Summer Activities in Morzine
The picturesque French Alpine town of Morzine might be best known as a ski destination but this authentic Savoyard village is just as good in the summer. The 650km of ski slopes become marked trails for hiking and mountain biking, there are regular events in town and the scenery is just stunning. As a family holiday destination, Morzine in the summer is hard to beat. Here we pick our top 10 summer activities in Morzine.
1. Roam the Mountains
Whether it be a short stroll along the Dérêches river where the picturesque riding stables nestle next to the kid’s playpark, or a gentle hike from Lindarets goat village to visit the magnificent Brochaux waterfall, Morzine is the best place in the world to stretch your legs! Of course I am completely biased, I lived lived in this alpine paradise for three years (before moving to the bustling Asian mega city of Manila), and was utterly spoilt by the gifts of nature. I promise that I will never again take fresh air for granted! There are plenty of walks to choose from but here are my two favourites to do as a young family with a pushchair. For both of these walks I use a mountain buggy pushchair. If you do not have one then Intersport, in the centre of town, hires them out. Alternatively use a hiking baby carrier.
The village of Lindarets is a short 20-minute drive from the centre of Morzine. Head to Lac de Montriond and keep going past the lake following the windy road up to Lindarets. The hike from Lindarets to Brochaux takes you along a wide path bordered by banks of wild flowers and cow pastures. The waterfall is hidden behind the mountain just past the refuge d’Abricotine. It’s best to go on a sunny day just after a big rainfall when the waterfall is at its most spectacular gushing with fresh mountain water. Take water shoes for the kids so they can play in the little pools and streams at the bottom of the falls. The hike takes us about an hour and a half return since we stop a lot to look at the flowers, butterflies and cows. We also like to take a little picnic to have at the falls.
Start at the tennis courts at the bottom of town for a leisurely meander along the Dérêches. There is plenty to do along the river including various parkour courses, the Indiana adventure park, the horse riding stables and a play park. Kids of all ages love throwing stones into the river, trundling across the little bridges and climbing over fallen logs and up leafy slopes.
2. Take a Dip in Lac Montriond
When we first lived in Morzine my daughter was a newborn I used to push her round the lake in her stroller, wait for her to go to sleep, park her by the edge of the lake and then take a long dip in the fresh, cool waters of the lake. Nowadays, with two kids in tow, we tend to spend a whole afternoon here swimming and catching tadpoles. Be sure to bring water wings for the kids as the lake is deep in parts. There is even a little lake for the kids, complete with sand pit and a miniature waterfall. There are plenty of activities around the lake aswell, including a mini 4×4 course, a shiny new playground with a little zip line, pony rides, stand up paddle boarding and canoeing. There are three restaurants on the lake all serving delicious Savoyard delicacies. I love the “filets de perche”, or a steak with local mushroom (cepes) sauce. If you have access to a parasol bring it along as there is limited shade next to the lake and it gets quite hot in the summer months.
3. Ride the Luge
The slopes of Pleney are situated just a short walk from the centre of Morzine. There are a handful of lovely eateries on the slopes that have activities for the kids including trampolines, mini golf, and playhouses. This is my favourite place to come for an aperitif so the children can let off steam in the late afternoon while parents watch on from the comfort of a sun lounger. My kids are crazy over the Luge, located next to the Tremplin restaurant . The Luge is a huge cart slide accessed by chairlift. We love whizzing down the slope, drinking in the spectacular views of Morzine below.
4. Have a Ball at the Pool
Be prepared to spend a whole day at the pool with the kids. The pool in Morzine has everything, including a twisty slide, bouncy castle, baby pool with slides and fountains, play park, lap pool, indoor heated pool, medium kids pool, diving boards, sandy volleyball area and picnic lawn. You are not allowed to eat poolside, but we love to take a picnic along with us and retreat to the grassy picnic area to refuel after hours of splashing around. Beware Daddies – speedos are obligatory so get out your Daniel Craigs and suck in that paunch! My daughter Maya can’t get enough of the twisty slide. However, the slide and bouncy castle close for lunch so best to go in the morning or afternoon.
5. Faire le Fête!
There are plenty of local festivals throughout summer in Morzine and the neighbouring villages of Les Gets, St Jean D’Aulps and Montriond. The children love nothing more than a spectacle, and parents can benefit from a dose of local culture and often free entertainment. This summer we tried to catch as many celebrations as possible both local and national including la Fête Nationale, la Fête de Char (biannual floatilla fête), la Kermesse (school fair), Fête de la Musique Mécanique (Les Gets), Fête de Lindart, Morzine Aime Les Enfants and Feux du lac (Montriond). During these fêtes the villages come alive with colour, music, custom and tradition. Although Morzine has become increasingly popular as a summer holiday destination it has also steadfastly preserved its tradition and culture. This is where the heart of local French culture beats and I hope that when my children grow up they will continue to appreciate and celebrate these events.
