Before you read on let us give you a very quick introduction to the ski area. The Portes du Soleil is the name for the collection of 12 interconnected ski resorts, Les Gets being one of those ski resorts.
It is a wonderful ski area, and it's truly enormous, far too large to fully explore in a week! Below is a guide to the different sections so you can plan which you might like to explore. If you have any questions about the area then please don't hesitate to get in touch, we know the skiing here rather well and would be more than happy to share our thoughts on the best spots with you.
There are two options for the lift passes, either a local area pass (Les Gets & Morzine, 120 kms of pistes) or the full Portes du Soleil Lift pass (650 kms!), and so we've discussed the areas in these groups.
Morzine is a close neighbour to Les Gets being in the valley next door. The combined ski area makes up our local area lift pass. At 120kms of pistes, this has enough terrain for beginners through to lower intermediates. It could be divided into 5 main areas:
This is the first section of the ski mountain you come to as you come up the lifts; the main way out and way home. There are two major lifts servicing this area, a high speed 6 man chair and a bubble lift. This is your starting point, it's where the ski schools meet and beginners take their first tentative slides down the mountain! There is also Le Grand Cry, an area just for children. This is all themed around trappers and Indians, and has 2 drag lifts.
The run home is a surprisingly good run and is quiet during the middle of the day.
Everyone used this as the way out in the morning and way back at the end of the day, so the main run back to the village can be busy and mogulled at the end of the day.
If you go up the Chavannes section, turn right then you'll hit the Les Gets Bowl. This is a wonderful bowl, 3 sides all full of a mixture of blues, reds, one black, glade skiing, trees, paths, bits of off pistes & 5 chair lifts all converging to a central point at the bottom. This is a great playground for intermediate skiers. A top insider tip for those who like a good meal at lunchtime is La Rosse'taz Restaurant (go up La Rosta chairlift, turn left then it'll be on your right).
One of our favourite runs in all of the Les Gets & Morzine ski area comes off the back of the bowl. This is a red run called Melezes which runs down to the Perrieres section of the village, and I would highly recommend it!
Lots of variety all in one place
Gentle off piste skiing
Most ski schools teach here and so in the mornings it can be busy. It's a place to go first thing in the morning or mid afternoon.
These are the two big mountains at the back of the ski area. Not for the faint-hearted, these provide challenging skiing in all conditions. There is some wonderful off-piste on these two mountains but please be warned they both are avalanche-prone, so please contact us to arrange guides if you are interested in the off-piste. This is also the best section of the Les Gets & Morzine area for challenging on-piste skiing.
The views from the top of Chamossière are some of the best in the Alps, on one side you can see the full Mt Blanc range and the other on a clear day you can see all the way down to lake Geneva. The red run leading off the top of Chamossière is probably my favourite run of this section, though please be warned this is at the harder end of the red run spectrum.
The Pointe De Nyon restaurant is always favourite and is worth a visit. It's also easily accessible even for lower-intermediate skiers.
Wonderful challenging on-piste and off-piste skiing
Avalanche-prone off piste - go with guides only!
This is the area including the ridge above Morzine and the runs down into Morzine itself. The runs here can provide some of the best skiing, but you have to pick your times and conditions to get the most out of them. Winding runs through the forest, lovely gradient for quick skiing with a good variety of wide open sections with smaller passages traversing the slopes.
It's north-facing and Morzine is the lowest part of the ski area. In good conditions these runs are wonderful, though the lack of sun can make the bottom hard packed or icy if it's been warm in the past. It's worth noting that the Morzine ski schools do most of their teaching around here, so it's a place to go either early morning or mid-afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Fast, winding blues & reds, interesting terrain.
Can be hard packed / icy, plus some parts can be busy when Morzine Ski School is in full swing.
Mont Chery, the hidden gem of the Portes du Soleil. This is an isolated ski hill which every skier who can do an easy red should try during their ski holiday. Les Gets is in the bottom of a valley; you have the main Chavannes side on one side of the village, and Mont Chery on the other. Mont Chery does not connect into any other slopes, and so it remains a quiet little isolated area.
It is mostly harder blues and reds, an ideal mountain for intermediates. In fresh snow it's truly wonderful, especially as the crowds head off elsewhere leaving Mont Chery for the locals and those in the know. Also the views from the mountain restaurants are some of the best you could imagine providing the perfect place to sit, relax and unwind. Sun-soaked terraces, Les Gets in the valley below and views to Mont Blanc above the distant ski area.
