A ski safari through the Portes du Soleil
Skiing or snowboarding from one ski resort to another without having to worry about your luggage. Sounds like a dream, right?
And that’s exactly what I did during my stay in this wonderful winter landscape.
From the winter sports area of Les Gets, I skied to the nearby Morzine. After a great après-ski, we hopped on the free train that brought us to the other side of this winter sports area and from here we skied all day towards Switzerland. From this new country we slalomed further to the truly breathtaking Avoriaz, a winter wonderland that even makes Rovaniemi –Santa’s home– look like an ordinary village. The last stop of this impressive ski safari was Châtel, where we were surprised by some of the most beautiful views in the French Alps.
Besides skiing and snowboarding, the various ski areas also provide a lot of other winter activities (read on to learn more).
Would you like to book such a ski safari for yourself, or are you still not sure which ski area of the Portes du Soleil appeals to you the most? I tell you everything about the winter sports domains that I visited and the things that you can do, where you can stay and the restaurants that you must go to.
The first winter sports area that I visited was Les Gets. This is also one of the larger villages of the Portes du Soleil.
Thick blankets of snow welcome you and immediately give away that this is a prime spot for wonderful skiing or snowboarding. The main street (Rue du Centre) runs right through the middle of this cozy town and is never further away from the ski slopes than a five minute walk. This family-friendly ski village is perfect for both novice and advanced skiers.
Winter activities in Les Gets
Of course, skiing and snowboarding remain the most popular activities in Les Gets, but there is much more to discover. Here are some recommendations:
Musée de la Musique Mécanique – Is it rainy, or do you want to give your muscles a break? Then a visit to the Musée de la Musique Mécanique might be fun. This museum has a huge collection of mechanical musical instruments. You’ll find organs, pianos or violins that make music of their own. This museum provides the necessary nostalgia, because quite a few of these instruments -unfortunately- belong to a long gone era.
On the other side of the museum, you’ll also find an impressive collection of mechanical dolls which can be seen as a sort of precursor of the robot. Personally, I really like that the museum is also interactive. Press the buttons, learn to play a nice tune or discover how the mechanisms work. You can spend at least two hours here. – More info
Electric snowmobiles for kids – Snowmobiles are lightning fast and therefore not suitable for your offspring. Right? Not at all! In Les Gets you’ll find environmentally friendly snow scooters that are completely adapted to be used by children from five to seventeen. You might even get jealous as a parent! – More info
Sledding with huskies – Imagine yourself in the High North while you’re being pulled by a pack of huskies. These strong dogs are always eager to guide people around the frozen landscapes of Les Gets. The best of all? You can drive your own sled! On the condition that you of course give a big hug to all those sweet huskies afterwards. Reservations can be made by calling 06 70 29 94 36. – More info
Panoramic yoga – There is no better way to start your day than with a little yoga. The time this intensive sport was only practiced in Asia is long gone, because now you can even do yoga with a view on the Mont Blanc!
Together with Barbara you can experience one of the yoga sessions either in the morning (09:30 am) or in the afternoon (3:30 pm). Reservations can be made via the telephone number 06 99 75 66 52 or via the email address email@example.com. – More info
Restaurants in Les Gets
There are plenty of options for great eating experiences during your stay in Les Gets. In the town itself, but also on the slopes. And the best of all? Wherever you decide to go, the food is really tasty!
La Fruitière des Perrières – This is a restaurant that you shouldn’t skip! Without any exaggeration: this is the tastiest fondue and raclette that I’ve ever had. Be sure to try the Fondue aux cèpes et trompettes (fondue with mushrooms); a surprisingly tasty combination. Not only the food is excellent here, by the way! The beautiful and authentic interior makes it very pleasant to dine as well. – Website
If you’re crazy about the cheesy dishes that they serve here, just like me, then you can also buy some tasty snacks in the small shop above the restaurant.
