Morzine is part of the famous Portes du Soleil ski area, which covers over 650km of pistes in 12 linked resorts on the French/Swiss border. A traditional market town, and the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, Morzine is reachable from Geneva in little over 1 hour making it ideal for groups traveling with the little ones.
With skiing in both France and Switzerland, it is also fun to ski between the two, with noticeable differences to the style of the mountain restaurants, and the quality of the hot chocolate (Swiss is best of course).
The highest of the skiing is to be found in Avoriaz at 2,466m, and while some parts of the Portes du Soleil are considerably lower it does have an excellent snow record – in 2012 Avoriaz actually got the most snow across the whole Alps, a staggering 11.8m. This is believed to be a result of the Mont Blanc & Lake Geneva microclimate, which ensures higher than average snowfall to the resort comparative to its height.
Before its reputation was built as an alpine sports destination and way back in the 12th century Morzine was actually a Grange of Aulps Abbey, a Cistercian monastery 7 km away. This meant it was an agricultural centre, and the land was farmed for the Monastery providing their food, clothing and building materials. Speaking of building materials, slate mining then took over as the town’s main source of income, and the local slate is seen on many of the chalet roofs today. It is known for its high quality, durability and artistry, and today you can take tours of the still working mines, guided by a slate worker.
Morzine is famous for it’s skiing of course, but equally has gained a reputation as a summer destination, popular with cyclists and particularly downhill mountain bikers. The single track is thought of as some of the best in the world, and Morzine-Les Gets has hosted the final round of the downhill World Cup circuit as well as many other top class competitions. For road cyclists it is also home to one of the most infamous climbs and features regularly in the Tour de France with the notoriously steep Col de Joux-Plane.
Morzine is fairly central within the Portes du Soleil, making it a great base from which to explore the really extensive skiing on offer here; Avoriaz is accessed easily from the Super Morzine lift, which also gives access to Linderets and links across to Chatel, and Les Crosets on the Swiss side. Taking the Pleney lift from Morzine will allow you to access the skiing on the Les Gets side, which is great for families but also offers challenging skiing, with good off-piste options from Mont Chery particularly. A new lift introduced in Chatel this year links the Linga and Super Chatel areas and saves the bus journey previously necessary when skiing ‘the circuit’, a full-day’s tour of the Portes du Soleil crossing 7 resorts!
The landscape of Morzine both as town and resort of course continues to develop. Proximity to Geneva means this town is more real than many of the European ski resorts, with a year round population ensuring that the facilities on offer here are tip-top; these now include an indoor leisure complex which opened in 2012 with spa facilities and a 50m swimming pool. There’s a friendly and welcoming feel to the town with locals and visitors mixing very amicably; with a spirit of a shared love and passion for the mountains and the related spots and leisure activities they afford both residents and visitors.
Morzine does still retain a bustling French feel to the town despite the many ex-pats who have made this their home. The town hosts a regular market each Wednesday morning next to the Post Office, selling the best in local produce, and events are regularly put on by the tourist board to entertain visitors and introduce them to the area – such as the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display and torch lit ski descent by the ESF instructors on the Pleney. A spectacular site. The ice hockey team is well worth a watch too (it’s a vicious sport); with matches held regularly on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Allez les Pinguins!
Accommodation in Morzine is spread across both sides of the valley, and development has now almost merged Morzine with the neighbouring hamlet of Montriond. Few chalets here are located next to – or on the pistes – this is a rarity in this resort, but you will find that all of the properties offer full driver services to chauffeur their guests to the nearest lift station in comfort. In the Portes du Soleil this is actually a real bonus, as being the largest linked ski area in the world having the flexibility to travel by luxurious chauffer driven vehicle to several different access points allows you to make the most of the vast amount of skiing the resort has to offer.
The town has a selection of excellent Savoyard-style restaurants, and now includes several with real cooking ambition for those who enjoy fine dining in beautiful surroundings. In addition, sophisticated wine bars have followed suit, giving the town centre a little and pleasant makeover, all displaying beautiful local sculptures & with modern artwork adorning the walls.
The Satellite Coffee House on the Rue du Bourg offers a great selection of specialty coffee from independent producers, their pecorino and basil grilled cheese sandwiches are not to be missed either and there is always a selection of delicious freshly baked cakes that I find hard to refuse.
I’m sorry to say but you’ll notice a trend towards food in all of my answers!! I find it hard to not go into “La Bonbonnière” at least once a day, the morning pastries are amazing, the lunchtime snacks incredible and (as I’m not fortunate enough to have a chalet host prepare me afternoon tea) the selection of gateaux’s is out of this world.
La Paika is a firm Favourite with my family and TG Ski guests alike. The outdoor grill offers a vast selection of meat and the giant prawns are sublime. The terrace is a real draw in the Spring, but it is equally charming inside on colder days huddled around the log-burner. It’s easily reached from Morzine via the Ranfoilly bowl above Les Gets. It gets very busy though so book ahead.
