Morzine has something for everyone with both local slopes and direct links to the wider Portes du Soleil. The local pass gives access to 150km of tree-lined skiing between Morzine and Les Gets in chocolate-box scenery, and many people never need to venture further. Queues can be horrendous at busy times as everyone strives to get on the Pleney bubble before ski school. A full area pass is in a different league and opens up 13 resorts on either side of the Franco-Swiss border. The biggest advantage here is the snowsure nature of neighbouring Avoriaz, with lifts to 2300m and one of the best snow records in France (averaging over 8m per year). There are four main lift stations available from Morzine that connect to the wider Portes du Soleil; Super Morzine, Pleney, Linderets and Prodains. Any lift pre-fixed with ‘Express’ generally means a modern fast 6 man bubble.
Beginners and families
The plateau at the top of the Pleney and the runs leading off towards Les Gets are a great environment for children and novices to learn and improve. Confidence can be built up easily on the 5km Choucas piste, which follows the route of the summer road through the forestry. On the other side of the valley the Mosettes chairlift gives access to the long blue Abricotine piste from the border with Switzerland.
Intermediate and advanced
The area is a paradise for intermediates. Those with a local pass should head to the quieter slopes of Nyon to escape ski schools, but some of the very best red runs are to be found near the resort of Chatel on the full area pass. Advanced skiers, whilst needing a full-area pass, will find plenty to amuse themselves. The most obvious challenge is La Chavanette between Avoriaz and Les Crosets. Known as the ‘Swiss Wall’ this is the steepest piste in Europe and a most spectacular border crossing!
The Morzine area is not famous for its off-piste skiing but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! Visitors with local passes should consider the wide-open bowl to the left of the Chamossiere chairlift. In Avoriaz particularly good options include the snowcross district, accessed via the Fornet chairlift, and the many narrow gullies from the ridge below Pointe des Mosettes. A great end to the day for off-piste lovers is to hike to the ridge above Le Fornet and ski the bowl that leads to the Vallee de la Manche above Morzine. Due to its lower than 2400m altitude, and a landscape that is not as aggressive as many big French resorts, serious freeriding doesn’t really exist in abundance around Morzine. However there are some hidden gems that should be within the realms of most advanced skiers and snowboarders accompanied by a guide.
In Avoriaz you can find a halfpipe, a big terrain park, a small park and the first ‘Stash’ park in Europe – a treelined jibbing corridor for all the family.
The two main ski schools in Morzine are the ESF and Easy2Ride. Of these the latter is more expensive but offers a high standard of instruction with small group sizes. There are also plenty of British instructors in the area and a thriving branch of the British Alpine Ski School. Annie Donovan is a great instructor based on the Avoriaz side of the valley and she offers advanced coaching and guided days. The local ESF is a good starting point for people with disabilities.