Morzine, Haute Savoie, France: The Heart of the Portes du Soleil

20 Dec

Slim Dusty sang, ‘There’s nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear, than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer’, but Slim never experienced a French ski resort with no snow the week before Xmas.

To make matters worse, it’s been raining here in Morzine (altitude 850metres). The little snow there is on the uppermost slopes is washing away. Attempts to make snow have failed and skiers who haven’t cancelled their trips are catching buses to Avoriaz where just two lifts are open. Quelle horreur!

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Every cloud has a silver lining and ours has been enjoying mountain walks and the excellent food on offer in Morzine village. Like Meribel, Morzine is a favourite of the Brits, it’s only one and a half hours by car from Geneva to Morzine. Many of them own chalets, hotels, restaurants and bars, even a microbrewery. Others supplement the local tradespeople and the best massage I’ve had recently was delivered by Becky from Wiltshire.

British owned cafes/restaurants provide welcome variety on the traditional Savoyard fare with its heavy emphasis on tartiflette, lardons, fondue and saucissons.

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Special mention for the following Morzine eating establishments for their vegan-friendly options:

– Best soup award goes to Dottie’s Cafe for their broccoli, lemon and tahini soup.
– Best main course goes to Bec Jaune microbrewery and restaurant for their ‘chickpea tofu’ Glory Bowl’.

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– Best attempt to make a vegan entree when there was nothing on the menu goes to La Grange who produced a technicolour plate of heirloom vegetables with a side of roast potato wedges.

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– And best customer service goes to the staff of our three star bed and breakfast Hotel Samoyede who provided me with avocado, tomato and olive oil each morning with a big smile. The soya milk I brought myself but they would have provided if asked!

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I was only able to accompany Stuart on one walk, a gorgeous four-hour round trip trek to the Gold Mine Lake via a waterfall.

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We were surprised on the descent by a motorless trike rider hooning by, closely followed by the van that had taken him up to the lake. Looked like dangerous fun but hey, if there’s no snow what’s an adrenaline addict to do?

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Unfortunately the sniffle I left Australia with developed into raging influenza that laid me low for three days. A trip to France wouldn’t be complete without at least one of us gracing the local GP’s office and it was my turn on this occasion. Ninety minutes of lying on the wooden bench in the doctor’s waiting room to obtain a prescription for drugs to treat my flu symptoms gave me ample opportunity to observe the staff at work.

As previously observed in French medical settings, the auxilliary staff are much more concerned about their colleagues than they are about patients. I overheard a conversation in English between one of the three receptionists and someone in a chalet who was calling on behalf of a British female guest who had fallen, hit her head, and now had trouble moving. The caller asked if a doctor could make a house call. The response was, in perfect English, that if the woman could walk she should be brought to the clinic and one of the two doctors on duty would see her in turn. There was no sense of urgency or concern in the receptionist’s words or tone of voice. And no suggestion that an ambulance might be in order.

Sick as I was it took a lot of self control not to get up and rip the phone from her hands and counsel the poor sod on the other end of the line.

Clearly the notions of triage and compassion have not reached the Morzine medical clinic.

Now we’re on our way to Paris by train to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary in the City of Lights and Lovers. Yes, even old farts can be romantic sometimes!

Here are a few more faces of Morzine. I’d like to return one summer to walk and mountain bike.

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Post Script by Stuart:
Strangers can be wonderful. On learning that I was skiing on my own (when I should have been attending to Sharon whilst she lay on her death bed), a group of Irish and Americans changed their plans to eat down the valley and joined me at a mid-mountain cafe so that I wouldn’t eat alone. I then learnt that I had been skiing in the same place and at the same time as the American some 40 years ago at the little-known resort of Chamrousse. Much reminiscing ensued to the dismay of the youngsters. They then insisted on accompanying me to the bottom of the run.

3 Responses to “Morzine, Haute Savoie, France: The Heart of the Portes du Soleil”

  1. heather December 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    We were thinking about you in the now this week but seems there wasn’t any. anyway have a lovely anniversary and well done “old romantics”. Remembered another saying for New Year in Scotland: Lang May Yir lum reek. Translation: Long May the smoke come from your chimney. Meaning: Wishing you long life.
    Best wishes
    Heather and George

    • Sharon Tickle December 22, 2014 at 6:42 am #

      Thanks Heather and George. Stuart says hello. And I played you recording for Tris and will practice to get the words right for uirsg Footing! Let you know how we go. S&Sxx

  2. Michelle December 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Hello there intrepid travellers. “De jamais vu” is the buzz phrase at the moment in the French Alps for the unprecented lack of snow. Les 2 Alpes is good from 2000 metres ; thankfully you’ll remember it rises to 3600 metres and it’s quite good at the top. Sadly every skier in the area is here as lower resorts remain closed. Needless to say last minute Christmas revelers have given skiing a miss this year and it’s just Him and Me for Christmas lunch. Hoping for snow before the weekend when our New Year guests arrive. Hope they’ll bring their teeshirts and shorts. Happy Christmas and Wedding Anniversary celebrations in Paris.
    Love from us both. M&B.xx

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