Les Portes du Soleil: 600 km of Slopes – 2 Countries – 1 Lift Pass!
Choosing your ski holiday destination is always challenging. Firstly, which country do you choose this season? Then do you go for a giant ski region or perhaps an area that looks particularly interesting – with lots of cultural attractions as well as great skiing? If you have a group with mixed requirements for their ski holiday, getting it right is all the more tricky.
Fortunately, there’s one ski area that ticks more boxes on most skiers’ wish lists than any other, the vast Les Portes du Soleil cross-border ski region that connects the ski slopes above no less than 12 separate villages on each side of the French-Swiss border. In fact, it’s the largest international ski area on the planet, with 600 km of slopes for all abilities, split into 307 individual slopes – more than enough to satisfy everyone.
The Region Dents du Midi
The Swiss side of Les Portes du Soleil is known as the Region Dents du Midi. The name comes from the spectacular two-mile-long mountain range in the Chablais Alps that tower up above the ski slopes like huge teeth (“dents”) into the sky. The region, in the canton of Valais, overlooking the Val d’Illiez and the Rhône valley to the south, is home to six villages from where you can ski the entire Les Portes du Soleil domain, including right across the border into France, with the one ski pass! The villages of Champéry, Les Crosets, Champoussin and Morgins are all waiting at the base of the slopes.
Besides all the downhill skiing though, between them, the villages of the Region Dents du Midi offer a huge choice of accommodation, fabulous dining and lots to do besides the lifts and pistes.
There are 150 km of snowshoe trails in which to explore the silent winter landscapes far from the madding crowds, or similar cross-country skiing, winter hiking routes (with the first rando-parc of Valais) or you could try ice-climbing or go for horizontal ice instead and try curling or skating – Switzerland’s national ice sports centre is here after all.
In short, this is the complete winter holiday region, and part of the world’s largest international ski area, very quick and easy to reach from Geneva and all under the spectacular skyline of the Dents du Midi.
The Ski Slopes
There are hundreds of ski slopes to enjoy in Les Portes du Soleil, with everything from long circuits you can follow on blues and reds to tour from village to village, to special, protected family and beginner zones on some of the world’s best terrain parks for freestyle fun.
One slope not to be missed, however, for good skiers, is the famous Chavanette slope or “The Swiss Wall” which ranks among the world’s toughest ski slopes. With a 331m drop is over one kilometre in length, it’s not just the fact that the 40° angle is too steep for grooming machines, but that this means skiers and boarders carve moguls up to 2 metres high all the way down, each the size of a Volkswagen Beetle!
Of course, if you don’t fancy those VW Beetle-sized moguls you can always take the nice comfortable chairlift down instead – most people do. But there are hundreds of kilometres of much more relaxing slopes to enjoy, including incredible long descents beneath the Dents du Midi that begin at the bottom of the Chavanette slope.
Among the best known, besides The Swiss Wall, is the stunning Grand Paradis run, a lengthy descent that’s pure pleasure all the way, or the Didier Defago run, named after the region’s famous local Olympic champion.
It’s hard not to stop every so often to take in the stunning view and you’ll find panoramic on-piste viewpoints located along the slopes. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, and it’s a lot easier to take home than a suitcase full of kitschy souvenirs! So look out for the signposted best spots for a spectacular selfie or postcard-perfect panorama as you ski down the slopes of Les Portes du Soleil and embark on an unforgettable alpine adventure in the world’s largest international winter playground.
But once you’ve skied a bit, stopped to take in the view then perhaps skied a bit more, you’ll be wanting to take a break and enjoy a little slopeside refreshment. Helpfully Les Portes du Soleil is home to more than 90 piste-side restaurants, so you’re never far from a delicious Franco-Swiss pick-me-up to fill your tummy and warm your heart. You’ll find everything from traditional favourites like creamy, cheesy fondue, raclette, croutes, and tartiflette to gastronomic creations concocted by creative chefs, a day on the slopes in Region Dents du Midi will feed you – body and soul!
Les Portes du Soleil offers endless hours of wintertime fun on your doorstep. From gentle beginner slopes and endless, perfectly groomed avenues to steep bumpy runs, powder-filled gullies and immaculately shaped snow parks, there’s something for everyone!
Quick and Easy To Reach
The Region Dents du Midi, your gateway to Les Portes du Soleil are just 1½ hours from Geneva or 2½ hours from Zurich. There’s easy access with public transport available from either airport making hitting the slopes here a no-brainer! The Champéry train arrives at the cable car departure station, so if you time it right you can jump off the train and into the lift cabin and hit the slopes, all in about seven minutes! And you can start your short rail journey in either Geneva or Zurich Airports – with the stations below the terminals, no need for a shuttle bus or taxi.
Experience a true Swiss adventure and discover more at regiondentsdumidi.ch