We hadn’t timed our visit to Morzine very well – arriving the day after the week long Rock the Pistes music festival had ended.
The line-up posters were still up around the resort, taunting us with what we’d just missed, and the chalet staff tried to temper their enthusiasm when we explained with regret why we couldn’t make it the week before…
We’d obviously missed a good party, but we needn’t have worried. Morzine does ‘hair of the dog’ very well and the village was lively, despite it being a Monday evening. In fact our chalet hosts were on a busy schedule of parties, gigs and film festivals each of the nights we were there.
As well as offering the largest range of accommodation in the huge Portes du Soleis ski area, Morzine is a busy and attractive year-round town. Picturesque wooden chalets and old churches line a steep sided valley. While a compact town centre offers traditional shops, Savoyard restaurants and bars. It’s a great base to come home to of an evening and there’s plenty to fill a relaxed afternoon off skis, should you so wish.
We spent our first sunny evening enjoying drinks al fresco in the main square and watching the red run back to town from the beer garden of Le Bec Jaune – somewhat unnerving for the beginner in our group. Later on, the jovial Northern contingent in our chalet made sure that our first morning on the slopes was a little fuzzier than originally planned.
On our first day we headed up to Avoriaz, taking the ski bus to the Prodains cable car. Perched on a dramatic cliff edge, the resort’s distinctive architecture and sunny slopes were a perfect introduction for our beginner.
As we already knew the ski area we were able to coax them around the greens and easier blues then leave them to practice (or as it turned out, sunbathe) while we went off to find a few more thrills.
We headed for the slopes down to Les Lindarets, which offer some lovely wooded runs, as well as the creatively designed ‘The Stash’ snowpark – with its hidden wooden obstacles dotted around the forest.
We joined our beginner for lunch back in Avoriaz village, enjoying rosé and snacks in deck chairs overlooking the nursery slopes. Jackets off and sunglasses on we toasted spring skiing – the Portes du Soleis (Gateway to the sun) is certainly the place for it!
On the next few days we headed for the Morzine / Les Gets area. Hopping on the Pleney bubble we sped over the previously mentioned red run, giving our beginner aerial views of their nemesis. From the top the views down to the town were sun dazzled and sweeping.
From here we headed off on a full day circuit of blues down to Les Gets and back up to the Charniaz sector and the Ranfoilly bowl. We were particularly taken by the wide open run down to the De La Croix chair lift and lost count of how many times we headed back up for ‘one more go’. With so much space it is the perfect piste for practicing technique – ideal for families and beginners.
One of the fantastic things about skiing in Morzine is the vast choice. The more advanced skiers in the group visited a seemingly endless series of slopes (one of their favourites being the higher-altitude Chamossière), while the intermediates and beginners cruised on wide confidence-building blues.
Lunch was at Les Shottys, Les Gets, just across from the top of the Charniaz lift and boasting a serious panoramic vista. It wasn’t even midday but the location was too good to turn down. Goats cheese toasts with piles of fresh salad and more rosé accompanied the views.
Back at our chalet we scrubbed up after our longest day on the pistes and celebrated a successful holiday with dinner in the town. We’d been recommended several places, but La Chamade won out on account of it having a cheese cave.
Dinner was a treat of fascinating flavours served up with real creativity. We enjoyed steak with cassava batons, shrimps with pernot, snails with herby tapenade and scallops with bitter mandarin.
After two courses and coffee we were beaten and never even made it into the cheese cave.
Likewise, despite all the parties and music on offer and the groups of merrymakers heading out on the town, we took a gentle stroll along the river and went home to bed. Morzine simply offered too much for us to take it up on – even during its post-Rock the Pistes hangover.