So, tell me about Morzine…
This surprisingly big town at the heart of the massive Porte de Soleil ski area is a huge hit with skiers from Scotland and England, partly because it’s only an hour from Geneva Airport, partly because it’s sensibly priced but also because it has a more cosmopolitan nature than many of the smaller resorts. Morzine has increasingly become a destination of choice for many British skiers and boasts a huge range of accommodation, starting with budget apartments and rising to top-end chalets and five-star hotels. These make it perfect for short breaks, especially when booking at the last minute.
Is it a resort for families or younger sorts?
Actually, it’s both. Despite being a genuinely all-year-round working town with a big agricultural heritage, Morzine has a vibrant nightlife and good restaurants, but also has some excellent chalets for family holidays. Most of the liveliest apres-ski venues are to be found on the Taille de Mas du Pleney (known locally as ‘Bar Street’), which runs between the Pleney lift and the tourist office.
What’s the downside?
Like its near neighbour Les Gets, Morzine is relatively low at 1000ft, so can be dodgy at the beginning or end of the season, although to be fair this is the first year in well over a decade where there has been no skiing in the first week of the season. It is, however, relatively easy to connect up to nearby Avoriaz, which is higher and has more consistent snowfall. The place is sprawling and as ski-in ski-out accommodation is like hen’s teeth and the free public ski bus only comes approximately once an hour, you might want to hire a car in Geneva.
What’s the skiing like?
There are 280 pisted runs stretching over 650km and 197 lifts, the highest of which is at 2466m. Throw in access to the enormous Porte De Soleil region and you have a vast Alpine playground. However, it is low, which means that you may have to move up to Avoriaz at various stages of the season. Morzine has good ski schools and is a good destination for both beginners and intermediates, although those powder monkeys looking for hard-core off-piste action should probably look elsewhere.
Where did we stay in Morzine?
Perthshire’s finest, Jamie Hustwayte, and his Harrogate-raised partner Mary Thornton are the engaging Morzine veterans who own the Jack & Jill chalet company. They have three chalets in the town: the 20-person Beaumont and its eight-person neighbour the Banita, plus the 10-14 person St Martin in the outlying hamlet of Montriond. All three have hot tubs, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of freshly-baked cake and chalet staff who are happy to drive you to and from the lifts. A good deal of thought has gone into the enterprise, with Jamie doing many of the pick-ups from Geneva Airport, while Doorstep Skis (www.doorstepskis.com ) arrive almost as you do to fit your skis in the chalet, and wonderfully chatty Aussie massuese Carla of Mountain Rehab (www.mountain-rehab.com) will come to the chalet to ease your aches and pains at the end of the day. We stayed at St Martin, and although its remoteness was an issue (it was almost an hour to walk into Morzine town centre and a fifteen minute taxi ride back) it was a really well run chalet that is perfect for a surprisingly inexpensive family stay, which range from £350-800pppw half board (short breaks are also available, costing £75 a night Sun-Wed/Thurs, and £90 a night Wed/Thurs-Sun). As with most chalets, you may find yourself sharing with skiers you don’t know, but as we found out with Irish mother-and-son combo Anne and Jano – her a cheery dairy farmer’s wife from Wexford, him a precocious 14-year-old with an encyclopaedic knowledge of sports cars – that can just as easily make your stay as break it.
Eating: – L’Etale Restaurant (Great selection of food. Family friendly)
– La Chaudanne (Wine bar downstairs – nicely presented food)
– La Clin d’Oeil (French cuisine with a few southern French dishes. Jean Noel the owner comes from the South West)
Drinking: – La Bec Jaune (Morzine’s new Micro Brewery)
– Tibetan Cafe (Live music and cozy atmosphere).
– Coup de Coeur (wine bar in the square with a good selection of wines and whiskeys)
Partying: – Tremplin (covered apres ski at the bottom of the Pleney piste with DJs every Wednesday and Friday)
– Cafe Chaud (Party most nights)
– Cavern (gets busy from 11pm and has self serving beer taps on the tables – new this season – and is always busy)
Ski pass: €237.50 for six days
Ski lessons: The excellent David Walton (firstname.lastname@example.org ) the British Alpine Ski School (BASS) are able to charge slightly more than most ski schools and get away with it. We also really liked the irrepressible and very un-ESF-like Lionel Morosato (email@example.com; 00 33 667 063812), who worked in California for many years and speaks excellent English.
More info: As ever, the most reliable and digestible source of information is www.welove2ski.com/morzine, the website produced by ski journalists Peter and Felice Hardy, and the Sunday Times’ Sean Newsome.
Tour operators: Jack & Jill’s chalet breaks start from £350pppw (www.jackandjillholidays.com ). Edinburgh-based Ski Independence (www.ski-i.com or 0131 516 8238) offer hotel deals at the 3* Hotel le Petit Dru (£932 pppw half board) and the 3* Hotel La Bergerie (£872 pppw B&B). Both Ski Independence deals are based on flights from EDI-GVA and shared minivan transfers. Departure dates based on 7 nights from April 11th.