Summer in Morzine. The day the Tour de France came to town

By Hamish Crawford, Simply Morzine Resort Manager.

When the Tour de France rolled into the Portes du Soleil and past our Simply Morzine properties this summer it was just the most incredible day. One that myself, and I’m sure everyone else who was in Morzine will never, ever forget.  I hope this blog gives a flavour of just how special it was for all the Simply Morzine guests and our staff who were lucky enough to bear witness to the penultimate stage – before le Tour finished in Paris the following day. That was after a grand total of 3529 km were pedalled from start to finish, over 21 stages across 3 weeks.

For me, summer in Morzine 2016 will be remembered for two things. The first being the almost endless long days and hot sunny weather we enjoyed throughout July and August, which helped to make our family alpine adventure holidays a resounding success. The second – one unusually drizzly day on Saturday 23rd July 2016. This was a rare occasion when for once the sun didn’t shine all day long. But it didn’t matter. The blue skies instead seemingly made way for a grand sporting spectacle that turned the attention of the world towards Morzine for a few hours. The Tour de France.


Without a doubt, ‘Le Tour’ is by far the most famous event in cycling, attracting tens of thousands of spectators for each stage as it travels around France and occasionally into other countries like the UK, Spain and Switzerland.  For me, the Tour de France conjures up images of heroism, of sheer grit, of winning – and of super-human athletes digging deep into the realms of possibility. The fun part for us mere mortals, watching from the roadside as they whizzed past our chalets and hotels, was a truly fantastic occasion that’ll live long in the memory.

Summer cycling in Morzine – with a difference!

Morzine embraced the honour of again being chosen as an arrival host destination for le Tour in great spirit.  As the big day approached, the summer buzz intensified with the whole Morzinois community coming together to give the teams the warmest of French welcomes.  Everything in Morzine from tiny chalets to larger hotels and all in between – including vehicles, lampposts, shop windows, zebra crossings and even livestock – showed their support by decorating in the famous King of the Mountains “polka dot” jersey of red spots on a white background. It was quite a sight to see Morzine, our traditional chocolate-box alpine village, dressed in colourful spots! Many of the roads were covered in white paint by fans with the names of their favourite cyclists; the idea being that this gives encouragement to the competitors as they soldier on with their heads down in the heat of biking battle. Interesting stuff!


The mountainous Megève to Morzine stage

This stage of the Tour de France took place between Megève to Morzine, over a massive 146.5 km. Cycling fans ignored the rain and lined almost every inch of the route to see their cycling heroes rocket past.  It included 4 mountain cols, with the final test being the infamous Col de Joux Plane. I’m sure this col needs little introduction, but just in case you don’t know, it is a colossal 1000m vertical climb which begins in nearby Samoëns.  From the top of the Joux Plane, it was then downhill all the way to Morzine, with the cyclists reaching tremendous speeds. We enjoyed watching the athletes ride almost past the front doors of our accommodation portfolio, and on to the finish line in the town square.  Our premium property, Chalet Coeur de Morzine, is situated metres away and as such benefited from a prime, grandstand view. It was even spotted on TV several times! Some Simply Morzine staff were welcomed into the chalet by our lovely guests, from where they enjoyed seeing the riders arrive from the comfort of the terrace. Other staff members lined the final 100m along Rue du Bourg, whereas some of the gang went further afield, taking the ski lifts up into the mountains. This was followed by an hour-long ramble to line the climb at the top of the Joux Plane.  They said it was well worth the alpine hike!

Whatever our vantage points, we were all especially pleased to see the phenomenal success of Chris Froome, who arriving safely in the peloton. The 31-year-old successfully defended his crown to join an illustrious group who have won Tour de France title three times, plus he’s the first ever Brit to do so. What an achievement and what a man.


Meeting Nairo Quintana at our Morzine hotel!

At the end of a great day, some of the Tour teams stayed in Morzine overnight, whilst others set off for their next destination in Chantilly, outside Paris. Simply Morzine guests and staff even got to meet Nairo Quintana himself (who came 2nd behind Froome in the general classification). The Columbian superstar, along with the rest of the Movistar team, spent the night at Simply Morzine’s Chalet-Hotel La Chaumiere. And who was first in line for a photo and autograph? Our very own Chairman Mike Marshall!


L’Etape du Tour

I can’t end my blog without mentioning another massive cycling event that finished in Morzine this summer. This one took place a few weeks before the Tour, earlier in July. l’Etape du Tour is the biggest amateur cycling race on the planet and around 15,000 enthusiasts rode the exact Megève to Morzine Tour de France stage that Froome, Quintana and co. tackled a few weeks later. One of those taken part in the searing 30°C+ heat was Simply Morzine boss Gareth Marshall who trained hard for months. Like the Tour de France, l’Etape du Tour wouldn’t have been possible without the local Morzine community pitching in. I myself volunteered and helped weary cyclists like Gareth store their bikes in the Morzine tennis courts, whilst they enjoyed a well-deserved rest after the race.


See you in Morzine next summer!

All in all, it was an excellent summer in Morzine with so much going on every week of the season. It’s been exhausting, invigorating and so much fun and I can’t wait for it all to happen again next summer. If you’d like to find out more information about a summer holiday in Morzine please contact our UK office.

I hope to see you in Morzine next summer!

Hamish Crawford


Trip Advisor Simply Morzine
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