- Morzine and Les Gets: The ‘Rising Sun’ of the French Alps - 17 October, 2018
- Nature’s TV screen at Nausicaa, Boulogne - 18 July, 2018
- Auvergne Rhone-Alpes, where wellness flows naturally - 28 November, 2017
Photo by Guy Bowden
There’s just something Zen about being surrounded by mountains. And no matter what the weather, they can uplift anyone’s mood. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance of getting away from the rat race to spend a few days in Morzine and Les Gets in the French Alps. Morzine’s literal meaning is ‘rising sun’ and it was enough to give me that cosy comforting feeling as I packed.
With our first stop being Morzine, I immediately warmed to this attractive, small family-friendly resort with a very French feel to it. Not least because of the appetising food and wine shops dotted around but the leisurely pace of life I witnessed and sensed around me. It shares the slopes with Les Gets and proves popular with ski enthusiasts. But you don’t have to wait until winter to enjoy this ski area. There’s plenty to do all year round and the summer proved to be a great time to enjoy it.
Chalet Morzine was the perfect place to start the journey. Perched on a slightly elevated position above the foot of the main Morzine mountain Le Pléney, it boasts a unique retreat-style feel with spectacular views over the town and mountain tops of Avoriaz. Run by husband and wife duo Thierry (ski instructor), and Lindsey, the chalet is ideal for both groups and families looking for either a catered or self-catered break.
Lindsey is a huge health enthusiast and had a lavish feast ready for us to tuck into featuring some of the finest local produce the region has to offer. It’s just the kind of fuel needed for the activities to be had around here. Yorkshire-born Lindsey is incredibly knowledgeable about well-being and has a personal interest in the power of essential oils. And she is all about the natural beauty.
“Can you believe the average woman applies some 80 chemicals on her body in the morning?” she said. I was horrified. I could have chatted all day about the oils. But with time not on my side, I had to head out and explore the area.
Morzine is accessible on foot but just a small car ride away you can find yourselves at the foot of great trails and hiking routes. We head straight to Valle de la manche for a nature hike, stopping briefly to admire the Glamping bubbles. If you ever thought of sleeping under the stars as a child, well, then this is the grown-up version. This original accommodation is great for connecting with nature around the clock while still enjoying comfort and technology. Set up in three sections – entrance area, a sphere worthy of a hotel room and a bathroom – you will never want to sleep indoors again!
Keeping with the nature theme, why do yoga indoors when you can do it outdoors? Chalet Morzine has the perfect spot to do yoga on the veranda. Sun salutations have a literal meaning here as we welcomed the new day in through a session ahead of an alpine mountain walk.
Morzine is at an altitude of 1,000 metres and the highest you can get around here is 2,500. And there is plenty to see en route from flowers to herbs to wildlife. One thing you will notice is that everything is far more fragrant. Thyme, cumin, wild garlic all smell so strong, you don’t even have to bring it close to your nose to take in the scent. And they have many uses.
Our guide Veronique Fillon told us the plantain leaf is great for any insect bites while the millepertuis is a soothing healing plant. After a google search I realised this was St John’s Wort, which is known to relieve depression. And because everything is natural here, with cows grazing on natural products, cheese is of such a great quality. In fact, the simple dish we devoured consisting of cheese, potatoes and onions at the Relief Montagne tasted scrumptious, all washed down with Violette – a concoction of white wine with cassis.
The transition we made from Morzine to Les Gets was via a mountain bike ride with Activités Morzine. Riding up in the mountains on an electric bike to get there further and faster with views of Mount Blanc. The icing on the cake was staying overnight at Chalet d’alpage run by Florence and Guillaume Rosset. They host cyclists and hikers alike, whom are treated to the most authentic dining experience and views that beat any filtered Instagrammed shot.
Leaving Morzine behind, Les Gets is an attractive, small, family-friendly resort with a very French feel to it, partly because of appetising food and wine shops lining the main street. The area of slopes it shares with Morzine is the most extensive local network in the region, and in some respects Les Gets is the better base for that shared area.
The village has a quiet ambience that appeals to families, though it does liven up at weekends because the main street is lined with attractive food shops, bars and restaurants. The centre is fairly pedestrian-friendly, too, and a popular and attractive outdoor ice rink adds to the charm.
Parking ourselves at the charming Hotel Marmotte, we once again explored the area on foot getting right into the heart of the mountains. This time we enlisted the help of Michel Rstalski, a passionate naturalist, who took us on a walk in the alpine village of Mont-Caly. Taking a ski lift, we hiked in the protected pastures discovering medicinal plants of the mountains.
My favourite has to be Arnica montana. Very versatile, this magical plant is used for muscle aches, and physical and emotional shocks. It can be used both internally and externally. Our walk concluded with a demonstration on how to make our very own balm from the plants we had collected. Aside from the plants, the views of the Mont Blanc range are simply beautiful here and I would recommend stopping for lunch at Cheverelles to enjoy them fully.
There’s plenty more to do here in Les Gets, from turning your hand to pottery (there’s a pottery workshop at Le Ferme de la Sarre), to ‘yogapero’ (rooftop yoga followed by wine tasting at Le Bacchus by Crychar). And of course, all those activities command good nourishment. There are plenty of eateries that will get your taste buds going. With an action-packed itinerary, we scouted some of the best out there. The Wild Beets Kitchen, offering healthy food for lunch and fine-dining restaurant Annapurna, left a lasting taste in our mouths.
Where and how?