Photo: Oliver Godbold

Guide to Skiing in Portes du Soleil

With 650 km of marked pistes to explore the Portes du Soleil is suitable for all skiers.

Portes du Soleil Ski Area

Located between Mont Blanc in southeastern France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the Portes du Soleil is a vast ski area encompassing 12 interlinked ski resorts. The area is naturally divided into two parts, connected by a short town-train ride at Morzine. The larger area to the east links French Avoriaz and Chatel with Swiss Morgins, Champery and other small villages. To the west is the smaller area of slopes shared by Morzine and Les Gets.

It is possible to ski from village to village and there is a designated ski circuit which connects most of the area’s resorts, crossing between France and Switzerland. Taking around six to seven hours, skiers should start early so as to not miss the lifts home.

Beginner Skiing in Portes du Soleil

Whilst the Portes du Soleil is a huge area, this shouldn’t put beginner skiers off. Most popular with those learning to ski is the area around the villages of Avoriaz, Morzine and Les Gets with plenty of gentle terrain to master the basics on.

Les Gets has a free ski zone for beginners accessible from the top of the Chavanne chairlift and three green pistes nearby. In the same area, children will delight in the “Le Grand Cry” family snow park which features totem poles, American Indian decorations and a variety of small tunnels and jumps to try.

For those graduating to blues then Morzine has plenty of options. In Avoriaz, beginners can gain confidence on the Ecoles or Dromonts piste in the centre of the resort which are served by two drag lifts. Once those snowplough turns have been perfected, there are three green pistes and four blue slopes nearby.

Chatel also has several beginner areas and a good amount of blue skiing to progress to.

Photo: Matthieu Vitre
Photo: Valentin Ducrettet
Photo: Matthieu Vitre
Photo: Sylvain Cochard

Intermediate Skiing in Portes du Soleil

Competent skiers can explore most of the Portes du Soleil circuit and its offshoots with confidence. When the snow is good, all of the reds around Chatel are worth exploring with the runs on Linga and above Pre-la-Joux among the best. There are also good runs in the Lindarets valley, on Hauts Forts and on both sides of the Swiss Valley.

On the western side of the ski area, Arbis from Chamossiere is a long and testing run and for something shorter and sweeter, Mont Chery has numerous red runs to discover.

Expert Skiing in Portes du Soleil

Expert skiers will find various black runs dotted around the ski area, the most famous of these being the Swiss Wall which is reputed to be one of the hardest mogul runs in Europe. However, although long and steep, in reality it can vary immensely in difficulty depending on snow conditions. There are several genuine blacks to tackle above Avoriaz on the Grandes Combe chairlift and Mont Chery has plenty to offer including Mouflon, Chevreuil, Bouquetin and Gazelle.

In addition to the marked black pistes, there is plenty of off-piste terrain between and close to the pistes. Lift-served off-piste can be enjoyed at Nyon in-between the pisted runs whilst plenty of powder can usually be found at Les Crosets. Chamossière also has a perfect un-pisted bowl whilst Avoriaz offers the biggest area for easy access off-piste. Before heading off-piste make sure you hire a guide and are equipped correctly.

Photo: Oliver Godbold
Photo: Keno Derleyn
Photo: Gio Fleming Photography
Photo: Keno Derleyn

Freestyle Skiing in Portes du Soleil

Portes du Soleil has 11 main snowparks and 4 boardercross courses across the ski area. With a permanent halfpipe and Europe’s first Burton’s Stash, it is easy to see why this region is so popular with freestyle skiers.

Morzine’s Nyon Snowpark is one of the smaller parks in the Portes du Soleil , whilst Les Gets Snowpark at the top of Mont Chery has one of the best views in the whole of the Portes du Soleil ski area. There are kickers and rails suitable for beginner to intermediate riders and an airbag too for those practicing new tricks. Avoriaz has six freestyle areas including The Stash which comprises three routes of varying difficulties through the Lindarets trees. Snowpark Arare is best suited to experienced freeriders, as is Les Crosets.

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