- Snow Reports
With a rich ski heritage, pristine snow, a rustic Alpine village and acres of interconnected terrain to explore, Morillon is the favoured resort of those who want some quality skiing without the glitz and glamour. And as it’s located just 15 minutes from the nearest motorway junction it’s one of the most easily accessed resorts in the Alps.
The resort is nestled in the Giffre Valley in the Haute Savoie region of the Northern French Alps, only 55km from Geneva airport, and although Chamonix is close by the two resorts couldn’t be more different in terms of, well, everything. Chamonix is home to expert terrain and is firmly on the party-map while Morillon offers the best gentle terrain for beginners. You wouldn’t describe the former as cute or simple but the latter is both. Morillon is tiny and often overlooked, but, it’s very sweet, its slopes are crowd free and as it’s part of the Grand Massif ski region with access to 265km of downhill skiing and 351 individual pistes (served by 78 ski lifts) it makes for a really good base.
The resort is one of five linked resorts, each with their own unique character, that make up the Grand Massif ski area. There’s Flaine, previously nicknamed Phelgm, which is known for its offensive concrete apartments, Morillon 1100 (also called Les Esserts) - the purpose-built village above Morillon. There’s also Les Carroz, with its gorgeous tree-lined runs, and Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, very authentic French and exceptionally pretty. It’s worth exploring the Grand Massif region and an all- area ski pass will give you access to ski or snowboard in all of the Grand Massif ski resorts.
As for Morillon, it’s pretty and sleepy, and families with young children may just love it. It would be difficult not to, what with an assortment of blues, the terrain is largely suited to beginner and intermediate level skiers, the resort is compact and the village centre is pedestrianised, it’s quite charming and nursery slopes are centrally located. The ski schools are very child friendly and include ESF Morillon which provides skiing, snowboarding, ski-touring and mountaineering, snowshoeing and adaptive skiing classes. There is a children’s village which looks after little ones as teeny as six-months old. Find it underneath the cable-car arrival station.
Snowmaking operations have improved in recent years and there are now dozens of snow cannons on the ski run which connects Morillon village and Morillon 1100. This a particularly nice cruiser which is open for longer during the season.
One thing that’s really great and of which other resorts should take note are Morillon’s efforts to make skiing accessible to everyone. The Handi TATU Giffre Association was set up in the region with the specific aim of advancing access to ALL in Morillon and in the Grand Massif Area. The association works with Morillon ski school ESF for driving or teaching seat-ski. Something to note: since 2011 skiers with disabilities have been able to access Les Esserts directly by the cable car.
In terms of where to stay, we like the rather sweet Hotel Morillon which is ideally located just a stone’s throw from the slopes. A former bakery, the hotel has all the features of a gorgeous rustic Alpine hotel with a touch of chic. The rooms are romantic - all pinewood and hearts – there’s a huge fire where you can enjoy cozy evenings with your family, and a modern spa and pool for the ultimate in relaxtion.
Beginners are in terrain heaven in Morillon. A good option would be to take a gondola ride to Morillon 1100, hop on the Sairon chairlift and try the Marvel run. This pleasant green run is long and winds its way along the tree-lined edge of the mountain back to 1100, where you go up again. Once beginners are feeling confident they should make for the blue Sairon. If that looks a bit hairy, head towards Marvel and take a right onto Freres which has a really gentle gradient – perfect for practising turns. But beware – the route is popular with ski schools so you might find yourself amid some zippy young’uns.
Generally, piste difficulty increases with altitude but in Morillon beginners will benefit from easy runs on the upper slopes which allows for superb mountain views. A famous run for beginners is the Piste des Cascades which stretches 14km down from Flaine, passing waterfalls, and ends in Sixt Fer a Cheval. A free shuttle bus service operates between the resorts until6pm so jump on this to get back to Morillon.
For young ones, the Marvel Safari is not to be missed – this is a wooded descent with information boards dotted along the way which explain the local flora and fauna. Also hidden along the safari piste are life-sized animal figures. Try and spot the bearded vulture and the rock ptarmigan.
Intermediate level skiers would do better to head to Flaine where they’ll find long easy runs down to Morillon 1100. Morillon is slightly cheaper accommodation-wise than Flaine, so if you’re on a budget, we recommend staying in Morillon.
Expert terrain is lacking but there are some decent runs with good vertical in Flaine and the Gers bowl. Experts should head to the challenging reds and blacks above Morillon ski resort – ask your hosts or drop by one of the ski schools to get some local knowledge.
On the slopes
Enjoy a wide range of traditional French food at this special mountain hut on the slopes. The hosts at Le Chalet d’Clair are welcoming, service is attentive and food is excellent. The only downer is that it can get very busy and people will queue for a table but we think that’s a sign of a great time. Don’t miss the cozy woodburner upstairs! Also, the restaurant has wheelchair access.
La Carline is a gorgeous little restaurant with a great buzz in the village of Morillon. It offers a broad range of dishes to choose from, all freshly made, coupled with friendly informal service and great value for money. Portions are generous and the meat raclette and lasagne come highly recommended. For pudding, go for the caramel buttered brioche.
For fab pizza and juicy steak head. The sun terrace at lunchtime is divine. Staff are accommodating and can cater for large groups. House wine is served by the jug – we approve! Booking is required for evening meals.
Apres really isn’t very happening at all. And things (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view!) don’t come alive at weekends either. Still, there are a number of bars that have a good atmosphere - we like La Puzze which serves great pizza and good beer. Find it opposite the Morillon cable car station . FYI – it’s also the headquarters of the Antoine Deneriaz Fan Club! If you’re in the resort on a Wednesday, don’t miss the top quality food market – it sells sublime cheese and wine.
Alpine skier and Olympic Gold medallist, Antoine Deneriaz, hails from this little town. And last year the resort launched an exciting event in partnership with Antoine in recognition of the ten years that have passed since he won the downhill race in Turin. The challenge, which features speed games, rifle shooting, orienteering and a quiz, starts at the top station at 2,200m, and ends at the bottom station, in the village, at 700m. After the games, an award ceremony and concert follow.
Phone: +33 (0)4 50 90 15 76
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