PORTES DU SOLEIL : OVERVIEW
Heavy investment in ski facilities, a lively summer season and a wonderfully warm and welcoming family atmosphere have led to foreign buyers finally waking up to the charms on offer in the Portes du Soleil. Although perhaps not yet as fashionable as the world renowned resorts of Chamonix and Megeve in the neighbouring valley, the Portes du Soleil with its traditional Savoie towns and resorts now rightfully sits amongst the most popular areas in the French Alps.
Buyers were first attracted to the area by the extensive skiing and snowboarding opportunities afforded by the massive Portes du Soleil ski area. With an amazing 650km of slopes running between France and Switzerland it represents the largest linked ski area in the world - 212 interconnected lifts servicing eight areas in France and four in Switzerland, 273 marked ski runs and 216 km of cross-country trails. Good pistes for both beginners and more advanced skiers and a wide-ranging selection of off-piste runs mean that skiers regularly return to explore the slopes of the Portes du Soleil year after year. This size has been complemented with a heavy investment in facilities: new, fast and reliable lifts cut down significantly on queuing, the Snow Park at Avoriaz has become a boarder's Mecca and snow making equipment guarantees a good snow covering on all the major pistes.
The area is also rightfully famed for its summer season, when some of the best cycling opportunities in the world are on offer. Downhill mountain bikers enjoy the variety of technical and challenging runs, whilst cross country mountain bikers are well catered for by the extensive network of lifts (24 lifts serve 380km of market itineraries!). Meanwhile, road bikers are able to emulate the Tour de France by tackling famous Alpine runs like the Col de Joux Plane. Spectator opportunities for the cycling enthusiast take the form of the VTT World Championship, which competes at Les Gets, and the world's greatest bike race, the Tour de France, which regularly passes through Morzine. It's not just the cyclists who buy property in the area though, with a fantastic range of walking and climbing opportunities and a host of other activities for the more adrenalin fuelled buyer from paragliding to rafting to the quite frightening prospect of mountain boarding.
It is perhaps the range of activities available in both summer and winter that have given the Portes du Soleil a strong family feel. Whilst it may not have the glitz and glamour of some of the shops and restaurants to be found in Chamonix or Megeve, prices are lower and there is a warmth and friendliness in its towns and resorts that gives it a welcoming atmosphere. For instance, those dropping into the Tourist Office in Morzine on Saturdays find themselves greeted with a cup of hot chocolate and a local patisserie. Those that pick up the weekly entertainment guide whilst they are there are regularly shocked at the sheer number of activities on offer in the region. Whether it's the entertaining "Descente aux Flambeaux" when at the end of the day lift attendants ski down the mountain with flaming torches, or the weekly lumberjack competitions held in many of the towns, there is always something going on in this distinctly vibrant community.
The liveliness of its year-round attractions and well equipped towns, combined with their traditional atmosphere and strong family focus have meant that the Portes du Soleil is no longer the up-and-coming area it once was; it has now officially arrived!
- Very good access with Geneva airport one hour away
- Large, varied and well equipped ski area
- Strong summer season with a diverse range of activities
- Warm, welcoming family atmosphere
- Reasonably priced shops and restaurants
- Still not as big a name as world renowned resorts
- Unreliable snow cover in the resorts on the lower runs, mitigated by good snow making facilities.
- An ever increasing number of British buyers in the area.
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