About Winter Activities in Avoriaz
Whatever you choose to do on your winter holiday, you are sure to find a huge range of activities across the Avoriaz area. From relaxing to full on adrenaline there is something for everyone, every ability and every age. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration!
Combine Nordic skiing with shooting and you've got the sport of biathlon, which you can try out on your trip to Avoriaz this winter. A minimum of four people are required for a lesson with Avoriaz ESF. Get in touch with them for prices and availability.
There are two bowling alleys in Avoriaz to keep you entertained on bad weather days or if you're looking for something to do with a group or non-skiers.
Catch the latest films and releases in Avoriaz on your winter or summer holiday. At Cinema Les Portes du Soleil you'll find most films are shown in the evenings with some films screened in the early afternoon during school holidays. Look out for VO or VOST for English speaking films.
Portes du Soleil boasts 216 km of tranquil cross country trails, 45 km of them in Avoriaz alone. There are 4 cross country areas accessible from Avoriaz and Morzine: the Manche Valley with 25 km of challenging circuits, the Morzine-Avoriaz at Parc Naturel des Crêtes de Zorre with up to 47 km for all levels, Lake Montriond with 10 km of Canadian-style runs and the Pléney-Chavannes sector with 18 km of forest runs. You can hire comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops and book a group or private lesson to learn the basics from most ski schools or private instructors. A number of adventure companies also offer cross-country skiing guiding, tours and lessons. Find your way around with the cross country skiing maps.
Also see: Cross-country Skiing in Avoriaz
Visit La Ferme de Seraussaix, on the road on the way down to Morzine, to buy some locally made cheese and sausages. You can also take a tour of the farm on Thursdays from 14:00 to 16:00, followed by a cheese tasting, or on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:00 (a lunch comprising fondue made with local cheese, dessert and wine is included). Book in advance with Avoriaz tourist office.
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Avoriaz! It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. And that’s exactly what Geocaching is… you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but, nevertheless, it’s quite exciting!
Handiski / sit-ski
Enjoying the thrill of being on the pistes need not escape you if you're less mobile or have special physical needs. ESF Avoriaz has specialised instructors trained to teach those with mobility problems. Adaptive ski equipment is available and included in the price of lessons.
Also see: Disabled Skiing in Avoriaz
Unfortunately, heli-skiing is not permitted in France but here is a couple of companies in Avoriaz offering panoramic helicopter rides that include heli-skiing. They pick you up in resort and take you over the border into Italy or Switzerland from where you will ski down accompanied by a mountain guide. It is expensive, but definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
Sit back and admire the mountains from even higher up. Daily panoramic helicopter flights are available (weather permitting) with a number of local flight companies. Relax and enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers and alpine forests of the Alps.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides
Horse drawn sleighs aren't quite the novelty in Avoriaz that they are in most parts of the world, here they are the main form of transport! As Avoriaz is a traffic-free resort, horses double up as taxis here. They are used to get you from the car park to your apartment, out for the night, anywhere in fact that you want to go. Horse drawn sleighs are available from 08:00 to 19:00, 7 days a week. With 28 sleighs and around 100 horses they are a common sight on the streets and one of the highlights of visiting Avoriaz. You can either use them as a way of getting around the resort or you can hire one for scenic trips. Sleighs can be picked up at the entrance of the resort (“Accueil”), the outdoor parking P2, the top station of the Prodains cable car and in the centre of town. Book a tour through the tourist office for around €20 per person.
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths in winter. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, you set off following the guide’s team. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt for a less physical outing where you sit in the sled and the guide does all the hard work! It's a very popular winter activity, so booking at least 48 hours in advance is a must. They run from early December to the end of April (snow-permitting), last for around 2 hours and there are even children-dedicated rides. Take a look at our video review.
For the true mountain enthusiast, why not scale an amazing frozen waterfall or glacier? This is a fantastic sport, not just for experienced mountaineers. There are several icefalls and gulleys in Morzine and Avoriaz where you can experience the thrill of ice climbing with a guide. Beginners can start off at the Adent or Montriond areas while experts will enjoy the Gorge des Albertans, the icefalls of Chatelard, Nant de Lapiaz and Roc d'Enfer, as well as the famous Dame du Lac and Petit Papa Noel. The ice climbing season peaks between December and March. Although it sounds like a very specialised sport, ice climbing is suitable for everyone from complete beginners to experienced climbers. Some knowledge of ropes and basic climbing skills will give you a head start, but if you are a complete novice then your guide should be able to teach you from scratch.