Restaurant le Belvédère – Good food with a fantastic view; do you need anything else? In this restaurant, you can also enjoy the morning or afternoon yoga sessions with Barbara. – Website
Wild Beets Kitchen – People who like to eat vegan or vegetarian food better put this cozy restaurant on their radar. The English owners offer a lot of different delicacies, but the wraps are really the best here. My personal favorite was the wrap with falafel, especially if you also taste one of their vegan cookies or cakes afterwards. Yummy! – Website
Accommodation in Les Gets
Hôtel Labrador – This 4-star hotel is located a stone’s throw away from the ski slopes and from every room, you have a wonderful vantage point over the magical winter landscape. The rooms are equipped with all modern conveniences and the friendly and helpful staff will gladly offer a solution to whatever question you have. The cozy reception area is the perfect place to read a book by the crackling fire, or perhaps to share drinks with family and friends. In the morning there is a delicious and extensive breakfast with a fantastic panorama over the snowy Alps. Fresh croissants or pain au chocolat, oven-fresh baguettes with fresh eggs and even pancakes are on the menu. Yoghurt, delicious regional cheeses and cold meats, fresh fruit, juices, … you can find it all in the breakfast room! Here you can enjoy the perfect petit déjeuner so that you have energy until the afternoon. And trust me; you’ll need it, because winter sports can be exhausting! Rooms are available from €250 per night. – Availability and prices
From Les Gets you can ski or snowboard in no time to the bustling Morzine. Depending on the period in which you’re traveling, this resort attracts a younger audience or families. The après-ski is one of the best in the French Alps, but you don’t need to worry: the outdoor parties are all ending at 8:00 pm sharp, and afterwards everything just continues in one of the cozy bars or in the only club of the city.
Morzine is a lot bigger than Les Gets, but that doesn’t take away anything from the coziness of this winter village! In Morzine you’ll find slopes that are suitable for all levels and they too have views to fall in love with.
Winter activities in Morzine
Après-ski, skiing, snowboarding and enjoying the views is fun. But there is much more to do here!
Parapente – If you’re not afraid of heights, then this is one of those things that you have to put on your bucket list. With a motorized parachute you glide peacefully through the air while observing the most stunning landscapes of the French Alps. Ten minutes, thirty minutes or even an hour of floating in the air; the choice is yours. An intensive paragliding course is also possible. – More info
Racing with a snowmobile – Skiing or snowboarding might already satisfy many speed demons, but even more thrilling is to drive a snowmobile! Those things are fast!! From 5:30 pm onwards, you can drive a snowmobile daily in Morzine (with one or two persons per scooter). You get about 45 minutes to show off all of your tricks. – More info
Raquette / snowshoe hiking – Would you like to explore more than just the slopes? Then put on your snow shoes and explore the pearly-white landscapes. The thick layers of snow sometimes make it very difficult, but fortunately you are rewarded with beautiful views everywhere you go! – More info
Guided sleigh rides – Once the skiers and snowboarders have finished their last descent of the day, the gondolas in Morzine are used one last time for another form of winter sports. Every night you can take part in a guided sleigh ride. Together with three guides, you descend down a long slope and glide past frost-spewing snow cannons, seemingly endless pine forests and lots of fellow sleigh-riders who are eating snow. I rarely laughed so hard during a winter sports holiday! Almost everyone seems to crash here at one point or another. When you’ve reached the finish, you’re served delicious mulled wine that will instantly warm up your chilled body. – More info
Restaurants in Morzine
Because Morzine has a fairly large center, you can be sure that there are plenty of eateries to be found. Moreover, the restaurants on the slopes are also very good! No fast food, but delicious local dishes (with lots of cheese!). Mmmm!
Le Vaffieu – Everyone who thinks that you can’t eat well on the slopes, hasn’t yet visited Le Vaffieu. In this cozy inn it can get very busy, so it’s not a bad idea to make reservations in advance. The menu is very extensive and there is something for everyone’s liking. I can definitely recommend the millefeuille with a nice glass of local wine. Heavenly! The portions here are huge, so that you have enough energy to continue skiing or snowboarding afterwards.
