Morzine, France – Travel Review
By Richard Jones
It was a familiar summer holiday scene – temperature in the mid 20s, kids splashing around in the pool, and parents, with a refreshing drink in hand, keeping a close eye on them from the sun beds.
However, we weren’t in the Med – or even in the sun-drenched 2022 version of the UK – we were actually high up in the French Alps for a week mixing rest and relaxation with activities and adventure.
It has become an all-too-familiar phrase this year – “we’re looking to go away, but everywhere is so expensive”. However, there is a solution.
Millions of Brits make a beeline for the mountains during the winter, but most summer holidaymakers may not appreciate that popular ski areas can be just as attractive in the warmer months.
Once the snow melts in spring, the previously blanketed pistes are transformed into lush green meadows, while the towns and villages are flooded with delicious cuisine from local farms.
And not only that, a trip to the Alps in the summer is considerably cheaper than a holiday in many of Europe’s traditional sun-and-sea destinations.
“An array of outdoor experiences”
So what is there to do there to do in the mountains?
Well, many winter resorts are investing millions of Euros to offer an array of outdoor experiences and attract travellers all year round.
My wife Rachel and I and our two daughters Isla and Evelyn decided to sample some of this mountain-based merriment with a week in Morzine, the French resort long beloved by Brits.
After a short transfer from Geneva, we arrived at our accommodation – VIP Ski’s Valdez Suite.
This sumptuous self-catering apartment on Route de la Plagne provided us with all the mod cons and comforts and we needed, including two spacious en suite bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area stacked with crockery and cutlery, living room in which to stream our favourite TV apps and a balcony looking out onto the street outside.
Valdez benefits from a great central location, especially when you consider its low cost (less than £500 for a week in the summer).
“Host of activities”
Each morning, locals queued around the block to get their hands on fresh bread and pastries at the La Bonbonnière boulangerie, while there were plenty of supermarkets nearby to stock up on essentials including the Spar next door and Le Casino 100m down the road.
Having been to a few mountain resorts in summer and winter, I was surprised at how lively Morzine was in August.
It was the height of mountain bike season, with cyclists of all nationalities arriving for the UCI World Championships in neighbouring Les Gets.
British Olympic champion Tom Pidcock was among those competing on the dirt tracks, and next year’s hosts Glasgow should be in for a treat if the buzz was anything to go by.
Despite the two-wheel excitement, the four of us didn’t get in the saddle during our week in France.
Instead, we used the Portes du Soleil Multi Passes that gave us access to the lifts and a whole host of activities throughout 13 resorts in France and Switzerland.
Morzine is dominated by the silhouette of the Pointe de Nyon, so it seemed appropriate that the iconic mountain was our first destination.
As it was a sunny day, we chose to skip the free bus and take the 20-minute stroll along the Dranse river to the Nyon Télépherique cable car.
At the top, we had a coffee and juice at Monde de Jacquotte, alongside the local goats, sheep, chickens and ducks.
From there, we got a ticket for the chairlift up to the 2019m high viewing platform, le Pas de l’Aigle.
After a slightly rocky climb we were rewarded with breathtaking views of the snow-topped Mont Blanc range, Lake Geneva and Morzine town.
After riding back down the chair lift, we made our way along the winding roads and through the meadows on the plateau.
“Action and adventure”
On the way, we were waved over by a friendly couple sat outside their chalet, asking if we’d like to fill our bottles up in their fountain spring.
It was the best water we tasted all week, especially for Evelyn, who was feeling jaded in the heat.
Post-lunch, the four of us headed over to Cascade Adventures at the base of the Nyon Télépherique lift, to try out their high ropes and zip lines.
There was more action and adventure the following day, as we took the chairlift up Le Pleney slope to the start line of the summer luge.
With a lever to control the speed – forward for fast and back to brake – we whizzed down the snaking track on the wheeled toboggans.
After catching our breath at the bottom, we skipped past the long lines of mountain bikers and headed up the mountain on the cable car, before for a walk back through the forests and down the slopes into Morzine.
“Picking up souvenirs”
Our final day exploring the mountains around Morzine was a half-day hike around Le Foron and Roc d’enfer with Pierreick from Bureau des Guides.
He brought his telescope and binoculars along and showed us how to spot graceful chamois high up the mountain and families of playful marmots on the rocks.
All the while, we were looking up, not only at the spectacular views of Mont Blanc and Mon Cherie, but also the circling golden eagles and vultures seeking out prey.
It wasn’t only in the mountains that we found adventure during the week, Morzine itself is well worth a tour.
We spent a couple of afternoons browsing the shops, picking up souvenirs, sitting down for ice cream and coffee, watching the mountain bikers and paragliders, and enjoying the seasonal activities provided by the Morzine-Avoriax tourist board in the Vieux Bourg.
On the Wednesday morning, we visited the market next to Carrefour, where vendors sell textiles and jewellery, local cheeses and meats.
“Dip in the outdoor pools”
Indeed, the town also has great culinary reputation, and during the week, we had three amazing but very different meals in the town.
Across the road from Valdez Suite is Le Grillon Bar & Restaurant, who serve the best pizza in town.
Meanwhile, at Le Colibri, the four of us tucked into a sharing platter of meats and cheeses and breads, followed by intriguingly named burgers Pulp Fiction and Jurassic Park, before Into the Wild and Tropic Thunder desserts.
Finally, we headed to La Remise for a spot of outdoor dining and people watching, as well as some cracking pasta and cocktails for mum and dad.
During our final day, we couldn’t resist heading back to Espace Aquatique in Parc des Dérêches to join the other tourists and locals enjoying the sunshine and taking a dip in the outdoor pools against the backdrop of the spectacular French Alps.
Who needs a beach holiday in Med when you can lounge by the water – as well as enjoying plenty of other outdoor adventures – in Morzine?
Richard Jones and his family stayed at VIP SKI’s Valdez Suite in Morzine, France. A seven-night stay is available from £434pp based on four people sharing. To book, go to: vip-chalets.com
For more information about holidays in Morzine, visit morzine-avoriaz.com
The Portes du Soleil Multi Pass (providing access to lifts, swimming pools, activities etc) is priced at €2.50 per day for those staying in participating accommodation in the region.
Return flights to Geneva are available from Manchester, London Luton, London Gatwick and Edinburgh with easyJet.com, priced from £31 pp.
Top image: Sam Ingles