Ski and Snowboard
This purpose-built resort above Morzine in the massive French/Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area was largely the brainchild of French racer Jean Vuarnet, better known for his sunglasses than for his gold medal at the Quaw Valley Olympics in 1960. Accommodation is mainly ski-in/ski-out apartments, many of which have been renovated in recent years. Avoriaz has quirky charm and varied array of terrain parks - five plus a superpie.
Snowboarding made its European debut here in the late 1980s, and Avoriaz built the first halpipe in Europe in 1993. Facilities have come a long way since then. You can learn first turns at the Chappelle park, which has kicker lines from green to red along with boxes and rails, before progressing to the pro lines and the airbag in the Arare park. In the Stash park all features are made from wood and three lines of varying difficulty snaking through the forest. The idea originated with Jake Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards. Avoriaz also has two parks especially for kids, Lil'Stash with wooden features, and the Burton Kids Parkway.
Explore further afield
The Portes du Soleil's variety of slopes suits everyone from beginners to veteran powderhounds, and Avoriaz makes a good base for easy access to all of it. High and rocky, the resort is a great destination in a good snow year, less so when the snow is thin on the lower slopes.
Where to stay
The ski-in/ski-out Dromonts is the hotel exception to the apartment rule, a throwback to the days of Depardieu and Deneuve that offers plenty of retro-chic - a little like having a walk - on part in a Truffaut film.