Purpose built Avoriaz is a true ski-in/ski-out, pedestrianised resort, where you get around on horse-drawn sleighs rather than cars or buses. At 1,800 metres, it's also one of the most snow-sure ski resorts in France.
Only an hour and a half from Geneva Airport, private or shared minibus transfers are readily available to take you up to Avoriaz. If you are driving, then you can drive up to Avoriaz but you need to leave your car in one of the car parks (indoor or outdoor) at the entrance of the resort. From here you can be taken to your accommodation by 'piste-basher' shuttle or horse drawn sleigh. A great way to start your family holiday!
In addition to the short transfer time and ski-in/ski-out accommodation, Avoriaz makes for a great family holiday thanks to it's dedicated ski areas for children, top-notch children's ski schools, and a wide choice of other winter activities (including a wonderful swimming complex with slides). It's a compact and fairly flat resort, so walking between your accommodation and ski school or the ski lifts is not too arduous - important when you are carrying more than one set of skis! Have a look at a Map of Avioriaz. You can bring babies to Avoriaz too. The slow drive up to resort should not be a problem for them although some paediatricians advise caution because of the altitude.
Avoriaz is a great option for a summer holiday as well, particularly if you are a biking family. The Alps are very beautiful in summer with hot sunny days and cool nights, and plenty of activities and events to keep you occupied.
Accommodation for families
Taking the family on a ski holiday can be hard work so finding good family-friendly accommodation is essential to making life that little bit easier. The beauty of Avoriaz is that all the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out so you won't need to be carrying two or more sets of skis and all the paraphernalia that goes with skiing with children! It is also a small and compact resort so it doesn't really matter which residence you choose as you are never very far away from the centre.
Avoriaz is mainly made up of modest apartment blocks run by tour operators and rental agencies. The newer blocks are smarter and have more facilities such as spas and swimming pools, baby equipment and maid services. Self catering is the norm. There are a handful of hotels and a small selection of chalets, some of which are catered.
Lift passes for families
Various family ski passes are available at a discount of around 10%, and there are special reduced price beginner passes and pedestrian passes available. Children under five ski for free, although you do still need to get them a lift pass - take some ID with you to the ski pass office to obtain one. Please see our Ski Lift Pass Prices page for further information.
Ski schools for families
If you have designs on raising the next Shaun White or Chemmy Alcott, then getting your kids into ski school as soon as possible is going to be a priority! Ski schools will not take children under three, so if you think your child is ready earlier, then you will need to teach them yourself or hire a private instructor. If you want to teach them yourself, you can find out more about the nursery and beginner ski areas in Avoriaz in our guide. All ski equipment (and sometimes ski clothing) can be rented at the ski hire shops in Avoriaz, either when you arrive or you can book everything online in advance. They will need a helmet, mittens and goggles in addition to skis (poles are not initially needed for kids), and make sure they have enough layers on to stay warm. Remember to apply sun cream to their faces before they start and place a snack and your phone number in their pocket, just in case.
For three and four year olds, the focus is on having fun in the snow, and games are used as part of the teaching process. No ski pass is required if they are in lessons. For children aged five and above, you can enrol them in courses according to their level, from beginners to good skiers who are nearing competition level.
There are several ski schools in the area offering ski lessons for children. The main ones are Village des Enfants, ESF and Evolution2. All three have dedicated children's ski areas in the centre of Avoriaz so you will be able to walk there (or sledge!) directly from your accommodation. The 'Village des Enfants' is the largest dedicated children's ski area and is open from 09:00 until 17:30. It covers five hectares and includes play areas with fun characters and obstacles, gentle drag lifts and magic carpets. There is a supervised indoor area if your child gets too tired during the day and does not want to continue skiing. Snowboard lessons can be taken in a specially designed area, and the Riglet Park is a play zone for kids aged three and over with rails, mounds and pyramids for little snowboarders to play in. ESF and Evolution2 ski schools will also take your kids from three years in their own specially designed snow gardens where they can learn in a fun and safe environment. Lift passes are not included in ski school rates, so enquire when you book your lessons to find out which ski pass you should buy.
The Village des Enfants, ESF & Evolution2 offer mainly weekly courses, so if you are here for only a few days then you will need to enquire when you arrive to see if there is any space for your kids on the days you are in resort. The alternative is to hire a private instructor for your dates.
