Travel review: Alpine town of Morzine has something for everyone in summer months
Skiing is one of those activities that splits opinion.
Those who have done it can’t wait to go back, but for those who haven’t, it can seem oddly out of reach or slightly intimidating.
I fall into the latter category. Hurtling down a mountain on two bits of plastic barely wider than your knee cap? No thanks.
Luckily, I am heading to the traditional alpine village of Morzine in the summer season.
Nestled high in the mountains in the Haute-Savoie region of France, the transfer from Geneva takes around 90 minutes.
The village itself looks beautiful in the late summer sun, full of traditional wooden chalets and old stone buildings, with colourful hanging baskets lining the streets.
We’re staying at The Farmhouse, known locally as Le Mas de la Coutettaz.
Built in 1771, it is one of the most well established chalets in Morzine as well being the oldest building in the town.
It has been beautifully done up by ex-pat Dorrien and his wife Di.
We’re made to feel at home and with its beautiful old fireplace and charming garden, I could see myself relaxing and taking in the stunning views from my balcony for a good few days.
But our guide, Sara (another Brit) from the tourist office, has other ideas.
We were driven up to Cascade Adventure, an outdoor adventure park a short drive from our chalet, for some canyoning.
After squeezing into our wetsuits and safety harnesses we are introduced to our guide and taken to a bridge overlooking a gorge, which I soon realise we are about to abseil off.
Not being the greatest fan of heights, I am filled with dread at the prospect, but I reason that if I am to truly experience all Morzine has to offer, I have to throw myself into it - or rather off this 100m bridge.
What follows is a fast-paced thrill ride down the river - abseiling off rocks and swimming through the water and by the end I’m jumping off rocks with the confidence of a seasoned pro.
By the end, stomachs are rumbling and after a quick shower we head to Bec Jaune, a trendy microbrewery.
There’s an excellent range of beers and ales, with food ranging from homemade burgers to ramen and scotch eggs - perfect after a long day in the mountains.
The next day brings a dramatic change of pace as we do some Afghan Walking, a kind of walking meditation that allows nomads to travel 60 kilometres a day on foot.
There is time to take in the beautiful scenery as we walk down the River Dranse and up into the hills, altering our breathing depending on the terrain, with helpful instructions from our guide.
There’s a strong connection between this way of walking and the current mindfulness trend and we are encouraged to pause to take in the sights and sounds around us.
I feel more relaxed than I have done in months by the end.
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Morzine. That evening we enjoy a meal at La Chamade, under the watchful eye of head chef Thierry Thorens, something of a celebrity chef in France.
Inspired by the food of the Savoyard region, when not cooking, he can be found among the mountain paths picking herbs for his food - which is nothing less than stunning.
Morzine is also an excellent place to come if you are a lover of two wheels.
There are excellent mountain biking trails and there are the famous Alpine climbs that feature in the Tour de France for road cyclists wanting to test their mettle.
Our next trip is on an ebike.
I am quickly disabused of my notion that these motorised bikes are for the lazy - they are in fact a fantastic way to get around and open up cycling to an even wider range of people.
With the help of the motor, I leave the lyca-clad road cyclists in my wake as I motor up Joux Plan.
We make it up to Pointe de Nyon and stop for a scenic lunch of freshly caught trout at Le Refuge Nyon Guerin before heading down a thrilling mountain bike trail which takes us back down to the bottom of the ski lifts in Morzine.
That night we are driven up to an old farmhouse and restaurant run by Véronique Fillon and her husband.
We are made to feel right at home as we offered a huge pan full of freshly made tartiflette along with locally sourced meat, washed down with generous helpings of red wine.
To top it off, fuelled by bellyfulls of homemade liqueur, Veronique’s husband leads us in a sing song with his guitar. After a wonderful evening, we step out in the cool mountain air to be greeted by a sea of stars above.
Everyone you meet in this beautiful part of France is proud of their region, its food and traditions while still being warm and welcoming.
Whether it’s fast-paced thrills, relaxing hiking, or outdoorsy family fun you’re after, Morzine has you covered.
There’s plenty going on, but it’s still pretty easy to feel as if you’re the only person for miles around.
On a final hike through the hills, hearing nothing but the musical chime of cow bells in the mountains, I can see why people come back year after year.
Who knows? Next time I might even try skiing.
Where to stay and what to do in Morzine
Seven nights' bed and breakfast accommodation at The Farmhouse costs from £235 per person based on two people sharing a double room. Call +33 450790826 or visit www.thefarmhouse.co.uk
Return flights to Geneva are available from London Gatwick with EasyJet, priced from £59 per person. See www.easyjet.com
Restaurants included Refuge de l’Equipe - Charm’Hotel L’Equipe : +33 4 50 79 11 43 or visit https://hotelequipe.fr/ and Bec Jaune +33 450790844 or visit www.becjaunebrewery.com/
Activities included a dining experience with Véronique Fillon +33677777464
Afghan Walking Introduction - Bureau des Guides Morzine-Avoriaz +33 4 50 75 96 65 or visit www.guides-morzine.com
Canyoning - Bureau des Guides Morzine-Avoriaz +33 4 50 75 96 65 or visit www.guides-morzine.com or Cascade Aventure – +33 6 83 19 21 18 www.cascadeaventure.wixsite.com/cascade-aventu /
For more information about Morzine call +33 6 08 34 04 54 or visit https://en.morzine-avoriaz.com