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.
Les Gets is part of the vast Portes du Soleil, the world’s largest ski area with more than 650km of pistes spanning 12 traditional mountain villages across both France and Switzerland. There is skiing for all abilities, be that young first timers or adventurous skiers looking to test themselves on tough slopes. Those not skiing will also enjoy Les Gets – many of the best mountain restaurants can be reached on foot allowing you to meet up with your group for lunch. The scenery is beautiful, with an abundance of stunning snow shoe walks or spots to simply take in the incredible views.
Les Gets is a beautiful alpine village dating back to the 12th century as a traditional farming community. Pretty chalets and cobbled streets nestle on a high mountain pass with great views. It’s a spectacular natural location and a real trap for both sunshine and snow! The main village itself is incredibly chic, long popular with both local and international visitors. You’ll find all manner of shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars to explore at your leisure.
Les Gets forms part of the Portes du Soleil, one of the largest linked ski areas in the world comprising 12 interconnected ski resorts across Switzerland and France offering:
- Chic, attractive, traditional village atmosphere
- Skiing for all abilities and great for families
- Beautiful walks and activities for non-skiers
- Part of the Portes du Soleil – the worlds largest ski area
- Fantastic mountain restaurants
Live Like A Local
There is a hidden door, a secret place, an untold secret. That is the essence of travel, that journey of discovery when you uncover a gem, stumble upon the unique; when you truly manage to live like the locals. If you are looking for the authentic here are a few places to start.
FOR PEOPLE WATCHING IN LES GETS VILLAGE
Les Notes Gourmandes
Les Notes Gourmandes, come winter, come summer, has the best people watching location in Les Gets village. In the centre of town with views up the mountain, from 8.30am you can enjoy coffee on the sunny terrace and watch the world go by. Better still, it’s located across from the village square so in winter it is the perfect place to watch families and children play on the ice rink. In summer there are numerous activities such as a kids cycle track. For afternoons there are cocktails and lots of crepes to choose from so this is a great central village stop off and a wonderful morning suntrap.
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE
Altitude Lodge, Les Gets-Chavannes Plateau
Altitude is just left of the two drag lifts on the Les Gets plateau. It is an unassuming chalet from the outside, modern and stark on the inside. But look beyond this. The hot chocolates (thick, like the Italians make it) are served in their own little carafe so you can pour it yourself, directly into your glass, that is already filled with marshmallows and cream. On the side you’ll enjoy a small brownie, perhaps another marshmallow or two. This is hot chocolate heaven. Enjoy, then back on your skis.
THE OTHER BEST HOT CHOCOLATE
La Grande Ourse, Mont Chèry
On Mont Chèry you have to go to La Grande Ourse. Their hot chocolate deserves an Instagram. Our recommendation, say yes to ALL available toppings. Just go early, or late,as they get very busy and you might find yourself waiting for service.
FOR A MOUNTAIN CAKE FIX
La Paika is without question one of the best and most popular restaurants in the entire region. It features heavily in any resort guide, or press review. Come winter or summer, for incredible mountain dining, drinks, mountain BBQs, the best views, you name it, they do it and they are the best. But we can’t even get past the front door. Because inside there is a cake display, two tables worth of the freshest most delicious cakes, homemade, fresh baked, cakes of every kind, everywhere. If you can get past them and look at the menu inside, you will enjoy the most wonderful mountain feast. We have never got further than an espresso and a huge slice of cake while sitting on the sunny terrace.
FOR HIGH ALTITUDE COFFEE WITH A MONT BLANC VIEW
Le Relais Panoramique (pedestrian access)
Located at the top of the Mont Chèry chair lift is this unassuming restaurant that serves coffees from first lifts, has an indoor picnic area (as the french say) for anyone bringing up their own lunch, a low fuss canteen, and a restaurant. Their terrace is always sunny with incredible views across to the Mont Blanc, and the front side of the terrace allows you to watch skiers descending Mont Chèry’s pistes. We recommend the sunny terrace as a great meeting place for your whole group, non-skiers alike, and a perfect early morning coffee spot. If you decide to have lunch, finish with a Cafe Gourmand for dessert!
