A superb skiing holiday in Morzine, Avoriaz & Les Gets, France, with resort info.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing

Skiing through a forest piste from the top of La Rosta, Les Gets, in the Portes du Soleil area, France. It's a magical experience just slowly cruising through the snow covered pine forests, and 
the Portes du Soleil ski area provides lots of opportunities for skiing on a variety of stunning pistes. 


Usually my blog is about documented hiking trips with photos, but I'm an outdoors & sporty person and now and then i'll drop in a blog post on my other outdoor adventures which you might find interesting. So I'll share my recent skiing trip where myself and a group of mates recently had a short, 4 night/3 days skiing holiday based out of the traditional French ski resort of Morzine.
In this blog post you will find:

  • Some photo highlights of the skiing trip (due to heavy snow opportunities for photos on the pistes were few and far between but I managed to get a few decent ones!)
  • An introduction to the resort of Morzine. This will hopefully help others plan a holiday to the area, and shares some stuff that I would have found useful before my trip - including resort & piste maps & recommended restaurants/bars.
  • A review on the hotel we stayed at. I don't always review hotels - but if it's a good one that I would recommend - then I will share it as I know it's always tricky choosing hotels.


A few highlights of our mini ski-break in the ski resorts of Morzine, Avoriaz & Les Gets:


Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


From Morzine itself you can easily also access the pistes of Avoriaz & Les Gets, and it happened to be the Pistes around Les Gets which offered the best and most enjoyable conditions on out short trip. This pic is of Les Gets on the ski lift to Les Chavannes. It had been heavily snowing on this occasion so there was lots of good snow right down to the resort itself.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


It snowed on all 3 days we were out skiing, with white-out blizzard conditions on the first 2 days spent in the higher resort of Avoriaz (which meant some of the higher lifts had to be closed - gutted!) We found the resorts of Morzine & Les Gets to be more sheltered from the blizzard conditions and all lifts open.



9 of us came on this skiing trip, all with various abilities - and we found there was a great selection of blue, red & black runs to choose from and keep us all happy, whether on the pistes around Morzine, Avoriaz or Les Gets.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


Heading down from Las Chavannes in Les Gets towards the lifts of La Rosta and Le Ranfolly, which offered a good selection of blues, reds & black pistes.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


Whilst the main pistes and lifts in Morzine and Avoriaz where really busy, Les Gets was a little quieter.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


In our group of 9, we often split into 2 smaller groups - and it was usually fairly easy to arrange to meet up again at one of the many cafes on the pistes.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


I personally love skiing on pistes surrounded by Pine Forests and there was plenty of opportunity to do that on this ski trip. The Portes du Soleil area is a stunning and varied place.



Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


The temps were around -4ÂșC on this day with windchill on top of that on the lifts - so the right ski goggles, ski helmets and face buffs were essential. In saying that I still felt comfortable wearing just a base-layer, t-shirt & ski coat - always tough deciding what to wear for a day's skiing - it's surprising how warm you become.

Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


Looking over towards the summit of Le Ranfolly - and at last a bit of blue in the sky! This shot was actually from outside a cafe - and when the sun came out for 10 mins or so we could take our jackets off. Unfortunately it didn't last long - and that's about as much as we would see on the pistes on this trip!

Traveller tips! A useful introductory guide to the Alpine ski resort of Morzine for newbies like us!


We choose Morzine because this was to be a short ski-trip of 4 nights, so a short transfer time of only an hour or so from Geneva Airport was a big factor (we arranged our own transfer through www.alpybus.com) and the flights to Geneva are pretty cheap too, we booked flights via www.easyjet.com  Another big reason for choosing Morzine is you can access the major ski area of Portes Du Soleil, the 2nd largest ski area in the world. With the Portes Du Soleil ski pass you have access to over 650km of marked pistes spread over varied terrain within 14 valleys in both France and Switzerland.

This was the first time I had visited Morzine or skied in this area of France and before I head anywhere I like to try and do a bit of research on the web, so I'm a little more familiar with an area before I get there. But despite my best efforts - it was a little difficult to get my head fully around the essential parts of Morzine before we got there, eg. how to access the various piste areas/lifts and the Portes du Soleil resorts of Avoriaz & Les Gets, and where to eat & drink. So I'll try and share some of the knowledge & tips I picked up on this short trip, so it might make the planning of a trip to Morzine a little easier for anyone reading this and planning a trip!