Ice-skating / Hockey
Avoriaz has an open air ice rink in the resort centre that is open daily from 15:00 to 20:00 (14:00-20:30 during French school holidays). Holders of the MultiPass can get in for free. The rink may close in the case of bad weather. You can also go to the ice-skating rink in Morzine for fun loops with friends and family. With a refreshment bar, music and lighting you can enjoy the indoor ice skating rink at Parc des Dereches all year round. It is open during the day and with night sessions from 09:00 to 23:00 on Tuesday and Thursday, although be warned these are sometimes postponed due to hockey matches or special events. In the winter, you can scoot around on the outdoor ice skating rink situated in the tourist office square with ice shows on Thursdays. Open every day from 10:30 to 12:30 and 15:00 to 19:00 throughout the winter season.
The Village Igloo Experience brings you a fantasy attraction of ice caves that could have fallen straight out of a fairytale book. Beautiful and unique, the Village Igloo is an annual project that occupies Avoriaz 1800 (at the bottom of the Arare piste) every year, bringing guests and locals of the resorts the chance to enjoy the sheer novelty of enjoying the unique environment created by a giant igloo. It's open from 09:00 to 18:00, 7 days a week.
Once the pistes are closed, the mountain empty and the sun setting you would think the only thing happening would be piste grooming... Well, not in Avoriaz!! Now you can race down the empty slopes on a mountain bike. Grab the gondola up and race, bump, slide and enjoy your descent down the snowy mountain on two wheels. There are free introductory sessions taking place every Sunday evening in Avoriaz, or 2-hour paid for sessions with a guide for around €50.
Also see: Mountain Biking in Avoriaz
The summits and ridges of the Chablais region might not be as famous as their neighbours in the Mont Blanc area but the fact that they are more gentle make them fantastic terrain to discover ski mountaineering. The quantity of snow in winter usually requires using touring skis for the approach hike, which means ending the outing by a really enjoyable downhill run.
At Les Portes du Soleil, night skiing takes place on the Pleney piste in Morzine every Thursday, weather permitting.
Paragliding / Parapenting
If you’ve never tried paragliding before then Avoriaz is a great place to learn how to fly. Known as “parapenting” in France, there are a great number of clubs and organisations in the area whose sole purpose is to give you the experience of flying. Flights usually start at the top of the Super Morzine lift and descend down to the Pleney, other popular routes depart from the Chaux Fleurie, the Ardent and the Crete d'Arare. Top tip: go on a sunny, warm day when the thermals will keep your airborne for longer. Take a look at our video review.
Petanque / Boules
Petanque or boules is one of the most popular games in France with plenty of spaces to practice it in every village in the country. There are petanque grounds available for free in the centre of Avoriaz.
Many people would not automatically think of Avoriaz as a place to shop, however, the town boasts some great stores. As you would expect from an outdoor sports resort, there are plenty sports stores where you can get your hands on some of the top mountaineering, ski and snowboard brands but there are also some fashionable clothing stores, and plenty of shops selling traditional mountain goods.
Ski Joering hails from Scandinavia, the word 'joering' itself means ski driving in Norwegian. In France, the preferred style is to use a rider-less horse which is controlled by the skier. A rig with reigns is connected to the horse’s bridle and the skier is towed along behind the horse on skis, holding onto the rig. The horse is steered with vocal commands and by pulling on lines connected to the horse's bit. This sport that is suitable for all ages and rides can be tailored to suit any standard of skier, from a gentle hack to a gallop through the snow. In Avoriaz, you can choose between an introductory lesson or a longer excursion in the forest.
Avoriaz is popular for ski touring, whether it's going up the pistes that most people normally ski down, or tackling more of a back country route. A number of ski schools, private instructors and companies can show you around or, if you've got all the necessary equipment, you can head out in your own group. Avoriaz probably offers the biggest area for easy access off piste in the Portes du Soleil. Some of the most famous ski touring routes here include the Vallee de la Manche or Col du Fornet, the Hauts-Forts summit, the Pointe de Vorlaz or the Dents du Midi tour crossing the border over to Switzerland.