6. Visit Les Gets
Morzine’s neighour, Les Gets, punches above its weight during the summer months. We regularly spend a couple of days a week here enjoying a change of scenery and making the most of the artistic focus which was central to the town’s 2016 summer programme. “Hallelujah!” I cried as I read the jam-packed family friendly programme of affordable workshops including Pottery at the Farm (for adults and kids), a children only morning on the farm (learning about goats), Yoga hikes, chocolate-making, concerts and woodworking.
My new favourite place in the world is now Poterie Artisanale des Gets where I learnt how to use the wheel to make simple bowls. While I was spinning the wheel, my daughter Maya was in a class with lots of other children crafting objects by hand and learning the basics in moulding and design. I actually get a bit sad looking at their website now and knowing that I will not be able to visit again till next year! Anouk and Nathalie who own the farm are brilliant and patient teachers who are lucky enough to own a little piece of paradise that they want to share with the world.
Another favourite Les Gets activity was the Yoga Hike that Maya and I signed up for with Barbara Porret. Barbara met us at the bottom of Mont Chéry télécabine where we ascended the mountain. Once at the top we practiced several yoga poses, hiked, breathed and posed. We then hiked, gazed, breathed and hiked and posed some more. All the while being amazed by the stunning view of Mont Blanc.
Despite my love of her big sister Morzine, Les Gets has a special place in my heart. I love this place more and more, not least because of its annual wacky mechanical music festival where avant-garde inventors mesh with old school accordion players. The children were delighted by all the musicians who line the street coming from far and wide to play and sing with passion while showcasing their wonderful antique or re-invented mechanical instruments.
7. Chill Out at Lac de Mines d’Or
Oh, Lac de Min d’Or you are simply heaven on earth! This is the little pocket of rural France where I always take my Mum for lunch with the grandchildren. Here, we sit back with a glass of wine and relish the marvellous view of the little lake as it mirrors the soaring rugged grey mountains in the distance. The children are able to dart from the small play park to the donkey field, down to the lake and back to assess whether dessert has arrived yet. Once we have finished a delicious lunch (the food here is dreamily exquisite) I usually take the kids for a little tour of the lake to spot dragonflies, tadpoles and butterflies. The lake is popular with local fishermen who while away hours in this peaceful haven. Lac des Min d’Or has been designated an area of special ecological interest and there are interesting information points around the lake detailing the ecology and geology of the area.
8. Get a Rush from VTT
Along with hiking this is the most popular of Alpine summer activities and Morzine and Les Gets have definitely captured the market. VTT, or Downhill Mountain Biking, gives a similar rush as skiing does in winter. Maybe it is the contrast of zooming down the mountain teamed with long lazy rides on the chairlift and hearty lunches in mountain cafes which appeals so widely.
Over the years I have seen more and more families going out mountain biking together, usually on the more forgiving blue and green runs. This is a sport for older kids since the terrain can be steep, rocky, rooty and slippery. Study your piste map carefully before heading up the mountain so that you can choose easy tracks for the whole family to enjoy. It is expensive to hire all the kit but well worth it. A day up the mountain will easily cost 100 Euros per person. Hiring good bikes is a must (I prefer the lighter frame hybrid types) and maximum body armour to avoid injury.
9. Go Wild in Avoriaz
High above Morzine is the uniquely designed town of Avoriaz. For the most part Avoriaz is a pedestrian only zone, which makes it a great day trip for families. My children love Aquariaz, the indoor water park complete with a lazy river, outdoor Jacuzzi, rope swing, rubber ring flume and toddler’s slide and fountain area. I save Aquariaz for a rainy day since it is a great indoor activity.
If the sun comes out while the family are splashing around inside, then there is a great play park opposite that boasts a climbing wall and mini bike park. There is also Le Petit Train, which is a big hit with my son Gillan, who at just two-years-old is mesmerised by trains, fire engines and motorbikes.
Next time we visit Avoriaz we are keen to try out the “Fantasticable”, which is a zip line across the mountains that you ride completely horizontally with an epic view of the valley below. The cable goes really slowly allowing you to appreciate the view from this bird’s eye perspective.
10. Visit the Goats at Lindarets
A trip to the little village of Lindarets is well worth the effort. I love to go to Lindarets on a sunny day with the aim of spending the whole day here with the family. This year we spent several days picnicking by the river, hiking to the Brochaux waterfall, and of course feeding the goats. There are a couple of eateries perched next to the river in the “Lindarets Bowl” (past the actual village) which have invested in playhouses and kiddy slides. We had a sumptuous picnic here with cheeses, baguettes, cured meats, fruit, olives and wine while the children paddled in the ankle deep river, collecting stones and sailing toy boats.
In Lindarets village, the goats roam freely through the lower part of town, munching on the goat food pellets (available to buy) and idly standing in the way of oncoming traffic. My daughter loves to pet the goats (especially the kid goats) who look so cheeky standing on picnic benches and water fountains. Happily, there is plenty of ice cream available in the village, but be careful as Maya was chased by a naughty goat who wanted a lick of her vanilla cone!
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