Ski areas for families
The ski area in Avoriaz is well suited to beginners and the nursery slopes can be accessed without a lift pass, so you can build up your confidence without having to commit to buying a pass. Once you feel happy to try some blue runs, buy a Beginners ski pass and explore some of the lovely wide blue runs such as Proclu and Seraussaix. Find out more about the Beginners Ski areas in Avoriaz. For more advanced skiers, you have the whole of the Portes du Soleil Ski Area to explore. With 426km of pistes and six snow parks spread over 12 resorts, there is terrain suitable for everyone.
Avoriaz is renowned for it's snow parks and there are six freestyle areas to choose from. There is a permanent halfpipe, a Burton Stash and parks beyond Avoriaz in the wider Portes du Soleil area. There's no way your experienced teenagers will get bored here! There are even two snow parks especially designed for children, the Kid's Parkway and Lil'Stash, both are in Avoriaz itself.
Activities for families
During the winter, if the kids are only skiing for half a day, then there are plenty of other activities available in resort to keep them happy.
Just opposite the Village des Enfants is an outdoor ice skating rink. You can rent skates for free but there is a charge to use the rink.
There is a fantastic swimming pool complex called Aquariaz which has slides, fountains, rapids and play areas - suitable for all ages. Other winter activities include sledging, cinema (look out for films in VOST for films in English), a bowling alley, husky dog sledding and horse drawn sleigh rides. Read more about the Best Family Activities in Avoriaz.
For adults that aren't quite so sure of the skiing, there are a number of spas you can visit for some indulgence, as well as fitness classes, or perhaps some snow shoeing. Pedestrian ski passes are available at a reduced rate so you can join the rest of your group up in the high mountains for lunch and spectacular views. On the slopes of Arare blue piste you will find an igloo village, with and ice cave, ice bar and restaurant.
During school holidays, the tourist office organises plenty of events designed for children, such as carnival parades, lantern processions, snowmen contests, fireworks, concerts, face-painting and ice sculptures. For teenagers, there are many festivals held during the winter season, both snow sports and music festivals. Check our Main Events guide for details.
Summer holidays in Avoriaz are all about being active and there are a wealth of activities on offer here for all ages and members of the family. Our dedicated guide to activities in Avoriaz includes a section specifically on kids' activities with information on horse riding, short family hikes, high ropes courses, where to go swimming, nature parks, and numerous other fun things that will help make your family holiday as unique and memorable as possible!
It is possible to hire baby equipment in Avoriaz - items such as high chairs, pushchairs, cots and playpens can be rented in resort. Check with your accommodation provider, for high chairs and cots especially. All the ski shops offer a kids ski pack rental as well, with skis starting at a length of 67cm and boot size 23EU. Some will also rent you sledges, strollers and sledge-strollers.
There are plenty of specialist tour operators who cater for families and have in-house nannies to help with the childcare. Children under three are generally too little to try skiing, so some help with childcare is essential if you plan on skiing yourself. Independent nanny agencies are also available, and should be booked well in advance of your holiday. Have a look at our childcare listings page for more information or you can contact the local tourist offices for a list of available babysitters. NB: There are several municipal crèches in the area but they are reserved for residents, so we have omitted them here.
The main winter establishments to help with childcare include the ski schools who sometimes offer a combination of tuition and childcare for children three years and older. You can book your child in for full or half day programmes, and lunch can also be provided for an extra charge.
You may find that the main sports centre of each town host a kids club during the summer holidays, normally from 1st July to 30th August, with activities such as swimming, climbing, tennis, basketball, ice-skating, etc. and organised hikes and picnics.
School holiday dates
France divides its school holidays into a regional timetable to ensure that the entire country doesn't go on holiday at once - however, this staggered system can mean that some months (particularly February) can be busy from beginning to end as one region after another arrives in resort! Chamonix is in Zone A.
- Zone A - Ain (01), Isère (38), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74) Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse
- Zone B - Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg
- Zone C - Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris and Versailles
Best activities for family fun in Avoriaz
Sitting 600 metres above Morzine, seeming to rest precariously on the cliffs of the surrounding mountains, is Avoriaz. Its tall buildings tower over the surrounding valleys making it one of the most spectacular winter resorts.