One of the main projects in the construction of the infrastructure for the Portes Du Soleil was the Prodains cable car. This has been one of the most important building projects in the areaís history.
The original Prodains lift
Legend has it that the original ìliftî to Avoriaz was first installed by the Baron de líEpee at the end of the nineteenth century. The Baron wished to hold hunts on the plateau of Avoriaz but the route up there took too long. He therefore decided that the best way up was to use a hot air balloon! The balloon was attached by a steel cable to a winch to ensure it could not get away.
The first cable car
A hot air balloon would clearly not be enough for the numbers of skiers starting to come to the area in the mid twentieth century and something more modern was required. The Prodains cable car was constructed at the start of the 1960s, with considerable difficulty. The access road was a ski run at the time, meaning that access was not easy, especially considering that the cable itself weighed nineteen tons. At one point the cable actually broke free. Jean Vuarnet remembers it well ìIt flew into the air like a giant whip. In passing it lifted up a thirty three metre pylon by eighty centimetres! We spent six months repairing the damage caused.î However, on the 17th March 1963 the Prodains cable car finally opened for business. Each cabin could take eighty people at a time, and the lift could take 1000 people an hour up to Avoriaz. In 1966 it was named as the fastest ski lift in the world.
The new Prodains
However, technology moves on and by the start of the twenty first century the old lift was starting to show its age. In 2013 the 3S lift replaced the old lift. Rather than the old ìone up one downî system the new lift included thirty five separate cabins which can accommodate thirty five people each. The new lift takes four minutes to get to Avoriaz and can take 2,500 people and hour meaning an end to some of the worst queues and providing quick and easy access to Avoriaz.
There is paid car parking at the bottom of the lift and also a bus service. The A bus runs regularly (approximately every ten minutes) from Morzine to Prodains and back again.