From Manchester to: Morzine

Let’s admit it. Winter in the UK isn’t exactly the most wonderful time of the year, and while a lot of you are sat at your desks dreaming of sunshine, there’s also a decent amount of us still dreaming of snow.

Winter holidays tend to be love/hate, but for those who actually like having to get up early and do activities on holiday, then Morzine makes a great place to escape to the mountains, and not an absolute mission away from Manchester either.

How to get there

If you’ve been to a ski resort before, you’ll know transfers can be long and induce epic bouts of car sickness thanks to the windy roads up to the resort (and that 5am shot in the airport), but after a short flight into Geneva from Manchester, you’re only around an hour and a half away from croissants, fondue and snow.

Getting to and from the airport is made simple with Skiidy Gonzales, who offer shared or private airport transports every day during the winter season. We went with the shared option and after our sombrero wearing driver collected us from the airport, we arrived at our accommodation around two hours later.

Where to stay

There are all types of accommodation in Morzine, from hotels and airbnbs, to catered chalets and apartments. It’s not a huge town, but if you factor in how far you are from the nearest ski lift, ski boots and hills will not be your friend when it is icy outside.

For luxury without being bankrupted, we recommend checking out the fellow Mancs at More Mountain. Sam & Jon moved from Manchester a few years back to set up the company in France and they have catered chalets or self catered apartments all over town. They even have an actual piece of The Hacienda in one of them.

We went for a catered option because it meant we could spend more time thinking about how we were going to ski down the home run after a few beers, rather than where our next meal was coming from. As well as a cooked breakfast every morning, we also came home to a four course meal freshly cooked by our chalet hosts for five nights of our stay. Plus there was a cake every day, and Yorkshire tea bags – the important stuff.

We stayed at Chalet Jirishanca, which is one of the most central properties with a huge outdoor hot tub, and despite its proximity to the ski lifts we still got offered rides to and from the slopes daily. Instead of a lift, we took the hosts up on their offer of a boot drop, which meant our hosts met us at a bar and took all our equipment and ski boots back to the chalet so that we could stay out for a few beers in comfy shoes.

What to do

Ski, obviously. There’s plenty of other stuff to do if that’s not your thing but seriously, it’s what you’re here for. Morzine is a working town all year round so there’s always something to get involved in if your legs need a break.

Night sledging

Not just 100m down a hill, this sledging is intense and probably not for the faint-hearted (but you can take kids aged 8+ if you’re willing to share your sledge). You’ll meet your guide at the top of the Pleney Bubble, and be kitted out with a head torch and a sledge. From there, it’s just a short 4km (!!) down the side of a mountain down to Morzine. By the time you get to the bottom, you’ll be extremely glad to be on solid ground with a beer in Le Tremplin.

Ski guiding or lessons

If you’re already a competent skier or snowboarder and want to make the most of your time in the mountains, book a guide to help you find the best snow. We opted for a day with Bill of Billski, who took us out to find the freshest powder and the best views in the Portes du Soleil. If you’re not sure you’re confident enough, Bill also offers ski lessons either in groups or a 1-2-1 basis.

There are plenty of options when it comes to learning, you could also try New Generation for ski lessons or REAL Snowboarding.

Helicopter tours

You’ll notice loads of helicopters in the mountains. It’s not that easy to get around by car, so there are quite a few options when it comes to heli tours. For the more advanced skier or snowboarder, you can also book a heliski, where you’ll get dropped in the back-country for some untouched snow without the effort of hiking. Generally, you can book up to four people per helicopter.

Where to eat – in town

O Chalet
This bar, restaurant and fast food joint rolled into one serves the best burgers in town. With a varied menu that includes burgers, kebabs, bagels, crepes and paninis, the place is always packed out from lunch until night. The burgers are undeniably the hero dish, and reasonably priced at around €8 each, with the option to add sides too. There’s a new special every week, but the classic Le Mountain with raclette cheese, bacon and chalet sauce remains top of our list.

 

Bar Robinson
An institution, and one of the most popular apres bars in Morzine. Established in 1926, it’s one of the oldest bars in town, and has been run by the same family for three generations. The bar only serves Mutzig, which is a beer loved by seasonnaires at around 7% ABV. The bar closes in the winter season at around 7.30pm, so people tend to hit it hard then go home.

 

Hideout Hostel
This centrally located hostel has started to make a name for itself thanks to its mega food offering over the last few seasons. For 2019/20, it’s a Mexican menu with tacos, nachos and small plates designed to share, and a welcome break from all the Savoyarde style food you’re likely to have been feasting on all week. It’s worth booking in advance if you know you want to eat here. There’s also a new cool bar underneath called Laury’s bar which offers some of Morzine’s best drinks as well as live jazz, funk and soul.

 

Where to eat & drink – on the mountain

Folie Douce
A new addition to Avoriaz, the Folie Douce has made itself famous for its glamorous Apres parties in ski resorts across France, and it made quite the impression during its first season in Avoriaz last year. There are live DJs, singers and performers from around 2.30pm each afternoon, and shortly after they begin, everyone starts to dance on the tables in their ski boots. Think Alberts Schloss in the snow.

Happy Hours
At the bottom of the Ardent bubble, this bar is a popular haunt for seasonnaires and locals, with an outdoor set up under a tent with loads of patio heaters. There is always good Apres to be had, with DJs and parties almost every night, plus a great food menu at really reasonable prices. You can get the bus back to Morzine from here so make the most of your afternoon without having to worry about last lifts. Don’t miss the last bus back though, times change throughout the season and are listed on the board outside.

Cookie Cafe
This cafe sits at 2,227 meters above sea level and on the French-Swiss border at the top of the Mosettes chairlift, offering views across the whole Portes du Soleil. They serve swiss burgers, soups, hot dogs and snacks, with a huge sun deck and chill out lounge. Head up here on a sunny day to make the most of the views, and check out the craft beers from nearby Morgins and Lausanne.

Lift passes and ski hire

There are two types of lift passes available including the Portes du Soleil Ski Pass which covers 12 different ski villages from Les Gets & Avoriaz, all the way across to the Swiss resorts of Champéry & Morgins; and the Morzine-Les Gets Ski Pass which is just for the local Morzine area and includes Les Gets.

The full PDS lift pass costs €270 for six days verses the Morzine-Les Gets at €210.

There are plenty of options for good ski or board hire in Morzine but if you want the easiest then we’d recommend Doorstep skis. They bring your equipment to, you guessed it, your doorstep, so it is ready for you to get out pretty much as soon as you arrive.

Book your trip

Fly from Manchester to Geneva from £14.49 each way
Chalet packages at More Mountain start from £799 with self catered apartments available for €1,600.
For more information visit www.moremountain.com

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