La Grange – In the center of Morzine you’ll find many restaurants, but a real must-visit is La Grange. This is one of the better restaurants in this area, so it also has a corresponding price tag. But this extra cost is well worth the delicious food and the excellent service. I think everything is tasty here, but I can certainly recommend the fondue and the various dishes with beef, veal or pork fillet. – Website
Accommodation in Morzine
Hôtel l’Equipe – This hotel is without a doubt my favorite accommodation in the Portes du Soleil. I think this three-star hotel is worth four stars, but the owners want to welcome everyone in their establishment. Hôtel l’Equipe is less than one minute away from the slopes and from your room you get fantastic views over the slaloming winter sports fans. The room itself is beautifully decorated with wood, very spacious and equipped with all the comforts you could wish for. The breakfast is heavenly and very extensive; perfect to start a day full of winter activities with! One night in Hôtel l’Equipe costs about €100. Try to book in advance, because a gem like this is quickly sold-out! – Availability and prices
Avoriaz is for me personally one of the most impressive winter sports areas that I’ve ever seen. At 1800 meters of altitude, this unique village is only accessible by ski lift. After you leave your car (or take a ski safari), your luggage is brought up by a snowmobile. You can only discover Avoriaz by walking around, skiing, hiring a horse with a cart as a taxi or taking a quick ride on the snow scooter. Every apartment or house that you see here is an architectural gem of timber that is built very environmentally and energy-friendly.
From the slopes you can go snowboarding or skiing right up to your door: how cool is that?!
Winter activities in Avoriaz
You would almost forget that you came here to do winter sports. There’s a lot to see and discover in Avoriaz! I’ll tell you about my favorite activities:
Le Mur Suisse – Cross-country skiing is possible in many places, but it’s rarely as spectacular as here. From Avoriaz you can easily reach the Swiss Pas de Chavanette; the steepest slope in Europe! This almost vertical wall with an inclination of 90° (!!) is obviously not for wimps. I have to admit that I didn’t dare to do this descent and called in the help of the ski lift next to the Mur Suisse to come back down. From the télésiège the views are equally impressive!
Explore Avoriaz with horse and cart – The center of Avoriaz is already enchanting, but for a real magical experience I recommend to plan a ride with horse-drawn vehicle. Together with your driver you pass along the most beautiful spots of this unique winter sports domain. It seems like you’ve ended up in a real fairy tale!
The Stash – Do the kids no longer feel like skiing or snowboarding? Then go look for the ‘Lil’Stash’. This snow-covered playground keeps your kids busy and will definitely create a few nice family moments.
Are the children no longer that young, or do you want to show off some tricks yourself? Then go to ‘The Stash’! A fast slope with all kinds of obstacles and attractions. If you’re not that adventurous, you should just go and have a look at the many daredevils either way. It can’t get much more exhilarating than this!
Restaurants in Avoriaz
French cuisine is well represented in Avoriaz. So you’re guaranteed that the food is exquisite! Moreover, there also are a few very unique restaurants to discover.
Have dinner in an igloo – On the other side of Avoriaz lies the village Igloo where you can have a cool aperitif or enjoy a delicious cheese fondue. Order your drinks at the ice bar or be amazed by the fairytale interiors made entirely from ice and snow. To complete your experience, you can even stay overnight! – Website
La Buvette des Clavets – From Avoriaz it’s quite easy to reach the neighbouring Switzerland. A restaurant located right next to this border is La Buvette des Clavets. This cozy timber inn is surrounded by picture perfect views over the French and Swiss Alps. In addition to these vistas, you should of course also feast on some Swiss specialties!
