Resort Profile: Morzine

By adamrowden, 4 Dec '12 at 10:19

A village with a history dating back to long before Morzine was first named in documents in 1180 AD, today Morzine is a large and pleasant resort in the midst of one of the world's largest ski areas, the Portes du Soleil, and with excellent off-slope facilities. Although the village may have existed for at least a thousand years, tourism only arrived rather more recently when the first hotel, the Grand, opened in 1925.

The first brochure stated that Morzine was located ...high above the damp mists, where the purifying breeze blows through the firs. Early visitors included many families of diplomats living in the French colonies. Winter tourism was not long behind initial summer business and in 1934 the opening of the Pleney cable-car made getting up the mountain to go downhill easy. François Baud, the pioneer behind the Grand, went so far as to build a ski jump behind his hotel, to employ Austrian ski instructors and to bring in the earliest tracked Renault vehicles to entice winter visitors.

After Pleney, the Pointe de Nyon was introduced as a second ski area and Jean Vuarnet won Olympic Gold at Squaw Valley, helping to underline further Morzine's growing pre-eminence on the winter-sports world map. The still futuristic resort of Avoriaz opened high above the village in 1966 and when Super Morzine opened in the 1980s a lift link between Avoriaz and Morzine was created.

But that is enough of the historical nonsense. Let’s get down to business. What is it like doing a season in Morzine?

On the Slopes

The main pistes that are close to the village are mainly cutting through beautiful woodland, however, there are more open pistes above the treeline. Whilst Morzine has access to the Portes du Soleil ski area via Avoriaz, its local ski area, which it shares with Les Gets, is pretty cool.

You can grab a gondola from central Morzine up to Le Pléney and once at the top you have a wide variety of ace routes back to the valley. One of which is the nice run down to Les Fys, which is a peaceful lift junction located at the foot of the Nyon-Chamossière sector. It is here where you can find some of the area’s most challenging slopes.

Decent riders and intermediates will want to test themselves down the more challenging red and black runs down from Chamossière. They are well worth a punt and can be pretty fun. If you fancy it you can also head over to Mont Chéry which is located on the far side of Les Gets. This area has some decent runs that are quite steep and very quiet.

If you fancy something that isn’t as steep then there are plenty of options. Le Pléney is pretty cool and it has plenty of options for all abilities. Piste B is a nice haven from the crowds and is the perfect place to head for a quiet cruise. The slopes that take you from Le Pléney down to Les Gets are also nice when the conditions are good.

Off-Piste

Morzine and the wider Portes du Soleil area have some truly cracking off-piste, which is well worth checking out.

Sitting above the resort of Morzine are the fantastic Chamossière and Nyon ski peaks. These are the high points of the local area and offer you lift accessed off-piste skiing and snowboarding. This saves you the hassle of hiking and, in good conditions there are pretty good runs to be had.

Chamossière is accessed via the TS des Têtes express chair lift prior to the old school TS Chamossière has a perfect un-pisted bowl to skiers right. You should aim to traverse from the lift station over the ridge which takes you above the avalanche canon and then you have a lush drop into the bowl. This area can get tracked pretty quickly, however, it is pretty large so you should be able to get a decent amount of runs in before it loses its appeal.

Nyon can be accessed using the TS de la Pointe and it has loads of cool lines that can be taken down the face of the mountain between the pistes. Depending on how confident you are, it is easy to venture as far or as near to the pistes as you wish. If you head too far to skier’s right then beware, there is a ridge line that should be avoided. You don’t want to plummet to the valley floor do you? You shouldn’t be able to get there without knowing though, as the edge is marked by quite dense trees.

Another decent option if you fancy some off-piste, is the Arbis red run down from Chamossière. If you head off either side of the piste then you are taken to some nice drops.

Living in Resort

The resort itself has a certain charm that is hard to avoid. Seasonaires tend to love it. Though it is primarily a family resort, potential workers should not be put off. There is a real friendly atmosphere around the place and everyone is pretty chilled out.

The town can be bustling and busy and there are some great bars and places to head for après-ski.

Bars and clubs
One of the best bars in town for an après session is Bar Robinson, or Robbos. This place is ace for après and they actually close at 7.30pm, so you can head here to get ready for a night out and then move on when it closes.

Dixie Bar is another great place to head. THey have live bands regularly and they also sell Guinness! The Dixie Bar is split into three. It has a Spanish area where you can pick up San Miguel and tapas, an Irish area where you can drink Guinness (as previously mentioned), and an English bar where you can play pool and watch the football.

Les Rhodos is another cracking hangout in Morzine where you can play pool and experience a bar that is a bit more French than most of the others. They also do food. Pretty nice, reasonably priced, food.

Le Crepu is awesome as is the Cavern and the Buddha Bar. If you fancy a nice mellow hangout then Buddha Bar is certainly the place for you and if you fancy dancing on the tables until 2am then you are better off heading to the Cavern.

When it comes to clubbing in resort you can head to one of two venues. L’Opera stays open until 5am and Le Paradis is also open pretty darn late. You can have a good time in either of the two so try them both.

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