keen to find out for myself.
The most important aspect of any snowboard trip is the riding. Having spent more than thirty days in Portes Du Soleil during various trips I believe it provides some of the best all round slopes in Europe.
Centrally located in PDS, with the highest peaks and best parks, I have spent a lot of time snowboarding in Avoriaz. I have done a week of backcountry in the area, joined a freestyle snowboard camp, blasted around the pistes and enjoyed plenty of freeriding.
The wider Portes Du Soleil has so much to offer and is one of my favourite ski areas. Both the Chatel and Les Gets sides of the ski areas are well worth visiting as are the Swiss resorts in the PDS.
For this review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil I will discuss the pistes, freestyle and freeride/backcountry. I will look at this for Avoriaz and the wider area.
Avoriaz only has 75 km of runs. But the wider Portes Du Soleil provides a whopping 650km of nearly lift linked slopes. There are a good variety of slopes for all abilities with 12% black, 27% red, 51% blue and 10% green in Avoriaz, and 9% black 36% red, 43% blue and 12% green in PDS.
There are some excellent runs you should ride in Avoriaz. The run from Grande Combes down to Prodains and from the top of Chavanette or Mosette, down into the Lindarets Valley and all the way to Ardent are among the longest.
It is also worth spending time in the Fornet area above Avoriaz and the Mosette above Lindarets. Both are large bowls with options for all plus ample space between pistes. If visibility is bad check out the Prolays, Ardent and Prodain areas.
For mixed ability fun the Star Wars run from near the start of the Stash down to Ardent is hard to beat. There are always lots of side hits to practice tricks while the slopes are suitable for everyone.
The Swiss Wall is a very famous and very steep run in the wider ski area. It is reached from the top of the Chavanette chair in Avoriaz and heads down to Les Crozets. It is a steep black and is often an icy mogul nightmare. So pick the right time to ride it.
You can reach Chatel via the Chaux Fleurie chair. There are loads of excellent runs in the area – I like the Linga, Combes and Cornbois areas. You can easily spend a few days in th Chatel alone.
Les Gets is slightly tougher to reach. You can either head to the bottom of Prodains or Ardent and get the bus to Pleny in Morzine. Alternatively take the Super Morzine down and either walk across town or take the little train.
The Morzine/Les Gets ski area is often overlooked. This means it is quieter and as most of it is between the trees it’s a great option if visibility is poor. It’s a large area with 120 km of runs, Mont Chery and Nyon are my favourite spots.
Back in 1993 Avoriaz opened one of the first snowparks in France. The resort has been at the forefront of the freestyle scene ever since. With five freestyle areas including the infamous Stash, there is more than enough to keep park rats happy.
Up above Avoriaz is an advanced Slopestyle park. You’ll also find a super halfpipe just above Avoriaz that is serviced by its own poma.
The Chapelle Park is where I have spent most time. There are green, blue and red kickers plus a range of boxes and rails to suit all levels. It was here that I first learnt to 360 off a kicker.
But the crown jewel of Avoriaz parks is The Stash. It was once voted best ski run in the world by CNN and is is a combination of natural features through the trees that make for an incredible experience.
Elsewhere, there are parks in Chatel, Les Crosets and Les Gets. In Les Gets it is just a couple of jumps and and line of rails near Nyon.
A review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil would not be complete without talking about the off-piste. I spent a week on a Mint Snowboarding backcountry course and can attest to the vast amount of freeride fun to be had.
Unlike other ski areas the mountains are not crammed full of pistes. There is a lot of space between runs, particularly where different resorts are linked together. This means it is perfect for backcountry and side country adventures.
Around Avoriaz one of the best is valley Le Manche from the top of the Fornet Chair. But Grande Combes into Prodain, Top of Chaux Fleurie all the way to Ardent and the couloirs near the Swiss Wall are all exceptional.
Further afield there is excellent backcountry in and around in Chatel including Happy Valley. The Swiss resorts have plenty to offer as does Les Gets with its freeride zones from Nyon and Chamossiere.