FOR VILLAGE BRUNCHES TO KEEP YOUR SKI ENERGY UP
Café Alba, Les Gets
From a chef as passionate about breakfast foods as he is about fine dining, brunches at Alba are a treat. Traditional Scottish, Welsh and English including incredible black pudding. It will set you up for your ski day. Perhaps use it as a mid-morning stop off after skiing Les Gets. Book ahead, then follow up by skiing Mont Chèry, especially on a powder day.
FOR THE BEST BURGERS IN TOWN
K2, Les Gets
K2 is an unassuming street side cafe close to the main square in Les Gets. With friendly staff and an extensive and delicious burger menu it offers a choice of meats and cheeses second to none. It makes a perfect stop-off for a quick lunch (perhaps on a trek from Mont Chèry to the Les Gets pistes) or perhaps for a sneaky après or late night snack. This is the locals’ choice for burgers, and has received rave reviews on TripAdvisor. If you are not into burger-eating check out their list of crepes. Let’s just say, we are definitely a fan of those.
Les Gets is located in the Haute Savoie and is one of the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, less than one hour from Chamonix, and benefiting from the Mont Blanc microclimate, it forms part of the Portes du Soleil, the largest ski area in the world comprising of 12 Franco-Swiss ski resorts that will keep you busy for many holidays to come.
Resort Altitude: 1200m
Highest lift: 2466m
Vertical Drop: 1466m
Winter Season: Runs from approximately 10 Dec – 30 April
Summer Season: Runs from mid-June to early-September
Local population: Year round
Just over an hour away. From here there are regularly scheduled flights across Europe and internationally.
Annemasse and Annecy
Regional airports and a good option for those travelling by private jet. Both are less than an hour away.
NEAREST TRAIN STATIONS
Cluses or Thonon
Both less than 40 mins away.
Take the Eurostar from London to Paris (takes around 2 hours 20 minutes) or Lyon. Then take a high-speed TGV to either one of the two train stations that service the area, Cluses or Thonon (see above).
Off mountain Les Gets and the surrounding area offers so much to its visitors that it would be easy not to ski at all. There are the basics such as local cinema, large swimming pools and an aquatic centre, bowling, an open-air ice rink, ice hockey, parapenting, ice diving, snowmobiling, tobogganing and snowshoeing. But there are also nature discovery tours, day trips, cheese-making tours, spas, tennis courts, climbing, horse-riding and many cultural events and offerings. The tourist office is one of the most proactive and works tirelessly to offer visitors the very best mountain experiences.
Things To Do
It is easy to forget in the midst of a ski holiday that there are other equally exciting things to experience. In reality, such is the plethora of non-ski activities, they warrant an action-packed week’s holiday of their own. Les Gets offers a wealth of such experiences that happen well away from the slopes. They are perfect if you are catering to a mixed group with some non-skiers, or for when you have some piste downtime. Here are just a handful of activities on offer.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
After a day on the mountain why not enjoy the likes of ten pin bowling, French cinema or watch a game of ice-hockey. They are perfect ski downtime pursuits requiring little to no organisation and still offering a slice of French life.
Ice hockey is a local passion. The local team often competes internationally and the league is demanding. The ice-rink is located in Morzine and fixtures vary throughout the winter but there should be a match on most weeks. Enjoy an early supper in your chalet then head to the stadium close to the Morzine Mairie. We recommend getting a drink from the bar inside and then finding a seat on the same side of the stadium, behind the team benches. There are normally lots of spare seats and you can watch the players tag in and out during the match and listen to some very enthusiastic locals.
