What’s new in Morzine, France this summer?

Sitting at 1,000 metres altitude, the authentic French mountain village of Morzine, part of the expansive Portes du Soleil, has a wide range of activities and experiences on offer throughout summer. Not only is it a sporting hub, with the Tour de France returning for the 22nd time, but it’s also a place to reconnect with nature and recharge those batteries.

Unlike many other skiing destinations, Morzine has 3,000 permanent residents, meaning it remains a vibrant hub during the warmer months. Guests can make the most of 52 bars and restaurants, 34 hotels, 80 retailers, 21 chairlifts and cable cars across Morzine and Portes du Soleil, 200 km of signed cycling trails, and 15 mapped mountain bike routes. They can also spot 132 cows, 50 goats and 20 pigs, plus more than 1,000 species of flora.

Please find some more details about what’s new in resort below.

The cycling centre: The Tour de France, the Étape du Tour, and plenty of other pedal power in resort

This year, the 110th Tour de France will return to Morzine for the 22nd time. Last year, the peloton spent a well-earned rest day in Morzine on 11 July 2022, before departing on 12 July 2022 to complete the 10th stage, towards Megève.

On 15 July 2023, Morzine will host a stage finish after the riders have completed a gruelling route from Annemasse that comprises climbing two passes around the resort: the col de la Ramaz and the renowned col de Joux Plane.

In addition, just six days before the tour arrives in Morzine, amateur cyclists will have the chance to ride the exact same stage as the professionals in the Étape du Tour event. They can enjoy same stage towns, the same roads, the same mythical climbs, and the same conditions as the Tour de France (the roads are entirely closed to traffic). Morzine last hosted an Étape du Tour in 2016 and is now preparing for 16,000 cyclists to attempt this challenge on 9 July 2023.

Morzine has been picked for these two prestigious events again due to the quality of hotels, the 1,000 metres altitude, great roads, and exciting climbs.

To celebrate these two prestigious events taking place, Morzine will host its first Bike Week between the Étape du Tour (9 July) and the arrival of the Tour de France (15 July). During this experience, one or two cols will be closed to cars each day; guests can safely sample different routes of up to 50 km. Plus, don’t miss the bike related entertainment in the village.

Hybrid cyclists and mountain-bike riders can also make use of a new two-day gravel circuit during the Pass’Portes du Soleil event from 23-24 June 2023. Departing from Morzine, discover the unmissable landscapes of the Portes du Soleil including the Col du Corbier, Vallée d’Abondance, famous for its cheese, and the Lac de Montriond (price from €95 pp). Plus, the Mountain Bike World Cup will take place in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil from 7-17 September 2023. Home to 600 km of runs, it’s no wonder this region has been chosen to host the cup, with the Marathon taking place in Morzine on 15 September 2023.

The resort is also home to the “Accueil Velo” (bikes welcome) certification; Morzine has put several services, specifically adapted to biking clients, in place, which includes “Hébergement Cyclo” (cycling accommodation) that is particularly attentive to the needs of cyclists, sports shops with specialised services for bikes, and plenty of signs in the area with key information (altitude, distance, gradient) for those navigating on two wheels.

“Goating” around

With 50 resident goats, it’s no wonder Morzine has come up with a new way of interacting with these wily animals. Therefore, new for this summer, Le Monde de Jacquotte at the Alpage de Nyon, now offers goat agility. Goat agility first came about at the Salon de l’Agriculture (Agriculture Show) in Paris, and in Morzine the activity has been specifically adapted for children. During the workshop, children will learn how to put on the goats’ collars, brush them, take them for a walk, and tackle several fun obstacles including a bridge, slalom, and balance section. Families can also make the most of the other entertainment at Le Monde de Jacquotte, including meeting a shepherd, guided tours of the farm, and watching a sheepdog being put through its paces. The 30-minute workshop costs from €4.50 pp (with the Multi-Pass) or from €9 pp.

