Discover the fascinating history of Morzine during your ski holiday

The idyllic alpine town of Morzine is a bustling ski resort, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. Unlike many famous ski resorts in the French Alps that have become commercialised over the years, Morzine has retained its quintessential French charm. Because of this, it’s a popular choice for a ski holiday for both French and international tourists, including hundreds from the UK and Ireland travelling with Simply Morzine each winter. So, why not join them and book your ski break at one of our catered chalets, apartments or hotel in Morzine, and whilst you’re here, dive into Morzine’s fantastic history? We’ve rounded up Morzine’s fascinating past which we hope you enjoy…

Over 1,000 Years of Morzine History

Morzine hasn’t always been the thriving ski resort that it is today. In fact, its history dates back more than 1,000 years, and over the centuries, it has been the home of monks, miners and farmers. In 1181, Morzine was a Monastic grange of the Cistercian Monastery of Saint-Jean-d’Aulps, a town seven kilometres away. The grange was an agriculture centre where lay-brothers would work the land to provide the monastery and community with food, clothing and building materials. The monks flourished in the region for centuries until 1531, when Saint- Jean d’Aulps gained independence from the Cistercian monks. Over the next 250 years, Morzine was a peaceful farming town which prospered. Then in the 1800s, technology had evolved, and it wasn’t long before the town became a hub of thriving slate mining activity. Slate mines went 350 metres deep into cliff faces, and the huge sheets of stone were transported to nearby villages and towns including Thonon and Taninges.

Ski Clubs, Ski Slopes and Grand Ski Hotels in Morzine

The mining industry brought great wealth to Morzine, and it wasn’t long before tourism became a focal point. And what better way to attract visitors than to create ski runs and open hotels and a Morzine ski club? The first hotel to open in Morzine was the Grand Hotel. Local businessman Francois Baud established the hotel in 1925, and he went on to build Morzine’s first ski run behind the property. In 1934, the Pleney Cable Car was constructed – just the second to be built in the whole of France. Originally used by hikers, the cable car soon became a hit with more daring skiers who were keen to try steeper slopes. Morzine as a ski resort was born.

Secret Smuggling from Morzine into Switzerland

This is where the history of Morzine gets really interesting. Due to its prime location on the border of Switzerland, Morzine was a hotspot for smuggling activities in the 1940s. Most of the smuggling was the transportation of cigarettes, coffee and even livestock, however it wasn’t long before World War II saw many Jewish people passing through Morzine to find safe passage into Switzerland, and in turn, freedom. An amazing story.

Olympic Skier and Tourism Development in Morzine

In 1960, local skier Jean Vuarnet won Gold at the Squaw Valley Olympics. Bringing great pride to his home town of Morzine, Vuarnet implemented the changes that would go to make the region a fantastic ski holiday destination. This included the development of Avoriaz in 1963, and linking resorts in France and Switzerland to create the vast Portes du Soleil region as it is known today.

Modern Morzine

Today, Morzine continues to have a strong farming industry, despite obviously being a popular tourist destination for both ski holidays and summer hiking, biking and family activity breaks. The town’s restaurants boast exquisite cuts of meat, and there are plenty of local producers, from cheese and dairy to makers of the local tipples, Poire and Genepi.

The alpine town of Morzine is now bursting with a variety of ski runs, ski accommodation, shops, bars, restaurants and cafes that seamlessly blend in with the relaxed French way of life. Our luxury catered chalets, self-catering apartments, and charming Morzine hotel sit in the heart of this alpine market town, so you’re never far from the action. Whether you’re visiting Morzine – in the summer or winter – a stay with Simply Morzine will leave you with magical holiday memories.

Trip Advisor Simply Morzine
Atout France
Portes du Soleil
Morzine Avoriaz
Simply Morzine Multi Pass
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