It’s part of one of the biggest ski areas in the world, but can Avoriaz win our Battle of the Ski resorts?
Nominated by Nicola
Ease of access 9/10
A doddle. Just over one hour’s drive from Geneva airport. Transfer companies offer good value (from €25 one-way). From Calais, you’re looking at under eight hours (straight shot).
Sense of scale and epicness 5/10
There is no mighty Matterhorn to gawp at, and with Portes du Soleil area topping out at 2466m, it lacks grand-scale peaks. But up on the Swiss/French border you get great views of the Dents du Midi. Plus you can see Mont Blanc from several points.
Variety and quality of the pistes 9/10
Variety is the PDS’s middle name: 650km of pistes, across 14 valleys. Beginner runs, cruisey blues and reds, blacks (such as the notorious ‘Wall’) and snowparks (the wood-built Stash is deemed one of the world’s best). Queues are rare (the few that form are avoidable) and recent upgrades include the Avoriaz-Morzine link.
Off-piste potential 8/10
Topographically, it’s almost North American. Technical lines, trees, but not that much vert. Direct from the lifts, Fornet is a bowl of moguls, powder fields, kickers and cliffs. For steeps, head to Nyon. Hikeable options include Pointe de Vorlaz and its ‘Pepsi Max’ run, Pointe de Chésery and Tête de Bostan. The snow record is good and it rarely falls with wind. But it can be heavier, being lower.
The runs are generally shortish so you either lap the same chair, looking for variations or perfecting a line (Brochaux, on Lindarets, is good for this), or you travel laterally and tour the whole area.
On-hill grub 7/10
There are plenty of small huts on the mountain: our favourites are at the goat-farming hamlet at Lindarets. Some self-service places become chaotic in peak season, but we’ve yet to have a bad meal and value is an improvement on some large French resorts.
Après scene 8/10
It might not have Val d’Isère’s club scene (there is one, Le Yak), but there are bars aplenty, right on the slopes, many with terraces and live music. Or try the Bec Jaune Brewery down in Morzine. Awesome atmosphere; pale ales, IPAs and Porters made on-site. Plus the food’s top notch. Am I biased because the brewer is my husband (Chrigl, he tests skis for us too)? Maybe, but if you try the infamous scotch egg and cherry Berline Weisse you’ll realise I’m not exaggerating: it’s that good.
Base suitability 8/10
You can safari across the PDS’s 12 resorts in a day and there are only couple of times when you have to walk briefly to link it up. Touring is popular but the season is shorter than in glacial resorts.
Family friendly? 9/10
All accommodation is ski-in, ski-out, the village is pedestrianised and there are lots of good value self-catering apartments. Village des Enfants takes kids from three, or there is a British ski school.
RANK: Joint 5th