Avoriaz Ski Resort
Space age Avoriaz may be at the centre of the massive Portes du Soleil ski area, but its modern architecture and high altitude location provide a very different ski-in, ski-out experience to the other resorts to which it’s linked by lift.
At 1800m Avoriaz dominates the valley above Morzine and its modernist buildings seem to grow straight out of the sheer cliffs below. It was designed in the 1960s by architects who wanted to make a statement and their fantasy-inspired, wood-clad, angular apartment blocks certainly achieved that, but if you want traditional Alpine charm, you should stay in other Portes du Soleil resorts such as Champery, Chatel or Les Gets.
Unlike them, Avoriaz was purpose-built at altitude on a slope and offers plenty of ski-in/ski-out accommodation, with pistes and lifts criss-crossing the resort. It’s also car-free: visitors coming by car either park at the edge of town or beneath it. Ski transfer services from Geneva airport are therefore an easier way to get to the Avoriaz than hiring a car. And for a major ski resort, it’s very compact, with everything you need just a short walk or glide away. Whilst this is wonderfully convenient – it’s said that you never have to walk uphill to a ski lift in Avoriaz – there are some drawbacks. For non-skiers, there is less to do than lower down the valley in Morzine, and prices tend to be higher (although Avoriaz is still cheaper than more fashionable high-altitude resorts like Val d’Isere or Courchevel).
But for keen skiers and boarders, what matters most is that Avoriaz is at the centre of the Portes du Soleil with hundreds of runs to choose from, varying from gentle blues to steep slopes like the Hauts Forts World Cup run or the infamous Swiss Wall, both of which are only a lift or two away from the centre of Avoriaz. And when snow falls on the Portes Du Soleil, it tends to fall heaviest, and stay in good condition longest, on Avoriaz’s relatively high and mostly North-facing slopes.
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Avoriaz Pros & Cons
+ Local slopes suit all standards
+ Good lift connections to the rest of the huge Portes Du Soleil area
+ Ski-in, ski-out convenience
+ Family-friendly (car free, good facilities)
+ The resort itself has a good snow record
+ Tree-lined skiing nearby when visibility is poor
– Mostly short runs
– When the Portes Du Soleil lacks snow, Avoriaz gets crowded
– More expensive than other Portes Du Soleil resorts
– Modern architecture divides opinions
– Avoriaz’s top lift reaches 2,466m – and that’s only high by Portes Du Soleil standards.