The Portes du Soleil – Ski Area Review

The Portes du SoleilLocated in the Northern French Alps, close to Lac Leman, the Portes du Soleil is the largest linked ski area in the world.

Created 40 years ago, this giant ski area straddles the French/Swiss border and brings together 12 resorts in both countries. The international flavour  of the domain means that you can start the day eating croissants in France, and lunch on the slopes in Switzerland eating Rosti!

The French resorts which make up the Portes du Soleil are Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine, Avoriaz, St Jean d’Aulps and the Swiss ones are Champéry, Morgins, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez – Les Crosets – Champoussin.

Because the ski area physically covers such a large area, it is perfect for those who like to clock up the miles when on skis. However, each individual resort is well suited for skiers and boarders of all levels. Overall the area’s statistics make for some impressive reading;

283 pistes (27 blacks, 104 reds, 119 blues, 33 green)
197 ski lifts
650 km of pistes
10 dedicated snowparks
90 mountain restaurants

Some Attractions in the Portes du Soleil

Abondance Ludoffaz

Abondance – The ‘Ludoffaz’ play area

The snowy slopes of the ‘Ludoffaz’ in the centre of the village are the ideal place for the whole family to try a huge range of wintersports activities.

Everyone from toddlers to grown-ups can try skiing and snowboarding in an environment where safety comes first. For more thrills there’s sledging (alone or in a chain!), rubber-ring sliding and airboarding for a no-holds-barred ride! For pure enjoyment there’s a ski lift and magic carpet to take you straight back to the top!

The Stash AvoriazAvoriaz – The Stash

Inspired by Northstar Resort in California and developed by Jake Burton… yes, that Jake Burton !

Riders whThe Stash Avoriazo like having a bit of fun with their mates should check out The Stash in Lindarets forest. The track winds through the woods with all-natural wooden obstacles at regular intervals. Look out for the Flat Log, Rainbow, Step Up and Wall Ride which you can test under the watchful eye of the forest’s yetis…

Hidden routes lie at the forest edge which lead to the secret log cabin where you can carve your own message – chances are you won’t find this cool new riders’ retreat on your first (second or third) run down!

La Chapelle d’Abondance – Cret Beni

Cret Beni La Chapelle d'AbondanceThe new 6-man Crêt Béni chairlift on the north face of Mont de Grange leads to the plateau which is ideal for beginners. More experienced skiers can rejoin the resort far below at the bottom of the Cerf piste. All visitors should keep an eye out for the wild deer which roam the nature reserve on the slopes of the Abondance valley.

Chatel – Cornebois Happy Park

Chatel - Cornebois Happy ParkThe Happy Park is on the Cornebois (Linga – Pré-la-Joux – Plaine-Dranse) at 1800m – 2000m.

The park makes use of the hilly terrain to create a ”slopestyle” space more than 800m long – in short, it’s paradise for intermediate and advanced riders with all kinds of boxes, ramps and drop-offs…

Les Gets – The Grand Cry Territory

Les Gets - The Grand Cry TerritoryA playful and educational discovery route for 5-12 year-olds to do with their skis on. Pure fun with red Indians and trappers to see and bumps, woops and raised bends to tackle.

Budding skiers can have their faces painted by the red Indian-entertainers near the teepees half way round the course.

For a perfect end to your visit head for the Trappers’ cabin to attempt the games and musical challenges!

Montriond – Abricotine

Montriond - AbricotineMontriond is home to one of the longest runs in the Portes du Soleil: Abricotine. Starting on the peaks marking the French-Swiss border, the piste travels over 8km before arriving at the foot of Ardents cable car. With its blue and red sections Abricotine can be tackled by most skiers; it also has plenty of surprises to keep you focused.

Morzine – Arbis red run from the top of Chamossiere

Morzine - Arbis red runFrom the highest point in the Morzine-Les Gets ski range, the Arbis run offers skiing for all abilities and breathtaking views! Link it with the Lievre and Retour des Nants pistes and you’ll be back in the centre of Morzine having covered 8km and a 1000 m descent in one go!