You'll notice the perfect conditions of blue sky and no wind in this pic of Morzine - but this was on our last day when we wouldn't have time to ski - sods law eh! As you can see from this photo of a part of Morzine, it's a pretty traditional Alpine resort - consisting of lots of chalets and no high-rise buildings. Morzine is the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, and is situated at an altitude of around 1000m - so relatively low for a ski resort. On one day there could be lots of snow in the resort - and 2 days later it could be gone! In the winter Morzine is famed for it's winter sports and in the summer is popular with mountain bikers.



Morzine has lots of picturesque shops, restaurants and bars to keep you happy if that's what you want. Our hotel was situated at one end of the popular Rue du Borg street (pictured), and it was a nice walk on an evening up this street towards Morzine centre. If you are stuck for bars/restaurants/shops - you will find something on Rue du Borg.



Morzine is spread across a river gorge - and this bridge (often referred to as the wobbly bridge - worth a walk across) spans the gorge, with the Super Morzine Express Lift situated at the end of the bridge we are walking towards here.

Morzine resort map:


Rue du Borg. Morzine, map, Avoriaz, Les Gets, Morzine, France, Hotels, Ski, Resort, Portes du Soleil, The Alps, Skiing


[Click Morzine Resort map to enlarge] As ever when you visit a new place - a resort map can be daunting as you have no idea where the main parts are - and it can be difficult to get your bearings and figure out where everything of note is. On our first day - we spent a while (and going in the wrong direction) trying to find some suitable places to eat and drink and also trying to figure out where the express (bubble) ski lifts to particular piste areas resorts where. 

To make it easy for you - I have highlighted on the map above (pink circles) the 3 main express ski lifts we used. The lower of the 3 pink circles highlights the express lift called the 'Plenney Lift' - from the top of this lift you can either ski back down to Morzine - or catch another lift to Les Gets. The 'Super-Morzine' lift, a 5 min walk or free mini-train ride from the Plenney lift, lets you access the other side of the valley. Whilst you can get to Avoriaz from the Super-Moraine lift, taking a handful of lifts higher up - we found that the Super Morzine lift was better used to get back down to Morzine centre from Avoriaz. The lift that we used most was the express lift at Prodains (pink circle top right - note this lift is actually quite a distance from the centre and is shown on the resort map for illustrative purposes only and is not walkable) this lift would take you quickly up to the centre of the Avoriaz resort. You would have to get the regular free bus that runs every 10 mins to the lift at Prodains from Morzine centre or various stops along the way. Whilst our hotel was a 10 min walk from Morzine centre - it had a bus stop outside so was a doddle to get to Prodains in 10 mins on the bus (and this is where we also purchased our 3 day Portes du Soleil ski pass). On one day we also skied down from Avoriaz right into Prodains and got the bus back - so look out for that tricky blue run if the snow line goes down into Prodains.



Also on the map above I have highlighted with 2 blue circles the areas we tended to eat & drink in. If you are new to the resort of Morzine - and a bit unsure where to eat/drink on your first day or 2 - just head to one of these 2 places on the map and you will soon find some really good places to eat & drink all in a concentrated area. It would have been very useful to know this before we went.


My recommended best bars & restaurants in Morzine


Whilst we came for the skiing - we do like to have a few beers and go out for some food on an evening, and although we only stayed 4 nights on this Morzine trip - we visited quite a few bars and different restaurants on every night. I don't know about you, but while it's useful to look at trip advisor ratings for restaurants and bars, it can be a bit daunting when there are 10's if not 100's on their lists - and often, say the top 5 bars or restaurants could be jam packed or quite spread out and you don't want to be walking all over from place to place especially in the snow! So below are just a few of our recommendations all concentrated in 1 of 2 main areas highlighted in the blue circles on the map above.

