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Fun things to do for an epic snow holiday, without a pair of skis involved!
The Portes du Soleil mountains are a massive natural playground, with unlimited opportunities to experience nature, find adventure and escape the hectic pace of everyday life. What’s more, there is no need to don a pair of skis to feel the benefit of this beautiful place, there are plenty of other options for enjoying family time, getting adrenaline kicks or finding your inner calm. In fact, some of these activities are so good, even skiers may want to hang up their skis for the day and give them a go.
Snowshoeing is a great way to get off the beaten track, spot wildlife and enjoy the mountains away from the crowds. It provides an unrivalled opportunity to step into the wilderness and experience amazing mountain views. You can hire snowshoes for around €10 a day or, for around €50, you can have half a day with a guide, with snowshoes included in the price. There are several excellent mountain refuges that provide a cosy setting for lunch.
If going independently, a great and fairly easy route to start with is to snowshoe to La Crapuhute, a refuge hut in the magical Vallee de la Manche. There is also a new nature trail accessed from the top of the Nyon gondola, with information signs throughout and an interactive app, called Locafaune, on which kids can tag the animals they spot.
To go with a guide, try Magical snow treks’ weekly group snowshoe walks, book a private tour with them or take an evening torchlight snowshoe walk to a mountain restaurant for a fondue. Days away Adventures also offers a variety of open group and private snowshoe tours in the Morzine, Les Gets and Saint Jean d’Aulps area.
Snowmobiling is a real adrenaline kick and great fun in a group. The guided tours usually last an hour and are offered between 5:30pm and 11pm, with two guides taking a group through the mountains on the backcountry trails above Avoriaz. Avoscoot is the company who offer this experience and their reception desk is by the chapel in the welcome centre in Avoriaz, pop in or give them call to book 06 08 22 18 15.
Husky sledding is a fun day out, especially if you appreciate spending time with animals. The Siberian huskies will give you a warm welcome when you meet them and learn how to harness them up to the sleigh. Then you’ll experience a thrilling 2.5 to 3-hour jaunt through the mountains. Costs are €105 per adult and €50 per child, but you might be able to negotiate a better price for bigger groups.
Ibexes are found on the ridges they use for their journeys between the high peaks of the mountains. As the ibex is a rock climbe, they are rarely seen from ski areas. However, high mountain guide, Hervé Le Sobre, offers the chance to meet this majestic animal on his ‘Chamois Mouflons’ outing. The ibexes come to feed on young shoots on the sunny side of the Boutigny valley. Learn how to spot and follow their tracks on the ground during a peaceful outing in the Alps. Price: €25 per half day, more information here.
In the cold months, the Aigles du Léman set up their aviaries in Morzine, for the only bird of prey park of its kind in the mountains. Take the Nyon gondola to the Pointe de Nyon restaurant, at an altitude of 1500m. See rare eagles, buzzards, vultures and owls in action or catch a falconry show, which run at intervals throughout the day.
For total relaxation, check into a spa for the day. La Dahu offers two pools, a whirlpool and a multi-jet tonic shower cabin. Open from 10am until 4pm with a whole range of treatments and rituals available. Over in Les Gets (a 10 minute shuttle or bus ride from Morzine) you’ll find Les Sources des Chery, a fantastic new spa which boasts a range of hammams, saunas, hot tubs, plunge pools, as well as treatments.
As you would expect from a mountain town that attracts athletes, skiers and mountain bikers, there are a wide variety of therapeutic and sports massage specialists on-hand to help soothe away your aches and pains. Sports and relaxation massages, as well as beauty treatments can be booked to take place in your chalet, check out our complete list here.
If you can’t go a week without a decent stretch, there’s no need to miss out, Morzine has many excellent yoga and Pilates instructors. Sessions run at the lovely new studio in Morzine’s old town (see the schedule here), or at Mountain Rehab or the Hive (below).
Hive is a new venue for mindfulness, exercise and nutrition, with a well-equipped gym, Pilates studio and the renowned fresh food cafe, Wild Beets Kitchen. It’s a bit out of town (on the Prodains route) but well worth a brisk walk or a couple of stops on the bus. Closer to town Mountain Rehab has a small gym full of top quality equipment and is just a 3 minutes walk from Morzine town centre.
Find your calm amongst the trees with a 2.5 hour beautiful, crisp, cold walk amongst the frozen forests of the Morzine valley. Sit and connect deeply with nature in its winter slumber, finishing with an ancient Japanese Tea Ceremony. Reserve your spot with Magical Snow Treks.
Morzine is home to the ‘Pingouins’, the Chamonix and Morzine ice hockey club (HCMA), which compete in France’s top league, the League Magnus. Its an a highly competitive, exhilarating game for the whole family to watch, so if there’s a match on whilst you’re in town, be sure to catch it. Games take place in the evening at the Skoda Arena, which can be found under the suspension bridge in the centre of town. See match dates here.
Rent some skates and have a festive slide on the outdoor ice rink in Morzine’s pretty town centre. Open throughout the winter, find exact times at the Tourist Office. If the weather’s bad, you can also skate at the ice hockey stadium in the Skoda Arena.
Morzine has a large indoor aquatics centre, featuring a large Olympic sized pool, a medium sized pool and a toddlers splash pool. A separate wellness space includes three saunas, two hammams and a relaxation deck with deckchairs. You can easily access the complex from the centre of town by taking the elevator next to the Super Morzine lift. Check the website for opening hours.
An aquatic paradise set in the heart of Avoriaz, this impressive indoor water park includes a gentle flowing indoor river, a slidewinder (10m high aquatic halfpipe swimmers slide down on a rubber tube), a toddlers paddling pool and exciting water playhouse complete with water guns, a tipping bucket and slides. A large pool also features natural climbing walls, and bathers can nip outside to relax in the outdoor jacuzzi, whilst giving skiers on the overhead chair lift a cheeky wave. Find times and prices here.
Morzine’s market runs on Wednesdays throughout the year (9am-12pm) in the large car park next to the post office in the centre of town. You’ll find fresh fruit, vegetables, a lot of cheese, charcuterie, rotisserie chicken and other mouthwatering cooked meats that you can take back to the chalet for a tasty lunch.
A stroll through Morzine will reveal many interesting shops selling the delicious treats and specialities of the region, in particular look out for:
Morzine is well positioned for exploring the sights of the Haute Savoie region by car. Head towards Lake Geneva to explore the charming medieval town of Yvoire, with its château, pretty gardens and fine boutiques. Take an excursion to Annecy, another beautiful lakeside town with cobbled streets, quaint canals and an ancient Château, once home to the Counts of Geneva.
France’s great capital of mountaineering, Chamonix, offers a chance to delve into the country’s rich Alpine heritage, with museums and one-off special exhibits, whilst a thrilling cable car ride will whisk you up the side of Mont Blanc to a dazzling height of 3842m for a close encounter with this magnificent giant.
A 45 minute drive from Morzine to Sixt Fer à Cheval and you can be in the winter wonderland of Cirque du Fer à Cheval, a natural park of snowy pathways amongst jagged peaks, frozen waterfalls and gushing rivers.
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