St Jean d’Aulps – At the foot of the Roc d’Enfer

St Jean d'Aulps - Roc d’EnferThe Roc d’Enfer circuit in Saint Jean d’Aulps is more than 20km of pure pisted pleasure! Departing from the Col de Graydon there’s also a walk around the fabulous Roc d’Enfer with breathtaking unspoilt scenery to explore full of spruces and hamlets.

Champery – Grand Paradis

Champery - Grand ParadisQuite simply a Portes du Soleil classic. From the Ripaille T-bar ski down this long run that sweeps past farms lying below the stunning Dents Blanches rockface. It’s so tranquil you almost wish it would never end…anyone in search of fresh tracks will find all the untouched powder they’re looking for on the edge of the slope.

Morgins – La Foilleuse

Morgins - La FoilleuseFrom the centre of Morgins village take the chair up the mountain which will drop you off slap bang in front of the Dents du Midi peaks before you can say ‘abracadabra’. The blue (which is in fact a red!) leading back down to the resort is floodlit 2 nights a week so you can ski underneath the stars…ski touring fans take note: Friday night is traditional climb night!

Torgon – Tronchey Freeride

Torgon - Tronchey FreerideOn the way up this little-known spot appears beneath your skis or board. With its steep ride and excellent snow, it’s a favourite for local riders. From the top of the Tronchey chair you simply point yourself downhill and let the huge powder arcs begin with the Rhone river plain far below to provide a magical contrast…

Val d’Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussin – The Aiguille des Champeys

Val d'Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussin - The Aiguille des ChampeysChampoussin’s Aiguille des Champeys is a firm favourite for those in search of powder – whatever their level. With its steep ‘n’ deep couloirs and enticing untracked snow at the piste edge there’s a slice of happiness there for all freeriders!

Accommodation in the Portes du Soleil

The Portes du SoleilAccommodation wise, the Portes du Soleil has property for all occasions – from traditional chalets in the beautiful mountain villages, to ski in/ski out apartments in the purpose built high altitude resort of Avoriaz.

We have a huge range of self catered ski accommodation to suit all requirements available to rent in many of the Portes du Soleil’s major resorts. Follow the links to discover our accommodation in: Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz, Champéry, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez – Les Crosets – Champoussin.

The Portes du Soleil snow record

The Portes Du Soleil ski area has an enviable snow record. Its proximity to Mont Blanc and Lac Leman creates a micro-climate which means that the area tends to get significant snowfall from the start of December through to when the lifts close in late April.

Because most of the lower slopes are pasture land, depths of 10-20cms are often all that is required to open the pistes, compared with higher altitude resorts where a metre or so is needed to cover the rocks.

Those in the know have long since discovered that the Northern French Alps have some of the best and consistent snow conditions to be found anywhere across Europe. Over the last few seasons, the Portes du Soleil has had fantastic conditions while at the same time the higher and so called “snow sure” resorts in the south of France have been sorely lacking in snow. Come and find out what all the fuss is about…!

Download the Portes du Soleil Piste Map (it’s a big file).

Another good reason to book your ski accommodation with us!

High Street VouchersMaybe it is the fact that Christmas is fast approaching, or perhaps it is the “feel good” sight of clear blue skies, sunshine and snow. Whatever it is, we are feeling very generous today!

So we have decided to give you a gift when you book your self catered ski accommodation with White-Peak Holidays.

Book a minimum of 5 nights or more with us and receive £20 worth of high street shopping vouchers (from – valid in 100’s of stores in the UK. This is for all new bookings made up to the 15th December 2012.
So when you book with us, not only do you get one of the greatest selections of self catered ski accommodation in Europe, a guarantee of the lowest online price and financial protection from ABTA, you also get a gift. It is just our way of saying thank you for being our customer!
Terms & Conditions:
This offer is valid on confirmed bookings only and paid for prior to any vouchers being issued
We will post you the vouchers after departure
There is no cash alternative
Valid only on ski accommodation bookings made via the site up to (and including) the 15th December 2012

Our 6 Must Visit Austrian Ski Resorts for 2013

Here is our guide to the 6 “Must Visit” Austrian Ski Resorts for 2013.

