Slap bang in the centre of the Portes du Soleil, Avoriaz offers access to some serious terrain – 650km to be exact. The local ski area ain't too shabby either with fast, modern lifts and snow-sure slopes receiving an average of eight metres of powder each winter. Avoriaz is also one of the French greats for freestylers – there are now five snowparks and a super-pipe.
Avoriaz is architectually one of the more modern resorts in the Portes du Soleil but, in contrast, transportation around town is delightfully old fashioned. You won't see any cars in the streets here; instead horse-drawn sleighs are the only form of transport allowed.
We’ve cherry picked the best that Avoriaz has to offer, both on and off the slopes, and we're serving it up to you in one perfect weekend ski trip.
OnTheSnow in Avoriaz: Take a horse-drawn taxi around town. Credit John Williams.
The first day you’ll want to hit the slopes sharpish so for a quick on-the-go breakfast, grab a coffee and pastry from one of the bakeries dotted about town, such as Mamie Brioche, 80 Place des Dromonts.
Armed with a croissant and shot of espresso, head straight for the lifts and get on the mountain early. Expert skiers should make their first point of call the infamous Swiss Wall. Early risers will often find powder conditions, making it not nearly as terrifying, but leave it too late in the day and the Wall turns into a seriously steep icy mogul field. Take the lifts up to the Chavanette sector and beyond the Swiss border lies the Wall. Before entering the Wall, you pass the "For Experts Only" sign. After you've completed the first six turns and rounded an overhang, the Wall reveals itself as a steep 200-metre slope.
Advanced skiers have a huge concentration of long red runs to explore between Chatel and Les Lindarets, while intermediates gain their confidence on the three long and gentle blue runs from the top of the Grandes Combes. Beginners can spend the morning taking a lesson at the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School staffed with British instructors while children aged from 3 years spend a full day’s skiing (with lunch and tea) at the Village des Enfants.
OnTheSnow in Avoriaz: Village des Enfants. Credit Avoriaz Ski Resort.
At lunchtime, instead of busting a hole in your wallet at one of the high-altitude, self-service restaurants at the crossing points between France and Switzerland – these restaurants tend to offer underwhelming food at overwhelming prices – head instead to Changabang. This classic burger joint right by the exit to the Les Prodains cable car serves tasty, well-priced burgers and chips.
After lunch, advanced and expert skiers can take the Grandes Combes lift up to 2,400m to reach the long, steep black runs down to Les Prodains – the most demanding in Avoriaz, and featuring an Olympic downhill. Intermediates should ride the Chavanette and Fornet lifts to explore some seriously long blue runs while beginners practise turns on the sunny, green and blue slopes right next to town.
After the day's skiing in Avoriaz, you'll need an alcoholic pick-me-up. For a family-friendly après-ski drink, head to La Cabane for a mulled wine while the kids warm up with a hot chocolate. Chapka is the trendiest bar in town with a popular happy hour, live music, pool table and TV showing Premiership games. Chapka also serves plenty of light tapas bites. For a good hearty meal, the Bistro Restaurant, close to the Village des Enfants, specialises in Savoyard cuisine at reasonable prices. Then hit the late-night bar, Le Place, which promises live music and DJ every night.
For a leisurely start to the day, get a solid breakfast at Restaurant Douchka in the centre of Avoriaz ski resort. Open from 8 a.m., Douchka serves hot chocolate, coffee, pastries, omelettes and more. Breakfasts cost between €5-15.
If you're lucky enough to wake up on a powder day, Virginie Dupe from Avoriaz Tourism recommends three off-piste runs which should not be missed: Vallée de la manche – a 10km descent with dramatic views of the Mont Blanc; La Pointe de Vorlaz – a very fast and technical run; and the Swiss side of Mossette which starts with a narrow passage before opening into a large plateau and canyon.
Alternatively, for a less risky off-piste experience, all ski levels can enjoy the snowcross zones which offer all the thrills of unpisted slopes in a safe, patrolled setting: the black snowcross zones of Crozats and La Frontaliere; red snowcross zones of Les Brouchaux and Pschott; and the blue La Combe des Marmottes snowcross - a playful area of small undulations, ideal for families.
Back on the pistes, the pretty tree-lined blue and red runs leading down to Les Lindarets and Chatel are well worth exploring for intermediates. You will allso find plenty of gentle terrain above Champery in the Planachaux area. From here you can also reach the large open skiing around Champoussin and Les Crosets.
For lunch, the Creperie at the bottom of Le Fornet lift serves a wide choice of sweet and savoury pancakes which can be washed down with a hot chocolate or something stronger.
Skiing in Avoriaz isn't complete without rounding off the day at one of the resort's snowparks. The well-maintained Arare Snowpark, which can be accessed from Grandes Combes, is billed as “the real snowpark for freestylers” and is for advanced to expert skiers only, featuring kicker and rail lines as well as an airbag jump. La Chapelle snowpark is ideal for beginners and intermediates with its jumps of all sizes. Intermediates can also hit The Stash, with its wooden and natural elements. Kids have their own mini snowparks at Parkway and Lil’Stash.
OnTheSnow in Avoriaz: Riding the natural elements in The Stash. Credit Avoriaz Ski Resort.
While you’ve still got your skis on take the kids ski joering – holding long reigns attached to a horse’s bridle, you’re pulled along on skis behind it. This fun activity is suitable for all ages, but younger children should be accompanied by an adult. For a bit of non-skiing fun, Avoriaz also has a new outdoor ice skating rink in the centre of town.
At the end of the day, quench your thirst with a beer at Shooters or the Globe Trotters Café, both located on Place du Snow. As it is your last night in the ski resort, you may want to stump up for a special dinner. For a fine dining experience, with prices to match, the Table du Marché restaurant and piano bar in Hotel Dromonts is the best in town. Or for a simple dinner, try the centrally located La Duchesse Anne Restaurant which serves hamburgers, omelettes and crepes.