The French love ten pin bowling and it offers a really nice change of pace for the whole family. Bowling really does transcend international borders so the rules are the same, the bowling alleys look the same and most lanes offer on and off-peak times so it’s often worth visiting during quieter times to lose a few hours getting your bowling skills back. Le Bowling Bar, Les Gets, is a small underground bowling alley & bar located on the main high street. Perfect on bad weather days, or just a good place to go with a group and get competitive! If you are already on the mountain, Avoriaz also has a bowling lane.
LOCAL FRENCH CINEMA
More Cinema Paradiso than giganton multiplex, why not try an authentic French cinema? Located in Les Gets village, Cinema Le Club is a one screen, one movie kind of affair. Brush up on your French by watching the newest French films, or perhaps a French dubbed American blockbusters. Alternatively choose a VOST (Version Originale) and watch the current hit in English. The French are not big on American-style super-sized snacks so you might want to sneak in your own bag of Maltesers or you will be restricted to small packets of pre-cooked popcorn and non-brand fizzy drinks.
CULTURAL VISIT – THE MECHANICAL MUSIC MUSEUM
A very cultural experience, Les Gets’ Museum of Mechanical Music has one of the finest collections in Europe of mechanical instruments (around 600 exhibits). Enjoy a guided tour (all the instruments are working) and discover chimes, clocks, musical boxes, automatons, organs, orchestrions and mechanical violins, mechanical and pneumatic pianos, phonographs and gramophones to name just a few. All are displayed in their historical context so it offers a historic and cultural learning experience if the mountain isn’t cutting it for you!
Thursday is local market day in Les Gets where you can wander amongst the locals buying fresh produce for their weekly shop. Aside from regionally grown vegetables and meat there is also an abundance of local produce on offer from savoie cheeses and traditionally cured meats, to wild mushrooms, jams, wines and digestifs. Italian produce is sometimes available from across the border, as is a welcome vin chaud to keep you warm during your winter wandering. After the market take a walk along Les Gets high street where there are more artisan shops selling locally made chocolate and cakes, patisseries and alpine-inspired interiors. Chamonix & Annecy also have wonderful weekly markets.
Aquariaz is, on a basic level, a water park located high up in the mountains in Avoriaz (a cable car or drive from Les Gets). But this aquatic centre offers a lot more. Yes, there is a fun river that winds through lush tropical vegetation, a slidewinder (which is like a water halfpipe), a children’s paddling pool, a large swimming pool with surrounding climbing walls, massage benches and even an open-air spa heated to 34°C. But this is a hybrid concept of creating a water park that keeps kids entertained but also houses natural tropical vegetation from around the world. There are over 1570 different tropical plants and 183 tropical trees imported from all around the world. It also houses one of the oldest mahogany trees in the world (350 years old). Inexpensive and fun, with a little bit of botanical education thrown in. If you can, visit during their off peak times, when everyone else is on the piste.
ON MOUNTAIN, BUT OFF-SKIS
There are some must do on mountain (off-ski) activities that warrant a place on your holiday to do list. Husky dog sledding at sunset, snowshoeing through mountain forests, cross-country skiing (ski de fond) across mountain paths, sledding (day and night) and ski-joering behind a horse, all offer truly traditional mountain experiences that don’t require the use of a ski pass. Located across the resort, each activity will introduce you to traditions intrinsically linked to the local area. The likes of snowshoeing, dog sledding and ski joering were genuine modes of transport during harsh winters centuries ago. Ski de fond (cross country skiing) is incredibly historic dating back to the Vikings who would cross snow passes on versions of our modern day cross country skis. And sledding. Well, when isn’t sledding fun? While more of a list than a specific recommendation, we do think making time for a least one of these mountain experiences will make your winter ski break feel even more authentic.
ONE FOR THE KIDS – ELECTRIC SNOWMOBILES!
Kids as young as 5 years old can learn to drive electric snowmobiles (specifically designed for their age) on a dedicated, enclosed circuit. Located at the Lac des Ecoles and Gentiane blue run below the Chavannes Express chair lift, the park is open from Sunday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. The extra bonus is that the activity is deemed entirely “zero emission” which means it has no negative impact on the local environment. This was a massive hit last winter and, at the time, was unique in France.
