Heritage Where tradition meets modernity

Discover the exceptional legacy of a haut savoyard patrimony

Discover the two sides of this rich Haut Savoyard patrimonial legacy. On one side, Morzine whose streets portray the heritage of the past : its chalets with ornamental balconies and slate roofs, its oratories and small chapels….and in the rich Udrezants quarter, its bourgeois houses and stone castles.
On the other side, Avoriaz, listed in the 20th century patrimonial inventory due to its mimetic architecture. Let yourself be amazed by the irregular lines of these red cedar buildings. Admire the Dromonts Hotel, which represents the style of the resort by itself. Also, pay particular attention to its jewels: the police station, the forest house, the sports centre, the prisoners chapel and the “Oiseau Bleu”.

Morzine a heritage of wood,
stone and slate

In abondance in the Aulps valley, wood became the natural choice to build the dwellings.
In the XVIIIth century (and even before, with the arrival of the Germanic colonies, the Walsers who came from the Haut-Valais). It remained the basic material for houses, walls and partitions, carpentry, floorboards, fireplaces, balconies, furniture, milk making tools, roof tiles…..
Another reason for its use in construction was its facility to work with, using simple tools such as an axe or a plane. At the middle of the 18th century, houses were mainly built of wood, only using stone for the foundations.

The Chalets (or mountain huts) were used for only a few months per year during the summer, wood was therefore sufficient for the necessities of the high mountain pastures. However, the village houses where one spent the long winter months with the animals, had to be solid and resist the cold temperatures. Therefore, big stone walls were useful and essential. At the time, the mountain community lived more or less self-sufficiently and had to adapt to the environment, the natural habitat and the resources which inevitably influenced the architecture.

In Morzine, the roofs are usually covered with the slate of the region. Discovered during the 1730s, slate exploitation became an essential economic activity. At the time of the XIXth century, there were 70 quarries in activity, employing almost 250 people. Until 1935, this activity was maintained at an important level, but following the development of tourism in Morzine, most of the quarries gradually ceased their activity little by little. However, Morzine still has one of the last exploited sites, which can be visited by the public.

Slate exploitation became an essential economic activity

The heritage of Avoriaz and
its mimetic architecture

The 60s saw the birth of new resorts known as 3rd generation which fulfilled the following criteria : “skiing is king”. The resort had to have good snow conditions, therefore a high altitude. It also needed to be a quality site, with good sun exposure, a large ski domain with varied slopes to satisfy all levels of skier. Avoriaz fulfilled all these conditions. Jean Vuarnet who grew up in the area, launched the idea of this new resort upon coming back from the Squaw Valley Olympic Games with a downhill gold medal. At the time Avoriaz was just a common abandoned high mountain pasture. An agreement was made between the town of Morzine and Jean Vuarnet and backed by a group of property developers. The resort began in 1960 and rapidly grew. Buildings with quite original architecture sprung from the ground. The rapid growth and the dazzling reputation of the resort did not shadow that of Morzine, on the contrary. The ski area of Avoriaz along with that of Pleney and Nyon, considerably increased Morzine’s touristic potential. The Morzine Avoriaz complex affirms its international scale every year.
The two “ski areas” developed in perfect harmony. Each kept something of its own : one; its old stone and large traditional ski resort dynamics, the other; its futuristic way of life. And so, a new resort was born : Morzine Avoriaz.

The exceptional cliff top position of Avoriaz, and its unique style make an ideal story tale. Its mimetic architecture perfectly illustrates its insertion with the scenery.
There is a perfect harmony between the constructions and the peaks, between the architecture and the landscape : Avoriaz is a resort like no other, spiked with buildings in the form of pyramids which become one with the mountains and where the façades covered in red cedar tiles merge with the wood and stone. Innovatory with its car and pollution free concept, its modern mimetic architecture, which favours buildings to chalets; the general form consists of numerous juts and recesses, roofs that hold back the snow and finally all the buildings dressed with roof tiles, that change colour depending on the weather and orientation.

Focus on René Faublée, an extraordinary architect

Faublée and his creations listed as XXth century architectural heritage.
Born on the 6 May 1906, René Faublée, a pupil at the Parisian School of Beaux-Arts, set himself up in Morzine where he built a house for his parents that he re-bought in 1942. He founded his architect firm there and began to create several chalets. These new buildings were destined towards a wealthy clientele, mixing mountain tradition and urban novelty with the main vocation being the skiers’ stay and comfort. These modern chalets often had a limited hold on the ground. They were built to adapt to the means and needs of these new residents, often city dwellers, who came to ski above all else. The chalets needed to be functional, with a ski room, a living room overlooking the mountains with large bay windows, bedrooms under the attic and lots of storage space.

In the countryside of Morzine, there are still traces left by Faublée that are visible. The triangular plan remains an entirely personal signature of Faublée’s « style ». It can be seen on public buildings, like the Oiseau Bleu (1957) or the Prisoners Chapel in Avoriaz, but equally on private creations such as the « Sol Neu » Chalet listed as « XXth Century Heritage » by the Minister of Culture. The triangular structure enables the evacuation of the snow on both sides of the triangle which drop down onto the back of the construction, otherwise known as the north side, away from any road traffic. The roof has a section that is also north facing, which proceeds with the same logic.

The creations of René Faublée stand out from traditional wooden buildings with two sided slate covered roofs and make up a remarkable architecture, which witnesses a particular time and innovatory vision.

Jacques Labro is a local genius who revolutionised building in the mountains.

Focus on Jacques Labro,
Hotel Les Dromonts

Jacques Labro is a local genius who revolutionised building in the mountains.
The Dromonts Hotel, the first building in the resort on the virgin plateau of Avoriaz, and his first work of art, opened its doors at Christmas in 1965. Its originality, its panoramic location and its wooden tile covered façade, the same wooden tiles that once made up nearly all of the Savoyard roofs, rapidly contributed to its fame. Along with its famous hosts : directors and actors at the Avoriaz fantasy film festival (Steven Spielberg, Brian de Palma, David Lynch…) The Dromonts Hotel is a building that brings together the main architectural principles that make up the unique style of the Avoriaz resort, notably its pyramid form with a rather exiguous summit. Jacques Labro imagined the place as a “play space for big children”…