Ski, walk or ride your way through the enchanting wilds of Avoriaz then relax amid some of the most striking architecture to be found in the Alps, built to reflect the majestic curves of the landscape.
Perched on its cliff at an altitude of 1800m, Avoriaz is the only pedestrian ski-in/ski-out resort in Europe and is part of a UNESCO Global Geopark (black grouse nest here).
Avoriaz welcomed its first guests at Christmas in 1966, the press having marvelled at the somewhat crazy idea of a car-free resort (reindeer were brought in from Lapland to pull the sleds, although these days Jura horses are on hand to transport visitors) with such innovative architecture. But Avoriaz quickly became a fashionable destination. The Paris jet set soon turned it into the ‘Saint-Tropez of the snow’, with the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Johnny Hallyday and, all the way from Hollywood, Natalie Wood becoming regulars.
The ski area is located at the heart of the Portes du Soleil, one of the largest cross-border ski domains in the world, connecting 12 resorts across France and Switzerland. The resort’s central position makes it the perfect starting point for skiers, offering access to 600km of slopes suitable for all skill levels. Ski runs not to be missed include the Swiss Wall (one of the most challenging runs in the world) and the red slope Coupe du Monde, which has been host to the Alpine Skiing World Cup.
Aside from skiing, you could visit a farm where raclette cheese is made, pop on your snowshoes for a stroll, enjoy the thrills of driving a team of sled dogs, or brave the chills with an ice-diving session on the frozen Lake Montriond. And if you need to unwind after all this activity, book yourself in for some pampering at the wonderful Hôtel des Dromonts spa.
Eat, Sleep, Relax
And talking of accommodation, in Avoriaz, there’s something for everyone and to suit all budgets. Choose somewhere special like Hôtel Le Mil8, in the heart of the village. Its striking butterfly-shaped stylish architecture, designed by Morzine architect Hervé Marullaz, offers multiple vantage points over the surrounding peaks and snow-laden roofs. Or cosy on up in Chalet Le Sud, which was originally built for Johnny Hallyday and Brigitte Bardot when they attended the Fantastic Film Festival. This eco-friendly chalet was created using reclaimed laminated wood beams shaped to resemble an overturned boat hull.
Foodies won’t be disappointed here, either. Enjoy a truly bistronomic experience at La Réserve, a sundowner at La Folie Douce or refuel with a hearty brunch at Le Village Igloo.
And of course, such a forward-thinking resort has long been committed to a more sustainable future, with photovoltaic panels to power ski lifts, recycled water in the aquatic centre, south-facing apartments to make the most of solar gain and other initiatives, winning it the eco-responsible Flocon Vert label in 2021. Oh, and the ‘Uber’ drivers are all horses, of course!
Events in 2024
March: Freeride Week sees Avoriaz host a stage of the European event which will bring together top riders keen to earn their spot on the Freeride World Tour.
March 16-23: Snowboxx combines skiing, concerts and après-ski in an unforgettable atmosphere.
March 17-23: Rock the Pistes pop and rock festival on the slopes of the Portes du Soleil unites ski, sun and sound.
April 13-21: Closing week sees a festive gathering to celebrate the joys of skiing, with a soapbox race, concerts and plenty of free activities to enjoy.
At a glance
Ski until May 21
600km of ski slopes at an altitude of 1190m-2200m.