Insight: Les Gets / Morzine
Insight: Les Gets / Morzine
Our early evening approach to Les Gets gives little idea of the setting or how it might all look in daylight. But there’s no denying that the heart of the village looks a picture twinkling appealingly in the chill darkness, while mounds of snow are piled up at the roadsides. It’s visibly upmarket too, as our check-in at the Hotel Marmotte confirms; when your first visit makes you feel more like an old friend making a welcome return you know you’re in good hands.
We sleep soundly and awake to brilliant sunlight. It’s been some time since the most recent snowfalls but a combination of exceptionally low temperatures and skilled piste management (with judicious use of snowmaking) has kept things in good shape for skiers. Nevertheless we make an early start, and climb aboard le petit train – an interesting alternative to the usual shuttle-bus, which drops us on the opposite side of town at the Mont Chéry gondola lift. It’s a good place to begin, since snow-quality on the mostly south-facing slopes holds up less well than across the valley.
After the gondola ride a quick transfer to the Pointe chairlift gets us to the 1826m mark to add our tracks to the neatly-groomed corduroy of Marmotte.
The red-graded piste crests a top-of-the-world ridge benignly before spearing off right onto a breathless plunge down through the trees into L’Encrenaz. It’s still cold down below so snow quality is good, rewarding us for our early start. There are a couple of black-graded access runs on this side too but our time is limited, so we ski back to the gondola and down to the village. Next time we’ll make a point of taking the Grande Ourse chairlift or the Super Chéry draglift, which serve a slalom piste, plus further red and black runs down through the trees to the Planeys chairlift. There’s more skiing over here than you’d imagine, and since most skiers are focused elsewhere it can be a good place to head for low-pressure skiing when temperatures are low – which usually means in the mornings.
We take the train…
Meanwhile, back at the base of the gondola, another slightly surreal ride on the shuttle-train gets us back to our starting-point. Having got Mont Chéry out of our system, we now take the Chavannes Express chairlift and during the ride check out the Déborah Anthionaz boardercross run, one of the longest we’ve seen. Turning left at the top of the lift (at 1620m) offers a red-graded run into Morzine (or a Blue, via the Folliets du Golf chair), but we head the other way to ski the blue-graded Violette piste over to the next chairlift, the Ranfoilly Express, which whisks us up to the 1826m summit of Le Ranfoilly. The views from here are fantastic, as is the scenic cruise on the red-graded Tulipe over to the La Rosta 4-seater chairlift serving another great panoramic viewpoint: the 1665m summit of La Rosta, from which there are blue- red- and black-graded descents.
Our choice is the Eglanine red, which falls away to enter the tree-line above the base of the La Rosta sector’s chairlifts.
This time we take the la Rosta lift’s companion, the Grains d’Or Express up to the Pointe de la Turche (1633m) to take Vorosses, a blue-graded piste which we soon leave to join a red. The aptly-named Mélèzes (‘larch trees’) fires us down the Perrières Express six-seater chairlift.
From the top it’s just a minute or so’s gentle run down to our lunch-break target. The Restaurant La Païka is the classic mountain hideaway and the fine weather finds the terrace filled with appreciative skiers pondering the temptations of the today’s chalkboard menus. Grilled chicken from the barbecue gets our order.
Riding Les Gets’ historic drag-lift
Access to the restaurant is via the blue-graded Vorosses piste, so leaving means finishing the run – the lower section of which turns out to be a quite icy when we tackle it – all the way down to the welcome sight of the antique Turche draglift.
This modest but important lift dates from 1945, and is still both privately owned and operated (such is its fame that it even has its own Facebook page). After launching out from the covered departure area we climb steeply through the trees for a 1.2km-long haul, with a vertical acent of around 330m.
When we finally wobble off gratefully at the top a gentle blue cruise on Renardière marks the start of our return journey to the village.
The route passes the Mappy’s novice area, the Anthionaz boardercross area and the new Territoire Grand Cry – an American Indian-style childrens’ village complete with tepees, a mini boarder/skiercross run with sound system, plus activities including war-paint face-painting, treasure hunts and drawing competitions. It’s a fun place which is designed to entertain the mountain visitors of the future.
Next comes the Nauchets Express chairlift, which hauls us high above the Stade de Slalom to the start of a blue-graded run down Gentianes. Almost before we know it we’re back to our starting point, after a rewarding day’s skiing on the pistes above Les Gets. Evening finds us in a fittingly mellow, satisfied mood in which to enjoy the simple pleasure of being here, in what has already begun to feel like a genuine home-from-home.
Feature by Roger Moss, © 2018