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Avoriaz is a purpose built ski resort but unlike so many of the resorts that sprang up in the 60's and 70's it isn't home to unsightly concrete monoliths but instead wooden clad apartments and chalets that sympathetically blend into the surrounding mountains.
Much of the credit for Avoriaz has been given to the 1960 Winter Olympic Gold medal winner Jean Vaurnet. Vaurnet had grown up in Morzine and after his success at the Olympics in Squaw Valley he was asked to help with the development of the ski area that surrounded his home town.
One of the first buildings in Avoriaz was the Dromonts Hotel which was built in 1966 and it's design, based on the idea that there are no right angles in nature set the template for the rest of Avoriaz. The resort grew and in 2003 it was awarded a prize by the French Minister of Culture for being one of the great heritage achievements of the 20th Century.
Today Avoriaz sits high on the cliffs above Morzine, just one and a half hours from Geneva Airport. and was voted best family resort and snowiest resort in France in 2013.
The town is completely pedestrianised and only service vehicles are allowed to drive through the resort powdered by an engine, everyone else must make their way around either on foot, ski or in a horse drawn sleighs.
All cars must be parked outside the resort and most transfers to Avoriaz stop at the foot of Le Prodains and visitors make the final ascent to the resort by cable car.
The centre of the resort is a gently sloping plateaux that is home to the excellent Village des Enfants Nursery slope. A self contained ski are built for children where kids as young as three can learn to ski in safety. This is the heart of the resort and it is surrounded by a variety of mini neigbourhoods or sectors; Amara, Falaise, Dromonts, ruches, Crozats and Festival
Avoriaz is a true ski-in-ski-out resort and most of the accommodation in Avoriaz is in apartments or apart-hotels. These apart-hotels are popular in France and are run by the big holiday companies like Pierre & Vacances and Maeva. They combine the benefits of renting a self contained apartment,complete with living area and kitchen with the facilities you would find in a hotel.
In the last few years Avoriaz has expanded with the new upmarket apartments and apart hotels being built. Now one of the best options is the L'Amara Complex. This boasts luxury apartments with relaxation and sports facilities all under one roof. The Residence Saskia Falaise is perched right on the edge of the cliffs of Avoriaz and the balconies here offer amazing sunsets.
Avoriaz has a good apres ski scene and as the town is small and pedestrianised it is easy to wander from bar to bar. Most of the bars are down at the Portes du Soleil building. Here you'll find the Globe Trotters and Shooters Bar which are particularly good at apres ski, especially when the Dutch and Swedish are in town.
There are some good bars down in the Falaise sector too like the Chapka and La Falaise.
Avoriaz doesn't have a wide range of restaurants, most of the places here are Savoy and and offer the mountain classics like tartiflette, fondue and raclette.
Through the centre of town there are slope side restaurants that have terraces on the Route de Crozats outside the Tourist Office. Here there are some great places to enjoy a lunch time salad in the sun and there are also some crepe stand if you prefer a mid-day snack without having to stop and sit down.
As you would expect most of the shops in Avoriaz cater to the ski and snowboard market and for ski rental and boot fitting there are two Intersports in the Place de Ruches and Les Fontaines Blanches where you can order your equipment online and collect it in store.
Although the shops in Avoriaz are a little limited the resort is home to an excellent aqua centre; Aquariaz. This is the water-sports centre in on the edge of the Village des Enfants in Avoriaz and it is home to river rapids, slides, climbing walls and pools. The whole complex has a tropical jungle theme and is a perfect apres ski destination for children.
Avoriaz also has it's own bowling alley and cinema as well as fitness studios and squash courts.
Unlike many of the purpose-built ski resorts that were built in the Alps in the 1960's Avoriaz is quite charming and as the years have passed it's place at the centre of the Portes du Soleil has only made it more attractive.
It's charm may have initially been engineered but over the years it has become a genuine part of life and the horse and cart taxis and Hobbit style chalets are now a day to day sight for people who live here. This combined with true ski in ski out accommodation and safe child-friendly surroundings, ease of access, and excellent skiing have made it one of the best family resorts in France.