Avoriaz Weekender, French Alps
On the French and Swiss border, in the shadow of Mount Blanc, the Portes du Soleil ski area attracts skiers and boarders (and hardy sledding fans) who come for the thousands of kilometres of runs on offer between December and April, and the chance to ski in two countries on the same day.
Two of the area's main resorts (there are 12) are Morzine and Avoriaz. Morzine is a large ski town but still manages to look pretty with wooden chalets and fairy lights adorning the restaurants and bars. A local bus service runs through the town and will take you to the base of nearby slopes. Just outside of town is the ski cable car to Avoriaz, perched 600m above the valley Ardoisieres. Avoriaz is ski-in, ski-out. No cars are allowed so there are horse-drawn carriages on offer to ferry you around.
Opened in 2007, the Burton Stash is a snow park in Avoriaz where boarders and skiers can turn tricks. The slopes wind among the trees and are punctuated with hidden wooden obstacles that boarders can hit to create jumps. There are wooden elements including a wall for vertical sliding, logs and tree trunk obstacles and wooden tables for sliding on.
The lie of the land
Advanced skiers should make for the Hauts Forts area in Avoriaz, where long, steep runs take you all the way back to the valley floor. Beginners can try out the area serviced by the TS Seraussaix lift. The runs are wide and not as steep, so you'll have plenty of time to work on your moves on the way down.
Morzine has restaurants to suit al budgets and lively bars and clubs (Bar Robinson and the Cavern are two to try) thanks to its seasonnaire population. Avoriaz might be sleepier but there are some great places to eat and drink including the Michelin rated Dromont Hotel. There's also a bowling alley and a ice rink.
While you're there
Try night sledding Morzaine, where you take a ski gondola to the top of the tree-lined Pleney ski run and slide back down it on a plastic sledge.
The action doesn't stop when the snow melts. Instead thrill seekers can take advantage of the mountain biking and the hiking trails.