With 650km of pistes spanning the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, this is arguably the largest ski area in the world. "Arguably" because significant chunks require a time-consuming bus ride to link them, whereas the pisted 600km of France's Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens) are all connected by snow or lift. Still, the Portes du Soleil has a lot to ski (for all standards); so much, in fact, that it is dangerously easy to get stuck in the wrong valley at the end of the day, facing an £80 cab ride home.

With 650km of pistes spanning the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, this is arguably the largest ski area in the world. "Arguably" because significant chunks require a time-consuming bus ride to link them, whereas the pisted 600km of France's Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens) are all connected by snow or lift. Still, the Portes du Soleil has a lot to ski (for all standards); so much, in fact, that it is dangerously easy to get stuck in the wrong valley at the end of the day, facing an £80 cab ride home.

The hub of the Portes du Soleil is Avoriaz, the only really high resort here (1,800m) and a purpose-built village of ski-to-the-door, wood-clad apartment blocks. It has the most snow-sure areas, Arare and Chavanette, but they can become restrictively crowded when the lower slopes are wearing thin.

Morzine is in the valley below and a much more pleasant proposition. Both resorts are good for snowboarders: Avoriaz was one of the first places to build terrain parks; Morzine is the home of Chalet Snowboard (01235 767575), the board specialist tour operator.

By way of the lunch city that is Les Lindarets, you head towards Châtel. Like Morzine, it has a real village feel, though it's quieter and more straggling. It also has its own ski area, Super Châtel. Heading the other way from Avoriaz, over the notoriously tough Swiss Wall slope, is Champéry in Switzerland. The traditional village is the prettiest base in the Portes du Soleil, near the dramatic Dents du Midi, and it's a shame it's fallen out of favour with British tour operators.

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