News from the snow
A village with a history dating back to long before Morzine was first named in documents in 1180 AD, today Morzine is a large and pleasant resort in the midst of one of the world's largest ski areas, the Portes du Soleil, and with excellent off-slope facilities. Although the village may have existed for at least a thousand years, tourism only arrived rather more recently when the first hotel, the Grand, opened in 1925. The first brochure stated that Morzine was located "...high above the damp mists, where the purifying breeze blows through the firs." Early visitors included many families of diplomats living in the French colonies. Winter tourism was not long behind initial summer business and in 1934 the opening of the Pleney cable-car made getting up the mountain to go downhill easy. François Baud, the pioneer behind the Grand, went so far as to build a ski jump behind his hotel, to employ Austrian ski instructors and to bring in the earliest tracked Renault vehicles to entice winter visitors. He also introduced the sport of Ski Jöring - being towed on skis behind a horse - to the village. After Pleney, the Pointe de Nyon was introduced as a second ski area and Jean Vuarnet won Olympic Gold at Squaw Valley, helping to underline further Morzine's growing pre-eminence on the winter-sports world map. The still futuristic resort of Avoriaz opened high above the village in 1966 and when Super Morzine opened in the 1980s a lift link between Avoriaz and Morzine was created.
One of the world's major ski centres and a sizable, picturesque town with a good range of shops, restaurants and alternative sports options. A key resort in the huge Portes du Soleil lift-linked region.
Morzine's first ski area links the resort over to neighbouring Les Gets on the slopes of Mount Ranfolly, between the two villages. With skiing between 1000m (3280 feet) and 2000 m (6560 feet) the trail are largely easy or intermediate level, down through the densely forested slopes. The second sector is that of Super Morzine and Avoriaz, rising to 2466m (8090 feet), known for its long slopes to which skiers would venture in the spring before the resort was built and lifts installed in the '60s. The sense of isolation from the rest of the world continues today.
The Portes du Soleil's skiing is something more than most large lift-linked ski areas in that you experience a sense of traveling and encountering different cultures as you cross it and go over the border in to Switzerland, with views of Mont Blanc in one direction and Lake Geneva in the other. It's possible for most skiers above beginner standard to make the most of the huge terrain on offer.
Experts too will find plenty of interest, including the World Cup descent down from Avoriaz to Morzine over a full 1100m) vertical. In the d'Enfer there are excellent off piste runs from La Grande Terche. Of course there is also the most famous run of the whole area, 'The Swiss Wall' - unofficially categorized a brown run, officially black. Many choose to take the chairlift down rather than face its monstrous moguls!
Beginners are not forgotten though, with excellent nursery slopes dotted around Morzine, most just a short walk from your accommodation.
Cross country skiers are well served also with 95 km (60 miles) of trails from easy to difficult standard in five separate areas.
Older children aged 4 and up are signed up for the Club Le Piou Piou and are transported to and from the slopes for ski lessons if required. Full or half day care is available.
There are three Children's Residences in Morzine where kids can actually be booked in for residential stays.
healthiness. Straight after skiing a bowl of the local shepherds' soup, prepared in a large cauldron, washed down with a glass of the local white Crépy wine is popular. Later frogs, flash fried with bacon, or traditional Savoyard potato fritters are popular for a more substantial meal. Local dishes such as these are served in many of Morzine's eateries, although the inevitable Italian outlets are also there, as well as delicious French crèperies. Recommendations include Le Grillon, Le Chalet Philibert, La Flamme, La Grange, La Chamade and l'Atelier.
Later on much of the action is to be had in the bars and discothèques at the Le Pleney end of the resort. Popular night spots include Opéra Rock and Le Paradis..
Other evening activities might include bowling, night skiing, snowmobiling and perhaps taking in an ice hockey match.
Morzine's local terrain suits the less aggressive and perhaps less experienced 'boarder, although there are off-piste thrills to be had. In 2002 a Boardercross was added on the Atray competition slope for snowboard fans