This is a difficult one to answer as there are some very special restaurants in the town centre. If you want to sample some traditional Savoyarde dishes in a buzzing environment then “L’Etale” is the place to go. The menu is huge with international and lighter options available, but I find it hard to deviate from a rib-eye steak “à point” every-time. If you're looking for something a little more intimate and lavish, the Michelin starred “L’Atelier” has 6-8 course tasting menus and an impressive wine cellar.
I like pedalling up the mountains instead! Morzine is a cycling mecca during the summer months with some of the Alps’ most (in)famous climbs and it has hosted the Tour De France many times.
Le Tremplin. It’s conveniently located at the bottom of Le Pleney, the main run back into Morzine. It has a large terrace and is the perfect place to enjoy a drink with some live music after a hard day on the slopes.
The Tete de Linga or “The Gun Barrell” as it’s affectionately known due to the shape of the valley is a very long fast red run down into Linga. The top section is steep but it levels out after 300-400metres, after you pass some restaurants at the mid point it opens up into a wider piste perfect for getting some big carves in. If you can do it in one go, your quads will be burning, but you’ll have earned a coffee or something stronger in the sun at the bottom.
This has to be Chalet Bouquetin it has a rare combination of style and space. It’s large split level living and dining areas are perfect for unwinding with friends or family and the extra luxuries of sauna, sunken hot tub, wine cellar and cinema room makes it difficult to get out of the chalet after a few long days on the slopes. But for me ski holidays should involve some well earned downtime.
For a great night out for all the family head down to the Palais De Sport and check out the Morzine Penguins – one of the best Ice Hockey teams in the French Premier League. It’s a fast paced (and sometimes aggressive) game but the atmosphere is great and the whole town comes out to support. I know you only asked for one….but I couldn’t resist mentioning the night sledging on the Pleney, with only a head torch to guide you on a plastic sledge the gentle blue run you skied down earlier in the day becomes a completely different proposition, this is for the big kids in the group and is seriously fun!
Morzine is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area which is one of the largest ski areas in Europe. With over 600km of pistes and spanning 7 French and 5 Swiss ski resorts, the Portes du Soleil offers extensive skiing for skiers of all levels. The area is lower than some of the other renowned French ski areas, but the local micro-climate from Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) means that the area received substantial snowfall during the winter months of November to April.
Morzine has steadily been growing in popularity as a ski resort over the years; it used to be quite unjustly given status of poor relation to the glitzier resorts in the Tarentaise and Switzerland. Something we’ve never understood; Morzine is only just over 1 hour’s drive from Geneva and the Portes du Soleil is the world’s largest linked ski area with over 650 km of pistes.
Altitude (Morzine) 1,000m
Skiable Range 1,000 – 2,466m
Highest lift 2,466m, Avoriaz
Longest Run: 11km Chamossière-Morzine
Ski terrain (Portes du Soleil)
Blue 53%, Red 37%, Black 10%
*skiing with a qualified mountain guide advised
The Swiss Wall or ‘Le Chavonette’ as it’s known in French is famously one of the toughest runs in Europe.
The Swiss Wall, Coup de Monde and ‘The Circuit’ – several routes to choose from, but essentially a round trip of the Portes du Soleil ski area in a day crossing 7 resorts.
Nursery slopes are located at the top of the Pleney gondola, high enough to ensure the snow quality from early season to late. There are gentle beginner slopes in this area to so you can make a very natural progression from the nursery slope out onto the mountain proper.
The long and scenic Tovassiere from Les Crosets to Morgins takes you out into the wilds and is very serene; Abrocotine from the Pointes des Moissettes down through Linderets and on to Ardents is long and rolling and Prolays in Avoriaz will take you through the trees in the area known as the ‘Stash’ – a natural free-ride zone.
No contest, the Linga in Chatel is spectacular, long and steep – with a couple of excellent restaurants if you plan to lap this and need a pit stop.
The Coupe du Monde in Avoriaz is wonderfully steep and fast, equally challenging and often mogulled is the black from the top of Chamossière on the Les Gets side, head to the two blacks on the backside of Mont Chery on a powder day.
Morzine is a ski resort on the rise. The lift investment is testament to this; in 2014 Chatel invested €17.15 million, and Avoriaz €13.83 million in their lift systems, putting them both in the top ten resorts for investment across the Alps. This shows a serious commitment to the continual improvement of the already excellent lift system in Portes du Soleil.
Two of the new lifts are the Vonnes-Super Chatel chair lift, and the Vonnes-Linga chairlift which now enable skiers to cross the resort of Chatel and access the skiing on both sides without the bother of taking off their skis. Previously the link was via bus, but this now makes the majority of the skiing in Portes du Soleil lift linked and it is much quicker to access the various charming areas.
Critics of the Portes du Soleil will always comment on the resort’s height; at 1,000m the town itself is certainly low, however the resort does offer skiing much higher peaking at 2,466m in Avoriaz. In addition, the majority of the skiing here is on pastureland, rather than rocky hillsides, and so doesn’t need as deep a snow base as many resorts before the entire area becomes skiable.
The Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva microclimates also lend a hand to ensure that conditions are as good here as most resorts, though like anywhere the early and late season weeks do carry some risk that conditions won’t be at premium.
If you are staying in central Morzine you’re most likely to consider taking either the Pleney or Nyon lifts to ski on the Morzine/Les Gets side of resort, or perhaps the Super Morzine gondola which enables you to access Avoriaz, Linderets, Chatel and Switzerland. For good skiers there are many miles to get under your skis here and you will certainly not get bored.
The best way to take advantage of the huge amount of skiing on offer is either to have your own vehicle to enable you to start the day at different lift stations throughout the week - we think Ardent is great for quick access to Switzerland and Chatel. Or better still to book a chalet with a driver service, which will chauffeur you to the lift of your choice, and pick you up from a different lift at the end of the ski day.
The whole Portes du Soleil area is covered by one lift pass, which is really excellent value for the size of the resort. If you are a beginner skier, or have members of your party who are less experienced then the gentle slopes on the Pleney side are a good starting point, and where you will find the majority of the ski schools are based.
Equally Les Gets is very family friendly, with gentle wide slopes, mostly within the tree line so great for visibility on more challenging days. Intermediate skiers will find the whole resort is their playground; start on the swooping reds of Les Gets, before moving to the steeper slopes of Avoriaz, which are more exposed and therefore challenging.
Chatel is a beautiful mixture of the two with long, long runs from top to bottom and through the trees, and some challenging terrain around the Linga. For the most experienced of skiers there is of course the infamous Swiss Wall itinerary which takes you over the back of Avoriaz (at a pitch of over 50 degrees!) into Switzerland, and the ‘Coupe du Monde’ black run is also to be found in Avoriaz – as used in the World Cup downhill of course.
The Swiss side of the resort is generally quieter with a much more relaxed feel, both to the skiing, the lifts and the restaurants. You will still find T-bars here, though they are sadly being gradually replaced by lifts with far less character.
The mountain restaurants serve goulash and the best hot chocolate (the milk’s different this side), and the terrain is wide and open; pistes merge and meander their way down the mountainside, and around Les Crosets particularly you can pretty much pick your own route on or off the piste to descend the mountain.
Looking at the different areas on offer across the region each certainly has it’s own appeal and distinctive flavour. Morzine sits in the middle of the region and so offers a great base from which to explore each of these areas during the course of a week’s ski trip.
Taking Les Gets to start with there are so many areas to explore; the area above Les Chavannes can get crowded around peak times (ski school start, finish, lunch etc.) and is best skied through to the quieter and more interesting areas; at La Rosta there are fantastic runs of every colour starting from the top of the La Rosta chairlift and all finishing in the bowl below – pick the route that suits you and meet everyone at the bottom.
Several other lifts service this bowl and hours can be whiled away in this small area alone. If you can drag yourselves away, head to Chamossière. Enjoy the ski across to start with, before heading up to the top where a beautiful steep red and steeper (often mogulled) black await you. From here skip across to Pointe de Nyon the area bridging Morzine and Les Gets – and try lunch at the lovely Chez Nanon mountain restaurant for rustic local specialties.
Heading from Morzine via the super Morzine lift you will be faced with a tantalising choice; from the Chapelle chair lift do you head left, down into Linderets (affectionately referred to as the ‘goat village’ by locals)? From here, on up to Brochaux and Mossettes, and Switzerland beckons with the wide swooping runs of Les Crosets. Or do you cross Linderets and make for the Chaux Fleurie chairlift to access the 130km of slopes on offer in Chatel?
Perhaps you don’t head left after all; instead turn right and wind your way down into Avoriaz for the highest and most challenging skiing the Portes du Soleil has to offer. The lift system here is fast although in peak weeks it can bottleneck at the bottom lifts; once you’re up to the mid station area it’s worth staying there awhile then; the slopes around Chavonette and Le Fornet are high; great for intermediate skiers and conditions are usually excellent here.
Equally the slopes around the Coup du Monde are challenging though not to be feared; ‘Arete des Intrets’ though black is achievable for intermediate skiers, and continuing down all the way to Prodains is a lovely ski with the new Prodains Express gondola now whisking you back to Avoriaz town centre in considerably more comfort (and speed) than was previously the case.
From the top of Chavonette of course it would be remiss not to name check the Swiss Wall, which descends the back of the mountain into Switzerland. Classed as an ‘itinerary’, meaning more challenging than a black and ‘marked’ but not groomed this is the most famous run in resort, and not to be taken lightly. It is best skied as soon as it re-opens after fresh snowfall when conditions are most pleasant (and forgiving).