Morzine has in recent years experienced something of a gastronomic renaissance from a range of talented and creative chefs with diverse roots and pasts. Examples are the industrial chic of the Bec Jaune with its Asian-Fusion influences, the emerging pop-up dining experiences such as Kaiseki, The Boutique Chalet Company’s multi-course Japanese dining experience and L’Atelier, where a local French man returned to Morzine with Michelin starred experience determined to establish fine dining in his home town, effectively raising the gastronomic bar.
Le Vaffieu is a traditional Savoyard style chalet-restaurant located walking or skiing distance from the top of the Pleney cable car. With an interior dining area full of traditional exposed wooden beams and alpine paraphernalia, and a large heated indoor/outdoor terrace, you would be forgiven for turning up without a reservation. But this sunny mountain restaurant is a favourite for locals and tourists alike. The delicious regional fare is perfect after a morning skiing, as is the fine red wine. Their ‘croûte’ is the best on the mountain but if cheese is not your thing then their lamb cutlets are amazing as is the seabass. On a sunny day reserve a table on the terrace but in the depths of winter try and get the table closest to the bar where you can listen to the owners and locals in high-octane conversation as they work.
East-London-meets-Meatpacking-District this microbrewery bar is more Shoreditch-chic than mountain-cliché with an industrial interior adorned with mismatched furniture and eclectic board games. Their menu of Asian-fusion pub grub, from organic Kimchi and pulled pork burgers, to delicious Ramen bowls and the best Scotch eggs on the planet has become one of the most popular destinations for locals. All the beers are brewed in-house, the wines tend to be organic and the staff are effortlessly cool and knowledgeable. Who goes here? The local inhabitants of all nationalities, including the French, who are not quick to embrace the new. We say reserve a table in the far corner (left of the bar as you face it). It offers the best views and the calmest seats when the bar invariably gets busy. No matter what you decide to order, you must sample a scotch egg.
Chez Nannon is the mountain refuge we think we want to hike to, but probably never will. Thankfully this Morzine mountain restaurant is accessible from the Ravarettes or the Troncs Express chairlifts so just requires you to gently slide. As you approach the quaint wooden structure (that can be partially hidden on a truly snowy day) you will be greeted with the scent of bubbling pans of melted Reblochon cheese, a plume of smoke dancing up from the chalet chimney and an open fire oven on the terrace. This is a classic Savoyard mountain restaurant of the highest order and inside it feels more like a mountain hut with small windows, cosy wooden furniture and with the same family working the kitchen every year. They might be busy but they will feed you well. Book ahead to ensure you are not disappointed. We recommend reserving a table inside in either of the furthest corners to avoid the incoming and leaving foot traffic. Chez Nannon is famous for its tartiflette (Reblochon cheese, potatoes, lardons a large side salad and chunks of fresh bread) which is served in a bubbling pan to your table. The Côte de Boeuf and cheesy potatoes are also good, as are the steaks and burgers.
Behind the otherwise unassuming façade of the three-star Hotel Le Samoyède in the village centre, you’ll find L’Atelier, one of the finest dining experiences in the region. In a class of its own
L’Atelier was the brainchild of local chef Alexandre Baud-Pachon who, after working in top restaurants in Geneva and Courchevel, came home in 2004 to set up on his own. The restaurant offers a fabulous fine-dining experience and is popular with people in the know (it would be easy to pass through Morzine and remain unaware of this luxurious dining experience). We recommend the Fantaisie Chablaisienne tasting menu along with the wine pairings, featuring a number of local wines. This is an eight-course feast inspired by seasonal local specialities, crafted to perfection and concluding with the best cheese trolley we have ever seen! Ask for a table in the far right corner by the window where you have a fantastic views of the staff gliding around the restaurant.
