The Portes du Soleil region comprises two valleys (the Vallée d'Aulps - Morzine, St Jean d'Aulps, Le Biot and the Vallée d'Abondance - Chatel, Abondance, La Chapelle) along with the village of Les Gets. The Portes du Soleil ski area is massive, linking France and Switzerland with 194 ski lifts serving 300 pistes. There are 11 snowparks, 4 boarder-cross areas and 90 restaurants to choose from on the mountain. Most of the resorts offer cross country ski tracks as well and there has been investment in alternative activities for those who don't ski, such as marked snowshoe trails and swimming pools. The area is also rightfully famed for its summer season. Mountain bikers are catered for by the network of lifts serving 650km of marked trails, road bikers are able to emulate the Tour de France by tackling famous Alpine climbs. Walkers have access to even more trails and can use the lifts to take the strain off some uphill sections. There is also a host of other activities on offer from relaxing by one of the many mountain lakes to rafting down the white water rivers. Vast improvements in ski facilities, a lively summer season and a wonderfully warm and welcoming family atmosphere have recently led to strong foreign investment in the area. It now rightfully sits amongst the most popular areas in the French Alps.
The biggest and most recognised town in the Portes du Soleil, Morzine is suitably equipped with good facilities and amenities. There are many hotels, varied restaurants, plenty of ski shops, good supermarkets, lots of bars, a disco or two and a cinema. The town also boasts its own tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a full size ice rink. Although quiet in the interseason the resort has good year-round appeal. Morzine is a pleasant place for walking, socialising and relaxing. What it lacks in resort altitude is made up for by the easy access to Avoriaz and the excellent Portes du Soleil skiing opportunities. Morzine also offers the widest range of summer activities in the region.
With its higher altitude Les Gets has a slightly more ski-resort atmosphere than neighbouring Morzine, a feeling accentuated by the fact it has little off-season activity. Although at its heart lies an authentic centuries old village, Les Gets has expanded dramatically over the last ten years with many excellent chalets being built on or near the ski pistes. Its size means it has fewer facilities than its larger neighbour. However, there remains a wide range of activities in summer and winter and Les Gets has an excellent programme of organised events each week of the holiday season.
Originally a thriving farming community Châtel is now the third 'centre' of the Portes du Soleil (along with Morzine and Les Gets). This charming village has a good range of facilities including numerous bars and restaurants, two cinemas and a popular municipal swimming pool. Those who buy here are attracted by an atmosphere that offers a tempting mixture of a tranquil way of life, warmth and friendliness of the people and a strong family focus. The skiing offered by the Portes du Soleil is easily reached from both sides of the village and summer activities are also readily accessible.
Snow-sure Avoriaz sits at the heart of the Portes du Soleil. The brainchild of Jean Vuarnet, French Olympic medallist at the winter games in 1960, it was built in 1966 with an architectural design planned in harmony with the mountain landscape. The apartment buildings, restaurants and numerous hotels are all clad in wood and sit perched above steep rock cliffs that overlook Morzine. It's certainly visually spectacular; a city in the snow, where sleighs and skis replace cars and where everything is truly ski-in/ski-out. There are very few chalets in this purpose-built resort. The addition of the Aquariaz water complex in 2012 greatly enhanced the appeal of the resort in both winter and summer.