Turning Mindfullness On Its Head in Morzine
Morzine France is best known as a ski resort, but as Mark Bibby Jackson discovers there are plenty of eco and sustainable things to do in Morzine in summer.
It would be easy to commence my article with me suspended upside down from a ceiling supported by a ‘tissue’, a type of hammock, but I will leave that image like myself at the time, hanging. Instead I choose to focus on our walk up the Zore mountains in the Super Morzine on our final evening in the French Alps. Here guided by Hervé, we had a picnic surrounded by the most wonderful wild flowers with sweeping views across the mountainside down towards the town of Morzine where we had spent the previous two nights.
As my colleagues camped around the salads, bread, cheese and wine we had purchased earlier in the day at the local market while Hervé made repeat runs from the barbecue with sausage, haloumi and kale, I dozed off for a few moments in the hammock our guide had slung between the trees. I’m never really quite sure what mindfullness is meant to be, but I think I might have experienced it at that moment.
Wild Swimming in a Lake
Another term that confused me for years was ‘wild swimming’. I always had an image of people rushing into the sea and screaming at the elements their hands flapping wildly in the air. It took me a while before I realised that the wild was as redundant as a Conservative Cabinet minister; a pitiful attempt to rebrand something with which we are already familiar – the swimming I mean.
So, as we drove to Lake Montriond on the outskirt there was a definite sense of déjà vu as I experienced wild swimming for the first time. While the rest of my group gathered to put on their wetsuits I strode into the waters of the lake confident that any Alpine Lake could not be a match for the North Sea. For once my confidence proved guided. And as the others – apart from one who followed my example – struggled with their excess of latex I floated mindlessly in the lake trying to ignore the crew nearby filming some commercial for aquatic footwear. It was bliss, and far warmer than Scarborough in June.
Staying at the Farmhouse
The previous evening we had checked into The Farmhouse, the oldest property in Morzine. A large sign on the side declares it celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2021. The building has only had three owners in that time, the most recent of which Dorrien and Di took over the reins 30 years ago. In addition to the main building there is also a former cobbler’s shop and carpenters workshop, which have been wonderfully restored to produce 11 unique rooms, one of which used to be Morzine’s only prison cell.
It is a wonderful building, but beyond the wooden beams, slate floors – it was built by a slate mine owner – and beautiful tiled roof, the main appeal of The Farmhouse is the incredible sense of tranquillity as you sit in the beautiful gardens with views across to the Alps. I can not imagine there is a better place to stay in Morzine than The Farmhouse.
Sampling the Local Cuisine
After my not so wild swimming, we ventured into the mountains surrounding Morzine to taste one of the region’s many local dishes. Originally we had planned to go foraging with Véronique Fillon for our food, but unfortunately she had sprained her ankle the day before. So arriving at her mountain chalet we encountered Véronique her leg raised and table set for us to enjoy péla a tradition mountain dish made from potato, onion and reblochon cheese, which resembled the cholera dish I had tasted previously across the border in Switzerland. Served with bread and salad it was fulsome fare well deserved after our morning’s exercise.
It was sometime about this time, standing at 1,490 metres once more surrounded by the most spectacular countryside, that I remembered to breathe. There is something quite incredible about the Alpine air. Filling your lungs with it prepares you for anything in life – well almost anything.
Aerial Yoga and Ziplining
A few hours later I found myself suspended upside down from the ceiling as our instructor Sara talked us through aerial yoga. Initially, I found the experience rewarding. The ‘tissue’ in which you wrap yourself acts as a welcoming support to those of us who are not too familiar with yoga. But with time as some of my colleagues managed to contort themselves and the tissue in ways that was beyond my comprehension I realised that having a body with the suppleness of a battered ironing board proved something of a disadvantage. However, I did manage to do the upside down pose, albeit my height proving an asset for once as I rested my head on the floormat.
I found my legs later that evening as we took a very pleasant stroll beside the river ending up at Bec Jaune a superb gastro pub that has its own micro brewery and sources its own organic ingredients locally. A few brown beers, an excellent courgette and goats’ cheese salad, and an impromptu birthday dessert later, I think I could have flown back to The Farmhouse but fortunately like everywhere in Morzine our hotel was only a shot walk away.
For me adventure travel is more about the places you visit and the people you encounter there than the adrenaline rush you can get from throwing yourself off the side of the mountain. At least that is my excuse for not joining in with my colleagues the following day as they went ziplining at Tyroferatta across the Nyon Canyon; my paralysing fear of heights had nothing to do with it.
So, as others went flying through the forest I went for a swim in a nearby waterfall. They say that taking a quick dip in freezing cold water is good for the circulation – if that is the case then I believe I now have the best circulation on the planet. As is often the case, a few seconds bravely trying to cope with my temperature plummeting quicker than my colleagues on their ziplines, was followed by minutes of struggle as I forlornly tried to recover the vestiges of my dignity while performing a rain dance on the nearby rocks as I changed out of my icy swimming trunks. Fortunately I had never taken to the French tradition on enforcing speedos upon the viewing public.
A Green Garden and Picnic
Earlier that morning we had visited Morzine market, and a nearby vegetable garden in Saint Jean d’Aulps run by Thierry Torrens the chef of La Chamade Restaurant, where we had spent our first night sampling local wine and cheeses, the perfect introduction to the cuisine of Morzine.
The garden is a wonderful example of local sustainable tourism in action. In many respects it reminded me of my visit to the Inverness Botanic Gardens I had visited earlier in the year in the way it supports the local community. Technically it is not certified organic, as the process is costly, but as she showed us around the gardens, which she tends with her faithful colleague Jessica, Marianne assured us that everything was organic. They have lots of herbs and vegetables which they supply to about a dozen Morzine restaurants, including La Chamade. It also has the most beautiful views – but there again where does not in this blissful corner of the French Alps.
The food tasted amazing, as we settled down later that evening with Hervé and the wildflowers. The following morning we took the cable car up the mountain for one last look down upon Morzine and then had lunch at Le Colibri restaurant, for a final taste of the local cheese, but it is here that I would like to conclude my journey to the French Alps, relaxing in Hervé’s hammock my head not firmly on the ground, and drifting off into a state of possible mindfulness.
Our Morzine hotel was The Farmhouse: A night’s stay costs from €200 / £169 (for two people sharing a room, including breakfast).
Morzine Lift Pass
A summer lift pass (pedestrians) for Morzine, and the Portes du Soleil, costs from €3 for a single trip (€6 return).
Morsine Photo Essay
Airports Near Morzine
Mark parked his car at Gatwick Airport with Holiday Extras, the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges, and transfers – and every thirty seconds, a Holiday Extras customer saves £100 on their airport parking. Booking airport parking means you can enjoy more holiday with less hassle. Plus with Flextras, if you need to cancel or amend you can – without charge. Three days of airport parking at Gatwick is available from £67.50. To book, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678. Price searched on 12 July 2022 for arrival on 2 August 2022.
To check out the current weather in Morzine, click here.
How to Offset Your Flight
Mark offset his flight with a community-based reforrestation project via Trees4Travel.
For more informaton on Things to Do in Morzine
For inspiration on things to do in Morzine in summer, visit the Morzine Tourist Office website.