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Skiing in Portes du Soleil: Two resorts in one trip

Written by Fiona

March 05 2024

A two resort trip in one ski holiday made a lot of sense in the Portes du Soleil.

First stop: Châtel

Alighting a chairlift in the picturesque French ski resort of Châtel in the Haute Savoie region of the Alps, I take a moment to stop and look around. 

Several beautifully groomed pistes tempt me in different directions with graded routes from easy to intermediate, while a steeper slope of thick ungroomed snow offers a bigger challenge.

Yet, I’m drawn to the wider vista, where I gaze at a spectacular panorama of snow-covered mountain peaks, steep forested slopes and villages perched in high valleys in between.

While it would be very easy to relax into a skiing holiday in the one perfectly packaged and picturesque resort, located just over an hour’s drive from the international airport city of Geneva, I find myself hankering to discover what is “just over” the mountain or “only across” the valley.

Looking down on Châtel at night from a snowy hiking trail.
Snowshoe trails at Châtel.

Châtel in Portes du Soleil

Brilliantly, Châtel is part of a vast ski area of the Portes du Soleil, ranked among the two largest in the world, and includes 12 resorts across France and Switzerland.  Looking at the finer details, there are 208 lifts spread over 14 valleys that serve 307 ski runs and  a claimed 650km of marked pistes.

Indeed, during a few days of skiing with friends based at Châtel, which is both a bustling ski village and an historic working farm community, we dip in and out of France and Switzerland.

In the resort itself, more than 80kms of runs across two mountain ranges provide plenty of choice for beginners through to experts. There is also a snow park for fun seekers. 

A further 50km of downhill skiing is covered by the Châtel ski pass, which also allows access to the slopes of the Swiss resorts of Torgon and Morgins.

Nearby, Champoussin and Les Crosets, also in Switzerland, make great destinations on skis, too, with the latter linking back across the border to one of the highest resorts in the wider region, Avoriaz in France.

It proves to be a fun activity to eat breakfast in our hotel in Châtel, ski for morning coffee in Switzerland and pop back to France for lunch and then choose which country to ski in the afternoon.

Ski from Châtel to Les Gets

Better still, for fit and able skiers, there’s a day’s adventure to be had journeying from Châtel to Les Gets. The route checks in at Morgins, Les Crosets and Avoriaz, with a possible detour via Champéry if time and leg muscles allow.

From Avoriaz at 1800m elevation, a convenient download is possible on the Prodains Express cable car before a welcome sit down on a bus to Pleney in Morzine. Then it’s back on skis – or snowboard – to ride Pleney Gondola to the higher slopes and lifts of Morzine before choosing from an array of pistes to reach Les Gets.

Starting the outing before 10am at Chatel and including a relaxed lunch stop in one of dozens of mountain restaurants en route, should see you arriving in Les Gets in time for a couple of apres-ski drinks.

The best option is to enjoy the Portes du Soleil ski tour with friends so that you can share a taxi back to Chatel – or why not do as we did and request the driver brings your luggage to meet you?

We decided that with many choices of resorts in the Portes du Soleil, as well as multiple options for shorter stays in hotels and chalets, a two-centre ski holiday was very appealing.

Ski resort 2: Les Gets

It means that half-way through the ski trip, we wake up to a different mountain view from a luxurious, centrally located chalet in Les Gets. As an added bonus there has been  an overnight dump of snow and the resort looks suddenly fresh and even more attractive than when we skied in the day before.

A new snow day usually means a queue for the first uplift and while we do need to join a small throng on the Chavannes chairlift from the base station, the crowds disperse as soon as we start to ski. Morning cloud also fades as the sun begins to brighten.

By the time we ski off the La Rosta lift, on a mountain that rises to 1650 metres, the sky is resplendent with a spell-binding sun halo. A relatively rare phenomenon, the supralateral arc is formed when ice crystals reflect in the low angle sunlight.

The effect stays with us for most of the day with double rings and prism effects providing an impressive backdrop along with a deep blue sky, valley-hugging cloud and pristine white mountain peaks.

The snow is also a delight to ski and we split into two smaller groups, with some skiing soft, freshly groomed pistes, while the others bounce gleefully down and through some 30cms of fluffy powder on the expert-graded Yeti run. 

Our tracks are some of the first to mark the slope and we make a quick return on the same lift to enjoy the run again.

Les Gets in Portes du Soleil

Les Gets itself forms two different ski areas, rising to a high point of to 2002 metres, with Chavannes on one side of the valley and Mont Chery on the other side. Combined with the neighbour resort of Morzine, there’s 120km of skiing across 64 pistes, from easy greens to expert blacks and all served by 48 lifts.

Later in the trip, as I swoop down the flatteringly wide slopes of Mont Chery, which are surprisingly empty of other people, I gaze once more at distant mountains, this time including majestic Mont Blanc, which Europe’s highest peak.

My mind starts to wonder again and this time about all the possibilities for outdoor activities in the vast Portes du Soleil in summer, including hiking, climbing, mountain biking, e-cycling and swimming. I suggest to my friends that we should to book a return trip when the snow retreats – and hopefully visit several more resorts in this fantastic high-altitude outdoors playground. 

Two resorts trip: Portes du Soleil

I was hosted for this trip by the local tourism organisations.

Getting there

BA, SWISS and EasyJet fly from UK airpots to Geneva. Fly direct with EasyJet from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Geneva. Prices start from £45 one-way.

Transfers from Geneva Internaitonal Airport to Chatel and Les Gets cost around £60 per person one way for a shared transfer.

A shared taxi transfer between Châtel and Les Gets is around €140.

Chalet Blythe.

Where to stay

Fleur de Neige Hotel in Chatel. Excellent rooms, fantastic breakfasts, spa and swimming pool. Prices for B&B per night from €250 for two people.  

See: hotel-fleurdeneige.fr/ .

Chalet Blythe in Les Gets. A luxury option in a new chalet in the resort centre. Prices from £37,500 per week for exclusive chalet use for seven nights, or £695 per night for a room (three-night minimum stay). Prices include half board with four-course meal, Canapés and all drinks.  

See: https://summitspecial.co.uk/chalet-hotel-blythe/.

Where to eat: 

In Châtel:

La Poya

L’Etable at Plaine Dranse (no website)

Restaurant La Ripaille.

In Les Gets:

La Croix Blanche (no website)

Restaurant La Bokka

Visit to a traditional farm and cheese maker.

Anything else to do?

Follow snowshoe trails in Châtel and Les Get, or join a guided show shoe tour. 

Cross country, or Nordic, skiing is possible in both resorts, too.

Adrenaline seekers can enjoy a giant zip-wire called the Fantasticable.

Visit a traditional farm and cheesemaker.

Add some laughter

The Montreux Comedy Festival, Les Gets edition, takes place annually with British comedians. Book your trip to coincide with this event.

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