The pitch is over 50% and it is steepest at the very top, where in fact you cannot see over the top of the first mogul to asses your chances – either go for it, or take a round-trip down and back up on the chairlift to decide if you’re up to the challenge. The first 3 or 4 moguls are huge – reputedly bigger than VW Beetles. Once these are tackled however the others are less intimidating, you now have the sheer length of the itinerary to contend with; 1 km long which at this pitch and with moguls is a stiff leg workout. More timid friends can watch you from the chairlift - the more restful descent.
Remember starting out up the Super Morzine gondola? If you did take that left turn after the Chapelle chair, and you decided to head across to Chatel you will enjoy the variety on offer around the Plane Dranse ski area and above Pré la Joux. Favourites here include the red run Les Rennes, or Pre la Joux itself which is a long, top to bottom red. The runs in the Linga sector are superb, with the Linga steep and wide cutting down through the valley.
New lifts in this sector link you from the blue piste ‘La Leiche’ across to the Super Chatel side where you can ski to Torgon in Switzerland or wind your way up to Morgins – also Swiss side of the border (no passport required for the crossing). It will be interesting to see how much the new lift really opens up Torgon, previously a much under skied and under-valued area but with beautiful views and a feeling of being out in the wilds.
If you decided to head straight up to Switzerland from Linderets you will have taken the Mossettes chair lift, which can be windy as it approaches the ridge at the top, forming the border into Les Crosets and Switzerland. Les Crosets can be charming; from the snow park with a naturally formed gully at the bottom (kids love it) to the Marcheuson ‘bowl’ – a red run officially, but the surrounding hillside is fair game and great after fresh snow. A quirky restaurant sits at the bottom perfect for Swiss hot chocolate and a game of pool before taking the button lift back into the main side of the resort. Fabulous view of the Dents du Midi mountain range from here.
If that doesn’t sound like enough skiing for you, there is always the little off-shoot of La Grande Terche to the north of Morzine. Accessed by car and driving up from St Jean D’Aulps village this is a charming little area well worth half a day’s ski if the ‘back’ is open, allowing you to do a circular tour where you’re unlikely to see many souls. The larger circuit is the better known, the ‘Portes du Soleil loop’, a day-long tour of the ski area starting and finishing in Morzine.
Though not many of the pistes in themselves are too challenging, it is quite a distance and requires a strong pace to complete in the day – especially if you plan to stop for lunch. Getting ‘stuck’ at the wrong point of the loop when lifts close is troublesome, as it’s a long drive (and expensive taxi fare) back to Morzine from Chatel or the Swiss side. There are several versions of the route, best to seek advice from a local when you plan to attempt it, as to which route the conditions that day lend themselves to best. Alternatively, book yourself a guide so you can relax and enjoy the tour without furiously studying the piste map on each lift.
Cosy in winter with its wood-burning stove, you may not want to leave! In spring the sun terrace is also worth lingering at; food is really excellent, huge prawns cooked on the outdoor grill, along with steaks and chicken. Located above the La Turche area of Les Gets, best accessed from the Grains d’Or Express chairlift and skiing down the Vorosses piste (blue).
A lovely, rustic farm hut tucked away on the blue piste beneath the Pointe de Nyon. Serves hearty, local food (plenty of cheese options) and is very cosy on a cold winter’s day, or has a lovely sun deck for finer, spring weather.
A very popular lunch stop serving delicious Savoyard inspired dishes, and with a gorgeous sun terrace for warmer days. They also have a private room upstairs seating 10-12 which can be booked in advance. Located at the top of Pleney at the end of the Belvedere chair lift.
Set in a gorgeous location above Les Gets with a large terrace and views of Mont Blanc; the sun terrace is perfect for sunny days. Wednesday evenings 'Dine a Mile High' with a piste basher ride up to the restaurant. Suitable for pedestrians.
Set in the little hamlet below the Lindarets bowl, this area is known as the ‘goat village’ in the summer, when the farmers graze their goats here. A popular little restaurant, with fabulous local meats and produce on the menu. Three generations of the Braize family have run this restaurant at Les Lindarets which boasts a cosy dining room and a large terrace.
A large, spacious dining area (and a popular wedding venue in summer); the benefit of this restaurant is it’s position next to the Nyon lift station allows pedestrian access. The duck salad and ribs are excellent.
A rustic little farmhouse; Denis is a dairy farmer and in summer you can buy his cheese directly from the restaurant. The restaurant is cosy with a log burner keeping you toasty, and the meals are hearty. Located at the top of the Pierre Longue chairlift and accessible for pedestrians.
Our favourite Avoriaz lunch spot; plenty of room inside but book ahead on cold days as it is popular. On a sunny day they have a huge deck from which to soak up the rays. All the food here is excellent, but the omelettes and salads are particularly good. Located directly opposite the top of the Prodains gondola.
This restaurant in the centre of town attached to the hotel is a formal, fine dining environment and Michelin rated. À la carte or tasting menus available, using seasonal produce. Not a quick dining experience but a meal to be savoured.
In this wood-panelled interior, a lovely fireplace crackles as you choose from the local cheese specialities, such as Berthoud. If you look through the window, you can see the whole cheeses - Abondance, Tomme and Reblochon - in the maturing cellar of the neighbouring cheese dairy.
