Although a weekend in the Alps may not be the first thought when picking a destination for a weekend away, it is certainly one of the best! Take a trip to the gorgeous French resort of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, at the foot of the imposing Mont Blanc, and allow yourself to revel in fine dining and authentic Alpen experiences. As it’s only an hour’s drive from Geneva airport and flies from all major UK airports, Chamonix is also quick and easy to get to.
Le Bistrot @ Best Western Premiere Le Morgane Hotel (www.morgane-hotel-chamonix.com)
For Michelin-starred dining in a beautiful setting look no further that Le Bistrot restaurant, housed in the Le Morgane hotel, a newly refurbished four star hotel in the centre of the town – the highest town in Europe this side of Russia!
Le Bistrot is just a minute’s walk from the bustling main street, with its array of bars, restaurants and shops, but is an oasis of calm found away from the crowds. Resident chef Mickey Bourdillat has a simplistic approach to food. The dishes are not overtly complex but boast strong flavour combinations and experimental pairings. The quails egg with artichoke emulsion (foam to you and me) was divine, and the root vegetable risotto was packed with flavour. For the dedicated carnivores try the fillet of duckling with asparagus fricassee. I plumped for the red tuna with crispy potatoes dipped in olive oil, and was certainly not disappointed. For dessert – fill your boots. The chocolate fondant was the lightest and most delicious I have ever tasted, but just as good was my companion’s crunchy chocolate and caramel tart (of which I ate a modest half!).
You can always tell a decent eatery when it fills up as much with locals as it does tourists, and Le Bistrot is just that kind of place. With just seventy-odd covers the restaurant is intimate without being overcrowded. The spacious layout and floor to ceiling windows give an open atmosphere and allow diners to take in the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the Aguilles Rouge mountains.
The room is light and airy with very low music, so the chatter that fills the room gives it an extra warmth as soon as you enter. All food served at the restaurant is locally sourced from the Chamonix valley, neighbouring Switzerland and Aosta in Italy. The wine list is extraordinarily varied boasting grapes to compliment any dish and any pallet. The serving staff are constantly on-hand to offer wine pairings for your food, although this can easily end up in several bottles being consumed!
While evenings at Le Bistrot are a formal affair, diners can pop in for breakfasts or lunches and while ski boots might be frowned upon the atmosphere is much more relaxed. A range of local meats and cheeses as well as hot dishes such as eggs florentine and spicy sausages are enough to set up even the most chilly traveller for a day on the peaks.
As well as the restaurant the hotel also boasts an in-house spa where guests can wind down after a long day’s skiing, snowboarding or parascending, or just wind down full stop. The views are breathtaking and the facilities are modern. The twice-day cleaning, including a nice choccie left on the pillow in the evening, gives that little extra sense of luxury while staying there.
You can expect to pay around €220/night and they also do great skiing package deals.
If you are looking for a less expensive stay there are several hostels which offer room only from just £20 per night, or try the 3 star Les Aiglons hotel (www.aiglons.com), also in central Chamonix. This hotel includes a full spa with heated indoor and outdoor pools and trust me, relaxation is definitely a necessity in Chamonix after a hard day’s snow sporting! The hotel also runs special offers which include lift passes – make sure you enquire when booking your stay as the ‘little extras’ such as lift passes can add up to a lot. Expect to pay a fairly wallet friendly €130/night.
Les Vieilles Luges restaurant (www.lesvieillesluges.com)
If you feel a bit more adventurous and want to travel further afield for your dinner you can’t do much than snow-shoeing up the mountainside to Les Vieilles Luges, an historic mountaintop restaurant which has been run by the same family for 250 years. Situated just off a red ski run in contention to be the Winter Olympic slalom course in 2018, the restaurant is run by husband and wife team Claude and Julie. Accessible only by foot, or ski, in the winter, Les Vieilles Luges is a great stop-off place for a break from skiing, or, if you fancy more than just-the-one, an evening meal. On arrival visitors can bask in the beautiful surroundings and settle down for a traditional fondue. Claude hand-picks his bountiful choice of wines and uses only fresh, local produce. The food and atmosphere are second to none and, especially after a few glasses of local red wine, it proves hard to tear yourself away.
More Details and Advice
Check out www.chamonix.com
By Emily Hassall