Coming to a ski resort for the first time as a beginner skier or snowboarder can be a bit daunting. With a little locals know-how, our tips and tricks will help you make the most of your time here and hopefully leave you desperate for more.
Avoriaz, nestled in the heart of the French Alps, is one of the 13 ski resorts that link up the Portes du Soleil, one of the world’s largest ski areas. Of these 13 towns, Avoriaz is the highest at an altitude of 1,800m, so each year it is guaranteed the best snow in the area. And it’s not all about the legendary Burton Stash or the half-pipe. There is a wonderful world of beginner slopes to explore in and around the resort and across the whole of the ski area.
Here are our top tips:
- You may not need a full lift pass - beginner slopes are usually low down, easily accessed and some don't require a lift pass at all
- Book into ski school, don't let your mates / partner teach you, trust us and hire a professional
- Consider your choice of equipment hire shop
- Plan your outfit before you arrive
- Enjoy the fun zones, they usually have a beginner area
- Explore the whole resort, seek out the blue and green slopes away from the beginner zones
- Explore the blues and greens of the other resorts included in your pass
- Enjoy après-ski - after all you'll have earned your stripes
Whilst it is possible to arrange these things once you're in resort, we wouldn't recommend it - especially lessons. Plan ahead, book what you can, and take the pressure off that first morning.
If you're a complete beginner and booking into ski school you might not need a full six-day pass. The beginner pass allows you access to the main cable cars, Ardent, Prodains and Super Morzine, as well as 14 of the 34 lifts in resort, which means that any of the slopes leading to them are able to be explored. The price difference between the Avoriaz pass and the beginner pass is significant, so be honest with yourself about your ability. It's worth checking with your ski school before you buy, some schools offer packages that include a lift pass. Buying online couldn't be easier and the pass itself can be recharged / reloaded next time you visit. And rather than opt for them to be mailed to your home address, simply pick them up in resort. It's one less thing to remember to pack.
Don't let your friends or partner attempt to teach you to ski or snowboard. Trust us, for the sake of your relationships, put yourself in the hands of the professionals. Luckily there are many ski schools in Avoriaz offering group and private lessons with friendly and knowledgeable English speaking instructors. If you're the only beginner in your group it's definitely worth joining group lessons. You'll learn in a safe and fun environment, and make new friends with rest of your crew over your shared experiences. Lessons are definitely something you should book well in advance to ensure you get your slot - especially if your ski trip is during the school holidays.
Renting your gear online is often cheaper than in resort, and most shops have beginner ski / snowboard packages on their websites. Also it's worth making sure your pick up point is close to your accommodation, so it's not too far to carry your gear. Some shops offer free locker use near the slopes for customers, delivery services, and may even come to you for fittings on arrival if pre-arranged, especially if there's a group of you. It's worth checking this with the shop before you book.
Make the most of your time
All the gear, no idea
For the beginner skier or snowboarder it might seem expensive to lay out for the right apparel before you arrive, and there aren't any places that rent clothing in resort, so borrow what you can, check out the sales and online discounts. At the bare minimum make sure in addition to your trousers and jacket, that you've got a helmet, some goggles, gloves, and technical ski socks. Plus a lightweight back pack is always handy for carrying water, sunscreen and an extra layer.
The beginner slopes
This resort is home to 51 ski slopes, most of which are cruisy blue runs with amazing views, hundreds of ski instructors, and an atmosphere for an unforgettable holiday. The Proclou slope is one of the best beginner pistes in town. It’s wide, reasonably flat and runs alongside the Mini-Stash snow park. It’s perfect for practicing your snow plough, working on your turns, and having fun. Seraussaix, close by, is another mellow blue run that winds amongst snow covered pine trees and leads you to the bottom of the Seraussaix and Proclou chair lifts. This area is the most obtainable with the beginner specific pass, so make the most of it.
The fun zones
The Burton Kids Parkway in the Falaise sector is designed especially for beginners; a short 400m gentle piste, the kickers and boxes here are short and wide, perfect for kids and first time jibbers. There is also the snow park in Chappelle, known locally as the Baby Park, this area is great for beginners with green, blue and red graded jumps, rails, boxes and the like. Certainly enough to keep you entertained with your first snow park runs.
It’s easy to stick with the tried and tested slopes that you've come to know, but Avoriaz is a truly magnificent ski area that should not daunt the beginner. Alternatively leave the resort and head to nearby Morzine for a day and explore the Pleney area, or visit Les Gets, where the free beginners ski zone is accessed from the top of the Chavanne chair lift, plus three other green slopes nearby.
After all you have earned your stripes (and probably some bruises), now it's time to share your stories from the day with your family and friends, new and old.
Avoriaz is a great place to let off some steam after a day's exertions on the slopes. Whether that's in the local après-ski scene over a beer or two, in a local restaurant, or with a swim and sauna to relax those aching limbs. Pay a visit to Aquariaz, Avoriaz's water paradise, full of slides, an indoor river, and a chillout zone with bubble massage seats and an outdoor jacuzzi.
These are great options for a day off the skiing, in the event of poor weather or a great way to spend a few hours after the slopes close.
Families, at the very least, may finally have a shot at exhausting the kids with this option!
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself out here and have some fun in the snow!