The first area you come to once you've left the local Les Gets and Morzine ski area is Avoriaz. Based high up at 1800m, this snow-sure area has a lot to offer. High, open bowls, challenging off and on piste skiing are all there in abundance. There's plenty of wide blues and reds for intermediates looking to go exploring all the villages, along with a few wonderful areas to eat. For those looking for haut-cuisine on a mountain side then check out Goat Village, a small collection of some of the best restaurants you'll find by a ski slope anywhere.
This is also the free-style skier and boarder's paradise. With 3 jump parks of varying level, a rail park, a super pipe (large half-pipe), forest park and Burton-sponsored "The Stash" run, it's quite a playground. Touring competitions come through, and it's also worth going to sit by the side of the big jump park just to watch the locals practising their skills, it's quite a sight to be seen.
There are two ways to get into Avoriaz. For both you start by skiing into Morzine. From there you can either walk or take the little road train across the village to the Super-Morzine lift up. The other option is to catch the free bus to Les Prodains, then take the lifts up from there. The Super-Morzine lift option gets you back on the slopes quicker, but there are some flat areas up there so in fresh snow or on a snowboard it's not the best option. Les Prodains option means about 7 minutes on a bus but the ski lift brings you right into the heart of Avoriaz, definitely the better option for snowboarders to avoid the flat parts.
As one of the choices of where to go next after Avoriaz, Chatel - Le Linga offers high altitude skiing for intermediates up-wards. Lots of wide and varied blues and reds, it's a personal favourite of mine for a place to ski when out exploring the Portes du Soleil. It's easy just to "pass through" lots of the Portes du Soleil due to it's sheer scale, but this is an area worth spending some time in to explore all the runs. My favourite run of this section is the one at the far end running down into the village, it's called Le Linga. Very long red, doing the full run in on go is a tiring but exhilarating ski experience.
Les Crosets is the other option for a place to go after Avoriaz. It is in Switzerland, you can ski across the boarder and you do not need any passports with you. There are two ways in, a red run and the infamous Swiss Wall!
The Swiss Wall is reputed as one of the hardest mogul runs in Europe. In reality it can vary wildly. It's always long and steep though so it's tiring even in good conditions.
I've been down there when it's been pretty flat with soft snow and it's be quite a pleasure indeed, not too challenging. I've also been down when there has been head-high moguls with a vertical down hill-side to them, and icy to match! It is a great challenge but please check out the conditions before attempting "the wall". You can also take a chair lift down the wall, which makes a great view point to watch those tackling it's challenges.
Les Crosets boasts one of the largest snow parks in the whole ski area, both in number and scale of the jumps. The rest of the skiing is reds & blues, lovely intermediates' ground. It catches quite a lot of sun though, so it's worth doing in the morning if you are there later on in the ski season as mid-late afternoon can be quite soft in late March or April time.
Here we are really getting into the far extremes of the ski area. Super-Chatel is a long ski from Les Gets, do remember to leave here with several hours to spare to make it back to Les Gets before the last lift closes! It's an interesting area, varied and a bit more old-fashioned than the high and developed Avoriaz & Chatel - Le Linga areas. It's worth doing as part of the loop or as a day trip, though a bit to far away to come too more than once or twice in a week-long holiday.
You can expect more old-fashioned slopes, a place where you can find a bowl with just one winding run in the bottom and one lift to take you back out. It's got a more peaceful and relaxed feel to it, though it's still got quite a few drag lifts to contend with!
There are many other small Swiss resorts making up the far end of the Portes du Soleil Ski Area - Champery, Champoussin, Val d'Illiez, Morgins and Torgon. These are a bit too far away to ski regularly on your holiday, but if you are a keen intermediate or advanced skier who likes exploring it's well worth taking a day skiing to do the Portes du Soleil Loop to see them.
Skiing these resorts is like stepping back in time. Much smaller and less developed than the big French resorts, they still have T-bars, meandering pistes in quiet valleys and a certain relaxed charm. They do though catch quite a bit of sun so are worth heading to earlier on in the day.
This is another one to tick off the list for anyone who enjoys the exploration that skiing allows. It's a circuit taking in 8 different ski areas crossing between France and Switzerland. It's no small undertaking though, you should leave early in the day and expect a full day's skiing to make it around and back in time.
From Les Gets you go through Morzine into Avoriaz. From here you've a choice of which direction to do the loop.
If you've some people in your group hoping to attempt the swiss wall then your loop would be Les Crosets - Champoussin - Val d'Illiez -Morgins - Chatel - Avoriaz, before then skiing through Morzine again to return back to Les Gets. If you are not planning on skiing the swiss wall you can do the loop in either direction.
It is a long way though and it's not unheard of for people to miss the lifts home! If you think you might miss the lifts home then the important thing is to try and get yourself into the Avoriaz area, as from there you can always ski down into Morzine then take the bus back up to Les Gets.