The historic market town of Morzine originated in the 16th century and still retains its pleasant ‘Savoyard’ charm today. It is situated between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc in the picturesque Northern Alps. The first cable car was installed in 1934 and it was from here that Morzine began to establish itself as a skiing resort. However it was not until the 1960’s, when the local Jean Vuarnet won the downhill gold medal in the winter Olympics, that its popularity as a tourist resort truly boomed. During the late Sixties it became the preferred haunt of French stars such as Brigitte Bardot and as such was nicknamed the ‘St Tropez of snow’.
Nestled in the heart of the Portes de Soleil, (an area which links the 14 resorts of Morzine, Avoriaz, Abondance, la Chappelle d’Abondance, Châtel, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine, Saint Jean d’Aulps in France and Champéry, Morgins, Val d’Illiez, Les Crosets, Champoussin and Torgon in Switzerland), Morzine is an integral part of the largest interlinked ski area in the world. 288 ski runs cover a breathtaking 650km and provide diverse terrains for all abilities. These include wooded tree sections, wide-open slopes, seven purpose built snow parks and infinite opportunities to venture off-piste. There is no need to worry about a lack of snowfall either, as 632 snow canons ensure the piste is always in prime condition.
If the thought of snow parks and off-piste sends shivers of fear down your spine then don’t fear, Morzine-Avoriaz also caters superbly for learner skiers and snowboarders. There are three separate nursery areas which provide a gently inclined slope on which to learn the basics. As you progress there are an array of easily accessible and relaxed blue runs which will allow you to perfect your skills on wide-open slopes before you progress further afield. Private and group lessons are also available at affordable prices and short notice from a range of ski and snowboarding schools such as the Ecole de Ski Français, Mint Snowboarding School and the Ecole de Glisse.
Morzine possesses the unique charm of warmly welcoming everyone who graces the town – whether you are a family, a skier, a freestyle or free riding snowboarder, quad biker, cross country skier or snow shoer.
For the more confident and adventurous rider, Avoriaz provides more challenging runs and a large number of the aforementioned off-piste routes. Avoriaz was the brain child of Morzine locals in the 1960’s, and was developed by their celebrity skier Vuarnet. It is nestled on the cliff top above Morzine town at 1800m and is accessible from Morzine via the Prodain lift or a selection of lifts and runs. The angular architecture was impeccably planned and executed as the timber residences are set on different levels to blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings. It was even awarded the major achievement of national treasures of the 20th century. It is a fully pedestrianised town during the winter season, allowing residents to ski directly from their doorstep.
The snow often lasts well into May, providing divine conditions to ski and sunbathe! Once the snow has disappeared the popularity of Morzine as a holiday destination does not dwindle, as the lush and verdant summer climate attracts mountain bikers, golfers and walkers amongst others. The idyllic panoramic views from the highest peak of Mont Blanc to the resplendent valleys around Lake Geneva once viewed will never be forgotten.
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