Fun in the French Alps, March 2016

Heather and I are just back from a fantastic week of skiing in the French Alps. Here’s a quick roundup of a few places we really enjoyed just in case you find yourselves in that part of the World and need a recommendation!

Wine Bars

Le Saint Amour, Meribel – This place is a great find and it has a nice laid back atmosphere. There is a great selection of wines by the glass with a strong focus on Savoie and the Rhone Valley. Look out for the Domaine Jean Vullien et Fils ‘Harmonie’ Chignin-Bergeron (Bergeron is the local name for Roussanne) and their Chardonnay ‘Cuvée Prestige’. Cheese and charcuterie platters are available.

Vin de Savoie

Vin de Savoie


Clos Bernard, Altiport, Meribel – This seasons new kid on the block, located in the woods just off the Route de l’Altiport in Meribel. It’s a bit of an adventure to get there, as you can only reach it on foot or by skiing (although there is a horse drawn sleigh, that for 3 euros will collect or take you back to the route de l’Altiport, but if you are of nervous disposition I would suggest walking!). The menu includes traditional Savoie dishes – fondues, tartiflette etc but the star of the show is the wood fired grill. We went for the entrecote for two which was beautifully charred on the outside and cooked rare as requested. It required multiple bottles of Michel & Xavier Rousseau’s Mondeuse to wash it down!

Clos Bernard

Clos Bernard

Restaurant Pizzeria du Mottaret – If you’d caught the first lift and skied hard all morning, this is the place to go for some serious carb loading! Alongside the local specialties there is a great selection of stone baked pizzas and large hunks of Charolais beef available. So far it has always merited 2 visits in a week and it should be commended for offering magnums of Cave de Tain Croze Hermitage for a euro less than the price of two bottles, no excuses required!

Portetta – Limewood’s Alpine outpost has recently been re-branded as Cucina Angelina (Angela Hartnett). Great pasta as you would expect, especially the guinea fowl agnolotti. On a sunny day their terrace at the bottom of the slopes in Courcheval 1650 is a great place to hang out, enjoy a steak tartare and people watch.

Pasta Puttanesca at Portetta

Pasta Puttanesca at Portetta

Le Montagnard, St Martin de Belleville – Probably my favourite of the restaurants we have visited over the past two years. From the top of Tougnete you can ski a couple of red runs, Pramint or Jerusalem, followed by a long cruising blue into St Martin where you will find this family owned restaurant. It offers traditional, regional food prepared with attention to detail and with a modern twist. Don’t miss the Pot au Feu or the Café Gourmand. The wine list is packed full of local talent, with wines from Adrien Berlioz, and a very enjoyable Vin de Soif style Mondeuse called Le Rouge from Louis Magnin.

Old ski's at Le Montagnard

Old ski’s at Le Montagnard

La Fromagerie, Meribel – This is a cheese shop upstairs and a restaurant downstairs. Those going for anything other than cheese will be disappointed. Fondue – French or Swiss, Raclette and baked Vacherin are order of the day and the Charcuterie is excellent.

Wine Shops

It’s part of the world where you can go into the local Spa and pick up a bottle of Cristal or magnum of posh Claret, however if you want to try something a bit different then a visit to La Cave de L’Abreuvoir in Meribel is in order. Guillame Bellon has carefully put together a fantastic range of artisan wines from all over France with a strong selection from Savoie. Bereche, Yann Bertrand, Rayas, Gangloff, Selosse, Adrien Berlioz, Prieure Sainte Christophe, Foillard etc. Guillaume’s English is excellent and as a fellow wine merchant I can thoroughly recommend a visit to his shop. You won’t leave empty handed!

Where to stay

If you are looking for a catered chalet, ‘La Chouette’ in Meribel, managed by the aptly named ‘Delicious Mountain’ team should be top of your list. It is very well appointed and comfortable, with the added bonus of a sauna and hot tub. Owner, Lou is a exceptional cook, and the pre-dinner canapés and evening meals are always a highlight. Each course is served with a specially chosen wine, often from an estate which she and her partner Stu have visited. If going down the self catering route Stu also runs the Chalet Kitchen company which delivers home cooked meals to your chalet so all you have to do is pop them in the oven. Chalet hosts Chris, Kirsty and Michael are really welcoming and make sure you have a relaxed stay.

View from La Chouette

View from La Chouette

….and just in case you thought we’d just gone to the Alps just to eat, here is evidence we did try and build up an appetite! season

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