Off road buggy
Loads of outfits
Camera / video camera
When it comes to the mountains, there is no point looking any further than Morzine in the Portes Du Soleil. Whether you’re a snowboarder, skier, langlaufer, mountain biker, hiker, climber or just a major sucker for the freshest of air and those picturesque vistas; there is no better place to experience everything you could possibly want to experience.
It's Huge. And Huge Is Good. (Size Matters!)
The first thing to mention when talking about Morzine is the size of it's ski area; the Portes Du Soleil (or Gateway to the Sun as it is also known to us english folk and wannabe show-off's). Seriously, this place is massive. No, it’s ginormous. For those accustomed to other ski areas in Europe, this place is often mentioned alongside some of the biggest names in mountain resorts, places like the Trois Vallees and, further south, the Milky Way. For those not accustomed to ski areas in Europe, this resort is like the woolly mammoth's of all skiing. In Layman's terms, Portes Du Soleil consists of over 675 kilometres of epic pistes and has over 220 chair lifts. That's a lot of chair lifts.
Sure, their is some serious choice of townage when it comes to the Ports du Soleil, places like Les Gets, Morgins, Les Crosets and, Champery. But Morzine is the best. it's the biggest, most vibrant, most beautiful, most accessible and most encompassing of all of them. Ten years ago, this place was empty, so empty you could have picked up one of the property bargains of the century. You could have bought a chalet here in 2001 for the price it costs to lease one for a season now. That's crazy. Anyway, in recent years, Morzine has become one of the most popular resorts anywhere in Europe, which is in part thanks to it being so close to Geneva (the closest major ski resort in fact). But despite its soaring popularity, it is still possible to get a bargain. Just check out the incredible family run company, Ski Harrington. Not only do they have an array of self-catered places and seerviced chalets, they go above and beyond. They're also proper good value as I found out on my first stay with them (15 years ago) and every year since. Of course, Morzine also has luxury. Just Google Freedom Ski; they are staggering. Morzine is blessed in that sense; it has something for everyone, and it has the slopes right on its doorstep. It has Le Pleney bubble for those who want to ski Morzine and Les Gets, and the Super Morzine for those who want to head up high to Avoriaz and Switzerland.
Oh, I've accidentally on-purpose mentioned Avoriaz and created the perfect segue to the other place you should look at. Avoriaz is this rad town perched on the edge of a 500ft cliff overlooking the valley Morzine is sat in and, as an aesthetic town, it is quite something to behold. In the 1960s, the Olympic gold medal winning skier, Jean Vuarnet, decided to host a competition, whereby a group of award-winning architects would try to make a town that blended in with the cliff face. As a result, Avoriaz is this all-purpose resorts filled with very angular buildings, not dissimilar to Val Thorens, except Avoriaz has pistes instead of streets and chair lifts that help pedestrians get about as easily as skiers. Regarding ski-in and ski-out skiing, though, it is hard to beat this futuristic-looking town.
Ideal For Families
Given mountain breaks are no longer exclusive to the mega-wealthy or those lucky enough to be born at high-altitude, many families are now starting to enjoy it as one of their holidays. This is where Portes Du Soleil shines most. I have a small family and we never got bored. We went there for a non-skiing winter holidays and it was amazing. Basically, it is the ideal visit if you have kids, because it isn’t all about the skiing. There are weekly ice-hockey matches you can attend and shout to your hearts content at, and there are amazing restaurants and shops and play-centres and walks and sights and all that. Oh, god, and there is this incredible indoor water-oasis’ called L’Aquariaz in Avoriaz, which is based on Amazon rainforest with slides and rivers and a rubber-ring halfpipe for the insane. Trust me. It is amazing.
The Skiing and Boarding
I know I mentioned the figure - 650km of pistes - but I didn't mention that these range from those really yawny-yawny green runs all the way up to blacks, including The Wall; one of Europe’s most terrifying runs that starts off with pretty much a vertical drop (where loads of beginners lay screaming having immediately regretted their decision) followed by a horizon plague by moguls (where beginners are sliding along on their bottoms wailing for their mummies).
But it isn’t all about the piste. The Portes Du Soleil is littered with gnarly parks. In total, there are seven, and a super-duper super halfpipe in Avoriaz. So if you are looking for somewhere to go for no other reason than pure adrenaline and the chance to go big, then you’ve found it. What’s more, if you’re looking for a place to kickstart your freestyle career but aren’t exactly in the mood to ruin your week by breaking a leg, there are also four free-to-tackle air bags. If you haven’t seen or heard of these before, they are quite simply huge inflatable landing mats placed behind massive kickers (also known as jumps). All this and we haven’t even mentioned The Stash. This is in what the locals call The Lindarets Bowl, and is a freestyle park nestled among the trees where most of the jumps and rails are carved into the surrounding nature. Think tree stumps, savagely cut timber, felled trees and gorillas, lots of gorillas. It’s a pretty special place. No, it's a really special place.
As for the off-piste, there is an extensive backcountry on offer throughout the Portes Du Soleil, making it the ideal destination for even the most advanced skiers and snowboards. What’s more, some of the best backcountry is close to the pistes, meaning you don’t have to get up before dawn, pay someone with a skidoo for their time and spend 6 hours hiking. All it will take is a 5-10 minute hike at the top of a chair lift and you’ll find an untouched wilderness where first tracks can be enjoyed over and over again. Such are the benefits of having all that space.
Christ alive, mummy even did some Parapenting. She didn't ski, but she attached a parachute to her back, when to the top of mountain, found a cliff and ran off the edge. That is insane. I could have been made a single-parent, which means Phoebe wouldn't have survived another week (probably out of choice).
Oh, yeah, the apres-ski. Unlike places such as St. Anton and Val Thorens, there isn't much apres-on the pistes. There is no KK bar or Folie. But in town, the bars no how to party. There is the Dixie and Bar Robbo andan entire hub of bars that sell 8% lager and play hip-swinging music. There's also a couple of clubs, the biggest and most expensive of which is Opera. I ended broke in there a few times, and my dignity is still hanging from one of the cages I'm pretty sure. As for the eating scene. Good god. That place has good food. My favourite is L'Etale. Simple. But book ahead because that place gets slammed.
Anyway, I think I've sung its praises enough, but as a little conclusion, Morzine (and Portes du Soleil) has everything you could possibly want from a winter break. Everything. This is an incredible area. But don’t take my word for it; book some tickets and go explore for yourself. Go mad. Please, go mad.