By Amie Henderson
On Friday 21st April 2017 most of Morzine turned out for an extra-ordinary meeting of the town’s planning commission. On the agenda was a presentation officially confirming the resort’s intention to build an extensive new lift connection between Morzine and Avoriaz. Of course, we’ve all been listening to rumours of the new connection since as far back as 2009. And even though there’d been no official announcement concerning the plan, an opposition group had already formed to take legal steps to halt progress.
Express Morzine-Avoriaz has its base at the top of the Rue du Bourg (to the right of the Odlo shop and opposite the opticians) and runs over the rooftops of Morzine, connecting to the existing Prodains Express base at the foot of the Avoriaz cliffs. From here ‘EMA” as it’s now known, continues on to Avoriaz. With construction scheduled to begin in 2019 and completion anticipated in 2021, an eye watering €35 million budget has been allocated to the project, with a further €11.6 million to be spent on the construction of surrounding infrastructure.
A tunnel beneath the village links the new lift to the Pleney Express, making the connection between the Morzine-Les Gets side of the valley and the wider Portes du Soleil easier than ever before. Additionally, a new bus station will be created beneath the new lift station in the area known as Le Plan (site of the current carpark in front of Carrefour). In total, the Mairie de Morzine-Avoriaz has committed a staggering €147.9 million to the development of pistes and ski lifts over the next 20 years, titling the project “Morzine-Avoriaz 2020”.
The volume of investment promised in the Morzine-Avoriaz 2020 project is almost unprecedented in European ski resorts. The Mayor has a clear objective to integrate the two resorts as much as possible and many consider the new lift link to be necessary to safeguard Morzine’s future as a world-class mountain resort. At the same time, many disagree. A number of prominent local business owners have founded the Association pour de Development Harmonieux de Morzine Avoriaz, or ADHMA for short. Their mandate is clear – they are in favour of improving the links between Morzine and Avoriaz – but not at all costs.
“We are in favour of improving the link between Morzine and Avoriaz” an ADHMA spokesperson told Source. “On the other hand, the one proposed does not correspond to the objectives displayed by the municipality. We propose two possibilities; one by cable car, with a departure point near to the Hotel La Clef des Champs to join at Les Prodains, and the second, a more simple extension of the Super Morzine lift to Avoriaz. The costs of these two alternatives would be significantly lower than the EMA”.
With over 200 prominent local members, ADHMA will provide a formidable opponent to EMA. The group’s objective is to preserve the natural and built heritage of Morzine-Avoriaz and to provide advice on projects that may affect the harmony and quality of life in the village. We will of course keep you posted on developments and oppositions as they arise.
Meanwhile, over in Les Gets…
Another long-talked-about major lift project is the proposed ‘teleporter’ link between the Chavannes on one side of the valley and the Mont Chery mid-station on the other. The new connection would make it easier for skiers and snowboarders to explore the incredible terrain in one of the Portes du Soleil’s quietest corners, breathing new life into the bars and restaurants on the mountain. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the prospect of a new lift floating 50 metres above the rooftops of one of the prettiest Alpine villages hasn’t been well received by all. After many years of debate however, this project looks set to proceed, although an official announcement has yet to be made.
Mountain bikers in the Ranfolly bowl this summer will see that the Ranfolly chairlift is being entirely replaced in time for the Winter 17/18 season. The current 4-man lift, originally constructed in 1986, will become a 6-man capable of carrying 3300 skiers per hour with a total investment of €9.5 million.