A guide to Avoriaz
Avoriaz is one of the most distinctive Alpine ski resorts you will probably ever visit thanks to its futuristic design and dramatic clifftop location overlooking the neighbouring resort of Morzine. Situated in the centre of the Portes du Soleil, it falls within the Chablais region of the Haute-Savoie, between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc.
Avoriaz is a purpose built ski resort but unlike so many of the resorts that sprang up in the 60's and 70's it isn't home to unsightly concrete monoliths but instead consists of wooden clad apartments and chalets that sympathetically blend into the surrounding mountains. The town is completely pedestrianised, everyone makes their way around either on foot, ski or on horse-drawn sleighs. Avoriaz caters especially well for families thanks to a range of specially designed children's ski areas and a rather fabulous indoor waterpark. You will also find some of the best snowparks in the Alps in Avoriaz, and these along with regular live music events throughout the winter season attracts a young crowd.
Avoriaz is a true ski-in-ski-out resort and most of the accommodation in Avoriaz is in apartments or aparthotels. These aparthotels combine the benefits of renting a self-contained apartment, complete with living area and kitchen, and with the facilities you would expect to find in a hotel.
Skiing in Avoriaz
Avoriaz has 75.5 kilometres of pistes accessed by 17 chairlifts, 2 cable cars and 14 drag lifts (see the piste maps). There are 4 green pistes, 25 blue pistes, 14 red pistes and 6 blacks. The high altitude of most of the pistes means that the snow quality is excellent and lasts right through to the end of April. Beginners will enjoy learning on this kind of snow, and the gentle, wide slopes are ideal for perfecting those first turns.
For more advanced skiers, head up to the Haut Forts area or go further afield to explore the linked Portes du Soleil ski domain. The Portes du Soleil vies for the title "largest ski area in Europe," with 212 interconnected lifts servicing a mind-boggling 650 km of runs sprawling across 12 areas, eight in France and four in Switzerland. Avoriaz is renowned for it's snowparks, and there are six freestyle areas to choose from in the immediate area, plus more to discover in the wider Portes du Soleil.
Also see: Ski Areas in Avoriaz
Things to Do in Avoriaz
Aquariaz is one of the best indoor pools and waterparks for miles around. It features waterslides and fun things to do for the whole family. On a bad weather day outside, head indoors and enjoy the tropical atmosphere! Other things to do in Avoriaz include a bowling alley, a cinema, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride or a husky dog sled, ice skating, visit an igloo village, even snow mountain biking!
In the summer, Avoriaz is a hot destination for mountain bike enthusiasts. There is a plethora of marked trails and vertiginous downhill routes for you to test your nerves on, and every summer in June the region plays host to the Pass'portes du Soleil downhill mountain bike festival. If that sounds a bit too hardcore, there are plenty of more gentle routes throughout the region that you can tackle at your own pace, and the mountain trails are accessible via the ski lifts until the end of the first week in September.
For those of you who would rather enjoy the surroundings at a less frenetic pace, there are a multitude of other summer pastimes to enjoy: horse riding, walking, fishing, golf… With rolling pastures, fragrant forests and clear mountain lakes, there is a lot to be said for the Alps in summer.
Also see: What to Do in Avoriaz
Events in Avoriaz
Avoriaz plays host to a number of winter music festivals which take over the resort and the pistes, namely Rock the Pistes and Snowboxx. In summer, the Pass'portes MTB festival is the biggest event for bikers, with the occasional Tour de France stage passing nearby.
Also see: Main Events in Avoriaz
Where to Stay in Avoriaz
Avoriaz is a compact resort and designed so that you are never more than a few hundred metres from the nearest lift. Most of the accommodation in Avoriaz is in apartments or aparthotels. These apart-hotels are popular in France and are run by the big holiday companies like Pierre & Vacances and Maeva. They combine the benefits of renting a self-contained apartment, complete with living area and kitchen, with the facilities you would find in a hotel. Some provide childcare, others have swimming pools, fitness rooms or luxury spa facilities. Most have modern styling and all budgets are catered for.
There are surprisingly few traditional hotels in Avoriaz, the apart-hotels are much more prevalent. Chalet rentals are also short on supply but there are a number to choose from. For a wider selection of independent chalets, try neighbouring Morzine.
Also see: Where to Stay in Avoriaz
Restaurants in Avoriaz
Avoriaz is fairly typical of a small ski resort, in that the restaurants are mostly Savoyard in style and offer the mountain classics like tartiflette, fondue and raclette. Through the centre of town there are slope side restaurants with terraces where you can enjoy lunch with a view. Whether it's a lunchtime salad or a more substantial cheese-centred dish, the usual crowd-pleasers of pizza, burgers or pasta are easy to find to fuel you for the afternoon. There are also some crepe and snack stands if you prefer a mid-day pit-stop without having to waste too much time away from the skiing.
Also see: Where to Eat in Avoriaz
Nightlife in Avoriaz
Avoriaz has a good après ski scene and, as the town is small and pedestrianised, it is easy to wander from bar to bar. Most of the bars are down at the Portes du Soleil building. Here you'll find the Globe Trotters and Shooters Bar, which are particularly good at après ski, especially when the Dutch and Swedish are in town. There are some good bars down in the Falaise sector too like the Chapka and La Falaise.
Also see: Partying in Avoriaz
Travelling to Avoriaz
The most convenient airport for Avoriaz is Geneva. It’s about 100 kilometres away from the resort and will take you around 1.5 hours to travel up the valley by car. Shared minibus transfers, public bus or train can also be arranged if you prefer not to drive. The next best options are Chambery (1.5hrs), Lyon (2.5hrs) and Grenoble (3hrs) all of which are serviced by a number of the major airlines. Remember, before succumbing to a bargain flight into one of these airports, take a few minutes to investigate your onward transfer options; your flight may only cost you £50 but your transfer to resort could set you back €300 - €400!
Also see: How to Get to Avoriaz