The beauty is you never have to hike very far. Often with just a short walk from lifts you can find fresh lines days after it has snowed. Find out more in our guide to Portes du Soleil backcountry.
But you don’t have to be a backcountry aficionado to have fun. There is also plenty of space between pistes that during powder are a lot of fun. In my experience fresh snow in Portes Du soleil takes longer to be tracked out than in other resorts.
Remember to stay safe when heading away from the pistes. You need the appropriate gear and to know how to use it when taking in the backcountry. Also be aware of avalanche risk levels and pay attention to closed signs.
Of course a snowboarding trip is about a lot more than the rather excellent slopes. I have stayed in Morzine for most of my visits to PDS, however Avoriaz has some advantages over it.
The first is its location. Avoriaz is in the mountains meaning you can be on the slopes very quickly. In fact with most of the resort ski in ski out you are usually on the slopes instantly.
This saves around 30 to 60 minutes of walking to the lifts, getting buses or taking the long route over Super Morzine. It also means that on a powder day you get first dibs on freshies.
During this review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil we had plenty of snow. Just by getting the first lifts I was able to get plenty of fresh lines.
Plus with ski in ski out you can pick and choose your times to hit the slopes. From Morzine you head to the slopes and stay out all day. But in Avoriaz you can head back to your digs for a while if the weather gets bad and then pop back out again later.
Avoriaz is completely car free. So you can’t get run over, which makes it very family friendly and drunk person compatible!
The accommodation is all linked together so you can ski or board around town. This all links up nicely with the pistes. Although as a snowboarder you may have to do the one foot shuffle in some flat spots through town.
A Folie Douce opened in Avoriaz in 2018. This has taken the apres party to another level. It was always fairly lively anyway but now the Folie can be seen (and heard) kicking off from around 3 pm.
It has been full of party goers each time I have gone past, usually on my way home to Morzine. Being able to enjoy on slope drinks before a short slide back to your accommodation is great. It’s far preferable to having to get a bus home after a few beers.
The resort of Avoriaz is not very large so wherever you stay is a short walk to the facilities. In comparison Morzine is a town and you can end up staying a long walk from the centre.
The main centre is very compact, so any evening fun is all in one area meaning you can easily see where is lively. In comparison, some of the best bars in Morzine are hard to find.
While Morzine has some low cost options much of its accommodation is chalets and independently owned property. But Avoriaz is mainly big apartment blocks owned by big companies including a lot of Pierre & Vacances.
This means that Avoriaz has a lot of relatively basic, but comfortable self catering accommodation. This results in a much lower up front cost than the catered chalets or luxury apartments in Morzine.
Of course self catering you may end up spending more than catered. But there is a fairly good – for a ski resort – supermarket in town that is not ridiculously expensive. Also there are take away pizza options and some lower cost eateries so you can do it on a budget.
The ski in ski out nature of Avoriaz combined with self catered apartments means it is really easy to pop back to your accommodation for lunch. You can easily save €10-15 a day by doing this.
I would happily return to Avoriaz. It is a very different ski holiday to staying in Morzine. It is easier to get to the good slopes and the village is compact but has enough accommodation to ensure it has a good vibe.
The slopes are amazing both in Avoriaz and the wider Portes Du Soleil. And having them right outside your door is a huge advantage.
There are some disadvantages too. In bad weather is can get pretty bleak up in Avoriaz. Plus the transfers take a lot longer – I used Skiidy Gonzales who are great. But being car free transfers are not to your door. It can be a pain – although rather quaint – getting to your accommodation in a horse drawn sleigh or snowcat.
Also Avoriaz has a lot less choice of bars and restaurants than in Morzine. You can find something going on every night in Morzine where as Avoriaz can be more hit or miss. Although the new Folie Douce seemed to be a big hit!
To conclude this review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil I’d say it is up there with my top resorts. It helps that I love the ski area, the parks and the ample backcountry. But I also like the village itself as it provides a really alpine feel to a ski or snowboard holiday.
To find out more about Avoriaz visit: http://www.avoriaz.com/en/