On a clear night the lights of Avoriaz create an impressive orange glow in the night sky beyond Morzine. Perched dramatically on the edge of the cliffs at the head of the valley, Morzine’s sister resort is an integral part of a winter sports holiday in this area. At an altitude of 1800m this constantly evolving resort acts as an insurance policy against poor snow conditions with one of the highest average snowfalls in the whole of the Alps.
The resort was the brainchild of local hero Jean Vuarnet, an Olympic Gold medal winner who wanted to propel his hometown into the premier league of ski resorts during the wave of construction and expansion that swept across the Alps in the 1960s. The construction of Avoriaz opened up previously untapped snowfields that stretch all the way to the border with Switzerland, and upon opening fully in 1971 the resort linked the slopes of Morzine to those on the Swiss side of the border, thus making the mighty Portes du Soleil dream a reality!
To dismiss Avoriaz as a link to elsewhere wouldn’t do it justice though and in the last few years there have been several improvements in facilities. Arguably the most impressive of these is the opening of the tropical water park ‘Aquariaz’ with its lagoons, climbing wall, rapids and sidewinder slide. Non skiers can easily access Avoriaz via the Prodain cable car and are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the number of excellent shops, great eateries and charming little bars. As a car free resort it is a very relaxed place to stroll around and the only collisions you will need to worry about are with horse drawn sleighs! Avoriaz is a certainly a stark contrast to Morzine but it more than makes up for its lack of history with world class snowfields and a funky dynamic vibe.
As a relatively young resort that is increasing in popularity every year Avoriaz is still something of a ‘work in progress'. With every winter season come new and exciting developments on the slopes and hefty investment in infrastructure and landscaping. Despite its continuing expansion the resort prides itself on being at the forefront of sustainable development and has been recognised for its innovative improvements over the years.
The slopes cater for all abilities but it is fair to say that beginners may find the gentler slopes of Morzine less daunting at first. That said, beginners are well catered for on the plateau with some excellent ski schools based in Avoriaz, and confidence can be built on the wide open pistes that make good use of the summer golf course in the Super Morzine sector. The modern and efficient lift network makes moving between sectors effortless and intermediates will quickly build confidence on the wide open pistes of the Arare and Fornet. Lindarets is the best bet for a bad weather day and visitors of all abilities will find shelter in the tree-lined runs that end at a collection of great eateries.
Experienced skiers and boarders visiting the region will love Avoriaz and whatever your nemesis you will find it here! The moguls of the Combe du Machon and the deep powder of the Fornet snowcross district will leave your legs burning, whilst freestyle fans will love the large snowpark, an impressive half pipe and the longest natural terrain park in Europe (The Stash). The resort also serves as the departure point for visiting other resorts with 650km piste at your disposal in the wider area! However, there surely cannot be a more spectacular border crossing in the world than skiing the famous ‘Swiss Wall’ – the steepest marked piste in Europe and not for the faint hearted!