Ski resort Portes du Soleil
Ski resort Portes du Soleil has been one of the biggest players in world skiing for the last 40 years, with 12 linked resorts either side of the French-Swiss border just an hour from Geneva: Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine, Avoriaz, St Jean d’Aulps, Champéry, Morgins, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez, Les Crosets, Champoussin. This genuine Natural Powder Reserve at the heart of the Alps offers skiers unspoilt surroundings, mountain lifts that keep a low profile amid snowbound forests, pistes that wind their way through snow meadows, spruces and mountain chalets that have stood the test of time. The ski area enjoys exceptionally good snowfall from mid-November to the end of April, with an average of 7m83 of powder every year. The Portes du Soleil offers visitors a unique ski experience that they call “ski safari”: just click into your bindings at your chalet and go exploring from resort to resort, valley to valley and even from country to country. For skiers and snowboarders, the Franco-Swiss area known as the Portes du Soleil, or Gateway to the Sun, has a few tricks up its sleeve. First, there’s its size. The area jostles with the Trois Vallées and Paradiski areas in France, and the Franco-Italian Milky Way, for the title of “world’s biggest ski area”. That is, of course, a tricky one to decide: is it number of ski lifts?The total length of the pistes? The sheer hectarage of the slopes? Whatever the measure, Portes du Soleil’s 650km of pistes and 197 lifts make a convincing case when it comes to scale. The fact that Portes du Soleil is the closest major ski area to Geneva airport gives it a definite edge: the transfer time to the villages of Morzine and Châtel are under an hour. For Brits driving there, the Portes du Soleil’s glistening mountain tops are the first snow visible after the 10-hour drive south from Calais.