Morzine and Avoriaz represent the rich heritage of Haute-Savoie.
Morzine is overflowing with history: the village alleys, the chapels, the chalets with finely decorated balconies and slate roofs, and the bourgeois houses and stone castles in the wealthy district of Udrezants.
On the other hand, the camouflaged architecture of Avoriaz reflects the ethos of the 20th century. Its futuristic red cedar buildings, such as the Hotel des Dromonts, encapsulate Vuarnet's dream for the resort (www.hoteldesdromonts.com).
Ever since the 12th century, when the colonial German Walser people arrived from Valais, wood has been widely used to build houses. The roofs, floors, fireplaces, furniture, balconies, and even the tools used to make them, are all created using wood.
The Aulps Valley is scattered with forests, so wood is available in
By the end of the 18th century, houses were being made from softwood, with stone to strengthen the foundations.
In summer, the mountain pastures are warm, but wood cannot keep out the bitter cold of a Morzine winter. The residents wanted warm, safe and sturdy homes and the cattle needed protective stables. Wood therefore started to be replaced by durable stone walls. As the Alpine community adapted to their natural environment and the local resources, it had an inevitable impact on the architecture.
The slate roofs of Morzine are a prime example. Discovered in 1730, the local metamorphic rock soon became one of this area's biggest industries. By the nineteenth century, there were up to 70 quarries worked by 250 people. With the advent of tourism in the mid-1930s, the slate quarries gradually ground to a halt. However, Morzine is one of the last remaining slate producers in France.
The workshop is open to the public, and you can watch the artisans at work (www.ardoise-morzine.com).
Morzine is special, unique. A village of the past, it has maintained its traditional Alpine character by embracing sustainable tourism. The values in Morzine are passed down from generation to generation, and the welcome is always warm and unconditional.
To truly understand the local way of life, you should sample some delicious traditional dishes. By staying true to typical Savoyard recipes, producers are helping to keep Alpine traditions alive. I recommend a visit to the Fruitière de Morzine to get up close and personal with the traditional cheese-making process (www.alpage-morzine.com).
Looking for some Savoyard tomato fondue? The original is served at La Chaudanne, one of Morzine's top restaurants (www.lachaudanne-morzine.com/en).
The Lac de Montriond is found in the village of Montriond, between Morzine and Avoriaz. Hidden beneath towering cliffs, this mountain lake is the third largest after Lake Geneva and Lake Annecy. In winter, scuba divers drill through the thick layer of ice that covers the lake.
If you take a walk on the path beside the lake, you can see the holes they use to dive into the depths. The lake also provides a peaceful yet striking landscape for cross-country skiing: I highly recommend it!
When the ice melts in the summer, you can swim in the crystal clear waters, go trout fishing, rent a canoe or a pedalo, take a pony ride or explore in an electric mini car.
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