Our favourite bar - Tibetan Cafe:



Every night we ended up in the Tibetan Cafe (a small area of the place pictured above, which gives a feel of the decor). It is actually a bar rather than a cafe, much bigger than it looks above - it's open late, has good music, a lively atmosphere, sometimes live bands and a good selection of drinks. Sporting events will also be shown on the TV in the background if they are on. Prices for drinks tended to be the same everywhere we went other than happy hours, and for a pint you are looking at about €6, and the same for a spirit and mixer. There are other decent bars around the same area as the Tibetan Cafe, including the Cavern which is under it. If you look on the Morzine resort map above this pic - I highlighted with 2 blue circles the main areas we tended to visit for drinks. I suggest just heading to these areas if you are unsure where to go -and then just pop in to the places that look busy/inviting at a particular time. Because of where our hotel was - we tended to start in the area of Dixies Irish bar (blue circle of the right in resort map) , and then just head up the Rue du Borg street towards the Tibetan Cafe, and then just going in the bars that seemed the most lively, which would change night to night and depending on the time. There may well be other bars worth visiting that we didn't - but these areas kept us happy. 


Most value for money meal - Fish & Chips at Mammas takeaway/sit-in:



We passed Mammas takeaway, with a small seating area in & outside every night and it was always busy (which is often a good sign). On the last night we gave it a go for tea on the way to the bars and we weren't disappointed, good food like what Brits are used too at a good price.

A little taste of home from Mammas takeaway - after 8 odd hours skiing this was food heaven. It was about €12 for fish and chips - check out the website http://mammas.fr for menu and it's location on the Rue du Borg street.

My best meal - steak & chips at La Dez'Alp Restaurant:



To be honest we kind of just stumbled upon restaurants, not knowing where to eat really before we visited Morzine. We'd look on trip advisor, but weren't going to just try and get into and find the most highly rated ones (which were probably going to be fully booked anyway because of that). We would kind of just go with the flow of when to eat and didn't want to stick to rigid times. So we'd just walk from the hotel to the centre of town, and if somewhere looked good from the outside, the menu/prices where good and we could get a table - we would try it out - and every meal we had was fantastic. The above was a tasty steak and chips with a twist at the La Dez'Alp restaurant on the Rue du Borg street. This was about €20 and perfection. The restaurant wasn't that highly rated on trip advisor - but it as spot on for us. You can find out more about this Restaurant on Trip Advisor here https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g207359-d3640391-Reviews-La_Dez_Alp-Morzine_Haute_Savoie_Rhone_Alpes.html

The groups favourite restaurant  - Le Grillon:



Another restaurant we stumbled upon was Le Grillon, it has 2 floors and whilst busy downstairs they managed to fit all 9 of us upstairs without booking. Again the food was superb (these french have good standards!) and it had friendly staff and a great atmosphere Find out more on Trip Advisor https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g207359-d3656604-Reviews-Le_Grillon-Morzine_Haute_Savoie_Rhone_Alpes.html


Morzine and the full Portes Du Soleil ski resort:



[Click map to enlarge] As you can see the Portes du Soleil area is huge, and one of the 2 biggest ski areas in the world. For our 3 days skiing we got a 3 day Portes du Soleil ski pass for €135 (can be purchased from the bottom of any of the major ski-lifts). You can get day passes for the Portes du Soleil, or even day passes for specific resorts, such as Avoriaz, but I think this limits you a little to certain areas, and for the sake of saving a few euros a day isn't worth it. As ever, you can pick up pocket piste maps in in lots of places - with most having the full Portes du Soleil map as above on one side - and then specific resort areas (depending on where you get your map) on the other side.