1. Obergurgl – For Early Skiing

Obergurgl AustriaIf you are looking for some healthy skiing before Christmas, then Obergurgl opens its trails in plenty of time and usually has a surprisingly good amount of snow cover to accommodate most ski and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Thanks to its reputation for early snow as well as good accommodation, this is a popular resort for people who want to beat the Christmas rush.

Many travel agents offer special ‘white weeks’ for those able to take advantage of an early season which is ideal if you are on a budget but still want to enjoy some fantastic winter sport.

2. Krippenstein – Avoid The Queues

Krippenstein Austria
(Image source: Wikipedia)

Though it can be great to join in with the hoards and hit the most popular of slopes, sometimes a free chairlift and a clear path down the trail is all you really want for a quieter and more laid back experience.

Found on the Dachstien plateau, the draw of Krippensteincomes from its 30 kilometres of off-piste trails and 1,500 meter vertical that appeals to the free riding skier. This leaves the 11 kilometres of beautiful snow covered slopes largely clear of crowds throughout the season and ready to be enjoyed.

Furthermore, a Krippenstien ski pass also provides access to neighbouring resorts including Russbach, Abtenau, Gosau and Annaberg to provide variety and a fresh challenge throughout your trip.

3. Kitzbuhel – for Romance and Beauty

Kitzbuhel Austria

The picture perfect village of Kitzbuhel provides the ideal location for a romantic ski trip in Austria. The traditional architecture and cobblestone streets offer the ultimate picturesque backdrop for any occasion.

Just a gondola ride away from the centre of the town, the slopes suit skiers of all ages and are supported by cross-country tracks for the more adventurous sportsman.

A range of après ski facilities support the romantic notion. Relax in the spa after a hard day on the slopes before taking off on a dreamy sleigh ride to complete the evening. With ice skating facilities and other night time entertainment available as well as a range of restaurants and bars, this could be the ideal place to get away from it all and spend some quality time together.

4. Mayrhofen – Mixing Snowboarding and Skiing

Mayrhofen Austria

The high quality slopes in the Ziller valley entice both skiers and snowboarders alike and with 620km available within Mayrhofen, this is the largest resort in the surrounding area.

Home to the Hintertux glacier, a Ziller ski pass provides access to a wide range of ski and snowboarding terrain across the entire valley which can be far flung but is well worth the trip.
In recent years Mayrhofen has become incredibly popular with the younger generation thanks to its ‘Snowbombing’ event every April which combines a range of live music with a week long party.

5. Soll – For Great Value

Soll Austria

When you are on a tight budget but still want some good quality skiing, Soll in SkiWelt can provide everything you need.

Thanks to heavy investment in recent years, the facilities have now been improved with a focus on snowmaking to improve the reliability of the overall cover.

Though ski facilities are 1km away from the central town the frequent buses ensure that transport, though crowded, should not be a problem.

Family facilities have made this a fantastic alternative for skiing with children while the lively nightlife ensures that this location is also perfect for the younger generation who want to have some fun.

6. Ischgl – the Party Capital

Ischgl Austria

If the après ski is as important as the slopes themselves, then Ischgl can provide a party that will never stop.

At the heart of the Paznuan Village, the resort boasts its own branch of Pacha as well as a Coyote Ugly bar amongst its wide and varied range of nightlife entertainment.

When it is time to hit the slopes, you won’t be left wanting. Ski holidays in Austria boast some outstanding runs for both snowboarders and skiers and Ischgl offers over 330 kilometres of long high pistes that travel across the resort and some even into neighbouring Switzerland.

And with an extended season due to the availability of late snow, Ischgl is a great way to combine the exhilaration of the slopes with a fantastic party atmosphere.

Iglu Accommodation in Zermatt, Switzerland

Iglu Dorf Zermatt

We don’t often get this excited by accommodation, but this is just, “WOW”. Staying on the piste in Zermatt, Iglu Dorf is the best in luxury ice living.

Located at 2727 m high, above Zermatt and on the piste, the accommodation is cosy and romantic, and the holiday village benefits from an ice bar, fully catered half board services, and whirlpool.

Access to the Iglu village is by ski lift. This really is a once in a lifetime experience.