One of Morzine’s longest running restaurants and subject to a superb renovation a few years ago, and again, this autumn. The menu is extensive, the atmosphere cosy and the food delicious. Downstairs there’s a vaulted wine bar with glass front cellars which is a great place for an aperitif. La Chaudanne is a superb option for families as it is incredibly welcoming to children (being French run) whilst also delivering a dining experience that all the family will enjoy. Make a reservation because this is a firm favourite among the local population. We suggest a booth in the corner close to the bar. Ask about the plat du jour as it often includes incredible fresh fish. Alternatively, if you are feeling decadent, we love the deconstructed burger of duck, fois gras, rosti and morels.
FERME DE LA FRUITIERE
Cheese fondue is the bedrock of alpine tradition and history; it is a dish born out of the harsh realities of alpine life. One must experience an authentic cheese fondue to have truly experienced the mountain. To enjoy this most authentic of all alpine dishes we would recommend Ferme de la Fruitiere, the restaurant of one of the oldest and most celebrated cheese producers in Morzine (whose fromagerie and cheese shop are located next door, where you can watch the cheese making process on Wednesdays). Family owned, the restaurant is a beautiful wood and stone chalet structure with a cosy interior and a roaring open fire. Acknowledged in the Michelin guide as a restaurant to experience, this is the place to try local dishes and produce, specifically cheeses and fondues. Sit upstairs next to the roaring open fire (it’s the largest we think we have ever seen!) and order the fondue with morels. The portions are generous and the desserts all handmade. We advise booking ahead.
Alpine nightlife can be hit and miss. Gregarious après, repetitive music and a general sense of excess over excellence can become wearing to the discerning traveller. So what if your holiday time is too precious to waste and your palate too discerning for disappointing drinks? Here are a few of our preferred destinations for the famous aperitivo hour and beyond.
Morzine’s incredibly popular microbrewery bar that’s more Shoreditch-chic than mountain-cliché. With mismatched furniture and a menu of Asian-fusion pub grub it is the perfect post-piste destination or a great choice for a relaxed night out. Let yourself be led by the knowledgeable too cool for school staff who will happily talk you through the different craft beers on tap, (all brewed on-site) the organic wines and the ever-changing cocktail of the day. With a team passionate about offering ethical, well-sourced and quality wares it’s easy to see why this has become the destination for locals, tourists and French Morzinoise alike (who would typically have stuck to French-owned wine bars). If you are with a bunch of friends order a pitcher of beer with a side of nachos and take a seat in the mismatched sofas in the window. We would particularly recommend the owner Chrigl’s house IPA – an American-style brew that is full of flavour.
THE CHAUDANNE CAVES
The Chaudanne restaurant first opened its doors in 1979 and remains the popular choice for locals and tourists alike. In 2010 the owners Thierry & Veronica completely renovated the building. With modern clean lines, still inspired by Savoyard chalets, the restaurant now offers a large internal dining area and covered outdoor dining spaces including a raised lounge area for comfortable aperitifs. We go for the cellar bar downstairs. It can be glimpsed through the glass floor at the restaurant’s entrance and is the perfect wine cave with a vaulted stone ceiling, thousands of bottles of wine and a sommelier on hand. People cluster on soft cream leather sofas around chunky wooden tables enjoying a delicious tapas menu, but we say take a seat at the bar. On quieter nights the sommelier is always happy to talk wine and may even offer you a few recommended tasters.
Rue du Bourg
On a ski holiday, finding and connecting with the authentic local population can be near on impossible. Which is why we take our coffee and aperitifs in the Tyrolia at the bottom end of the Rue du Bourg, opposite the Mairie. French owned, run and frequented, have a morning espresso on one of the tables overlooking the river, or a lunchtime galopan (the French version of half a half pint) with the plat du jour. This is the place where people are watched, news is shared and French gossip is made. They also make an incredible house burger.
