Morzine Nomads: Riding the French Alps on a Shoestring Budget

A group of cyclists gathering around the camera in Morzine, France

Sharjah Jonsson Shares Her Summer Cycling Story in the French Alps:

Rarely do you stumble across something special enough that it compels you to scream with excitement. This happened as a young South African stuck in a foreign place, which soon turned into a place I now call home. 

Morzine is a small town in the French Alps. It forms a part of the Portes Du Soleil ski lift system that links a network of French and Swiss bike parks. 

I had heard from South African friends about the free camping in car parks around the town and the world-class riding and good atmosphere, so the visit was a no-brainer. 

I ended up arriving in Morzine to meet up with some friends I knew from racing. They had the same plan as I did for summer, to ride bikes as much as possible. I ended up meeting new people in the car park camping there, too, and after a few days, we had a crew that grew by the weeks. 

Anyone was welcome. It didn’t matter what you had, did for a living, or your riding skill. It was just who you were as a person. This created the best living dynamic of pure stoke and love for riding bikes. We started riding all day, eating all our meals together, and caring about each other as if we were family, helping each other wherever we could. 

A square was formed by vans of all sizes and a horse lorry and quickly became the home for boys and girls from all over the world. Daily baths in the river and group cook-ups in the evening became the norm. 

We rode until we couldn’t hold our handlebars anymore, with calluses and blisters covering our hands. Pushing each other on our bikes in an unspoken game of one-up to ride faster and huck further down gullies. Evenings at the camp were one of my daily highlights; bodies cold from the river, bodies scattered doing bike tune-ups, cooking meals, and a few debrief beers in the middle of the van square. 

Everyone was energized and revved up on their daily stories of big sends, showing each other the video clips we had gathered and sharing the occasional stories of unavoidable casualties from pushing too hard.

Bikes have a special power to bring people together that would have likely not crossed paths in this world and that I’ll be eternally grateful for.

I can thank these people enough for the summer they created for us all. Until next year Morzine, I can’t wait to come home again!

Explore more adventures in Morzine, France

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