Exploriaz: Guide to Avoriaz, France

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1 - Its cliff top location surrounded by dramatic Alpine views, Avoriaz is a central resort in the gargantuan ski region of Portes du Soleil. I joined the University of Sunderland’s Snowsports Club (USSC), my snowsports family who I learned to ski/snowboard with for over three years, in their annual Snow Tour. 

By being, what we could tell, the only uni group there, it just goes to show that Avoriaz is an all-rounder resort. We could cover most runs as a group to then bust some dangerous moves (or was that just me?) in the small but substantial bar and club area, while families have plenty of easy runs, ski schools and mini snowparks.

Snowparks


Out of the 11 snowparks in Portes du Soleil, seven of those are in Avoriaz. My favourite place to wind down at the end of a day’s boarding was at the Avoriaz snowpark. With a selection of kickers from very easy to badass and a line of rails and boxes in their own section, it was a great place to sit at the top watching the fearless fling themselves here there and everywhere. I’d take a toe selfie from the top of the difficult jumps, then slyly shimmy down to the less impressive kickers to catch some minuscule air.

Nestled in the woodland area of Les Brochaux is The Stash. As you ride through the trees, there are many freestyle features carved from wood. Awesome to look at for sure, but the experienced snowparkers among us complained that the rails / boxes were too sticky. One of our guys even overshot a quarter pipe feature and landed in the trees – if only someone had had their GoPro on!

Runs

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For unfit easygoing lassies like myself, the runs in Avoriaz are perfect. The majority of runs are blue for a not too strenuous ride. I was able to survive any run, as the blacks didn’t seem too life-threatening. However, there were a couple of runs that were every snowboarders nightmare –relentless flats and a bit of up hill. Warning boarders: Abricotine may be long but, dayym, your pushing leg will hate you for it.

But enough of Avoriaz, that is only a small part of the wider world of Portes du Soleil. If you like exploring, then upgrade your lift pass. That’s an order. There are 12 possible resorts/stations to ski to. Not that I was able to go everywhere in a week, but discovering some softer snow toward Chatel and the very fact that I can now say I have been to Switzerland was most satisfying indeed. I can now scratch Switzerland off my world scratch map – dream come true. Speaking of Switzerland, the scariest black run I have seen with my bare eyes is The Swiss Wall. Where was the bottom? Seriously?

On the edge of The Swiss Wall

On the edge of The Swiss Wall with the Selfie Stcik

Apres Ski

Not quite the booming apres-ski vibe you might find in resorts like Val Thorens, but there is a small area within the town that offers a bars and a club. Because we were able to get discount with student travel company NUCO Travel, we spent our nights in Shooters – three euro wine! When a live band covering well-known hits were not playing, the music tended to be crowd-pleasing hits from the past ten years. Us crazy kids would take the party upstairs to The Place with house tunes and the like carrying on until 2am. The sassiest of kids then continued to Le Yak – the only club open until 5am. I didn’t make it that far. I wasn’t sassy enough.

We were able to enjoy an apres-ski session on The Place’s terrace – a chilled atmosphere with good music, good drink, and a good beer pong table. Don’t expect to be bouncing with a bag of wine while pressed up against a sweaty strangers back here in Avoriaz.

Aquariaz

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We enjoyed our hot tub/jacuzzi session for an hour and 40 minutes over the recommended limit, according to a nearby health and safety notice. There is more to this “water park” than pruning it up in a hot tub. I had a go on the half pipe water slide, where you are pushed off one end in a rubber ring letting momentum propel you up and down the half pipe. There is a lazy river and a kiddies climbing wall and rope swing. There are kids here. You will get splashed in the face.

Admittance to Aquariaz before 4pm is eight euros. After 4pm is ten euros.

Getting Around

If you do not have grip on your shoes/boots, then you, my friend, are a moron. I too was a moron for having the slipperiest casual footwear on the Goddamn planet. As soon as my friend and I stepped out of our hotel, she said: “Isn’t it weird walking without your snowboard boots on…” She turned around to find me on my ass.

Avoriaz is a car-free resort because it is covered in a blanket of snow, duh. Carrying luggage to your hotel a treacherous quest making Frodo’s trip to Mordor seem like a mild errand. You have three options to make this quest less daunting.

  1. Hire a shopping-trolly-esk sledge (1€)
  2. Make like frosty princess and be pulled in a horse sleigh (5€-14€)
  3. Get a lazy boy’s shuttle (9€-11€)

Eating

Going on a student holiday means living like a privileged pauper, so no fine dining occurred to present some fabulous restaurant reviews here. What we did do was have a group meal with pizza and burgers in the Wild Horse Saloon. All I can say is the ham and mushroom pizza didn’t touch the sides. Understandably, we we had our meal upstairs away from civilisation. Kudos to the waitress trying to get sense out of a group who were pickled with beer and wine, while still maintaining her friendly manner.

I am ashamed to say I had pizza on another occasion, from the takeaway Piz’Burg. Pizzas were 8.50€. And lush. I am so cultured!

Making a group meal from ingredients picked by my very hands at the Carrefour supermarche proved to be a good money-saver – tends to be the case in the UK too, but there’s nothing wrong with a little obvious advice. Plus, there were always fresh baguettes to buy still warm from the oven! That cannot be said for a lot of supermaches.

 

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