All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Morzine - introduction

A lively, year-round town with 3,000 full-time residents, Morzine has a more rounded offer than many resorts. Beloved of winter-holidaying Brits since Edwardian times, it’s a charmingly lived-in place, and visitors can feel the warm community spirit born of an established population who live side by side, season after season. It’s a gift to families, and a lot of fun too for those who like their après.

Slopeside, it has few rivals in terms of the scale and variety of terrain available. Its low base altitude (1000m) sometimes causes dwindling snow cover on lower slopes despite substantial snowmaking infrastructure, but it’s adjacently linked to high-altitude Avoriaz – and beyond that, in the 600km Portes du Soleil ski area, six more resorts in France and four in Switzerland. Skiable altitudes reach 2466m, so rare is the ski day where, with a bit of judiciously planned lift time, good conditions can’t be accessed. It also offers up generous helpings of beginner, intermediate and snowboard-friendly slopes, some expert terrain and plenty of easily accessible off piste for the gnar of heart. Terrain parks? Just the 30. The scenery’s gloriously varied too, from views of majestic Mont Blanc to soaring cliff faces to rolling slopes swathed in pristine forest.

Morzine sits astride a scenic river gorge, with its centre on the west bank, close to the wooded local slopes which it shares with next-door resort Les Gets. Rolling, grassy pastures in summer, these become mainly cruisy intermediate pistes come winter. Mainly made up of small and medium-sized chalet-style buildings with not a high-rise in sight, the attractive town is a pleasure to stroll around, with a cosy, relaxed atmosphere. It’s fairly spread out, but a network of free bus routes serve the area, and let you start your ascent into Portes du Soleil from various bases, expediting your terrain requirements for any given day.

To hit the heights, take the Prodains Express gondola which feeds into the lift network serving Avoriaz, an area blessed by an average of 8m of snow a year. This area is also something of a freestyle Mecca and keeps snowboarding seasonaires flocking back year after year, with no less than six terrain parks, from old-school kickers’n’rails affairs to the naturalistic, freeriding-inspired The Stash (and Lil’Stash, for mini-shredders) to a whopping superpipe. A short bus ride to Ardent gives you the option of accessing Châtel and the Swiss resorts without navigating Avoriaz, whose main slopes can be very busy, and which saves time reaching the Portes du Soleil’s furthest-flung and generally blissfully uncrowded corners.

Head straight out of the village centre on the Pleney gondola to access the Morzine-Les Gets ski area. With pistes winding their way down forested slopes this is perfect for any low visibility days, and where you’ll find some of the best off-piste terrain. The beginners area on the top of the Pleney offers some lovely gentle slopes for your first slides, and two fun zones for kids.

As you’d expect of a year-round town that also does healthy summer trade, ski-free activities abound. All the Alpine classics – husky skedding, snowshoe hikes, ice skating, paragliding – are present and correct, as are heritage tours, ice diving, escape games and even life-coaching snow hikes. Morzine’s wellness offer is extensive too, with the annual Well-being Week a popular highlight.

Morzine’s also working hard to improve its environmental performance, installing energy-efficient heating systems, increasing use of electric vehicles, and now providing recharging points for electric cars in town and at some hotels. Local nonprofit Montagne Verte leads initiatives to help local businesses, residents and visitors shred more lightly on the land, and more and more restaurants are championing efforts to switch food miles to food metres, putting delicious local, small-batch produce centre stage.

So if like us you’re happy to put in a little legwork to get the best out a big ski area, enjoy relaxed, varied dining, lots to do and a few snifters in good company of an evening, Morzine has you covered.

Highlights

  • Incredible ski terrain - suited to all abilities
  • A rare, real-community feel that adds warmth to your holiday
  • Loads of variety in eating and drinking options
  • Access to one of Europe’s biggest linked ski areas
  • Pretty wooded lower slopes and some spectacular high-alpine scenery

Lowlights

  • In good weather, weekends get crowded
  • Sprawling village geography means some accommodations are far from lifts
     
Ski area
Village Altitude
1000
m
Ski Altitude
1000m - 2466m
m
Pistes
600
km
Green Runs
38
Blue Runs
131
Red Runs
105
Black Runs
32
Total Runs 306
Terrain Park
10
Cabin Lifts
14
Chair Lifts
83
Drag Lifts
96
Total Lifts 195