Skiing & snowboarding
The main draw for people coming to Avoriaz in winter is, of course, the skiing and snowboarding. Avoriaz is part of the Portes du Soleil linked ski area, with 426km of pistes spread across 13 different ski resorts in France and Switzerland. Avoriaz ski area has 75.5km of pistes accessed by 17 chairlifts, 2 cable cars and 14 drag lifts. Due to its elevation of 1800m, snow lasts longer in Avoriaz than other French resorts. It is a favourite among experienced skiers but there are also great areas for families and beginners.
Also see: Ski Areas in Avoriaz
Sky-diving & parachuting
If you want to experience the beauty of the mountains and the thrill of falling through the mountain sky then you can do just that in Avoriaz. At the local school, they will teach you all the basics you need to know about skydiving in a quick session, take you up in a helicopter and then jump out of it with you! You must be over 15 years old to sky dive in Avoriaz.
Sledging / Tobogganing
This is one winter activity that doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment, just grab your sledge and head for the nearest snow-covered hill! You can pick up a sledge at one of the many ski hire shops or sports shops in Avoriaz. Night sledding also takes place in Avoriaz in winter on a special 3km long track. Go up using the ski lifts and come down on a sledge with a head torch (minimum age is 16).
Raquette à Neige or Snow-shoeing in and around Avoriaz is a perfect activity for bad weather conditions or for non-skiers. Don't forget to wear comfortable and waterproof boots. Either set out on your own, or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the ski area such as the beautiful Lindarets village. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, or you can hire snowshoes from most Sports Shops or Ski Hire Shops, grab a trail map from the Tourist Office and head off on your own adventure. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
Snowmobile / Skidooing
Snowmobiling can be a fun, fast, snowy activity. In Avoriaz, it is held in the evenings, from 17:30 to 22:30, giving you free range of the snow and the Alps. If you are in a group or just fancy doing it on your own it can be a fun and exciting activity to participate in, especially as the sunsets and darkness descents. Scooting around on a snowmobile enjoying the views and the empty mountains, it gives you a whole new perspective of Avoriaz. Take a look at our video review.
Avoriaz and the wider Portes du Soleil area are a favourite for freestyle skiers and snowboarders. With a permanent halfpipe, Europe's first Burton Stash and parks in Avoriaz, Les Gets, Crosets, Nyon and Chatel it's no wonder it is so popular.
Also see: Snowparks in Avoriaz
Spas & massages
If it is calm and relaxation you are after then head to a luxury day spa or book in for massage therapies and beauty treatments. A day spa is also the perfect activity when the weather turns. You can keep warm and revive aching muscles in a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi or take a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Unwind, relax and indulge.
Speed-riding / Speed-flying
The idea behind speed riding is to combine the sensations of skiing and paragliding into one activity, and then descend off-piste sections of the mountain using a mini-wing to enable you to access areas that you might not normally go. Learning and having fun with speed riding comes very fast as long as you are a competent skier; you need to be able to ski red pistes with confidence in any type of snow. Speak to one of the companies offering this activity who can show you the ropes (literally).
There are two squash courts in Avoriaz open every day from 09:00 to 19:00. You can book a slot through the main tourist office. Expect to pay around €6 for half an hour with an additional €2.50 for racket hire.
In Avoriaz, the 'Aquariaz' centre is an aquatic paradise offering a huge water park made up of a gentle flowing indoor river, a slidewinder (an aquatic halfpipe), a toddler's paddling pool and water playhouse and a large pool with natural climbing walls.
Telemarking is a form of downhill skiing where you are only attached into the binding at the toe, so to turn, you have to lunge and bring your heel upwards. Talk to one of the ski schools or private instructors who can teach you how to telemark and take you out on excursions using this technique.
With Nordic walking you can discover the wide open spaces of Avoriaz and the Portes du Soleil, pristine and free of noise and traffic. Take your time to enjoy the heart of the forest in the middle of the field of powdery snow. The routes are open to all, adults and children of all levels. Equipment is provided for half day (in the afternoon) or a full day. Afghan walking is a technique of rhythmic breathing, synchronised with the walk in a way that brings stimulation and oxygenation of the body. Practised in the heart of the Avoriaz mountains, discover a new experience of well-being.