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Avoriaz: The Perfect Ski Resort?

With FlexiSki

by Mike Cranmer

After 37 years of skiing, I’ve finally found my perfect ski resort. Why has it taken so long? I’ve made 138 trips to Europe, Scandinavia and North America. I’ve skied in Avoriaz many times, but, critically, never stayed there. Until 2023 that is, when I had my Damascene Moment.

Sunset Mer des Nuages Avoriaz

Michael’s Magic Ski Resort Seven Criteria

When people find out I’m a Ski Writer, they often ask my favourite resort. What a question. What a responsibility. But it got me thinking so I listed my criteria, and here they are:

  • Guaranteed snow
  • Vast area
  • Ski in-ski out
  • Premium catered accommodation
  • Flexible booking
  • Skiing for all abilities
  • Easy access…obvious really.

There must be good snow with a huge area to explore offering all types of terrain for all abilities; hassle-free ski-in, ski-out accommodation which is high quality and catered (who wants to cook and wash up!); booking that suits me, not the tour company; and finally, short travel access by either train, car, or plane.

Avoriaz Ticks My Boxes

Avoriaz is in the Portes du Soleil, one of the largest ski areas in the world, the centre of 8 French and 4 Swiss resorts. It is 75 km of pistes from very steep to wide cruisy runs through trees. At 1,800 m snow is guaranteed. Hotels and apartments are grouped on a dramatic rocky plateau, none more than 500m from shops, ski schools, bars and restaurants. It really is ski-in, ski-out. Designed in the 1960s to blend with the terrain, the views of the Dents Blanches and Dents du Midi are stunning. Sunsets are awe-inspiring when a mer de nuage (sea of clouds) rolls in over the valleys. 

Corduroy piste Les Gets

Jingle-Bells!

Avoriaz is 100% vehicle-free. You get around on skis, sledges, by foot, or sleigh. No need to call an Uber, just hail a horse-drawn sleigh and off you go. The average journey for a 4-seater is €10. No stinky diesel fumes and revving engines, just the delightful sound of jingle-bells, jingle-bells, jingle all the way.

Horse sleigh Avoriaz

The best-by-far-value-for-money is a guided tour which gives you history, pauses for photos along the way and a chance to chat with your driver, all for €10 pp. This is a great way to orientate yourself with Avoriaz itself but also how it relates to neighbours Morzine, 1,000m and Les Gets, 1,172m. If you arrive by vehicle it’s left in an underground car park. Shuttles drop you off outside the village and your luggage is collected. Genève Rail and Airport is just 1hr 40m away. 

Suits You Sir

If you want a suit to fit go to Saville Row, not Matalan. Ditto skiing. Everyone is different; one-size-does-not-fit-all. flexiski (note the lower-case ‘f’) have been tailoring luxury ski holidays and short ski breaks for thirty years so they know what they’re doing. If you’ve only got three or four days to spare, or want to fit in a five-day trip, flexiski will find the quickest, easiest and most convenient way possible to suit your exact needs.

Chalet Renard Blanc in Avoriaz typifies their product; a gorgeous modern, ski-in, ski-out chalet apartment in a dream location, the gentle sound of passing sleighbells the only thing to ruffle the tranquility. Its social core is the double-height lounge with gigantic pendant shade, Eames chairs, and cosy wood panelling. Five large en-suite bedrooms, sauna and Hamman, open dining area, plus heated boot room (obvs.) are just for starters. It comes with a dedicated chef and is overseen by the wonderful Kirsty, flexiski’s Avoriaz manager. Included are a cooked breakfast, afternoon tea and freshly made cake. Aperitifs and canapes are followed by a four-course evening meal with a choice of superior wines. Perfect.

Paint It Black

A great warm up run from the doorstep of Chalet Renard Blanc is green Proclou, wide enough to land a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on, and ideal to get ski legs back. Wheeee down towards Morzine, flanked by trees, then back up via high-speed chair to the centre where a couple of lifts take you up to Pointe du Vorlaz and pause for a peer over the ridge.

The Wall Avoriaz

Why? This is the Chavanette. A soft-sounding name in French but one of the most notorious black runs in the skier’s lexicon, aka The Swiss Wall. It’s 1km long, the 76% incline is so steep that you can’t see the face of the slope while standing at the top. It’s got more bumps than a pregnancy clinic after lockdown. In icy conditions, people fall and die. In good conditions, it’s doable by good skiers. Not today though. There’s a significant wind whirring the anemometer and it’s as cold as the ashes of an ex-wife’s heart.

A Merry Dranse

Time to explore down a lovely long red towards Les Lindarets with bags of off-piste opportunities for those of a fat-ski persuasion. Off the Chaux Fleune chair a swoopy red leads to Plaine Dranse a huddle of small restaurants, one time summer pasture huts. Here is Chez Babeth, a maze of tiny rooms, corridors and nooks, populated by teddy bears and Babeth herself. She’s a force of nature, once part of la scene sympa, singer, model, who knows? Booking essential. If she likes you, you’re in. If she doesn’t, out. Good food, good company, and very hard to get away from but two lifts transport you right back into Avoriaz, Chalet Renard, cake and sauna (but not at the same time).

Chez Babeth

You Can Ski For Miles And Miles…

With the chef’s full brekkie inside skiing not stopping is the order of the day. It’s easy to whizz over to Les Gets, early corduroy grooved deep enough to park a bike in, back via Morzine with its pretty tree-lined pistes, through Avoriaz and over into Switzerland, Les Crozets, Champoussin, Morgins, Chatel; and here point ski tips toward Les Lindarets (definitely not stopping at Chez Babeth this time) and home. Piste marking is good, with plenty of hot choc stops to choose from when needed, and the pleasure of ticking off the kilometres. 

Skier Morzine

Probably My Best Ski Resort In The World? (with apologies to Heineken).

Reasons to visit Avoriaz with flexiski

  • Guaranteed snow  
  • Vast area 
  • Ski in-ski out 
  • Premium catered accommodation 
  • Flexible booking  
  • Skiing for all abilities  
  • Easy access 

For more information visit www.avoriaz.com/en and www.flexiski.com

Chalet Renard Blanc: 3 nights based on two people sharing including return airport transfers from Geneva, £605 pp.  

Lift Pass: An adult three-day pass for Portes Du Soleil €183.00 

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