The Portes du Soleil ski area is the largest integrated skiing area in the world. It straddles the French – Swiss border and comprises 14 resorts served by more than 200 lifts. There are 288 pistes, 7 snow parks, 3 half-pipes, 243km of cross country skiing, over 1000 instructors – the list goes on and on.
The slopes are reached by the massive cable car which takes you up to Croix de Culet in around 7 minutes – the cable car is just 3 minutes walk from our apartment.
The skiing is largely intermediate, with some challenging black runs (including the infamous Swiss Wall) and gentler blue runs for novices. Here’s a great interactive map showing all the runs in the PdS and more.
There are three ski schools in Champéry offering private and group lessons for all levels in both skiing and boarding. Ski passes cost around £150 a week for access to the whole Portes du Soleil area. It’s cheaper if you are happy to stay on the Swiss side or only want to ski in the afternoons.
There is night skiing twice a week on the Swiss side, when the cable car and main lifts run until 10pm, weather permitting. There are snow cannons on the main slopes for those times when the weather fails.
It’s possible to ski back down almost to Champéry using the long and relatively benign Ripaille-Grand Paradis route. A free bus brings you back to the cable car terminus.
Insider’s tip: if you don’t fancy queuing behind the ski school kids for the cable car each morning, take the free bus 5 minutes along the road to Grand Paradis and take the express chair lift up to Planachaux. A much quieter way to start the day.