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|Just posted this independently but realised I should add to this thread:-
Domain: Porte du Soleil
Date: 24th Feb - 3rd March
Our holiday: Me, the other half and 7 others ranging from nervous early intermediate to super-relaxed instructor (Whistler course). No real powder hounds, we all prefer the pisted stuff.
Website : I found http://www.morzine.com/page.asp?saison=hiver&langue=uk and http://www.avoriaz.com/ski-holidays/ most useful behind the snow reports thread on this website, which was invaluable and the locals reporting on it daily, especially PhillipStanton, very informative and helpful (http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=21821)
Basics : Went with Inghams on pre-packaged deal; very easy, no problems and well looked after. Flew from Gatwick to Geneva then a 1.5hr bus trip direct to the hotel.
Lift system : The lift system has been covered before on other reports from this resort but I found them generally very good and, on the whole, quick. There would be potentially horrific queues to get up in the morning, especially if you went between 9.30 and 11am (when the locals seemed to be getting up) but I got round this by going at 9 every morning, much to the horror of my trip-mates who generally joined me by text-message homing beacon later in the day (just in time for Vin Chaud in my experience!). For the less experienced there are more drags than I've been used to on previous trips (but never skiied France before) and these can be quite long, steep and exposed. They did have the benefit of being open when the chairs were not however. Lots of T-bars in the Swiss sector too, but I avoided these so can't really comment.
Generally good however.
The terrain : There is miles and miles in the PdS area (some 650km I believe) and you really cannot see it all in a week. For the beginners int he group Morzine/Les Gets provided ample skiing for the week. My impression was generally that this side (called Pleney / Chavannes / Nyon) was gentler (not without the odd exciting black though) and pisted more. The Avoriaz area, which is higher up, was more rugged, has less trees (nice excpet in low visibility - more on that in a bit) and seemed to be pisted less,meaning more moguls, even on some of the blue runs.
My favourites were the Ranfolly section of Les Gets (good cruiser reds), the red down from Chammoisierre, Plain Dranse on the Chatel side of Avoriaz and the two blues (Tetras and Zore) running down to the super-Morzine bubble from Avoriaz. The latter two are, however, hugely snow dependent as they are lower down and can (and did) get decidedly agricultural. Having said that, Zore provided my best run of the week after a fresh 20cm dump early on the Tuesday morning in bright sun and newly bashed with soft corduroy. It's maybe a bit gentle for the advanced skiier but was great for flying down four times in a row before the cloud headed in again!
The snow : Having spent three months prior to going fretting, nail-chewing and sleep-losing over the conditions, I was really pleasantly surprised. Our visit coincided with a week-long snow dump, which undoubtedly helped (the pistes were all getting a bit thread-bare prior to that). To summarise, above 1800m the snow was exemplary other than the second-last day when it was a bit icy due to high wind. Between 1300m and 1800m there was plently of snow but it did get quite wet and heavy with occasional bare brown patches on the more exposed or frequented pistes. Below 1300m wasn't worth bothering with or was un-skiiable apart from the Monday/Tuesday when it was snowing down to resort level. After this the 'pluie-neige' limit came back up to 1300m.
Only downside to this snow was that visibility ranged from crap to wee wee-poor pretty much all week apart from 3 glorious hours on Tuesday morning. Didn't dampen the skiing though but picking lines in the lfat light was tricky and hairy at times!
I must say that the piste teams do a remarkable job of organising the snow and making the most of the scant/wet/rocky snow lower down. They managed to keep the run down to Morzine centre open all the time despite some fierce rain, but to be honest you didn't need it as the bubble was the better way down (especially for the skis).
Off-piste : Not really my area of expertise but looked like it varied depending ont he rain/snow/wind mix. Obviously better the higher you were. Many people were doing 'The Wall' off-piste to the sides on the Tuesday, so I guess it was good then. I took the chair!
The resort : Morzine is still a working town but it's also fully geared up to skiiers. Plenty of resteraunt/bar/creperie options and shops for those silly enough not to come and ski with you. Pricing was fair. Appearnce was lsightly drab but this wasn't helped by the endless rain and the two days there was snow it was instantly transformed.
Food : We only ate in the hotel apart from some crepes at a place next to our ski-hire shop (can't remember the name but it's near the main town square and the sports shop is called Le Caribou). This was excellent with fist class crepes of all kinds and excellent cider. On mountain my favourite Morzine-side was Pointe de Nyon. This did get very crowded and you either need to get there early/late or book if you're a bigger group than two. Excellent food and service, good pricing and free Genepis / schnapps as you leave. On Avoriaz side we preferred Les Trappeurs, near the top of the prodain lift at the bootm of the Arare runs. Again, get there early for a good table.
Accommodation : Hotel des Aireilles. Excellent, supreme quality food; included in our package. Very good service especially from the bar staff who quickly got to know your favourites and the waitresses / maitre d. Average rooms, but very clean and perfectly adequate to sleep in, which is all could manage after a full days skiing, eating and drinking! Only downside is that it's on the main square so at 2am - 5am it could get pretty noisy as the bars chucked people out. Best option was just to join in but it made the 9am lifts a bit difficult!
Costs: Package cost was ¬£900 inc. hotel, ski hire, lift pass (PdS), breakfast and evening meal, flights and transfers. So all we had to buy was lunches and drinks - this is then down to personal choice! Lunches could be as cheap (5 euros for a crepe) or as expensive as you liked. Ditto drink!
Conclusion: This was my first skiing trip in France and overall I was pretty impressed. I would ski on binbags in Bognor to be honest but the ambience here was really nice and the skiing was very good, despite a relatively poor season that we all know about. Queueing in the rain for the bubble/cable car was something I could do without and Morzine is a little low ideally, but there's plenty of higher areas you can get to very easily. Participating in the queue is no worse than Austria and signage etc was ok, although not as good as America/Canada. I would thoroughly recommend the whole deal we did, and the resort especially in a better season. Wed Mar 07, 07 23:03
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