The opening up of skiing in Avoriaz was one of the most important events in the history of the local region, changing the area massively in the space of just fifty years. The construction of Avoriaz was the cornerstone for the design and realisation of the Portes Du Soleil ski area.
Jean Vuarnet and the Winter Olympics
A young Morzine skier by the name of Jean Vuarnet had begun exploring the snowy slopes above the Avoriaz plateau - particularly Chavanette and the Hauts Forts. He went on to win a gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in the downhill skiing event in Squaw Valley, America. He returned to Morzine with a dream - to open up those areas for the public to ski, and to construct a resort there similar to those he had seen in America.
The construction of Avoriaz
Jean Vuarnet was aware that he needed a partner for this venture. He found a perfect partner in Gerard Bremond, founder of the Pierre & Vacances holiday group. Bremond associated with young architects who he saw as visionaries. These were Jena Jacques Orzoni, Jean-Marc Roques and Jacques Labro and together they began to visualise a different kind of alpine resort. The idea was to integrate with the environment. The heating would be electric, there would be no cars - indeed, the roads would be ski runs! The architecture would not be traditional Alpine chalets but would draw on a wealth of other influences - Baroque, Avant Garde, whatever influenced the young architects. The designs for Avoriaz began to take shape towards the end of 1962.
The first ski lifts
At the same time as plans were beginning for the village of Avoriaz, the ski area was beginning to open up. The Tete Aux Boeufs slope was equipped with a chairlift and drag lifts.
The development of the Prodains cable car was one of the most significant for Avoriaz. Opening in 1963, it helped to link the Morzine valley with the developments in Avoriaz.
In 1968 Telechampery constructed a two man chairlift giving access to the Chavanette area. At the same time Avoriaz began constructing a drag lift into the area which was completed in the summer of 1968. Jean Vuarnetís dream of opening up the Chavanette area to skiers was finally realised. The area, including the infamous Swiss Wall, was now accessible to skiers. The two sides - Swiss and French - were now linked and the first ever Avoriaz - Les Crosets - Champery lift pass went on sale.
The film festival
In order to attract more publicity for the new resort in 1973 Avoriaz hosted its first Film Festival. Many famous directors have exhibited at the festival over the year, including Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma and Luc Besson.