Leave the snow behind and visit Morzine in the summer, an outdoor playground in the French Alps with hiking, mountain biking, lake swimming, adventure sports and fantastic mountain scenery.
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It’s summer in Morzine ski resort in the French Alps. The wooden chalets and mountain peaks are the same. But the ski jackets and gloves have been swapped for shorts and sunglasses. The snow-covered pistes for meadows full of wildflowers. The skis for hiking boots and mountain bikes. And the vin chaud and fondues for picnics and chilled rosé.
The Alps might not be the most obvious destination for a summer holiday, but you’ll find beautiful scenery, lots of activities, great food and drink, and bargain prices. So here’s a rundown of the best things to do in Morzine in the summer, for all the family – from mountain hikes and lake swims to whitewater rafting and mountain biking.
Morzine is part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area on the border between France and Switzerland, which covers 12 resorts and 400 miles of ski runs. In the winter it’s packed with skiers and boarders, squeezing as much time on the piste as possible by day and then partying all night. But Morzine in the summer is a lot more relaxed.
Many Europeans cottoned on to the joys of summer in the Alps long ago, but most of us still migrate to the Mediterranean to swelter on packed beaches at premium prices. Head to the mountains instead and you’ll find temperatures averaging 21ºC (70ºF) in Morzine in July and August. So it’s warm but not too hot with lots of fresh mountain air.
Morzine is one of the Alps’ more established summer holiday destinations, with a good selection of places to eat, drink and stay. And as summer is low season in the Alps, you can grab a bargain, even if you’re travelling with kids and tied to school holidays.
You can have a low-budget break by renting an apartment and self-catering. Or take advantage of the lower prices to splash out on a luxury hotel or catered chalet. Whichever you choose, there are plenty of things to occupy you in Morzine in summer.
Things to do in Morzine in the summer
Walking and hiking in Morzine
Morzine is surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, and the easiest way to explore it is to take a walk. You don’t have to be a hardcore hiker though – there are tons of different options, from extreme climbs up mountain peaks to gentle riverside walks.
And if you’ve been to Morzine in winter you can have the slightly surreal experience of walking along the slopes you skied on, though they can be hard to recognise. It’s fascinating how a change of season alters the landscape so much. Winter’s snowy pistes become meadows dotted with colourful wildflowers in early summer.
There are over 200km of signposted walking routes around the Portes du Soleil area, and you can access many without needing a car. Paths are fairly well maintained and easy to follow, though you might have to share some sections with mountain bikers.
Yellow signposts point you in the right direction and tell you how far you’ve got to go. Though they use times rather than distances and can be a bit inconsistent – we had 45 minutes to go on one walk, walked for 15 minutes then had 50 minutes left!
There are cafés and shops in towns but not a lot along the paths. So it’s a good idea to pack a refillable water bottle and snacks. The weather can change pretty fast in the mountains with lots of summer storms, so carry a waterproof and sunscreen. Many paths are stony so you’ll need decent walking shoes or sandals and might want a walking pole.
The Portes du Soleil has a summer scheme called the Multi Pass, which gives you access to lifts, local buses and activities for €2.50 a day if you’re staying at participating local accommodation. It means you don’t have to climb a mountain to start your walk, or can walk to another town and get the bus back rather than having to retrace your steps.
You can pick up a booklet of suggested walks at Morzine’s Tourist Information Office. But these were four of our favourites – none too strenuous and all accessible without a car.
Morzine to Les Gets
Take the Pleney gondola to the top, where there’s a chalet restaurant with a terrace overlooking Morzine. Follow the path towards the hamlet of Nabor and down through Les Folliets to the ski resort of Les Gets, which has lots of places for lunch.
The walk takes around 1.5 hours. You can then either catch the Balad’Aulps bus back to Morzine or take the Chavannes lift back up into the mountains, and walk along the high path to your original start point and then catch the Pleney cable car back down.
Morzine to Avoriaz
Take the Super Morzine cable car from Morzine and then the Zore chairlift. At the top you’re up on a ridge with some amazing views towards Morzine. And it’s about an hour’s walk through the forest to the neighbouring ski resort town of Avoriaz.
There’s no easy way to get back to Morzine from Avoriaz so you’ll have to retrace your steps – double check timings if you want to catch the Zore chairlift back down though as it’s only available for pedestrians to descend at certain times.
Morzine to St Jean d’Aulps
I spent six weeks in St Jean d’Aulps one winter so this was a real trip back in time. It’s an easy flat walk which starts from Morzine’s leisure centre and follows a path along the river.
It takes around 1 hour 40 minutes to reach St Jean and then it’s another 15 minutes’ walk up through the town to the Abbey. The ruins are well worth a visit and there’s a café where you can get lunch before catching the bus back to Morzine, which stops just outside.
The Lac de Montriond
Take the bus from Morzine to Lake Montriond, where you can swim, kayak or paddleboard on the lake. There are couple of restaurants for lunch, including a good crêperie. It’s an easy 30-minute circuit around the perimeter of the lake, but you can extend it by following the path at the far end up to the Ardent waterfall (around 40 minutes each way).
Or you can follow the path from the lake car park through the woods to Montriond village (40 minutes) and catch the bus back to Morzine from there.
Mountain biking in Morzine
The Portes du Soleil is one of the world’s biggest mountain biking areas, so Morzine is a real hub for mountain bikers in summer. It’s a good sport to try if you miss the adrenaline rush of hurtling down the pistes in winter. Though the ground is a lot harder in summer so make sure you have decent protective kit – helmet, gloves and elbow, knee and shin pads.
