The Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil region is a favourite destination for British holidaymakers with a love for all things ski and board. The start of this year’s season began with short-lived travel restrictions in Switzerland before France closed its doors to UK holidaymakers in December. The news this week that travel to the region has now fully resumed for the vaccinated has been greeted with enthusiasm, with the prospect of a late mountain getaway now firmly back on the cards. Ski lifts in the region are set to be in operation until April, and there are holiday deals to be had, with savvy travellers urged to book now to secure the best accommodation.
Situated between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the Portes du Soleil is a huge ski area which boasts 600km of riding and 209 lifts. The region has long been a popular with skiers from across the continent and beyond, combining excellent winter sports conditions and the best in Swiss and French Alpine culture. With an annual average snowfall of nearly eight metres, the Portes du Soleil, or ‘gateway to the sun’, is a flurry of activity throughout the winter with 12 distinct resorts to explore. Beyond ski, visitors can enjoy a host of other winter activities; think snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice skating, dog sledding and more. The Portes du Soleil also has an enviable gastronomy scene, with a range of options to suit every budget, from high-end sophisticated dining, through to simple, yet delicious mountain fare.
Go to the Portes du Soleil
All 12 resorts in the Portes du Soleil can be easily accessed from Geneva Airport, which benefits from low cost, direct flight access from London, Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester. Return flights from London to Geneva during the current ski season cost from £27 pp with EasyJet.
Avoriaz 1800, France – From £1,099 pp, saving £170 pp
Avoriaz 1800 is a delightful purpose-built ski-in ski-out resort that has been a favourite with winter sports enthusiasts for half a century, with its four terrain parks, excellent powder and wide range of pistes. Built on a sunny shelf high above the neighbouring village of Morzine, the town is at an altitude of 1,800m, meaning great snow fall and plenty of sunshine. The resort centre is completely pedestrianised and boasts an impressive array of boutique shops and superb restaurants, with horse drawn carriages, snowcats and skis as your only means of transportation. Much loved by seasoned experts, Avoriaz 1800 is also popular with first time skiers, with a beginner area, which includes slopes in the village itself as well as lots of easy green pistes and lifts on the way to the gondola down to Morzine. Inghams is offering a seven-night stay at five-star L’Amara Apartments in Avoriaz 1800, arriving 26 February 2022, from £1,099 pp based on two adults sharing a one-bedroom self-catering apartment (was £1,269 pp, saving £170 pp). Includes return flights from the UK to Geneva and airport transfers.
Inghams (01483 698099, www.inghams.co.uk)
Avoriaz 1800 (left), Châtel (right)
Châtel, France – From £700 pp half-board, saving £133 pp
Châtel is a picturesque French village, close to the Swiss border with two sectors of slopes. Less trodden than the likes of Avoriaz 1800, the unspoiled Portes du Soleil resort retains a very French feel, with rustic accommodation, fantastic dining options and 30 working farms still in operation to this day. With extensive, pretty, intermediate terrain, there are superb slopes, catering to a variety tastes and all abilities. With a proud heritage, holidaymakers are encouraged to explore the old church and decorative chapels, before sampling the mouth-watering local cheese. The lively and traditional village is perfect for families, and those on a budget with modern, chic, chalet-style hotels and apartments siting alongside delightful old farmhouses. Crystal Ski is offering a seven-night stay in a twin room on a half-broad basis at the charming Hotel Le Tremplin in Châtel, arriving 5 March 2022, from £700 pp based on two sharing (was £833 pp, saving £133 pp). Includes return flights from London Gatwick to Geneva and coach transfers.
Crystal Ski Holidays (020 8610 3123, www.crystalski.co.uk)
Les Crosets, Switzerland – From £995 pp half-board
The beautiful Swiss village of Les Crosets is perfectly located for anyone who wants to explore the wider Portes du Soleil. Perched above Champéry at an altitude 1,668m, the peaceful resort boasts excellent snow conditions and a super-fast connection with France over the pointe des Mossettes lift. Les Crosets has a relaxed vibe and is ideal for those seeking a quiet area where they can step out their front door to be greeted by pristine slopes. The experienced instructors at the Swiss Ski School await novice skiers and snowboarders alike for lessons, while freestylers can get their fill of thrills in the Snowpark, which is regarded as one of the world’s best. Offering breath-taking scenery from the village and slopes alike, Les Crosets is very family orientated, with child friendly restaurants and affordable accommodation for bigger groups. A seven-night stay in a standard room on a half-board basis at the characterful Les Crosets Mountain Lodge, arriving 13 March 2022, is priced from £995 pp based on two sharing. Flights and transfers extra.
Les Crosets Mountain Lodge (0345 1271750, www.mountain-lodge.co.uk)
Morzine, France – From £726 pp
The lively village of Morzine is situated at an altitude of more than 1,000m and is one of the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, enjoying panoramic mountain views and, thanks to the Mont Blanc microclimate, near perfect ski conditions. Retaining much of its Old-World charm, Morzine remains free of high-rise buildings with many original wooden chalets still in service, and despite its modern ski facilities, has a traditional feel with boutique hotels, independent shops and a weekly market featuring local produce. Morzine’s Hotel Igloo is a quaint property, beautifully styled with a combination of contemporary and rustic features. It is well positioned, with the bars, restaurants and ski lifts close at hand. Crystal Ski is offering a seven-night stay at the Hotel Igloo, arriving 19 March 2022, from £726 pp, based on two people sharing and includes return flights from London Gatwick to Chambéry and coach transfers.
Crystal Ski (0208 610 3123 www.crystalski.co.uk)
Prices correct as of 14 January 2022.
To plan your trip to the Portes du Soleil and for more information, please visit: https://en.portesdusoleil.com