Avoriaz 1800 – On the piste
Wide open spaces, a fast and efficient lift network and some of the highest snowfall levels in Europe. Avoriaz is a dream for skiers and boarders alike and people of all abilities will find a suitable challenge here, from the gentle tree skiing of Lindarets to the moguls of the Combe du Machon.
Avoriaz sits at the heart of the Portes du Soleil and is the jewel in the crown that made this vast area possible in the 1970s. It has been built on a snow-sure plateau with pistes ranging from 1800m to 2300m in altitude. The resort is consistently in the top five when it comes to average annual snowfall levels and a lot of money has been pumped in to ensure that the infrastructure is modern and efficient. To this end it is rare to have to queue more than a few minutes except on the busiest of days. If Avoriaz has a downside it is that it can get pretty bleak on a bad weather day and everyone is forced to flock downwards towards the sister resort of Morzine.
Beginners and families
The beginners' plateau, at the top end of the resort is a wonderful wide-open place to learn to ski. Right next to it there is a well-respected snow park that reminds novices what they could achieve in the future! This part of town is south facing and gets lots of sunshine. Once off the nursery slopes the runs from the plateau through Avoriaz and on to the lower half of the Arare make good confidence-building terrain.
Intermediate and advanced
Intermediate skiers will love the Portes du Soleil and can head towards the wide-open slopes of the Arare or the prettier tree-lined slopes of Lindarets. Avoriaz can get very busy so if you have a full area pass consider heading over to the Swiss side to escape the crowds. Advanced skiers will love the Combe de Machon sector as well as the wide-open snowcross zone of Le Fornet. Europe’s steepest marked piste, ‘The Wall’, connects Avoriaz to Les Crosets in Switzerland but is not for the faint-hearted.
The Portes du Soleil is not known for its epic off-piste skiing but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any! If you know where to look there are some real gems. In Avoriaz itself there are two snowcross districts that are controlled without being pisted. The Fornet snowcross is a great place to hone your powder skills after a dump of snow. More adventurous off-piste include the long run off the back of Le Fornet in to the Vallee de la Manche or the gullies off the Mossettes ridge that lead in to Switzerland but for both of these it is best to use a mountain guide.
Avoriaz is home to four terrain parks and a halfpipe! Lining its slopes users will find a big terrain park for advanced riders in the Lindarets area of the resort. There is the very popular and sun-drenched Park de La Chappelle, which is a medium sized park with small features accessed by a pomma lift. The Nano park to the back of the resort offers tiny features for complete beginners and the Stash provides tree-lined jibbing. The halfpipe is impossible to miss, situated right at the front of the resort, just down from the exit to the Les Pordains cable car.
Avoriaz really excels when it comes to ski schools with great facilities across the board. Parents will be impressed by the children’s snow garden in the centre of resort and several ski schools provide group lessons in English including the British Alpine Ski School. There is no shortage of instruction for advanced skiers either and experienced instructors such as Annie Donovan can lead groups on full-day tours off the beaten track. Disabled skiers should contact ESF Avoriaz for reasonably priced lessons including equipment hire.