Environment at its core

In 2021, Morzine-Avoriaz was awarded the prestigious Flocon Vert (Green Snowflake) due to its detailed and ambitious plan of action to reduce the carbon footprint of the resort. The latest charter, launched in March 2023, aims to raise awareness and promote the destination’s professional stakeholders who go that extra mile to adopt an ecological, sustainable and socially responsible approach. Specific businesses and people to highlight include: not-for-profit association, Montagne Verte, which has been selling second-hand clothes, shoes, accessories, and sporting gear from its shop since 2021; Le Dahu hotel and spa that has created a worm compost and collects rainwater to take care of its plants; plus chalet company, AliKats, which promotes renewable energy, achieved zero food waste, and offers discounts to guests arriving by train, eating vegetarian cuisine, and willing to forego the hot tub.

On the same theme of sustainability, 40 local businesses have united behind the AlpinExpress Pass to encourage tourists to travel more responsibly. Guests can access discounts on accommodation, lift passes, transfers, equipment rentals, and meals out when choosing to take the train to resort. The journey from London St-Pancras to Cluses or Thonon-les-Bains (with one change from Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare du Lyon) takes less than nine hours; have a drink, play cards, and enjoy the ever-changing scenery. Morzine is then a 40 minute drive from Cluses and Thonon-les-Bains (the closest stations), both of which have bus links to Morzine, while Geneva station is an hour and a half away. Private transfers from these stations can also be booked with local transfer companies who are AlpinExpress partners.

To further emphasise the benefits of train travel, those wanting travel to Morzine can now consult their CO2 emissions and transit time for each route on Go-Morzine-Avoriaz.com. The aim of this new function on the website is to allow holidaymakers to plan, book and pay for their journey in one go from anywhere in the world. Travellers can choose the lowest carbon option and fastest, or cheapest, route.

From farm to fork

Local experiences make a destination, and Morzine has some incredible options in store. Holidaymakers who love to see where their food comes from can visit Thierry Thorens’ incredible organic vegetable garden. Not content at being head chef at top Restaurant La Chamade, or an avid sculpture maker, Thierry set up a 5,000 square metre vegetable garden during lockdown and has been keeping a close eye on it ever since. Everything grown is tended to in accordance with the principles of sustainable agriculture, respectful of the seasons and environment. Even better, guests can tuck into the home-grown produce when dining at La Chamade.

Other options for guests to see where their food is coming from can be found at Morzine’s old cheese dairy that was given a new lease of life and now produces five types of cheese daily – including Reblochon, Abondance and Morzine Tomme – all made from milk produced by its 35 dairy cows. Sample the homemade produce at on-site shop, L’Alpage.

In addition, explore the spectacular mountain terrain with Véronique, who knows every dip and climb like the back of her hand. With her, observe the abundant wildlife and forage for wild garlic, tangy blueberries, sweet chestnuts, fragrant lemon thyme, and earthy nettles. Afterwards, sample the findings with some freshly produced cheese.

Plus, visit the Ferme de Seraussaix, a couples-run business that owns 50 dairy cows. During summer, the cows leave their stables and graze on the Seraussaix mountain pasture. Visitors are welcome to visit the farm, learn about the operation, watch the cows being milked, and sample some fresh cheese.

Alternatively, why not catch a fish and eat it for dinner in the mountains? Guests staying at Le Refuge de Nyon can set down their luggage, pick up a fishing rod, and enjoy a peaceful afternoon at the lake waiting for that all-important bite. The Refuge de Nyon is open all summer for lunch and/or overnight stays on a half-board basis.

Two local tales…

Tania Thorens is the creator of company, BÅL – selling flower-studded candles, perfumed wreaths, and beautiful vases. BÅL means campfire in Norwegian, and Tania sources all her ingredients as locally as possible to promote French craftmanship. The dried flowers come from small local farms, the terracotta pots are made close to home, and each purchase is designed to limit its impact on the environment. Tania also offers furoshiki gift wrapping using upcycled fabric, for that extra bespoke touch.

Chocolate lovers should visit Au Délice Chocolaté for a delicious treat. From neighbouring resort, Les Gets, Florian Fontaine studied in Taninges and then Australia before returning to France and taking over his father-in-law’s shop in Morzine. His aim is to develop products with ingredients he sources himself – he only uses PDO Piedmont hazelnuts and Valencian almonds. Indulge in a vast array of delectable goodies from this talented chocolatier.

Photo by Keno Derleyn