To make the full use the area, I think Morzine is a great base. You can easily access the Morzine/Les Gets area via the Plenney Express Ski Lift from Morzine, or Avoriaz via the Prodains Express ski lift (which you can easily get to via a short free bus ride on the regular 10 min service from Morzine - see below for useful bus info). From Avoriaz you can then access the Swiss area of the Portes du Soleil and the likes of Chatel. However, Morzine is a low resort of 1000m and there is no guarantee that the snow line will drop to Morzine. If you are looking for more guaranteed snow, and the option of skiing in and out of many of the hotels, then I would suggest visiting/staying at Avoriaz which is higher. We were a little unfortunate when we went in that there were heavy winds - so the higher lifts in Avoriaz and surrounding resorts where closed, so it was difficult to access different resorts in the same day. I think Avoriaz had the greatest potential as a resort as the number of lifts/pistes you could access is greater, and you can get to Switzerland this way, but in high winds and the closing of the lifts it means it confines a lot of people into a small space so can get rather busy (also beware that you might be able to get to Switzerland via the lifts of Avoriaz - but they may close later in the day - stranding you there! So check the forecast on every day of skiing). My favourite area, and one which the winds didn't seem to affect as much on this trip was Les Gets, but again it's a little lower than Avoriaz - so the snow may not be as good in milder temps. For us, Les Gets was fairly quiet compared to Morzine/Avoriaz and there were some great blue/red/black runs there on nice wide pistes. 

If I headed back to this area for 3 days skiing in ideal conditions, I would spend one day in the Les Gets area, then skiing back via Morzine/Plenney Lift late in the day. One day in Avoriaz, and then one day exploring Switzerland via Avoriaz. If I had longer I would also explore Chatel. I think due to the size of the Portes du Soleil, no matter what the conditions - if you get a full Portes du Soleil ski pass - you should be able to find something suitable somewhere! 


Pictured here are some of the apartments  in the resort of Avoriaz, a purpose built ski-resort that happens to be car free! You can pretty much ski in and out of most apartments in Avoriaz, and due to it's height the snow is more reliable than the lower down Morzine. Infact when we were in Avoriaz on one day it rained for our friends who where in Morzine and Les Gets, but that rain turned to sleet/snow in Avoriaz. If your holiday is only about the skiing in the Portes du Soleil - then head to Avoriaz, although the accommodation is more apartment based than hotels. It is also the main lift circuit in the area - giving you access to Chatel or Champery in Switzerland. You cannot ski into Morzine from Avoriaz but is linked by the Super Morzine express lift. If you want more choice of hotels and more things to do, including a variety of restaurants and bars and shops - head to Morzine!

Getting around Morzine and to/from Les Gets, Ardent, or Avoriaz (via Prodains Lift) using the regular bus service:



Our hotel was about a 15 minute walk to the centre of Morzine and it's 2 main lifts of the Plenney Express and Super Morzine Ski Lift. The walk would have been longer in ski-boots (and I'm not one for walking in ski-boots) - but fortunately outside the hotel was a bus stop for the regular free bus service (Line A) which links the centre of Morzine to the Prodains Express Ski Lift to Avoriaz, which we used daily. So for us it was either a short 5/10min bus ride to access the ski lift at Prodains that takes you directly up to Avoriaz, or a few mins the other way on the bus into the centre of Morzine. The free buses run every 10mins and were very useful. Unless your hotel is slap bang in the middle of Morzine near the lifts, I'd suggest getting a hotel on the bus routes.


A review of our hotel - Hotel le Petit Dru, Morzine:

I was really impressed by our hotel, so much so that I wanted to share a bit of info about it. If you are looking to plan a trip to Morzine then I would highly recommend Hotel le Petit Dru, and I'd happily stay here again (which is how I judge a good hotel). We booked 4 nights on a bed and breakfast basis,  one of the few hotels you can stay at less than a week. The hotel caters well for larger groups, but equally there were couples and families who stayed here too, with a good mix of Brits & French I would say. A couple of people I spoke too had stayed here before which I guess says a lot too.

Hotel le Petit Dru, Morzine, Avoriaz, France
A pic of our superb hotel from the road on the last day before we head home - flanked by blue skies and perfect snow - I was gutted to leave! It was a little out of the centre - maybe 15 mins walk to the lifts of Morzine - but with the useful regular bus service this wasn't a problem at all. It was also only a 5 min walk to the first bars/restaurants at the start of the Rue du Bourg street.
Hotel le Petit Dru, Morzine, Avoriaz, France, the alps, Ski resort, review,

This is the view from our balcony - pretty special eh! You can just about see the start of the Rue du Bourg street in the centre of the pic where the red shop front is. Dixies Irish bar (great for Apres Ski) was next door to this place. You can also make out the wobbly bridge spanning the gorge to the left of the church clock.



