Do you like winter sports, do you ski or snowboard, and have you ever been to the French Alps? I used to ski a lot several years in a row, but as you could have read in my South Tyrol blog, last year was my first time on the slopes again during a winter trip, after an interval of 14 years.
This year I was delighted to be back in the snow again on a more extensive ski trip to the French Alps with France.fr, and was surprised how fast I got the hang of skiing again! During a special 5 day trip in the Portes du Soleil region in the northern part of the Alps we explored different slopes and visited 4 of the cutest villages during a so called 'Ski Safari'.
See a compilation of this 5 day trip with many highlights, activities and recommendations in this 4 minute video (best viewed in vertical/mobile mode):
Why the French Alps & Portes du Soleil?
The French mountains are stunning with a large variety of incredible scenery and activities, such as world renowned ski areas and ‘snow guarantee’ for skiers!
Living in a flat country like the Netherlands I’m always in awe with mountains, but the fact that this area also houses Europe’s highest mountain: the Mont Blanc at 4,810 meters, made it even more impressive. We were lucky to look out on this beautiful giant on a clear and sunny day.
But the Portes de Soleil, located near Geneva, is also very special because it brings together 12 French, and also Swiss resorts with 650 km of slopes. With a big offering of blue and red slopes, most of them are suitable for less experienced skiers like me, and with its tree-lined scenery it truly is a snow sports paradise.
See for yourself in this gallery, and click on the arrows to slide through and see the descriptions:
What’s a Ski Safari?
As the Portes du Soleil offers so much diversity, from quaint villages to renowned ski resorts, it’s certainly recommended to explore more than just 1 village. And as they are all connected by different slopes, what better way to explore by skiing from one village to the other and stay overnight in a different one every time? That’s exactly what a Ski Safari is!
If you book this special trip the Portes du Soleil ski pass will grant you access to all the slopes, different accommodations will be booked for you every other day and your luggage will be transported from one destination to the other.
This way you don’t have to arrange anything yourself, other than ski to the next destination while enjoying the ever changing scenery along the way, guaranteeing a different ski experience every time, as there will be no need to ski the same slope twice.
It also enables you to sample several restaurants in different villages during your trip, as France is renowned for its gastronomic excellence!
During a Ski Safari you will stay for 2 or 3 nights in 3 of the 12 connected resorts in France and Switzerland, with different trip combination options. You can book this special experience through the websites of each destination here below.
This traditional little town was one of my favourite’s during this trip, because of its quaint ambiance and gorgeous setting between the Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva.
The town impressed me with its wooden chalets, cute shops and atmospheric decoration all around, oozing charm and creating a very relaxed vibe! (Click on the smaller pictures to see the bigger versions and descriptions)
Hôtel Marmotte / Tapiaz & Spa
We stayed at one of the most charming hotels of the village, directly next to the slopes.
With their traditional rooms, great views from the balcony, delicious breakfast and extensive Spa with large pool, this hotel is certainly recommended!
To eat these 2 spots can not be missed in Les Gets, as you can see for yourself here:
Wild Beets Kitchen
Very special and delicious vegan and vegetarian restaurant.
L'As des Neiges
Classy restaurant located near our hotel, serving refined delicious food.
As I’m not a fervent skier, I like to focus on other activities as well, which we explored in each village. See some of the highlights and my recommendations through my own pictures here below.
Organized by Barbara every morning in the Belvédère restaurant or on the terrace at 1,750 meters height, with panoramic views of the Mont Blanc. Located at the top of the gondola Mont Chéry this relaxing yoga session offers a great start to your day on the slopes.
Find out more and book directly on the website of: LesGets.com
This traditional slate mining village is located less than 8 kms from Les Gets, is a bit bigger, but nevertheless charming and traditional.
Especially popular with families because of its ‘family plus label’ awarded for their special children’s activities. For example the Pinguin snow park and the variation of wide slopes, accessible to all levels, some with moving bands instead of ski lifts to make the slopes even more accessible for rookies like me😊
There are some nice restaurants here located directly on the slopes or at the top of the ski lift. And I really liked the fact that you could ski directly into the village with several après ski bars waiting for you at the start of the slopes.
Nestled between the mountains and forest, this town with its timeless wooden chalets with slate rooftops still holds that special Savoyard charm, and the town squares and main street are beautifully decorated and lit up at night.
