Ski resorts by train

Morzine - slopes

Morzine shares around 120km of local pistes with Les Gets, and cheaper lift passes are available for those choosing to ski only this area. (These forested slopes are also a gift when low visibility rolls in.) But it’s its prime position in the vast, linked Portes du Soleil that is its best selling point for the mileage-hungry.

Blessed with a rich variety of terrain, challenges to suite every level, some deliciously long runs and jaw-dropping views, its 600km of pistes defy even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders to explore their every corner in a week.

New additions this season include a rerouted L’Aigle Rouge, a 2km red run in the Nyon area, a new blue from the top of Belvédère chairlift on the Pléney area and the timed slalom run on Mont Chéry, beyond Les Gets. Our favourite? The World Cup run in Avoriaz’ heart-in-mouth 1100m descent.

Ski highlights for all levels

Beginners: Morzine caters well for beginners, with wide nursery slopes close to the village, although these can become crowded. The Pléney lift from Morzine accesses a covered rolling carpet and easy runs that allow novices to ski all the way back down to town. More green slopes in a large, gentle bowl can be reached by the Super Morzine, and Zore chairs. Both options also offer great progression runs. Les Gets also has a good nursery zone.

Morzine has worked hard to provide multiple fun zones that allow mixed-ability families to ski together. Among these are the wildlife-themed Le Chemin des Zouzous and Boarder Pingouin boardercross, which offers scaled-down features for little learners with a taste for a thrill.

Intermediates: For intermediates, Portes du Soleil is a vast playground with few pisted areas truly beyond their reach. The gentle blues around the Super Morzine area tend to be uncrowded and are great for building confidence. Those ready for more speed can head up to Avoriaz, where a feast of higher and pacier blues and reds awaits.

Heading for the Swiss section, Pointes des Mossettes is a useful peak for dropping in, and opens up some lovely long red runs towards Les Crosets. The red run down from Charmossière is another, rather steeper highlight, while Aigle Rouge on Pointe de Nyon gives great view.

La Pléney’s compact network of slopes are a gift to groups of mixed abilities, with blue and red options off every lift, while the south-facing routes down to Les Gets from this area are nice, gentle cruisers, a perfect warm-up for the group of nippier reds that zigzag up to the peak Le Ranfoilly. When it’s time to test the nerves, this area, and La Rosta across the valley have a couple of easy blacks.

Experts: Three words. The Swiss Wall. More accurately named Le Pas de Chavanette, Avoriaz’ famous drop-in regularly makes lists of the Alps’ steepest black runs, and is a must-try for every serious skier, although the meaty moguls usually covering it keep many snowboarders away. Below les Hauts Forts, another trio of edgy blacks drain down to the Prodains Express lift. The red run from Pointe de Nyon also raises the heart rate in the most delightful way, and we’ve been known to spend a morning doing loops on the red and unpisted black options off the Chamossière Express lift.

Tranquil Les Gets also has some cheeky steeps tucked away, and those off the back of Mont Chéry tend to be nicely uncrowded. And when visibility drops, the lightly wooded bowl below Le Ranfoilly on Les Gets’ other side has several swoopy reds that let the speedheads keep the pace up.

And then there’s the off piste…

Ski schools and guides

There are well over a dozen schools and guides operating out of Morzine, with specialisms including British instructors, snowboarding, off piste and heliskiing (although heli is not allowed in France, outfits such as Bureau des Guides Morzine-Avoriaz and Marco Ski Guide can organise drops in nearby Swiss or Italian terrain). Most offer a flexible selection of one-on-one or group lessons, courses and guide hire.

ESF Morzine has 150 instructors, and teaches telemarking and handiski, as well as the usual styles. Plenty of their team speak excellent English. This year they are offering a new, two-morning off-piste ski and safety course for small freeriding groups, and freeskiing for kids.

Mint are snowboard specialists of 13 years’ standing, and offer backcountry and splitboard instruction among many other options.

British-run The Snow Institute offers excellent knowledge of the area and a fun, enthusiastic team.

Ski-only Evolution 2, Easy2Ride and British Alpine Ski School are among the other big outfits, while several independent instructors also work out of Morzine.

Choose from over 17,000 instructors in 250 resorts across the French Alps


Lift system

In all, Portes du Soleil has 190 lifts, serving 293 pistes. As you’d expect of such a popular ski area, it has worked hard to modernise year on year. The main access lifts, which will also carry pedestrians both up and down, are quick and efficient, and you can be sure of a modern, fast six-person chair on any lift suffixed with Express. But there are still some slow chairs at higher altitude, a handful of drag lifts, and a number of tricky congestion points.

The recent upgrade of the Pléney gondola has solved many problems, but not all. And another big improvement is the newish chairlift link from Linga to Super-Châtel which cuts out the former bus-only connection between the two areas.

New for this season, two spanking new six-person chairlifts will provide better and more comfortable transit between Morzine-Avoriaz and the Swiss sector that rolls down to Champéry and Les Crosets.

Terrain park 

Avoriaz was the original European home of snowboarding, and as such has the wealth of freestyle parks and fun zones you’d expect. It was here that US snowboard superbrand Burton chose to build its European version of The Stash, an eco-conscious, backcountry-inspired terrain park full of natural features and others handmade from timber. It’s joined in this area by five other parks and an awe-inspiring 120m superpipe with 6m-high walls, opposite the top of the Prodain lift.

For first-time jibbers, the Burton Kids Parkway’s the place to head. Specifically designed for absolute beginners, it’s a gentle, 400m slope served by a drag lift – and older ‘kids’ are welcome too. For next steps, Snowpark de la Chappelle, aka the Baby Park, has jumps graded green to blue, plus rails, boxes and spines ideal for beginners and intermediates. The stakes rise at Snowpark Arare, with hefty jumps and rails you don’t want to slip off – it’s also a great place to watch talented aerialistas do their thing. Ditto Snowpark Les Crosets, over the Swiss border. Intermediates may be more at home in Les Gets’ park at the top of Mont Cherie.

Ski cross and boardercross courses are also in generous supply. Our favourite is the 523m bad boy under the Chavanne lift in Les Gets.

Morzine’s own Nyon Snowpark is being completely remodelled for this season, and a new freestyle zone with airbag jump will open at Super Morzine.

Snow reliability and snowmaking

Fourteen hundred and two snow canons across Portes du Soleil make a solid contribution to maximising coverage throughout the season, and good grooming also helps maintain the base. But warm temperatures and not infrequent rain can make a soggy, muddy mess of the lowest slopes and can rule out skiing all the way back to town. The good news is that these grassy pasture slopes don’t need much snow to be skiable, and one serious snowfall can transform the village-adjacent pistes overnight. And all that said, The Portes du Soleil has one of France’s best snow records thanks to humidity from Lake Geneva tangling with the cold front around Mont Blanc. To the tune of 8m a year, on average.

Portes du Soleil piste map

Ski area
Village Altitude
Ski Altitude
1000m - 2466m
Green Runs
Blue Runs
Red Runs
Black Runs
Total Runs 306
Terrain Park
Cabin Lifts
Chair Lifts
Drag Lifts
Total Lifts 195