exploring the area
|The Tarentaise, part of ancient kingdom of Savoie, is in the heart of the French Alps. Although internationally renowned for its ski resorts, it also has a rich farming heritage and many areas of outstanding natural beauty.|
In summer, explore picturesque villages with their baroque chapels and traditional farmhouses, tiny hamlets on the high pastures, or wild unspoilt mountain landscapes with fascinating flora and fauna. Go further afield and visit one of the region’s fine historic cities for the day. Wander around the cobbled streets, have lunch in an old square, then browse the street markets and tiny shops.
Villages and meadows
There are many picture-book alpine villages to visit perched on the mountain sides – either on foot, by bike or car. Setting off from the door, see the orchards frothy with blossom in April and May, the incredible alpine meadows thick with wild flowers in late May and June, or the colourful autumn leave displays in October. Winter is spectacular too, when the rooftops are several feet deep in snow and the mountain peaks shine white against the blue skies. Ask for our route maps and trail suggestions.
Majestic mountains, rivers and lakes
We’re on the edge of the incredibly beautiful Vanoise National Park, a protected high mountain landscape home to ibex, chamois, marmots and, rumour has it, a few brave Italian wolves. Opposite us is the Beaufortain, with its beautiful gorges, pastures and villages. Wherever you go, there are breath-taking views, often with Mont Blanc in the background.
For those hot summer days, there are cobalt-coloured mountain lakes and hidden waterfalls. Just 15 mins by bike along the river's cycle path is a swimming lake surrounded by grassy parkland dappled with shade. For a very civilized dip further afield, try Lac de Bourget, the largest natural lake in France (next to the old spa town of Aix-le-Bains); or Lac d’Annecy with its mountain backdrop, beaches and Michelin-starred restaurants.
- Vanoise National Park - 20 mins
- Lac d’Annecy / Annecy – 1 hr
- Lac de Bourget / Aix-le-Bains – 1h30
Ancient castles, forts and towers
We are in the old kingdom of the Dukes of Savoie, the longest surviving royal house in Europe. Annexed by France in 1860 and formerly part of the Roman Empire, the area has an ancient history reaching back to the celts in pre-Roman times. Many of the ancient forts, towers and castles of the region are still standing today and are well worth a visit.
- Chateau Chantemerle / La Bâthie – 30 mins
- Cite de Conflans / Albertville – 45 mins
- Chateau Miolans / Chambery – 1 hr
- Palais de l’isle and Chateau d’Annecy – 1h30
Historic cities and shopping
Take a trip to one of the region’s old towns and cities for a slap up lunch and a good shop. Visit Grenoble for its impressive museums and galleries, or go to Annecy, the “Venice of the Alps” – so named for its canals, medieval arcades, cute cafes and beautiful lake. It has a weekend food market and a brocante on the last Saturday of every month with over 200 stalls – great for bargain hunting. Chambery, the capital of old Savoie until it moved to Turin the 16th century, has an Italian feel, with grand arcades, rose-coloured facades and shuttered windows. The maze of narrow streets, alleyways and squares in its perfectly preserved old town are a delight to explore.
- Annecy – 1h20
- Chambery – 1hr
- Grenoble – 1h45
Explore the little-known vineyards of Savoie with their obscure wines – very few of which are exported. Many of the best don’t even make it as far as the ski restaurants. Most are reserved for private clientele or exclusive restaurants in the spa towns of the region. Take a driving tour of the vineyards around Albertville and Chambery (we can supply an itinerary and book you in for wine tastings if you wish). Alternatively, we can organise a pre-dinner tasting at Le Cellier in Aime (subject to availability) – a well-respected local wine merchants with fantastic knowledge of the region’s wines.
Local food and specialities
Try Beaufort, a hard Gruyere cheese – the best is "alpage" (made with milk from cows grazing on the high summer pastures). Tomme and Reblouchon are other well-known local cheeses. The latter is best in Tartiflette, a calorific peasant gratin with potatoes, bacon and onions. Other local specialities include Diot and Pormonier sausages – thick, fatty bangers with a rich flavour, often cooked in wine.
There are many restaurants serving local dishes in the nearby ski resorts (although many are only open in season), and one in Landry. But to experience the local cuisine at its best, you’ll need to go off the beaten track. There are some excellent restaurants in the surrounding villages including Chez Merie in le Miroir, L’Auberge de Cassiel in the Cote d’Aime and le Refuge in Bourg St Maurice.
We also incorporate some savoyard dishes into our menus, particularly in winter (it's a bit on the heavy side for summer). If you have our cheeseboard for dessert, you can sample the local cheeses.