As an experienced skier, you’ll always be on the hunt for new runs to challenge your ability.  You know, those ones where you stand at the top thinking ‘whose idea was this?’

Then when you finish and look back at what you’ve just achieved, you get a buzz and can’t stop smiling, as you eagerly search for the next run and adrenalin fix.

It’s great being on the go all day but if you’re anything like me, your mind will begin to wander from beautiful pistes to where you can enjoy a tasty lunch.  Now some would say that eating and skiing don’t mix, but I disagree.

My philosophy is: be first on the slopes, ski hard in the morning, eat a late lunch, then take it easy for what remains of the afternoon, whilst saving some energy for apres ski!

If that sounds like your idea of a perfect ski day, then Portes du Soleil is the winter playground for you.  This ski resort has it all – a joy to explore with an abundance of lovely places to eat and drink.

How does a winter area make you feel like you’re in ski and food heaven?

There are few places on earth, that can deliver jaw-dropping scenery, immense choice of challenging runs and so many great gastronomic experiences along the way. It sometimes makes me sad to think that not everyone one can experience this fantastic way of life – but then I think how busy and overcrowded it would be…… best we keep this to ourselves!

Here’s how heaven looks in the Portes du Soleil:-

  • Vast area of over 600 km of pisted runs, not to mention the off-piste options.
  • A whopping 286 slopes including 32 black runs and 101 red runs.
  • Seek refuge in some characterful bars, selling everything from velvety hot chocolate to chilled champagne.
  • Enjoy skiing across the border between France and Switzerland.
  • Visit the 12 villages that make up the area, each with their own character and new terrain to conquer.
  • Incredible choice of ski runs – go for steep, moguls, narrow or fresh powder to keep even the most experienced skiers on their toes.
  • Find beautiful chalet restaurants perched at the side of ski runs, with sunny terraces and spectacular menus to warm the soul.

Always Ski Safe – Respect the Weather

It goes without saying that you should have a routine, to prepare for your day in the mountains.  Sometimes when people are on holiday, they forget that alpine weather can be extremely unpredictable.

  • Always check the weather forecasts and the resort website to check that all the lifts are operational.
  • Wear the right clothing – it sounds simple but many people can be overly optimistic about their choice of clothing and get caught out when the conditions change.
  • Let people know where you are going and have emergency numbers keyed into your phone so you can access them quickly if you need to.
  • Have your winter sports insurance policy with you or at least details of your cover.
  • Unfamiliar with the area?  – use a guide as they’re worth their weight in gold. A knowledgeable guide will assess your ability and find challenging runs that will be memorable for all the right reasons.

Exhilarating Runs for Experienced Skiers and Restaurants to Excite the Tastebuds

 

Here’s a selection of runs from around the Portes du Soleil ski area to try on your next visit accompanied by some must-try places to eat.

1. Chavanette The “Swiss Wall” Champery

Location

You’ll find this run in the Champery – Crosets area of Switzerland.  From Avoriaz, take the Choucas chairlift or the Chavanette tows which bring you to the top of Pas de Chavanette where you drop into the run.

What makes it special

Probably one of the most famous runs in the world – the Telegraph puts it in the top 11 scariest runs in the world.  The Swiss Wall is 1km in length, where you experience a long steep mogul run – some sections have a 50% gradient!

You commit to The Mur long before you see where to drop in and the first turns are the most tricky due to the steep incline. There’s no need worry about the gradient – you’ll be too busy taking on the rather large moguls – enjoy the thigh burn!

Where to celebrate afterwards

You’ll probably be wanting a drink to celebrate and you deserve one!  So first things first, head for the Bar des Neiges in Les Crosets for a thirst quenching beer or crisp chilled sparkling wine – santé, you did it!

If you want a sophisticated yet traditional lunch, then Coquoz is the place – head to the Planachaux run, just below the Champery Telepherique.  The large outdoor terrace with stunning views of the mountains is a must for sunny days and there’s a lovely free standing fire when you want to seek refuge from the cold.

