© S. Lerendu
© S. Lerendu
Avoriaz is a purpose-built ski resort but, unlike so many of the resorts that sprang up in the 60s and 70s, it isn't home to unsightly concrete monoliths but instead wood-clad apartments and chalets that sympathetically blend into the surrounding mountains.
Much of the credit for Avoriaz has been given to the 1960 Winter Olympic Gold medal winner Jean Vaurnet. Vaurnet had grown up in Morzine and, after his success at the Olympics in Squaw Valley, he was asked to help with the development of the ski area that surrounded Morzine. Today Avoriaz sits high on the cliffs above Morzine and was voted best family resort and snowiest resort in France in 2013.
The town is completely pedestrianised and the only engine powered vehichles allowed to drive through the resort are service vehicles, everyone else must make their way around either on foot, ski or in horse-drawn sleighs. All cars must be parked outside the resort and most transfers to Avoriaz stop at the foot of Le Prodains and visitors make the final ascent to the resort by cable car.
The centre of the resort is a gently sloping plateau that is home to bars, restaurants, shops, a sports centre, the nursery slopes and the tourist office. This is the heart of the resort and it is surrounded by high rise apartments and cliffs that occupy various sectors: Falaise, Dromonts, Ruches, Festival, Crozats and Amara.
History & Culture in Avoriaz
One of the first buildings in Avoriaz was the Dromonts Hotel which was built in 1966 and its design, based on the idea that there are no right angles in nature set the template for the rest of Avoriaz. The resort grew and in 2003 it was awarded a prize by the French Minister of Culture for being one of the great heritage achievements of the 20th century.
Things to do in Avoriaz
As you would expect most of the shops in Avoriaz cater to the ski and snowboard market. There are a few souvenir and gift shops, most of these are in the Tabacs, so for the best shopping opportunities head down the valley to Morzine.
Although the shops in Avoriaz are a little limited the resort is home to an excellent aqua centre, Aquariaz. This is the water sports centre on the edge of the Village des Enfants and it is home to river rapids, slides, climbing walls and pools. The whole complex has a tropical jungle theme and is a perfect après ski destination for children. Avoriaz also has a number of indoor activities including a bowling alley and cinema, as well as fitness studios and squash courts.
Dining in Avoriaz
Avoriaz doesn't have a wide range of restaurants, most of the places here specialise in Savoie style cuisine and and offer the mountain classics like tartiflette, fondue and raclette. Through the centre of town there are slope-side restaurants that have terraces on the Route de Crozats outside the tourist office. Here there are some great places to enjoy a lunchtime salad in the sun and there are also some crepe stands if you prefer a mid-day snack without having to stop and sit down.
Nightlife in Avoriaz
Avoriaz has a good après-ski scene and as the town is small and pedestrianised it is easy to wander from bar to bar. Most of the bars are down at the Portes du Soleil building. Here you'll find the Globe Trotters and Shooters Bar which are particularly good at après ski, especially when the Dutch and Swedish are in town. There are some good bars down in the Falaise sector too like the Chapka and La Falaise.
Chalets in Avoriaz
Avoriaz offers a selection of chalets from the traditional Alpine style to the more contemporary modern affair. Some are available over the summer months as self-catered, whilst the majority are available during winter.
Apartments in Avoriaz
Avoriaz is a true ski-in/ski-out resort and most of the accommodation in Avoriaz is in apartments or aparthotels. These apart-hotels are popular in France and are run by the big holiday companies like Pierre & Vacances and Maeva. They combine the benefits of renting a self-contained apartment, complete with living area and kitchen facilities you would find in a hotel.
In the last few years Avoriaz has expanded with the new upmarket apartments and aparthotels being built. Now one of the best options is the L'Amara Complex. This boasts luxury apartments with relaxation and sports facilities all under one roof. The Residence Saskia Falaise is perched right on the edge of the cliffs of Avoriaz and the balconies here offer amazing sunsets.
Hotels in Avoriaz
There is a small selection of hotels in Avoriaz and they tend to be more apart-hotels.