The non-skier’s guide to the perfect ski holiday!
We often hear that guests have non-skiing friends who love the idea of a chalet holiday, but the thought of actually going skiing leaves them cold… Pun intended. The Alps in winter are a veritable playground and it’s a shame to think that some people may never get to experience that – or the delights of a luxury catered chalet! So, to help entice your non-skiing friends out to Morzine, we’ve come up with a quick guide to alternative activities to do on an AliKats holiday that don’t involve any skiing…
Release the hounds
Husky sledding is the perfect day out for animal-lovers and thrill-seekers alike. First you get to meet the dogs, then you learn how to harness them up and then you get to pretend you’re an Eskimo and drive your very own team of dogs through the snow. It can be quite a physical day out but also lots of fun. A 2.5 to 3-hour jaunt costs €100 per adult (€50 per child) but you might be able to negotiate a better price for bigger groups. Read about how we got on when we had a go ourselves here.
Start your engines
Want to try something faster and noisier than a pack of huskies? Then get your motor running with a high-octane snowmobile excursion. Held in the evenings between 5.30pm and 10.30pm, it’s an exhilarating way to see sunset, take in the views and enjoy the empty mountains. Each session lasts around 45 minutes and takes you through 20km of the Super Morzine forest.
Name that Yoon
You’ve probably never heard of a Yooner before (probably because it’s a made-up word) but once you’ve had a go on one you’ll want to tell everyone about it. It’s just about the most fun you can have 12 inches off the ground. Yooners are basically a plastic seat, nailed to a single ski, with a big joystick to grab hold of at the front. The principle is also very simple – sit down, hold on tight and let gravity do the rest. You will fall off a lot, you will get very wet but you will also laugh until you can’t breathe. Racing down the slopes in a group is like being in a real-life video game – think Mario Kart without the annoying music.
The art of falling gracefully
One for the daredevils, paragliding (or parapenting as it’s known locally) is a great way to get a new perspective on Morzine. Taking off from above Super Morzine, you will soar gracefully over the town, getting unrivalled views of the valley below and desperately trying to spot the chalet you are staying in. Then you land gently (hopefully) behind Hotel L’Aubergade, on the Pleney side of the valley – a convenient place to get a stiff drink to calm your nerves. A tandem jump costs €75 or €65 for under 12s.
Get your chopper out
If you still want the high-flying experience but fancy being in something sturdier than a harness attached to a parachute, why not treat yourself to a helicopter flight? Yes, it’s more expensive than parapenting but you get to go much higher and see a whole lot more, including Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc. Plus it’s also a lot warmer!
Ice ice baby
Get your skates on and channel your inner Torvill & Dean at one of Morzine’s two ice rinks. Firstly, there’s the outdoor ice rink in the Tourist Office square right in the middle of town. Open between 10:30am-12:30pm and 3pm-7pm, it costs €4 for adults (or €3 for kids) plus €3.50 skate hire. Visit parc-dereches.com for info.
Alternatively, there’s the larger indoor rink at the Skoda arena, home to local ice hockey team the MAG Penguins. Open most afternoons between 2pm and 5pm it too costs just €4 for adults (or €3 for kids) plus €3.50 skate hire. They also have a bar if you want to add an extra level of jeopardy to your afternoon. Sessions might get cancelled if the team are playing or training so be sure to check before you go.
Make a splash
If you prefer your water less frozen and a bit more runny, then why not take advantage of one of the local swimming pools? In Morzine there is the Parc des Dérêches swimming complex which has a 25m heated main pool, a paddling pool for the kids and a spa area with saunas and Turkish baths. Be warned however, board shorts are banned so don’t forget to pack the Speedos! Visit for prices and opening times.
If you fancy something a bit more exotic then you could venture up to Avoriaz and Europe’s highest water park, the ingeniously named Aquariaz (we love a pun!). Among other features, Aquariaz has a 10-metre high water half-pipe for rubber tubes, a gently flowing river to bob around in and an aquatic play area for kids – all surrounded by tropical vegetation. It also has an outdoor spa area with water heated to 34 degrees. Also, unlike most pools in France, swimming shorts are permitted – maybe they’re worried about the consequences of Speedos on an aquatic half-pipe…
Take the plunge
If heated swimming pools are just too luxurious for your liking and you fancy something a bit more extreme then maybe ice diving might appeal to you. Yes, rather than just enjoy the stunning Lac Montriond from the safety of the shore, you can clad yourself in rubber and get in it. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a complete novice, the ice-covered lake offers a magical experience for all those brave enough to venture in. You receive an anti-freezing regulator and a dry suit so you can enjoy the ethereal world below the ice in complete safety – and there’s no need to worry about getting lost either as you are linked to the surface by rope. And at just €85 per person, what’s stopping you?
These shoes were made for walking…
Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the mountains if you are not a skier. It lets you get out there and experience the stunning scenery, the forests and its wildlife at a more leisurely pace – often visiting parts of the mountain that skiers can’t go. You can hire snowshoes for around €9 a day or, for around €50, you can have half a day with a guide/instructor showing you around – and snowshoes are included in the price. Visit Magical Snow Treks for different snowshoe experiences (including chamois goat spotting) offered by local guide Simone Simpson, or visit Ski School Morzine for ESF-guided trek information.
Having a lauf!
Yes, ok, we know it’s a type of skiing. But it’s also a type of walking. Kind of. Cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing or langlaufen) is another great way to explore the mountains. With over 200km of tranquil cross-country trails across the Portes Du Soleil region (45km in Avoriaz alone!) you can really get away from the crowds and get a great sense of freedom. You can hire cross-country ski gear for around €13 for one day up to around €70 for a week, which includes skis, poles and boots. You can also book a private one-hour lesson with ESF for €44.
Cooking up a storm
Join Fred in his chalet kitchen overlooking the incredible mountain views. Learn about
local ingredients and traditional dishes from a professional chef. Brush up on your culinary
knowledge and enjoy a meal at the end. Fred is bursting with enthusiasm and will share some
insights into local, season produce and his own passion for foraging and sustainable living.
Together you will prepare a meal, including starter, main course and dessert. The emphasis is on
menus that you can recreate at home, within a sensible amount of time, using basic ingredients
with a twist.
Prices start from 120€ for the cookery lesson for up to 8 people
Pics courtesy of:
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Chalet Holidays in Morzine