Forest Bathing This Summer in the French Alps

STORY BY Patrick 17th March 2021

There is a new wellness activity on offer in Morzine in the French Alps this summer which draws on the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku.

Literally meaning ‘forest bathing’, it is a form of natural therapy, which despite the name, does not involve getting into water.

Devised by the wilderness expert Simone Simpson, the half-day experience is designed to help participants stimulate their five senses, through special breathing, walking, and listening techniques, while enjoying their forest surroundings. Comparable to a form of meditation, the excursion departs the town centre every Tuesday morning during the summer and instils holidaymakers with the skills they need to practice the art-form anywhere.

It is believed that Shinrin-yoku has the power to counter depression, anxiety, and stress, with some even suggesting it can help with blood pressure and sleeplessness. The activity costs €30 per person and can be booked through Morzine Mountain Cooperative, with the price including transport from the village centre, equipment, and light refreshments.

Morzine in Summer

Although Morzine is less travelled outside of the ski season, it has just as much to offer in the summer with hundreds of hiking and biking trails set against the spectacular Alpine scenery. There are around 380km of marked trails in the area with varying degrees of technical skill required, as well as 15 mapped road cycling itineraries to explore.

In addition, holidaymakers can choose from a range of climbing, trekking and fishing excursions or an array of more transformative experiences, like horse-back rides in the mountains or taking to the skies over the Alps in helicopter or paraglider. Traditional horse-drawn carriage rides through the picturesque town centre, outdoor yoga sessions and gastronomic walking tours are ideal for those wanting to simply relax and unwind, while thrill-seekers can take advantage of the region’s superb canyoning, paragliding, white water rafting and mountain biking.

Morzine lies at the heart of the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski and MTB area and only an hour and a quarter from Geneva Airport. Benefiting from direct flights from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds.

For UK holidaymakers wanting to explore the entire region, Morzine acts as the perfect year-round central base. Situated at an altitude of over 1,000m, it is one of the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts and closest to the Chunnel, enjoying panoramic mountain views and, thanks to the Mont Blanc microclimate giving pleasant warm temperatures in the summer.

Authentic Foodie Heaven

Retaining much of its Old-World charm, Morzine remains free of high-rise buildings with many original wooden chalets still in service, and despite its modern facilities, the resort has a traditional village feel with boutique hotels, independent shops, superb restaurants and a weekly market featuring local produce.

Indeed Morzine has long been admired for its superb food offering, but the village is also fast developing a name for its variety of alluring alcoholic beverages. The Ibex and Bec Jaune micro-breweries serve up a refreshing range of Alpine lagers, ales and stouts, while those that prefer a drop of red, a glass of white, or something sparkling, should head to Morzine’s latest drinks venue, WineNot.

The bespoke wine cellar opened this year and is the brainchild of Véronique and Thierry Marchand, who run the much-loved local restaurant La Chaudanne. Visitors can choose from more than 400 different types of wine (and 60 spirits), with bottles available from every French wine region, along with some international varieties. The resident sommelier Michael is on hand to provide tastings, guidance on food pairings, and expert advice on the best regional vintages.

Travel Safe

The UK government’s roadmap cautiously suggests that foreign travel may be possible again from mid-May, and last week the French foreign ministry indicated that travel restrictions for Brits could be eased sooner rather than later. This means we are all hopeful that holidays to France will be back on the cards in the coming months. With UK tourism hotspots booking up fast, the French Alps will make for a tantalising alternative for those itching to get abroad.

Local tourism providers have been working hard to ensure that every one that can travel this summer, will have a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Morzine has been awarded the ‘SafeGuard’ label by the Bureau Veritas France, which provides a guarantee that the resort respects the protective sanitary protocols put in place by the authorities and those recommended by the World Health Organisation, while also ensuring appropriate COVID-19 training for village workers. A number of reassuring health and safety measures will be in place throughout the village, allowing holidaymakers to make the most of their time away, but the ski lifts, which during warmer months are used by hikers and bikers, are set to operate at 100% capacity.

A seven-night stay, at the three-star Hôtel La Clef des Champs in Morzine, on a half board basis, arriving 3 July 2021, is priced from £859 pp based on two sharing a standard room. Includes return flights from London Gatwick to Geneva and transfers.

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