Portes du Soleil Ski Resort
For skiers and snowboarders, the Franco-Swiss area known as the Portes du Soleil, or Gateway to the Sun, has a few tricks up its sleeve. First, there’s its size. The area jostles with the Trois Vallées and Paradiski areas in France, and the Franco-Italian Milky Way, for the title of “world’s biggest ski area”. That is, of course, a tricky one to decide: is it number of ski lifts?The total length of the pistes? The sheer hectarage of the slopes? Whatever the measure, Portes du Soleil’s 650km of pistes and 197 lifts make a convincing case when it comes to scale.
The fact that Portes du Soleil is the closest major ski area to Geneva airport gives it a definite edge: the transfer time to the village of Les Gets (00 334 5075 8080; lesgets.com) is under an hour. For Brits driving there, the Portes du Soleil’s glistening mountain tops are the first snow visible after the 10-hour drive south from Calais.
Location: France and Switzerland
Top elevation: 2,466 m (8,091 ft)
Snowfall: 8.7 m (29 ft) (average 1998–2008)
Terrain parks: 10
Skiable area: 650 km (400 mi) of runs
Nearest cities: Monthey, Aigle