Morzine offers some of the finest skiing in Europe, but it’s also the perfect place to relax in luxury
The rugged mountains revealed patches of fresh green grass beneath the melting snow. With the constant sound of dripping water it could have been spring – but it was a week before Christmas in the French Alps and snow was thin on the ground.
We were in Morzine at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area, whose 650km of pistes straddle France and Switzerland.
Keen skiers among our group were pleased to discover that Avoriaz, which sits at a slightly higher altitude than neighbouring Morzine had just enough covering for a spot of skiing, and it was easy enough to hop onto the Prodains gondola and head higher up the mountain. Unfortunately, the blazing sunshine did little more than turn the snow to slush.
Despite the lack of powder, there was still plenty to enjoy in Morzine itself and with the luxury boutique Chalet M as our base, there was almost no need to venture outside.
Run by husband-and-wife team Sarah and Chris Hamblin, the chalet is luxurious without being flashy – it’s light and airy, yet cosy, with a roaring fire, soft, neutral-coloured furnishings and huge windows offering spectacular views.
It’s among the high-end boutique chalets beginning to pop up in Morzine and is one of four making up the Hamblins’ Boutique Chalet Company.
Split over three floors, Chalet M, which sleeps up to 16 people, has five en-suite bedrooms, its own private cinema, an outdoor hot tub, a sauna, hydrotherapy shower and a treatment room, where guests can enjoy a massage to help ease their weary muscles.
With the friendly hosts keeping us well fed – the mushroom pancake and home-made chocolate mousse were particular favourites – it was easy enough to while away the day relaxing in blissful surroundings.
Morzine may be one of the larger mountain towns in the area but it still retains that magical alpine feel that smaller resorts in the region offer. And being slightly bigger, it means there is plenty to do.
If skiing is off the cards then snowshoeing, helicopter sightseeing and glacier walking are just some of the other activities on offer. Or if you’re looking for something gentler, there are shops to browse as well as several spas.
There is also an array of eateries to whet your appetite after a day on the slopes or strolling around town. La Chaudanne is one of the traditional Savoyard-style restaurants offering dishes such as fondue, raclette, and tartiflette – a wonderfully indulgent dish of potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions.
For a laid-back atmosphere head to Bec Jaune – a brewery and restaurant run by Chrigl Luthy and Matthew Stone. The beer, which varies from malty English brews to American-style Indian pale ales, is brewed in-house by Luthy, who moved to Morzine after a spell at The Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey, south London. With Stone’s menu of pulled-pork buns and vegan superfood burgers, the vibe is reminiscent of east London hipster bars.
Heading back to the chalet and unwinding in the hot tub with a glass of chilled white wine, while gazing out across tree-covered mountains, was more than enough consolation for the lack of powder.
Snow or no snow, there’s plenty more to Morzine than first meets the eye.
Morzine: Getting there
EasyJet, Swiss Air, British Airways, Flybe and Jet2 all fly to Geneva, Morzine’s nearest airport. Or book through WEXAS Travel: iod.com/traveloffers
Prices for Chalet M start at £13,450 per week on a fully catered basis