“An incredible 65 mile adventure with nearly 18000 ft of descending through beautiful French & Swiss pre-Alpine territory
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This is an awesome ride along the Franco-Swiss border in the foothills of the eastern Alps. The route is well marked with consistent signage across both countries and a single ticket covers all the necessary lifts. Nine separate uplifts take care of most (4800 m, 15650 ft) of the climbing; this leaves only 730 m, 2400 ft of climbing under pedal power. That's a small price to pay for nearly 5500 m, 18000 ft of descending through stunning territory. It's possible for more advanced riders to complete the full circuit in a single day (being mindful of the lift closing times), but most people will likely want two days to have more time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps a couple of the mountain huts or quaint villages along the way.
The main Portes du Soleil circuit comprises singletrack high in the mountains, forest roads, and short segments along paved roads and traverses several French (Les Gets, Morzine, Montriond, Les Lindaretes, Châtel) and Swiss (Morgins, Champoussin, Les Crosets, Champéry) villages, some more quaint than others. There are many other trails in the area and several bikeparks catering to the downhill crowd (Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz, and Morgins). There's also a side loop to Torgon that probably doubles the overall climbing.
Need to Know
You can buy a single lift ticket that allows you to access all the lifts in the area for EUR 26 or CHF 29 (2017 price). Do pay attention to the lift closing times as many of the lifts close at 16:45. While it is certainly possible to do the full loop in one day, it may be more enjoyable to take two days so you have time to enjoy some of the views and stop in some of the mountain huts along the way, while not having to worry about getting stuck in the wrong valley at the end of the day.
Any of the villages can be used as a base to explore the trails in the area, but consider staying in Morzine or Les Gets where large bike parks cater to large numbers of bikers. If you've not got a car, the Swiss village of Champéry is accessible by train and Morgins is easily reachable by the ubiquitous and bike friendly Postbus.