Morzine is at the heart of the Portes du Soleil, a vast ski area with statistics to dwarf other resorts. There are 650km of groomed runs – the largest linked ski area in the world – taking in 12 traditional towns and villages across both France and Switzerland. The unique selling point of the Portes du Soleil is the on-snow experience.
Les Gets is one of the prettiest villages in the Alps — chic and stylish — both in the town and on the mountain. This is a fantastic place; not just to ski, but to relax with family and friends. The pistes run right back to the heart of the village where bars and restaurants meet the slopes, making this an ideal location for family ski holidays.
Méribel lies at the heart of The Three Valleys ski resort and is an extremely popular village, not only because of its excellent location and access to snow-sure skiing, but also it’s lively yet laid-back atmosphere. Ideal for families, friends or corporate groups alike, the variety of pistes suits beginners through to experts.
Chamonix market is on a Saturday morning, starting about 7am. Larger than the Morzine market, with a much stronger Italian influence, you will be hard pushed to leave empty handed. Make sure you indulge in a pre-9am mulled wine from a scruffy looking French man who tends to locate himself centrally, serving from his ancient-looking le chaudron de feu (cauldron). Our other top tip, buy Italian; it’s fresh and authentic from just a few kilometres away over the border.
Annecy has three markets but we recommend the Sunday market. A large food market can be found in the old town – cobbled streets, colourful stalls, fresh produce, French locals and tourists alike, all jostling to enjoy some of the many delicious samples. An after-market ice cream is a must, as is a walk along the lake shore. Annecy is known internationally as the Venice of the Alps and is easily deserving of more than one day of your time.
There are many natural thermal spas in the Alps and they are worth a day trip to enjoy them. One of our favourites is Lavey Les Bains just across the border and is one of the hottest thermal waters in Switzerland. With two outdoor pools and an indoor swimming pool, all open year round, you can enjoy healing waters of around 32°C to 36°C as you bob about their lazy river and relax on their underwater loungers. Their pools are located in gardens with gorgeous mountain views but are even better in a snowstorm with a toasty body and cold snowy face. The pools stay open well into the evening, the outdoor pools lit up to create what feels like an illuminated fairy tale. The spas also have their own hammans, saunas of varying temperatures, and freezing plunge pools. Afterwards you can dine in their restaurant or perhaps stop off for fondue in Abondance on your way back.