Benoit Coulanges Windenis Angheben Portesdusoleil 1Benoit Coulanges Windenis Angheben Portesdusoleil 1
©Benoit Coulanges Windenis Angheben Portesdusoleil 1
The Portes du SoleilA human storySince 1964

A human story

The story of Les Portes du Soleil is a one of camaraderie and friendships. It begins with a group of individuals who, 50 years ago, shared a dream and a vision—to create a vast Franco-Swiss ski area connected by lifts.

The first international connections

1956

Pierre Béteille, a native of the Pyrenees, constructed the first international ski lift by connecting the Coq chairlift with the Corbeau chairlift, creating a link between the Super-Châtel sector and Morgins. Skiers could now seamlessly transition between countries without removing their skis, giving rise to the concept of ‘skiing without limits’!

The National Exhibition in Lausanne

1964

Inspired by their initial success and driven by charismatic leaders, the concept of an international ski area began to take shape.

The Haut Chablais and Valais mountains had a clear potential to become a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Now, it was time to introduce this ambitious project to the public.

May 1964, during the National Exhibition in Lausanne, the concept became reality, with the unveiling of a 3 m by 3 m model at a 1:10,000 scale. This impressive display showcased all the proposed connections that would one day form Les Portes du Soleil. A remarkable advertising tool for its time, the model illustrated the vast potential for winter tourism development offered by resorts like Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz, Châtel, Abondance, La Chapelle d’Abondance in Haute-Savoie, and Champéry, Morgins, and Les Giettes-sur-les-Monthey in the Canton of Valais.

Naming Les Portes du Soleil

1965

The project presented in Lausanne in 1964 was initially entitled the ‘Haute Route des Familles’ in reference to the famous Chamonix-Zermatt crossing.

Jean Vuarnet was concerned that this name was not media-friendly enough.

VuarnetVuarnet
©Vuarnet
Gustave Trombert remembers:

During a late-night meeting at the Carnotzet in Grand Paradis, Jean went around the table, looking for any suggestions for names for the new ski area. I was the only one with an idea. The French weren’t thrilled and the general attitude towards the name was lukewarm, so Jean suggested we think on it some more. But the night wore on and we had to have a definitive name before we left, so in the end the name Les Portes du Soleil, (inspired by the pass located in Les Crosets) just stuck!

Jean Vuarnet
Champéry-Avoriaz link via Chavanette

1968

In 1968, Téléchampéry built a fixed-grip two-seater chairlift to provide a link to the French resort of Avoriaz.

At the same time, Avoriaz started work on a ski lift on the French side, which was finalised by the end of summer 1968, and the two areas were connected!

The connection via Chavanette opened vast new possibilities for skiers—notably a magnificent route that transported skiers to the top of the famous ‘Swiss Wall’.

First cross-border lift pass

1969

With the link between Avoriaz and Champéry, the logical next step was to create Les Portes du Soleil’s first international ski pass. This was the Avoriaz-Champéry-Les Crosets pass.

Les Portes du Soleil, an eventful destination

1973

From the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival to Rock the Pistes, the Pass’Portes du Soleil MTB, and Portes du Soleil Pass hike, the Portes du Soleil resorts host a panoply of major events that draw participants from all over the world.

The 1st Portes du Soleil package

1976

The advertisements of the time boasted:

“From the quaint hamlet perched on a mountainside to a futuristic ski-in-ski-out resort, you’ll find the resort that suits your taste and your budget!

In short, an area where it’s just you and your skis and where there really is a longer ski for a smaller price.”

That hasn’t changed in nearly 6 decades!

Creation of the International Association of the Portes du Soleil

1981

The International Association of Les Portes du Soleil was born in 1981. That same year, the Rochassons chairlift went into service, linking the resorts of Châtel and Avoriaz.

To support the rapidly growing ski area, a chalet was built to house the Portes du Soleil administrative offices. Built in the commune of Châtel, but situated symbolically located in Vonnes, between the French and Swiss customs stations, the building was inaugurated on March 26th, 2005.

Les Portes du Soleil Bike & Ski

1991

In summer, the snow gives way to verdant mountain pastures that stretch across the 12 resort villages of the Portes du Soleil and as far as the eye can see.

It is impossible to overstate the craze in France when the first mountain bike hit the French slopes in 1983. But what goes down, must go back up again, at least in the Alps!

Visionaries, as ever, the Portes du Soleil lift companies were quick to understand the development opportunities that came with this new sport—in short, the first international mountain bike area and the iconic events that we know and love now. Beginning with the Freeraid, which became the Pass’Portes du Soleil MTB between 2003 and 2004, we organised world championship events in Les Gets 2004, in Champéry in 2011, and again in Les Gets in 2022.

Stay tuned for bigger and better things to come !

The Multi Pass

2009

In 2009, Les Portes du Soleil invented a new way to make summer in the Alps as affordable as it is fun. Whether you’re a holidaymaker on a staycation, a day-tripper, or a local, the Multi Pass is your golden ticket to more than 50 free and discounted activities.

We’re keeping the price low for you. 1€ at its creation, nearly 15 years later it still only costs 2,50€ per day!

Let’s build the future

Together!

#SUNDOORS
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