Hotel le Petit Dru, Morzine, Avoriaz, France, the alps, Ski resort, review,

These pictures give you a good idea of how the hotel looks on the inside - which follows a warm, inviting wooden alpine lodge aesthetic. The hotel lobby & bar area is quite large - with lots of comfy seats for different groups - which are spread out so you do have your own space. The rooms have balconies and are warm and comfortable with ample storage and TV's with French and all the popular English TV channels. The bathrooms have power showers and baths. Breakfast is continental buffet style with lots of choice including cereals, breads, fresh & dried fruit, cured meats, bacon, egg and tea/coffee. We all got well fuelled up on the mornings, and because of this I personally didn't eat much after until tea time. All the french hotel staff we encountered spoke good English and where very helpful & friendly too which helps.


Hotel le Petit Dru, Morzine, Avoriaz, France, the alps, Ski resort, review,

The Hotel le Petit Dru bonus facilities - which added to the quality of our stay included an indoor jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and indoor/outdoor pool - perfect for chilling out after a heavy day on the slopes. There was also a pool and fussball table which was good for unwinding, along with a well stocked bar (drinks a little pricier than in Morzine centre). We'd often just meet on an evening in the lobby - have a drink then head into town for a meal and a few more drinks.



Also worth mentioning is the ski facilities at the hotel, which where spot on and beyond our expectations. Before arriving we thought the hotel might be able to arrange renting ski's and boots - but didn't realise how good the facilities where. You can actually rent, fit and pick up your ski's directly from the small Intersport shop within the hotel which is open for an hour in the morning and at 6pm. Another great touch is access to your own free locker in the hotel for your holiday duration, which is ideally situated amongst changing rooms and near to the big drying room. The hotel is definitely set up for winter sport enthusiasts! All in all - the hotel was perfect for our needs and we couldn't have asked for more really (apart from snow through the night and blue skies in the day ha)

To find out more on the hotel - you can visit the hotel website over at www.lepetitdru.com/en/ - or you can also book online on booking.com (which is what we done with a small deposit) or I guess through other popular travel booking sites


Final words

Well this was our first trip to Morzine and as a resort it is perfectly set-up to cater for skiing holidays in the Alps. The transfer time from Geneva is only around an hour so you can be on the slopes in the afternoon if you fly in the morning. Morzine is a great base to explore the bigger Portes Du Soleil ski areas and the various express ski-lifts are first class, if not a little busy in parts. The resort has also kept a lot of it's traditional charm with no high-rise buildings and is picture postcard perfect. There are plenty of good quality bars and restaurants and as you read above our hotel was spot on, so I can only assume that there are lots of other quality accommodation available. I guess the only downside that we discovered is because Morzine is a relatively low resort of 1000m - the snow at that level is not guaranteed. But it does have easy access to the higher resorts of Avoriaz. I can see why Morzine and Avoriaz are so well regarded, and i can also see why people returned time and again to the hotel we stayed at. I would say everything about our short stay was perfect - except the weather conditions - which cannot be planned!

Verdict

My final verdict on a place is always based on the question - "would I stay here again?" Would I stay in Morzine again - yes - it's a charming resort but it would depend on what type of holiday I was going on. If it was a short 3/4 night stay purely for the skiing - then I would look to stay elsewhere at a higher resort that was more guaranteed snow. If it was a week or more break then I would definitely stay in Morzine again, as there is lot's to do other than skiing (I like to have a few half days off if I'm skiing for over a week). On a side note, due to the changing climate in recent years- no matter where I went skiing in Europe I would look to go no earlier than February - to be more snowsure (and I would try and avoid the week around feb 14-21 which is the English, French and other European school holiday period!)

In terms of the hotel - would I stay here again if I visited Morzine? - most definitely - it has raised the bar for hotels for skiing trips now - especially with the pool/jacuzzi/sauna & in-house ski-shop!

Further web-links:
Best French Ski-resorts according to the Telegraph
Best Austrian Ski-resorts according to the Telegraph


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions - just post a comment and I'll try and answer. 

Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'


If you enjoyed this blog post you might like to subscribe to my monthly email newsletter to stay up to date with my latest posts, just follow the link below, cheers Stuart.