The meals are tasty and beautifully presented using local produce – they’re pretty good at it, as they’ve been looking after their customers since 1952!

Ever had a wine tasting at altitude?  Ever tasted Swiss wine? – yes, the Swiss have some lovely wines.  You can tick both boxes at Coquoz when you try their selection of Swiss wines (sample 3 reds or 3 whites from local producers).

2. Top of the Cuboré chairlift between the Avoriaz and Chatel areas

Location

From the top of Grand Conche chair take the blue opposite into France then head off to the 3 place Cuboré chair, which takes you to the top of the run.

What makes it special

A good run to start the day and get the legs moving.  One side of the run is pisted and the other is an un-pisted mogul slope, so you can choose what you want to go for.  New for winter 2017/18 is an additional run which has been created to the right of the existing piste.

It’s quite a short run which joins a blue, but not for long – take the left-hand piste onto red, or right-hand piste, to stay on the blue. Both join up again into a wide blue down towards Brocheaux and Les Lindarets.

Lunch is served… on the terrace

Head to Avoriaz. From the top of the Proclou and Lindarets lifts, ski over towards Proclou and Seraussaix in the direction of Super Morzine but opposite the beginner’s tow take the first tunnel which will take you to a quiet part of Avoriaz.

There are two contemporary restaurants both with lovely outdoor terraces – choose from Le Lodge (much better views from the terrace!) where BBQ food features as a speciality. Alternatively go for Le Grand Cafe, serving a mixture of traditional alpine food, pizzas and meat specialities. Try the plat du jour – it’s always excellent, tasty and beautifully presented for around 14 euros!

3. Pointe de Mossettes down to Linderet

Location

You can see this run from the Mossettes France chair as you travel from Brochaux to the Pointe des Mosettes.  From the chair, head off the top of the ridge between the runs down to Les Crossetts on the right and the path along the ridge to Grande Conche on the left.  This run eventually joins the blue mentioned above, from Cuboré all the way down to Les Lindarets.

What makes it special

This run is a great mix of steep stretches which narrow into mogels as you descend.  The top is one of the highest points in the Portes du Soleil ski area, so it’s quite exposed and can be a bit icy first thing in the morning.

Great places to eat – a whole village of restaurants! 

The Goats Village or Village de Chevres is an area just below Lindarets and well signposted from the run down to Ardents.

There are 7 or 8 restaurants here, to choose from, so check out the menu boards outside for whatever takes your fancy, not forgetting the daily specials/plats du jour!

4. Coupe du Monde – Avoriaz

Location

Take the Lac Intrêt chair in Avoriaz, at the top turn left and ski for about 50 metres to begin the run.

What makes it special

This was a world cup downhill run which is an easier black.  What makes it more challenging is skiing off-piste down the moguls to the right-hand side of the run and the slope to the left of the run, which will take you all the way down to the new Prodain lift, a 36 person gondola.

….And relax, it’s lunchtime!

Take the gondola back to Avoriaz then head over to Super Morzine.  These runs are not challenging but I promise you, lunch at L’Passage is well worth it!  The place itself looks inviting and you’ll love the staff and the tasty food. The specials are always good and the tartiflette is exceptional!  Remember to leave room for a cafe gourmand and finish off with their toffee vodka!

5. Top of Chamossiere Express – Morzine

Location

Either work your way across from Pointe de Nyon or from Le Ranfoilly area above Les Gets.

What makes it special

This area offers the best runs for experienced skiers in the Morzine area. Views from the top of Chamossiere are some of the best in the Alps, with the Mont Blanc range to one side and on a clear day, you can also see all the way to Lake Geneva. At the top of the chair, there are two choices, a red or the more difficult Les Creux.

Whether sunny or snowy, this restaurant is a lovely retreat. 

