Morzine is located in the UNESCO Geopark Du Chablais. The area stretches from the southern shore of Lake Geneva to the peaks of the Portes du Soleil. It covers 62 municipalities covering 900 kilometres squared and has a population of 125,000.
The Geopark Du Chablais was integrated into the UNESCO Geopark network in March 2012. It is one of five French Geoparks along with Digne Les Bains, the Luberon Region National Park, the Bauges National Park and the Monts d'Ardèche National Park.
The Geopark Project
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single geographical areas where sites of international geological significance are managed with an aim towards conservation, education and sustainable development. There are currently 120 Geoparks in 33 different countries. UNESCO began this project in 2001. In 2004 17 parks from Europe and 8 from China met at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to form the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) with the aim being to work together and benefit one another. On 17th November 2015 the 195 member states of UNESCO met to create a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks. This shows that governments have recognised the importance of working to preserve areas of geological importance.
What is a Geopark?
A Geopark is an area of geological importance that is managed with a respect for the traditions of the area. It is not solely about geology bit also about manís relationship with the area throughout history, how man and the environment have worked together and how the geography and geology of the area have shaped the human history therein.
The Geopark du Chablais
The Geopark Du Chablais is a unique area. All around lies the history of the area, stretching back 250 million years. From Thonon to Morzine the whole history of the formation of the Alps can be seen. Millions of years ago there existed the Alpine Ocean. The sediments laid down in this ocean went on to form the landscape of the Chablais. The effects of this can be seen in the many lakes and in the famed mineral waters of Evian and Thonon. The history of this area is the story of man and nature living and working in harmony together.
The Geopark Du Chablais is bordered at either end by some of the most impressive geological features in the Haute Savoie. From the shores of Lake Geneva to the peaks of Morzine and Avoriaz it encompasses all that nature has to offer in the area. It showcases the traditional mountain life that has flourished through its understanding of the nature of the area an the importance of working and living in harmony with it.
The mission of the Geopark Du Chablais has five parts:
- Protection and Preservation
- Education, training and awareness
- Sustainable development
In the fifty kilometres that separates Lake Geneva and the Joux Plane pass the history of the Alps can be seen at twenty three different locations.
From prehistory, when the Alpine Ocean existed, sediments were laid down in this ocean that went on to become the rocks that formed the Chablais. The final evidence of this can be seen in the mineral water of the area and the number of lakes in the region.
Some of the local sites to visit include a photo exhibition of the slate mines, the Lac Mine D'Or lake, the Montriond Lake, The Col Du Bassachaux in Chatel, The Devils Bridge Gorge in La Vernaz and the Avoriaz ski lifts themselves are classed as a part of the Georoute!
The partners of the Geopark Du Chablais include Tourist stakeholders, cultural stakeholders, the European and Global Geopark Network as well as the universities of Savoie and Lausanne, the Geneva Museum of Natural History and the Cantonal Museum of Lausanne.
One part of the Geopark du Chablais initiative is a selection of 32 geologically significant sites around the area. These show different aspects of the geological history of the area as well as the cultural importance and the natural history. They have been equipped with information panels to tell visitors more about their story.