As can be expected from France this village also has several establishments where the excellent French kitchen is well represented. 2 of the gastronomic highlights were:
We had dinner at this unique restaurant in Morzine, where the owner is also the chef, and culinary excellence is created with fresh regional products and perfect wine-pairing.
La Fruitière des Perrières
This typical farm-auberge used to be a pig farm, is now a cheese maker with their own shop with local and homemade products, and a traditional restaurant.
A must if you want to buy some local delicacies, homemade cheeses, or want to sample the best traditional raclette or cheese fondue in town, with a delicious home brewed regional aperitif called ‘marquisette’!
Morzine also houses many cute shops and even 2 microbreweries.
Next to that some special night activities are offered here, from night skiing, night walks, snow shoe-ing, to:
Truly a special experience to go down the empty slopes at night, while looking down upon the village all lit up! But it can get rough and is not for the faint-hearted!
Find out more and book directly on the website of: Morzine-Avoriaz.com
Glide directly into the ski resort Avoriaz for a whole different vibe, while passing by views upon the Mont Blanc and Pointe de Nyon mountain from the top of the Pleney.
Even though this is a purpose built ski resort from 1967, with a much shorter history than the other 2 villages, it truly is a magical place, creating a fairy tale vibe amidst the mountains.
This all pedestrian village is set on a cliff of 1,800 meters height where transportation only goes by foot, ski, snow bully or horse sled, making it even more picturesque. ‘A car free ski-city where the roads are pistes’.
Here you ski to and from your accommodation through the village directly onto the slopes, while being surrounded by authentic shops, restaurants and other vibrant establishments such as these:
It was the first ski area connecting France with Switzerland and even though it’s more modern and designed by a renowned architect, it’s fully built with natural materials. Also known as ‘living architecture’ to resemble the tones and shades of the surrounding mountain rocks, designed to blend into its natural environment.
With mainly high apartment buildings, from our hotel room we had stunning views like this:
Next to winter sports, there are plenty of other activities offered in these scenic surroundings, also for spring and summer time, such as hiking, mountain biking and even a big tropical pool paradise ‘Aquariaz’ in the center of the village.
From Avoriaz you can also take a more adventurous ski route called ‘the Stash’, perfect for bigger kids, or enthusiastic adults like me:)
You can even pass the Swiss border from Avoriaz to Champéry, where you can ski down the ‘Swiss Wall’, a very steep black slope, ranked as one of the top 10 toughest slopes of the world. But luckily you could also go down with a ski lift, which I did😊
Get an impression of this area through this gallery:
Having a drink, a traditional cheese fondue dinner, or even staying overnight in one of the igloo suites at Village Igloo in Avoriaz is also something that should not be missed!
Find out more and book directly on the website of: Avoriaz.com
This lively village was our last stop in the Portes du Soleil, which represented the heritage of the region so well. With its quaint church, diverse city center and tranquil vibe. From our 'Fleur de Neige’ hotel with extensive Spa, we had stunning views upon the traditional wooden chalets in the valley, surrounded by wide countryside.
Châtel’s ski lifts lead to wide and diverse slopes, but also offers other activities in all seasons, such as paragliding and several little side routes which you can follow on foot, snowshoe, (fat)bike or cross-country ski's.
Get an impression of the village's ambiance through this gallery:
If you want to learn more about the heritage of this area a visit to this local cheese farm is a must. Here you can see how the delicious ‘Abondance’ cheeses are made. With their 50 cows this farm produces 8 cheeses a day after a ripening process of 100 days. Tasting is certainly recommended!
For wellness enthusiasts, like me, Châtel also has a big pool- and Spa center:
Located in the center of the village, surrounded by scenic views, offering something for everyone. From 3 indoor pools and 1 outdoor pool, to 4 different sauna’s, a hammam, and extensive relaxing and fitness areas, a day off the pistes is well spent here.
And if you're looking for a good restaurant I recommend:
Le Vieux Four
With its traditional interior, quaint decoration and excellent dishes, this restaurant is certainly worth a visit for that unique Alpine vibe, combined with that famous French cuisine!
Find out more and book directly on the website of: Châtel.com
For more info to plan your trip to this gorgeous region go to: France-Montagnes.com. And for more daily pics of the French Alps you can follow me on social media as well, through the icons at the bottom of this page.
What do you think of this Ski Safari and the Portes du Soleil in the northern part of the French Alps?
Would love to hear your opinion, just leave a comment below!