This is a lovely little restaurant in the lower part of Morzine, not far from the town hall. The chef, who originally hails from Brittany, cooks tasty and well-mastered cuisine, which he enhances with citrus fruits at will. He also proposes a few dishes native to the north of France, a nod to his wife's origins in Picardy.
The restaurant of Chalet Philibert is highly recommended and serves a creative and refined menu the spirit of which is taken from local flavours mixed with the exotic! The wood and stone decor associated with the Savoie region is seen through the restaurant creating an authentic dining experience; the open log fire adds to the traditional ambience. The wine list is truly exceptional and the menu constantly changes according to the season and the fresh produce that is available.
In central Morzine, opposite the La Coup de Coeur wine bar (same owner), this restaurant was recently renovated, the design is beautiful with an open kitchen, outdoor fire pit, and a good menu.
Near the Pleney lift and the L’Opera nightclub this had long been a popular choice for diners in Morzine. Pizzas, pastas and local specialties in a lively, buzzy atmosphere.
This is a Morzine institution. Lovely family run restaurant with the menu influenced by the southwest of France, so expect lots of duck confit, cassoulet and foie gras, always served with a big smile. Located on Route du Plan, the road that leads to the post office and main Carrefour supermarket from the roundabout by the church at the bottom of town
At the bottom of the Pleney piste with a beautiful outside garden this is always a popular restaurant. Known for its pizzas and regional specialties and is owned and run by the same people that run the award winning l'Etale restaurant.
One of the most popular and famous bars to head to for some après is Bar Robinsons, known more commonly around these parts as 'Robbos'. It’s a no frills spot on the Rue du Bourg with the main pull coming in the shape of the beer it serves. The only beer on tap in Robbos is Mutzig, and we’re not talking about the watered down version you get in some resorts, this is the real thing. At 8% you’ll know when you’ve had a couple. It’s recently changed hands, the nephew of the original owners has taken over, meaning opening hours are a little more flexible these days and the bar stays open a little longer.
Chez Roger’s is a great après ski stop off. It’s just up the road from Robbos and is great for an early evening drink or even on into the late evening. Run by a local legend, Chez Roger’s is cheap, cheerful and a great place to hangout after a day on the slopes. Drinks are served with cheesy nachos as well so if you’re feeling a little peckish it’s a welcome extra.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to the piste and don’t fancy walking anywhere in your ski boots then Le Tremplin at the base of the Pleney could be just what you’re looking for. It remains one of Morzine’s most popular après haunts and is often busy right into the early evening. It usually has a DJ playing so it’s a great place to go to get the party started. Although be warned, if you start at the Tremplin there’s a high risk of you might not want to head home for dinner... après often quickly becomes an accidental late night after starting there.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed après vibe with comfy sofas and sport on the screens, then head for the Tibetan Cafe. This place is set somewhere between India, Pakistan and Asia, while the background music is completely Rock'n'Roll. They play all sorts, old and new, with the odd live band to keep you dancing
This has a heated terrace for the winter overlooking Pointe de Nyon. It has a wine list that takes you on a trip around France and offers some delicious meals, from pizza and salad to a cheese board that will definitely leave you wanting more.
A classy (and quieter!)wine bar attached to the restaurant in a vaulted ‘cave’. Extensive wine list, sommelier on hand to offer advice and tapas to boot.
Tapas bar with happy hours & sport on the big screen in the centre of Morzine, just a short walk from the bottom of the Pleney lift. Great for a cold beer after skiing, some filling burgers with chips and sweet crepes. There are 5 different types of cheese to choose from when ordering your burgers!
Located right in the centre of the old town, ‘Paradis’ is arguably the most unique après ski-bar the Alps has ever seen! Complete with satin pink, faux leopard print chaise longues and ‘Saturday Night Fever’ dance floor – we kid you not! Le Paradis will have the best Ibiza DJ's taking up residence 7 nights a week throughout the winter season, all expertly programmed by Mark Broadbent of 'We Love’ Space on Sunday fame.
A Morzine institution - open until very late, this somewhat cheesy ‘discotheque’ is a favourite with seasonnaires and has a cage for dancing in… Music tends towards D&B, house and techno.
Café Chaud is tucked away in the Chemin de la Coutettaz. It starts off the evening as a bar and modest restaurant before turning into a full-blown venue with music that varies from blues to acid jazz and house.
Near the Tourist office in the middle of Morzine, this bar is open from 4pm to 2am 7 days a week with 2 happy hours per day. Expect a good atmosphere, occasional fancy dress parties and enough shots to keep you dancing til the small hours...
Let’s face it; you came here to ski didn’t you? Nonetheless, it would be nice to mix things up through the week and try your hand at some different activities during the week, so here are a few suggestions that may appeal.
Also known as Nordic skiing, or here in France ‘Ski de Fond’, the Portes du Soleil has 216 km of trails, with over 100 km accessible from the Morzine/Avoriaz area alone.