COUP DE COEUR WINE BAR
From 7am through to 1am this local wine bar is open to an ever changing array of locals and tourists alike. Pre-9am you’ll find French business owners running in for their morning espresso, some stopping long enough to enjoy the complimentary side plate of small pastries and macarons offered with every drink. From 9am it becomes more traditional, with French ladies organised in small clusters catching up on local happenings, and tourists reading newspapers, planning their day ahead. With a heated front terrace with comfortable sofas, and a large, slightly bohemian rear seating area with tables and chairs mixed up with plants and sculptures, the Coup de Coeur appeals at all times of the day. A large wine list, knowledgeable staff, and an impressive selection of spirits (including some interesting international whiskeys) makes Coup de Coeur a great choice. At night snuggle under blankets and watch the antics on the outdoor ice skating rink located opposite the rear terrace; try one of their home made pizzas, which are some of the best in town; and try their quite delicious Jeeper champagne, so called to honour the Jeep 4×4 given to producer, Armand Goutorbe, by the prefecture, so he could peruse his growing vines.
COCKTAILS FROM BERTRAND IN THE FRENCH SIDE OF THE DIXIE BAR
It is as specific as it sounds. One particular barman, in one particular section, of one sprawling bar. The Dixie Bar is actually a French-owned Irish bar, one side of which offers the very traditional experience of beer and sports. Live music is sometimes played in the far end of the bar (catch The Dixie Mix if they are in town). But the Wine Bar is our preferred destination. Enjoying its own entrance (the entrance closest to The Rhodos) its décor will leave you wanting but you’ll find French locals here enjoying the hospitality of the owner, a large man called Pascal. Pascal splits his time between Spain and France and offers his guests Spanish olives, bread and dried meats on platters all from his home in Spain. Fresh oysters are sometimes on offer and the local chocolate maker frequents this bar and often brings with him delicious handmade chocolates that are handed around the bar. We go there for Bertrand, a French barman who diligently studies the ever-changing art of cocktail making and makes delicious cocktails that easily eclipse the best of London or Manhattan. There is art and drama to his creations, such as his Smoked Old Fashioned, presented with fresh sprigs of thyme smoking on an antique wooden platter covered by a glass bell jar. It’s all about Bertrand so if he’s not there you better take a seat at the bar, order a glass of rouge and hope for some free chocolates.
Rue du Bourg
You could conceivably arrive in resort empty-handed and kit yourself out in-shop. From thermals and socks, to outerwear and goggles, to evening wear and street shoes – Slopestyle is a cornucopia of mountain style and street fashion with big brands for on and off the mountain. Their sister store, The Woods, on the opposite side of the street stocks more technical brands such as Patagonia and AK. You can also hire snowboard equipment from here, wrigglet boards for under 5s, and book snowboard lessons with Mint Snowboard School, who has an office in the corner in a little wooden hut. Both shops are also great for gift purchases. Open winter and summer.
Route du Téléphérique
If you are looking for a shopping fix that is not mountain or ski related, Rouge Chili is your destination. It offers an authentic French shopping experience and is genuinely the shop of choice for the glamorous French local population who you will occasionally spot enjoying a coffee or aperitif around town. Located at the top of the Rue du Bourg it is open year round offering womenswear and menswear as well as great accessories and shoes.
Route de la Plagne
L’Alpage is the perfect end-of-holiday stop off to buy presents for loved ones and stock up on supplies for your own kitchen. It is filled with local produce from dried meats, jams, preserves and digestifs, to locally made cheeses and wines. Much of the cheese is made in-house in the fromagerie underneath the shop, where you can also enjoy free weekly tours to watch the cheese making process. A glass floor allows you to view some of the ageing cheeses, and a wine stores offers a selection of different regional wines.
EDELWEISS & COQUELICOT
Rue du Bourg
Edelweiss & Coquelicot on the Rue du Bourg is a beautiful home interiors shop with alpine interior essentials. With interior decorations such as luxury throws, cushions, candles and rugs, to larger pieces of furniture, treat yourself and recreate your luxury mountain experience back at home. If you are buying gifts their table decorations and customised lamps are gorgeous although we’ve always got our eyes on their sheepskin and cowhide rugs!
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.