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Les Portes du Soleil, Bild: Pascal Vosicki / shutterstock

“Gruezi!” and “Bonjour!” in Les Portes du Soleil

The fantastic ski area of Les Portes du Soleil is something special: it stretches over two nations! The Alpine region of Les Portes du Soleil is located southeast of Geneva. About half of them are located in the Swiss canton of Valais, the other half in the French department of Haute Savoie (Haute-Savoie). The most important resorts in the Swiss part of the ski area are Champéry, Morgins, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez and Les Crosets-Champoussin. Two impressive mountain ranges dominate the region: the Dents du Midi mountain range (approx. 3,000 to 3,200 m high) and the Dents Blanches (approx. 2,600 to 2,800 m high).

We would like to briefly introduce you to this winter sports area here, with the main focus on the Swiss part. At Les Portes du Soleil, however, it can happen that a skier starts with a lift ascent on Swiss territory and then weaves over the slopes to France from above – or vice versa. By the way, a single ski pass is available for the entire ski area, which is valid in both countries. And the pretty mountain villages on both sides of the state border also have a very similar effect on visitors: quiet, dreamy, built with lots of wood. Large hotel complexes that would block the view of the mountains are not to be found here – everything is quite tranquil. But the small hotels offer all the amenities. Many tourists also opt for a holiday apartment or a private guesthouse. The choice is large.

The ski area of Les Portes du Soleil – a paradise for downhill skiers

Les Portes du Soleil
Les Portes du Soleil is a fantastic ski resort, Image: vvoe / shutterstock

This ski area is record-breaking: it offers no less than 650 km of slopes, of which 170 km are classified as easy, 380 km as intermediate and 100 km as difficult. Beginners, advanced skiers and professionals will find plenty of variety on their winter holiday. 86 T-bar lifts, 86 chair lifts, 4 gondola lifts and 10 aerial tramways take skiers far up. At the top of the mountain stations there are numerous lovingly furnished mountain restaurants that invite you to stop for a bite to eat and take a break. How about a rest on a sun terrace before the next departure? All lifts and cable cars are in operation daily from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. during the season. For beginners and children who may be spending their first winter holiday in a ski area and have never been on the “skis” before, there are several ski schools open in Les Portes du Soleil.

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More winter sports in Les Portes du Soleil

In addition to the very popular downhill skiing, other winter sports have long since established themselves in the region. Cross-country skiers will find numerous well-groomed slopes. Toboggan runs are also available; one of them is illuminated after dusk! Snowboarding is becoming increasingly popular among young people, and older holidaymakers like to go snowshoeing. Everyone is well catered for at Les Portes du Soleil! Snowboarders have the choice between 11 snow parks with adventurous halfpipes. For snowshoe hikers who want to set off in a guided group or on their own, 385 km of winter hiking trails await. Alpine huts invite you to stop for a bite to eat along the way. If you would like to skate for a change, head over to the French part of the ski area, to Châtel. This winter sports resort has a 200 square metre ice rink, which is even open all year round.

Destinations

Geneva, Jet d'Eau
The Jet d’Eau in the middle of Lake Geneva, Image: canadastock / shutterstock

A day of winter holidays in Les Portes du Soleil should definitely be reserved for the city of Geneva. The city on Lake Geneva with its approx. 200,000 inhabitants is cosmopolitan and attractive as the headquarters of many international organizations. Geneva is located just a few kilometers northwest of the ski resort. One of the most famous organizations that has its headquarters in Geneva is the International Committee of the Red Cross. E

A visit to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva is definitely worthwhile. Art lovers will certainly want to visit the “Museum of Art and History” (“Musée d’Art et d’Histoire”). Here, archaeological finds and works of art from the Middle Ages and the later epochs up to the 20th century can be viewed. The Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter is also worth a visit. The Swiss reformer John Calvin worked at this church for many years. In the winter sports area Les Portes du Soleil, you can also admire beautiful historic churches. One example is the baroque “Eglise de Morgins” in Morgins.

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Since 2000, there has been a large carillon in front of the church, the “Carillon de la Paix” – a pretty and unusual photo motif! Winter sports are fun! But many a holiday guest also wants to go swimming in winter. The thermal baths “Les Bains de Val-d’Illiez” offer wonderful opportunities for relaxation. The whirlpool and steam bath are open to bathers. It is especially fun to swim in the 36 °C warm water of the outdoor pool when the temperatures are below zero outside! After swimming, the café in the thermal baths invites you to stop for a bite to eat. If you feel like turning night into day, you will also find what you are looking for in the winter sports area. There are various discotheques to choose from: “Le Nid Bar” in Champoussin, “La Crevesse” in Champéry and the “Saf Club” in Morgins.