The trails in the Morzine/Avoriaz area are located in roughly 4 zones; the Manche valley has 25 km of circuits; these are reasonably challenging, with an altitude ranging from 1,100 – 1,400m and it is pure wilderness out here, well away from any ski lifts. The biggest and perhaps most beautiful Nordic area in resort is the Morzine-Avoriaz area in the Parc Naturel des Crêtes de Zorre. Over 45 km of circuits here and at all levels too, with stunning views, as it is a high altitude setting at 1,500m – 1,800m. Lake Montriond has 10 km of ‘Canadian’ style trails, in a very beautiful and tranquil setting. Across in the Pleney-Chavannes sector there are 18 km of forest trails great for days with poor visibility.
Cross-country skiing is absolutely free in the Portes du Soleil unless you intend to use any of the ski lifts to access the high altitude trails in Morzine-Avoriaz, or Pleney. The ESF runs regular group sessions twice a morning including transport to the trails, but other ski schools will also arrange private tuition and most ski hire shops will be able to rent out all the equipment you will need. Maps can also be picked up at the tourist office.
Although heli-skiing is not permitted in France, from Morzine you can experience this adrenaline-fuelled activity by being dropped just over the border into Switzerland, or a little further afield in Italy. You can choose from a number of options according to your ability and preference; multiple drops with your ability level determining the areas you are taken to.
Another popular choice is heli-ski-touring; the helicopter will drop you off in the wilderness with your mountain guide, allowing you to access amazing terrain whether by foot, or by ski touring. You will experience undiscovered powder fields and couloirs in total peace far from the crowds. You can also opt to have a second guide accompany the group – to take video and photographs of the flight and your powdery descents.
The pool facilities in Morzine are impressive; a separate children’s pool is perfect for the little ones and the complex includes a sauna, steam room and spa. Entry to the pool is often included with your ski pass, so this is worth checking. There is also a 12 m indoor climbing wall in the complex – with 7 different routes of varying difficulty level. Finally you will find 2 squash courts, indoor football, volleyball, basketball, badminton and a gym & weight training area overlooking the swimming pool.
Also up in Avoriaz there is Aquariaz, an aquatic paradise in the mountains featuring lush vegetation and rocks: a river with a variable gentle current, a slidewinder (a kind of aquatic halfpipe), a water playhouse, a paddling pool, a large pool with climbing walls, massage benches and the must-try: an open-air spa heated to 34 degres! This type of water park is found nowhere else in the mountains and features a ‘hybrid’ concept with natural tropical vegetation in mountain surroundings.
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Morzine! It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”.
And that’s exactly what Geocaching is…you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but nevertheless it’s quite exciting!
Modern winter biathlon involves cross-country skiing followed by rifle shooting, a test of strength and stamina, but also patience and control. We’ve all seen it feature at the Olympics, but very few of us will ever get to try our hand at it, but in Morzine the ESF can arrange a morning experience – with expert tuition of course. They will use laser guns for the shooting element so it’s safe for everyone to try, and a lot of fun. You can be taken out in groups or privately with an instructor, a fabulous team-building event for families or corporate groups.
There are many marked trails in the area surrounding Morzine-Avoriaz, these can be enjoyed independently using maps provided by the tourist office, or you can take part in organised group tours with a guide. Or indeed consider booking a private guide to take you out exploring in the mountains and head out off the beaten track. You can even take part in snowshoeing as an evening activity with a fondue in a high pasture chalet, a torch lit aperitif and lots of stargazing. Snowshoes and poles can be hired from most sports shops in Morzine.
Take a scenic flight over the snow-capped mountaintops for an entirely new perspective on the Portes du Soleil, or fly a little further afield to the Chamonix valley - the star attraction of course being Mont Blanc itself. Several suggested itineraries exist, but flights can also be customised so do let your PA know what you’d like to see and it can be arranged. Flights are offered daily with weather conditions permitting, and would be a very unique experience – and perfect for a special celebration.
This is actually a traditional mode of transport that has been in use for over 4,500 years. Practised in Morzine for the last 30 years, the basic premise is to strap on a pair of skis, and then hang on to a harness attached to a horse that will tow you around. The speed is down to you – stay at a walk or gentle trot if you like, or if you gain a little more confidence why not set of for a few kilometres at a gallop for a real adrenalin rush. Meet in Morzine near the Pleney lift, this activity is available from Monday-Wednesday throughout the season.
The Parc des Dereches offers ice-skating indoors all year round, and during winter offers some night sessions on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 21:00 – 23:00. There is a refreshment bar, and usually music. Skate hire is €3.50 and entry is €4.50. There are also occasional ice hockey matches when you can come and cheer on the local team – Les Pinguins. These are usually held on Wednesday or Saturday evenings.
During the winter you can also enjoy ice-skating outdoors at the rink constructed each season outside the tourist office in the square. Open every day from 10:30 – 12:30 and 15:00 – 19:00, and on Thursdays there’s usually an ice show!