Hôtel des Dromonts – This hotel is a great place to stay, but if you’re just looking for an extensive breakfast, then I can definitely recommend this place too. You can enjoy eggs, bacon, dozens of varieties of (delicious!) bread, pain au chocolat and other French pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurt, tasty French and Swiss cheeses and a whole range of tea and coffee. Reservations in advance are necessary. – +33 4 56 44 57 00 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Accommodation in Avoriaz
Pierre et Vacances Atria-Crozats – This gorgeous wooden apartment building is the ideal location for a ski holiday in Avoriaz. In fact, Pierre et Vacances aren’t offering a hotel here, but rather a fully furnished family apartment. In such a condo, there is (at least) room for three to four people. Besides a cozy living room with great views, you also have your own kitchen and a giant bathroom and toilet. From the balcony you can chat with the neighbors or just fall in love with this charming winter village. In the morning you can order breakfast at the reception, but of course there are also plenty of places in the area where you can enjoy a delicious French petit-déjeuner. – Availability and prices
Châtel is one of the few villages that have always been here. Originally it was a city full of farmers, but in more recent years the winter tourism has taken over. This is one of the larger winter sports areas in the Portes du Soleil, so you can rest assured that there’s a lot to do and that the slopes have something to offer for everyone. They are perfect for beginners and experts but also for people who want to enjoy the beautiful panoramas to the fullest.
Winter activities in Châtel
Châtel has some of the nicest slopes of the Portes du Soleil. The panoramas you get from this ski domain are truly breathtaking. Don’t forget to take your camera with you when you are standing on top of the mountains! Of course there is more to discover here.
Electric fat bikes – Did you know that the Portes du Soleil is a paradise for mountain bikers in the summer months? But even in winter you can put your calves to the test! A fat bike is a kind of mountain bike with very wide tires. This gives you a lot more grip on the snow so that you can discover the beautiful winter landscapes at a fast pace. An electric fat bike makes it even more pleasant, because believe me… It’ quite tiring to cycle around here! – More info
Zipline above the French Alps – With this attraction you can fly at speeds of almost one hundred kilometers (60 miles) per hour over the beautiful landscapes of Châtel! You’re safely hoisted into a harness, after which you take a breathtaking descent for over one kilometer. With this activity you finally get to know how an eagle must feel when it soars over the wintry Alps. More info
Visit a cheese farm – France is known for great food and this region is world famous for its delicious cheeses. In Châtel there are many different cheese farms which you can visit to view the production process and, of course, also try out a piece of this local product. – More info
Restaurants in Châtel
Cheese, but also other tasty local products are offered in the restaurants. Châtel is quite big, so you’ll find something yummy for everyone’s taste.
Le Fiacre – This restaurant is located in the center of Châtel and is easily accessible from the ski slopes. Whether you fancy a dish with delicious cheese, or something completely different: everything is prepared with utmost care. I can also recommend the cocktails and desserts. – Website
Hôtel L’escale – This cozy hotel in Châtel has a very extensive menu with many local specialties. The portions are monstrously, so make sure that you are hungry when you visit! End your stop with a ‘Café Gourmand‘. You can’t even see the coffee standing between all those desserts! – Website
Accommodation in Châtel
Hôtel Le Tremplin – This 3-star hotel is a 5-minute walk from the center of Châtel, but it offers breathtaking views of the beautiful village and winter landscapes. The rooms are pretty basic, but everything you could ever need is available. At breakfast you get a croissant and you can choose from eggs, cheese and cold meats. Not particularly extensive, but sufficient to start your day with. – Availability and prices
Organize a ski safari yourself
Are you sold to the idea of having a ski safari through the French Alps? I can already tell you that it really is a very unique experience!
You can arrange everything yourself, but that obviously takes a lot of work. If you prefer not to worry too much, then the ski safari packages from Les Portes du Soleil might be something for you.
From 23 to 30 March 2019, the tourist office of this ski domain organizes an eight-day safari between three villages: Les Gets, Avoriaz and Champéry. You stay two or three days at each location, so you have plenty of time to explore everything and at the same time enjoy your ski safari. As you ski or snowboard from one domain to another, your luggage is also transferred to the next location. The total price of this package also includes dinner in restaurants, overnight stays and the ski pass for Les Portes du Soleil.
