Ski touring is the big new trend in winter sports, with more and more people seeking to climb mountains under their own steam before skiing down virgin snow fields. New for the ski resort of Morzine in France this winter, holidaymakers can now learn to ski tour at night, thanks to a new transformative experience devised by the well-known ski and mountaineering specialist Alain Premat.
Departing every Thursday afternoon from Morzine’s town centre, expert instructors guide skiers up the nearby Pléney to an altitude of 1,505m, 350 vertical metres from the resort. Using headtorches and specialist light-weight ski touring equipment, the activity involves walking uphill on skis in the dark, with the tantalising promise of a completely serene and peaceful descent.
Morzine is at the heart of the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area and only an hour and a quarter from Geneva Airport. Benefiting from direct flights from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds, Portes du Soleil is a fantastic winter playground with 600kms of skiing under one lift pass. For UK holidaymakers wanting to explore the entire region, Morzine acts as the perfect central base.
An authentic village in a huge ski area, Morzine has been a favourite for winter sports enthusiasts since the Pléney lift was put into service in 1934. Situated at an altitude of over 1,000m, it is one of the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, enjoying panoramic mountain views and, thanks to the Mont Blanc microclimate, near perfect ski conditions. Retaining much of its Old-World charm, Morzine remains free of high-rise buildings with many original wooden chalets still in service, and despite its modern ski facilities, the resort has a traditional village feel with boutique hotels, independent shops and a weekly market featuring local produce.
Beyond ski, visitors can enjoy a host of winter activities in Morzine, with a choice of snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice skating and dog sledding, and no trip to the resort is complete without experiencing an authentic horse-drawn sleigh ride. In the picturesque town centre there is plenty to keep the whole family occupied, with a cinema, a bowling alley, and all manner of eateries, ranging from traditional fondue restaurants to fine dining. And for those in search of après-ski, there are countless options including the Dixie Bar for live sport, Bec Jaune with its microbrewery, the famed Bar Robinsons with mutzig beer, and the Tremplin at the base of the pistes, featuring DJs or live music most afternoons.
Morzine has also become an increasingly popular summer destination for UK holidaymakers wanting to get active in the mountains. Boasting some of the world’s best biking terrain, there are around 380kms of marked trails in the area with varying degrees of technical skill required, as well as 15 mapped road cycling itineraries to explore. And there are plenty of other outdoor activities on offer, easily accessible from the village from June to September. Think paragliding, rock climbing, golf, fishing, horse riding, canyoning, tennis and more.
Morzine is also ideally situated for those wanting to make the most of the Portes du Soleil’s eclectic calendar of events. From ski parties and live DJ sets in the winter, to some of the world’s best mountain bike races in the summer, there are a whole range of sporting, music, cultural, family and gastronomic events to suit just about every taste. The biggest of all is Rock the Pistes, a week-long series of free concerts that this year will take place 17-23 March. Revellers can literally ski from one performance to the next, with past acts including the likes of Rag’n’Bone Man, the Klaxons and Pete Doherty.
What else is new in Morzine?
Accommodation news: Chalet Sapphire is a brand-new Boutique Chalet Company high end property close to the village centre. Designed by the Morzine born architect Hervé, the remarkable building has two distinct spaces, a main chalet with six bedrooms and a smaller chalet with two more. Offering spectacular views, the property features glass doors opening onto a large deck with a firepit and comfortable seating. Chalet Sapphire also benefits from a bar, cinema, sauna, jacuzzi and fitness centre as well as a well-being area with pool, hammam and massage room.
Events news: For the first time, Morzine will host the Ski d’Or. Taking place 6-7 April 2019, the race will bring together all ESF students at Chamois d’argent level aged 14 and over to compete at national level. The competition will feature two rounds and a parallel slalom to finish. During the two days, Morzine will play host to the athletes and spectators, with a programme of special entertainment laid on throughout the village.