For those trying this for the first time – or new to this area - high mountain guides from Morzine-Guides accompany you in groups and will provide all of the necessary equipment. You can tackle temporary ice-falls, or high ridge routes. This is a strenuous activity, but a wonderful and different way to explore the Alps in winter.
This is really quite special and not available in many of the Alpine ski resorts. Taking advantage of the beautiful Lake Montriond, which is of course frozen in winter, you can swim under the ice and observe the marine life whether you are an experienced diver or a total novice. There are different circuits available and a qualified instructor will take you. You will be clipped onto a rope that is permanently fixed and links together the holes which are always nearby should you wish to surface.
Or ‘parapenting’ as the French call it, is an incredible way to see the mountains from above, and what a rush. No experience is required, as you will take a tandem flight with a qualified instructor – but you will need to be an intermediate level skier (advanced snowboarder) for the take off. Many companies offer this thrilling sport – often known as speed riding when using skis for the take off.
Morzine is a town with a working, year-round population, and this gives the main streets and side roads of the resort a different character and flavour to many of the Alpine villages you would visit on a ski holiday - less ‘designer’ and more practical perhaps.
That said you will not be short of shops from which to buy the obligatory souvenir and postcard – the high street and the area close to the Office du Tourism are littered with them. La Cremaillere is one of the largest of such stores. A good ‘local’ souvenir is a pair of goatskin slippers made up in nearby Linderets, an area known affectionately by locals as the ‘goat village’. Equally, you may like to take home some of the local Morzine slate – some drinks coasters perhaps? Both are available from a number of the shops adorning the Rue du Bourg. La Coutterie Corner on the Chemin de la Couttaz also stocks beautiful hand-made wooden toys, games and gifts.
As with other ski towns many of the shops are of course focused on sport- specifically skiing! The largest and best of these is the two-story Intersport on the Rue du Bourg. Here you will find everything from ski fashion wear to the latest in technical equipment, and you can also hire ski equipment here. Also great for rental kit are Caribou Sports; close to the bottom of the Pleney lifts and with overnight ski storage facilities, and Gravier Ski Shop which is more central to both the Pleney and Super Morzine ski lifts and near the Office du Tourism. Gravier stock excellent quality ski rental kit and will also deliver to your accommodation with their excellent fitting service. A hybrid coffee shop and ski shop is Beanies on the Rue du Bourg, and they specialise in back country and free ride equipment – as well as coffee, cakes & smoothies.
For more independent, fashion & snowboard retailers there are three independent snowboard shops also on the Rue du Bourg; Slopestyle, Attack Attack and the Slopestyle Freeride store. You will find friendly and knowledgeable staff, and kit from Jones, Lib Tech, Burton, Volcom, Slash, Nikita and Holden.
For other fashion retailers try La Fee des Myrtilles which you will find further up the Rue du Bourg towards the tourist office; an eclectic mix of unique ladies fashion. Around the tourist office you will also find Chausseurs Baud, a huge shoe shop and fashionable clothing store stocking brands such as Super Dry and Pull In.
For interior design inspiration (of the Savoyard style) head to Cote Neige on the Route de la Plagne – and the Jardins de Morzine at the other end of the same road can offer yet more Savoyard trappings. A lovely little perfumery sits half way up the Rue du Bourg sells L’Occitaine and other luxury brands.
Of course, while you are in the Alps you may wish to sample some of the local produce – or even take some home with you. Recommended is Patisserie La Bonbonnière on the Route de la Plagne, very close to the tourist office. Their breads and pastries are some of the best in town, and the cakes, tarts and hand made chocolates sublime. For cheeses, wines and cured meats visit Le Refuge Marie-Louise on the Taille de Mas du Pleney. You can also pick up excellent produce from one of the supermarkets – great if you want some additional chalet snacks too! The largest in Morzine is the Carrefour located behind Intersport on the ground floor, opposite the post office. There is also a newsagent here selling English papers during the winter season, and you will find the town market here every Wednesday morning. Well worth a visit.
Morzine is truly an Alpine sport enthusiast’s playground, but should you wish for a day off the mountain there is so much in the local region to discover and experience. The area is best explored by car, whether private or chauffeur driven, and you will find here our suggestions for the best the region has to offer.
Just over an hour’s journey by car why not spend the day exploring Geneva? With top chocolatiers, jewellers and boutique fashion outlets all in a stunning lakeside setting. Geneva Old Town is well worth a visit; wind through the cobbled streets and soak up the ambiance in one of the many little cafés on the picturesque squares. There are museums and galleries to visit and the famous St Peter’s Cathedral. Make your way to Bourg-de-Four Square, the oldest place in Geneva, location of the old Roman market place and now full of exclusive shopping opportunities and more cafés.
At just under an hour’s drive away from Morzine the medieval town of Yvoire on the shores of Lac leman makes for a lovely day out. Explore the historical town at your leisure, seek a little retail therapy in one of the boutiques, and treat yourself to an indulgent lunch at one of its many fine fish restaurants.
