Ask anyone about the best places to mountain bike in Europe, and the Portes du Soleil will most definitely come up. Without doubt a mecca for the sport, this alpine region straddles the French and Swiss Alps linking 12 resorts by chairlift. As if that wasn’t enough to peak your interest, the 24 lifts service 650kms of trails on one single pass, with everything from XC, enduro and downhill catered for. Still listening? Your days here could be spent riding big flowy bikepark in the morning, followed by a meaty climb to some secret singletrack in the afternoon. Whatever your preferred discipline, you’ll always find something to go at in the Portes du Soleil.
Morzine is the epicentre of the Portes du Soleil and acts as the connecting resort for other towns on both the French and the Swiss side of the region. The gems of Morzine? Undoubtably Super Morzine and Le Pleney.
Super Morzine, fondly known as Super M by the locals, is the smoother of the bikeparks on offer to the town with more flow, big berms and table tops than you can shake a stick at. Look out for Tutti Frutti, the perfect blue to progress your jump skills on that runs from the top of the chairlift right down to the lift station.
For the more advanced rider, Hattock’s your go. Starting life as an unofficial trail complete with sketchy gaps and gnarly roots, Hattock finally became a legit black trail after it was exposed by some of the pros. Now it’s updated regularly and newer additions to the trail include the Oakley Sender road gap and a couple of big doubles.
If big booters are your game, keep your eyes peeled for the Widowmaker, Super M’s biggest feature. You can’t really miss it, the chairlift goes right over it—perfect heckling location.
Super M is also your gateway to Avoriaz, Chatel and the Swiss resorts.
A downhiller’s dream. Found on the north side of the town, Le Pleney is where you’ll find the most quintessentially Morzine trails (steep, rooty and challenging). Although it only has 4 main trails that run from the top of the gondola to town, the riding on Le Pleney is endless. With unmarked trails making up about 75% of the riding, you’ll find loamers and unmarked singletrack off almost every corner.
Pleney’s most famous trail has to be Mainline; the black downhill track that has it all—jumps, drops, root gardens, and plenty of tech. Mainline is one of the main reasons World Cup riders flock to Morzine in between races to dial their riding and set-up. Pleney also has the quickest gondola in the Portes du Soleil, taking just 6 minutes to gain 600m, making punching laps in any timeframe a breeze. And if you’re after a real challenge, Pleney’s 10% chute feature is steep, loose and a lot of fun.
Pleney is also the gateway to Les Gets from Morzine. Take Family trail from the top and cut out at the fireroad to traverse left towards the next valley.
Purpose built ski-resort Avoriaz sits slap bang in the middle of the Portes du Soleil. Linked to by Super M, the riding here mostly takes you down into the Linderets bowl, where you’ll find a good mix of tech and easier bike park singletrack. There’s also a few lone slabs to ride higher up in the alpine.
From here, you can either ride back down to Morzine via Lac Montriond (well worth a swim after your sweaty ride), or head up the other side of the bowl to connect to Chatel or Moisettes chair to find some Swiss cheese.