After all those runs you will be feeling a bit hungry by now so head over to Les Gets and restaurant Le Chasse-Montagne.  This lovely chalet is perched beside the slope which drops down into the village of Les Gets.  You will love being outside on a sunny day but venture inside for a welcoming winter space with a modern twist and roaring fire.

The menu celebrates quality local produce cooked in traditional ways with a contemporary twist.

 

6. Towards Torgon – Barbossine 

Location

From the top of the super chapel bubble, ski around to the Morclan chairlift and follow the signs for Barbossine.

What makes it special

Take the chairlift from Super-Chatel towards the Torgon ski area and you will find the long black which returns you back to Petit Chatel.  It’s a long run and a great place to avoid the crowds on busy days.

A traditional chalet serving out of this world fondue and other alpine favourites.

If your an experienced skier, then chances are you have tried one or two fondues in your time.  Maybe you think that one fondue is much the same as another, then you really need to visit Chalet de Theo.

The fondue has the lightest texture you’ll taste and it packs a punch in the flavour department, along with the air-dried meats picked onions and cornichon – a must do experience it, but always book, or you might miss out.

7.  Les Rennards at the top of Chaux-des-Roseés chairlift – Chatel

Location

From Plaine Dranse in Chatel, take the Chaux des Roseés chairlift then at the top, turn left onto the black run.

What makes it special

I like this run as there are lots of good off-piste options, depending on the conditions,  including some lovely mogels to practise on.  This is quite wide so plenty of room to improve technique and gain confidence. The run finishes right beside Chez Crepy for a well-earned drink or lunch.

Eat traditional food with a contemporary twist in lovely surroundings.

There are lots of choices in Plaine Dranse and everyone will have their favourite places.  For me, Chez Crepy takes some beating, a family run restaurant for over 30 years where the food is excellent.

There’s a wide variety of choice from Fondue (the mushroom one is packed with flavour) to the tasty plat du jour and lovely desserts, the meals are well presented and substantial.  Again, booking is advisable as this is a very well known and popular spot.…… go on, you know you’re worth it!

Ski on and head for Chatel

Not quite ready to stop for lunch? Then work your way across the valley to Linga and the Super Chatel area, via Gabelou and the Portes du Soleil lifts, before dropping down into Chatel village for a stylish Savoyard treat.

Le Vieux Four is at the bottom of the Super-Chatel bubble lift where you will find fantastic food served in a treasure trove of alpine tradition.  Try their kir de la maison and work out what secret ingredient is added to make this aperitif extra special.

The menu is both varied and extensive.  I love the plat du jour menu – 3 courses of deliciousness where creativity is paramount.

8.  Mont Chéry Runs – Les Gets

Location

Head for Les Gets and take the Mt Chéry bubble followed by the Point chair to the top.  The more difficult runs are off the back of the mountain under the Chéry Nord lift.

What makes it special

At the very end of the Portes du Soleil Ski area, you’ll find the quieter black runs below the Planeys and Chéry Nord lifts.  Check out Mouflon, Chevreuil and Bouquetin runs.  Plus if you time it just right, this area is a hidden gem for crowd-free powder through the trees.

Lunch a mile high with stunning views

Depending on where you have to return to, the lovely restaurant of La Grande Ourse is a wonderful retreat to relax in after exploring the mountain.  They have traditional food but with their own personality – such as scallop and lobster tartiflette.

Why You’ll Love Exploring the Portes du Soleil Ski Area

 

Conquering the Portes du Soleil isn’t just about testing yourself on the ski runs, it’s also the challenge of traveling around the ski area to find all these runs.  There aren’t many ski regions where you can enjoy the journey across several valleys. Portes du Soleil offers this wonderful opportunity.

Of course, I have only scratched the surface of where to ski and eat in the Portes du Soleil. I hope you’ve been inspired to explore this vast and vibrant region for yourself.  You too will be able to enjoy the fun of creating your very own safari of red and black runs in France and Switzerland.