For an arrangement of one week you pay €1497.50 per person, and if you opt for the premium version (more luxurious rooms) you pay €1932.19 per person.
Practical information for the Portes du Soleil
How do I get there ?
From neighbouring countries or France itself, you can drive to this ski domain. Don’t forget that winter tires and / or snow chains are necessary.
Do you prefer not to be driving for too long? Then it’s best to take a flight to Geneva. Once you’ve landed, it’s another one and a half hours drive to the Portes du Soleil.
An alternative is to fly to Lyon. However; from here it takes a bit longer to get to Les Portes du Soleil: about two and a half hours.
From both airports there are several options to commute to the Portes du Soleil. Either you take a shared shuttle bus (between €50 and €80 per person) or you take a taxi (€170 to €210). You can check this website for exact rates.
How do I get from one ski resort to another?
The best way is to just keep your skis or snowboard on, and slide from one domain to another. The slopes are very well connected with each other and there is signage everywhere that helps you to determine the right way to go.
In the villages themselves, you can always use the free shuttle buses and trains. They wait for you at fixed locations and then take you to a slope on the other side of the village. The distances are often not very big, so you can also walk. It’s however much more comfortable to be brought from point A to point B, don’t you think so too?
Do you need transportation in the evening / night? Then there are busses that’ll pick you up for €3 per person. All you need to do is give them a call. This is especially useful when you stay in the après-ski for too long!
Can I rent equipment there?
Yes. There are many different places where you can rent ski or snowboard equipment. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to carry your own gear onto the plane (and that you also don’t have to pay for the ever increasing luggage costs).
Is Les Portes du Soleil suitable for children?
Definitely! There are facilities for kids at almost every ski area. Easy slopes, descents where youngster can enjoy themselves with a sleigh or snow-covered playgrounds.
I mentioned Lil’Stash in Avoriaz before, but in Les Gets there is also an Indian village where the children can get acquainted with the chief or even can cuddle with some goats.
Ski pass Portes du Soleil
Do you want to see the variety, the beautiful landscapes and the charming villages of this winter sports area? Then I recommend to purchase a ski pass for the entire Portes du Soleil. If you prefer to stay in one ski domain, that is also possible. But then it’s a better idea to only buy a pass for that particular winter sports area.
With a ski pass for the Portes du Soleil you can slide between 12 villages and even cross the Swiss border.
The prices change depending on the high season (up to and including 29 March) or the low season (from 30 March). For the exact rates you should therefore check the website of the Portes du Soleil.
What should you not forget during your ski holiday?
- A camera! You definitely need to take some snaps to make friends and family jealous. Smartphones will help you out for sure, but even better is a GoPro.
- Sunglasses or ski goggles. At heights of 1500m +, sunglasses or ski goggles are certainly recommended. The sun is very bright here and the white snow surface reflects all those UV rays even stronger. If you like to see where you’re going in the next days of your holiday, then a pair of cool ski goggles isn’t a bad idea. When it’s snowing, glasses or goggles come in handy too. At high speed, it’s not particularly fun to get snowflakes in your eyes all the time.
- Sunscreen. Not only your eyes need protection, your skin might also burn at such a high altitude.
- Sufficient layers of clothing. It can get cold here! When I was there, it was ‘only’ -16 °C but it can cool down up to -30 °C. So be well prepared and dress in layers. It’s better to wear too much than too little.
- Winter tires / Snow chains. In fact, they are not (yet) compulsory, but you’ll not be able to drive very fast. Moreover, it’s simply not smart to drive around with summer tires. The roads can be treacherously slippery and you obviously don’t want accidents to happen during your skiing holiday!
This article was a collaboration with Les Portes du Soleil, Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz and Châtel.
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.