Summer in the Alps: Outdoor activities in Les Portes Du Soleil
Les Portes du Soleil is a mountain area in the Alps. For many decades it has been a popular skiing destination with 12 inter-connected ski resorts to enjoy in France and Switzerland – and now it is attracting outdoors fans in the summer to mountain bike, hike, run and swim.
The 12 resorts include, in France, Abondance, Avoriaz 1800, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, , Morzine-Avoriaz and St Jean d’Aulps and, in Switzerland, Champéry, Val-d’Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin, Morgins and Torgon.
I recently enjoyed a short break in the summer mountains of the Portes du Soleil, visiting a different village or town each day.
- Where to stay and eat.
- Portes du Soleil: Spotlight on four destinations.
- My skiing guide to Les Portes du Soleil.
Active outdoors in Les Portes Du Soleil
From the shores of Lake Geneva to the famous peaks of the Dents du Midi range, and from easy family walks to all-day hikes at altitude, the area has a lot to offer. In fact, there are 800km of signposted walking routes and 22 mountain lifts to make it easier to climb the peaks.
The best option is to buy a Multi Pass that gives access to more than 60 activities, including the mountain lifts for walkers.
To make things easier, the Portes du Soleil have created a walkers’ map on sale in all tourist offices in the area.
Guided walk, Les Gets
With a guide, it’s easier to switch off to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Dominique Maire is a long-time resident of Les Gets and knows the trails well. He was the perfect guide for showing me some of the best walking routes and views.
We headed to Le Plateau et la Montagne de Loex and strolled wide tracks and peaceful forest and meadow paths. Dominique knew many excellent detours between the main trails and while I can’t recall exactly where we went we did enjoy some amazing views.
It was lovely to walk through cool forests and amid gorgeous meadows of long grass, wild flowers and butterflies.
I also recognised some of the mountains and views from a previous ski holiday, although the slopes and cafes look so very different when the snow melts.
It’s a beautiful place for a walk and there are options for all fitness levels.
There are more than 400km signposted trails, with 54 permanent routes starting from 23 mountain lifts in the wider Portes du Soleil.
I was fortunate to have the leadership of a local runner, Alice Gregr, a Brit who now lives in Morzine, to show me some of the trails.
We started and finished at the Nyon car park, near Morzine. I remember the name “Nyon” from a ski trip to the Morzine area. Without the snow, the area looks very different yet the uncovered trails are perfect for running.
We ran up, along, up, around a lake, up some more and then down. We chatted and enjoyed each other’s company – and also the wonderful views. I wish I could tell you exactly where I ran but I can’t because I let Alice show me the route.
It’s always good having a local to show you around, or a guide, and I was impressed by the range of routes on offer, from lower-level and relatively flat to steep and high, with plenty in between.
I recommend you take your trail running shoes for an off-road run while in Portes du Soleil.
Mountain biking and e-mountain biking
Across the 12 resorts of Les Portes du Soleil there are 600km of mountain biking trails, with routes suitable for enduro, cross country, downhill and freeride disciplines. In addition, there are plenty of options for e-MTBers.
It’s possible to make use of the lift system, too, by purchasing a Portes du Soleil MTB Lift Pass. You can pop the bikes on the chairlifts and gondolas – and then ride downhill.
There are also 12 battery recharging stations for e-bikes across the mountain area.
I enjoyed a superb e-mountain bike outing from Châtel in France to Champéry in Switzerland.
There are swimming pools and aquatic centres in Châtel, Morzine, Champéry and Morgins, plus bathing lakes in Les Gets and Montriond. Use your Multi Pass for free entry.
There is also Thermes-Parc Val-d’Illiez for swimming and spa options. Pay entry at the door.
Fly on the Fantasticable
Located close to the village of Chatel, the Fantasticable is a superb zip-wite experience. Find out more: Have you tried: Fantasticable?
Also called parapenting, there are lots of companies that will take you on a tandem flight. The weather, temperatures and views are often perfect in the Alps for paragliding.
Via ferrata is popular in the Alps with plenty of options to traverse steep side mountains on chains and metal steps. Try this activity if you dare!
Do much more with a Multi Pass
The Portes du Soleil Multi Pass offers access to a long list of activities including:
- 22 mountain lifts for walkers (reach the trails more easily)
- 6 swimming pools and lakes
- 6 museums and cultural sites
- 3 minigolf venues
- 1 ice-rink
- 1 indoor climbing wall
- 8 tennis venues
- 6 holiday trains (for explore the resorts)
- 6 inter-resort shuttles to get from one village-resort to another without your car.
Find out more at Portes du Soleil.