Évian les Bains & Lausanne
Évian is a beautiful spa town on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), and of course home to the famous mineral water of the same name. You can visit ‘the source’ in the town centre (on ‘Avenue des Sources’!) and fill up your bottle for free, as well as discovering something of the history of this famous water. The town is also home to the largest themed Casino in Europe. The nicest part to explore is along the waterfront with the pretty quays, and of course views across the lake are beautiful, it’s a great spot for a nice lunch. Equally the thermal spas are world famous and a lovely day can be spent here.
Whilst here you can also take the passenger ferry across the lake to visit Lausanne in Switzerland, known for being an international centre for sport hosting the International Olympic Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and 55 international sport associations. The Olympic Museum here is well worth a visit, but really the round trip on the ferry admiring the beautiful lake is a treat in itself. Évian is just under one hour from Morzine by car.
Aiguille du Midi - Chamonix
Just over one hour’s drive away is the famous mountaineering town of Chamonix. In 1955 the 2 stage cable car to the top of the Aiguille du Midi was first constructed, and today it can get you from the valley floor to the top station at 3,842m in under 20 minutes. Once at the summit, there is much to do, even for the non-skier who doesn’t fancy tackling the 20km Vallée Blanche off-piste itinerary! You can admire the magnificent panoramic views from one of several terraces, dine in the restaurant/café at the top and visit the ‘Musee de L’Alpinisme Pointe’ – a museum dedicated to mountaineering. If you have a real head for heights visit the latest attraction ‘Step into the void’, a glass box suspended above a 1,000m vertical drop.
If you are a keen off-piste skier then the Vallée Blanche must surely be on the ‘to do’ list if conditions are right – though hiring a local guide is essential as the route is glacial.
Mer de Glace & Montenvers Train - Chamonix
Since it was discovered in 1741 by two English explorers, William Windham and Richard Pocock, the Mer de Glace glacier has become one of the world’s most visited natural sites. At 7km long and with a surface area of 40 km2, it is France’s largest glacier, extending from an altitude of 3900m to 1400m. The width of the glacier varies between 700m to 1950m and the depth of the ice averages around 200m but is as much as 400m thick in places.
The train journey itself is a joy, but from here you can access the ice caves or ‘grotto’ by a small gondola lift (or via a footpath if you fancy the leg stretch) and then a flight of approximately 300 steps. It is recommended to buy a combined ticket for the return train and gondola trip, plus entrance to the caves. The Vallée Blanche itinerary also finishes just above the glacier, so it’s a great spot for people watching!
A popular favourite is the lakeside town of Annecy, sometimes referred to as ‘the Venice of the Alps’ because of its network of canals that weave through the historic ‘Old Town’. Fantastic restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of clothes shops are on offer in Annecy, with it’s stunning mountain back drop and crystal clear blue waters. Annecy hosts a spectacular Christmas market from late November right the way through December that’s well worth the visit. Annecy can be reached in under an hour and a half from Morzine by car.
We recommend flying with our partner airline Swiss,
who will carry your ski gear for no extra charge.
Geneva (GVA): 1h 30m/88 km
SkiBoutique works with a number of taxi firms to provide shared, private and luxury road transfers from the airport to Morzine.
The route to Morzine by train is not the most straightforward, but it is possible if this is your preferred method of transport or you’re not fond of flying! Do not however take the Eurostar snow train, which departs from St Pancras – this is ideal for ski resorts in the Tarentaise Valley, but not for Morzine.
There are two main routes you can take:
1. London – Lyon Lyon - Cluses or Phonon
2. London – Paris, Paris – Lyon Lyon - Cluses or Thonon
From Cluses or Thonon we can arrange a taxi for the final 28 kms up to resort.
If you choose to drive to Morzine from the UK it is a straightforward 882 km journey from Calais, on average taking approximately 9-10 hours including some stops en route. Moraine Centre co-ordinates for your satellite navigation system are:
*Please be aware that Sat Navs are not always accurate and particularly in winter they will not show Alpine road closures so please check the route chosen
Bronze - EUR 120
You like discover the mountain with equipment that’s safe
and easy to use.
Silver - EUR 145
You prefer to ski with comfortable high-performance equipment which allows you to take full advantage of the ski area on offer.
Gold - EUR 165
You only ski with the newest and best equipment
each season, for enjoyable high performance skiing.
There is a family pass available that offers a saving on the individual rates quoted above.
With our partner ski school New Generation
Private 3 hour lesson - From EUR 245
All day guiding - From EUR 460
Children group lesson from EUR 449 for X5 mornings (4½ hrs per day)
Your SkiBoutique PA can organise all of the above for you
Bottle of Veurve Clicquot EUR 100
Small beer EUR 4
Bottle of house wine EUR 28
Vin chaud/Gluwein EUR 5
Hot chocolate EUR 5
Cup of coffee EUR 4
Glass of coke EUR 3
Pizza EUR 15