You can hire a bike in Morzine or bring your own. There are over 100 trails from beginners to advanced, downhill to cross country, with four linked bike parks in Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz and Châtel. Slopes are graded green, blue, red and black in the same way as pistes. And beginners can take a guided trip with an instructor to try it out.
Bikers can use the lifts to take their bike up the mountain then pick a trail and cycle back down. You can buy individual tickets or get a mountain bikers’ lift pass, which covers the whole Portes du Soleil area and costs €33 for one day or €132 for a week.
The area is also popular with road cyclists, though it’s non-stop hills so you need to be seriously fit if you want to follow in the tracks of the Tour de France (or there are electric bikes for hire if you need an extra burst of power to help you get to the top).
Swimming in Morzine
Morzine has a big leisure complex in the Parc des Dérêches. It has a heated Olympic-sized outdoor pool that’s open from July to September plus smaller children’s pools and a water slide. There’s also an indoor pool if it rains with saunas and Turkish baths.
Entry to the pools is free with a Morzine Multi Pass, though there’s a French rule that men aren’t allowed in public pools wearing baggy board-style shorts, so pack your Speedos (or something equally small and tight) – if you forget there is a vending machine.
You can also swim in a couple of lakes near Morzine. There’s a swimming lake with water slide in Les Gets. Or at the Lac de Montriond there’s a smaller pool with a lifeguard on duty as well as the main lake. These mountain lakes are fed by meltwater streams so can be chilly, especially at the start of the season, but are definitely refreshing on a hot day.
Morzine for kids
The Parc des Dérêches leisure complex has tons of facilities and activities for children. It’s where you find the swimming pool, paddling pool, waterslide and bouncy castle.
There’s also a long park running along the river. This has riding school which does lessons and treks, with tiny ponies for young kids. It also has a playground and treetop adventure park with bridges and zip lines, which has three different sections for children from two to teens. Plus there’s a skate park and basketball, tennis and street hockey courts.
You can also speed down the slopes on the summer sledge run, which starts from the top of the La Crusaz chairlift and has two trails with different lengths and difficulty levels. Kids over three can go down with a parent and over eights can ride solo.
Adventure sports in Morzine
If you fancy something more adrenaline-fueled, there are tons of adventurous sports around Morzine. There are several companies in town or the tourist office can book for you.
You can go whitewater rafting on the Dranse river, which is fed by glacial meltwater from mid-May to September. There’s also canyoning, caving, rock climbing and the Fantasticable, a 3km-long zip line over Châtel which can get up to 100km per hour.
Or for a bird’s eye view of Morzine you can try paragliding (known as parapenting in France). You take the Pleny cable car up to the top and jump off the mountain attached to an instructor with a GoPro and a selfie stick to record it all for you. I’m not great with heights but my sister tried it out and the views looked amazing.
Sightseeing in and around Morzine
The mountains are the real star in this area, but there are a few places to visit if you fancy something different. Nearby there’s the ruined abbey at St Jean d’Aulps, the mechanical music museum in Les Gets and the goat village of Les Lindarets – the goats roam free and you can feed them as well as picking up goat’s cheese from local producers.
If you have a car, you can also do day trips further afield. Within easy reach are Lac Léman/Lake Geneva and the spa towns of Évian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains (45 minutes drive) and other ski resorts like Chamonix (70 minutes). The gorgeous lakeside town of Annecy – one of my favourite spots in France – is only 90 minutes away too.
How to get to Morzine
The nearest airport is in Geneva, 80km away. Several companies offer shared minibus transfers from Geneva Airport to your accommodation in Morzine for around €65 return per person. Chambery and Lyon airports are also both around 2 hours away.
You can also get to Morzine by train from Paris – it takes 4–6 hours (depending on which train you choose and whether you have to change en route) to reach the nearest stations at either Cluses and Thonon-les-Bains. Then you can catch the bus from either Cluses or Thonon to Morzine, which take just under an hour each.
Where to stay in Morzine in the summer
The accommodation options in Morzine are split between hotels, chalets and apartments. A lot of ski chalets in Morzine close for summer, or are rented out on a self-catering basis. But there are some which still operate as catered chalets in summer.
Catered chalets come with hosts to cook and clean for you, and are great for group trips, with breakfast and daily cake included, plus dinner on five nights a week and wine and beer in the evenings. We stayed in a chalet with More Mountain who specialise in chalets in Morzine and have a few summer catered options in their larger chalets.
You can also get bargain self-catering apartments in Morzine in the summer. I found a two-bed apartment for £500 for a week in August (the same place was £1300 in January). As there are a lot of apartments and lower demand in summer you can sometimes negotiate a better price, or some places offer a discount if booking for a week or more.
Chalet Robin* is a six-bedroom property sleeping 12 a short walk from the centre of Morzine with a big lounge on the top floor with balcony, an open-plan kitchen-diner and a hot tub on the ground floor. Or Chalet Delphinette* sleeps up to seven with two bedrooms and a sofa bed. It’s newly renovated with a hot tub and panoramic terrace views.
If you prefer a hotel, the stylish four-star Hôtel Champs Fleuris Morzine* has a mix of double, twin and family rooms and suites. There’s a restaurant and bar, indoor pool and spa, and a rooftop terrace overlooking the mountains. Or the Logis Hotel Les Bruyères* has Alpine chalet-style rooms with balconies and an outdoor pool, sauna and gym.
Tuesday 3rd of September 2019
I heard so much about this place, thanks for giving me a clear picture how the place looks like. i would love to have a taste for summer in the mountains.