The French Alps are not just about snow and après-ski. For a holiday where you’ll experience the most amazing scenery, activities and food – look no further than the Annecy ski resorts in spring, summer and autumn.
Summer in Le Grand Bornand
Le Grand Bornand is a popular all year round destination with the French and no wonder – it’s absolutely buzzing. The town makes for a great base for touring the area by car, bike, on foot or even on roller skis, great practice for the winter season and a terrific way to get fit.
The high street of Le Grand Bornand is lined with delicious gourmet food shops – cheese, chocolate and charcuterie galore. There’s an award winning boulangerie at Le Petit Marquis with speciality breads of Savoie and renowned chocolatier Patrick Laroche and his team will definitely tempt you at Gourmandises d’Antan.
There are dozens of ravishing restaurants and you can work off the calories with sports activities galore. The air is fresh and sweet and helps you to sleep like a baby.
You’ll also find the shop of Didier Perrillat, one of the last artisans making leather goods in Haute-Savoie. In his tiny shop he makes all manner of things from purses to bags and key fobs, it’s the perfect place for a souvenir of your visit. In these parts Didier is famous for the leather necklaces he makes for cows. Did you know every cow has a unique bell and a good farmer can recognise an individual cow by its ring? Well those bells have to hang on something and Didier makes beautiful straps for special cows. Did you also know that cows here wear day time bells but they may have a special “dress” bell which is much bigger and heavier and worn for shows and special occasions? You can watch Didier creating in his pretty shop Chez Le Bourrelier with its mountain views in the main road of Le Grand Bornand (280 Route de Villavit).
The town is surrounded by stunning countryside. The views are breath-taking, this is proper Heidi country and there’s a photo opp at every step.
A taste of the mountains
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the town. Don’t miss the Confins des Sens which has a chic chalet ambience and fab menu. And if you like quirky and authentic, Au Bon Vieux Temps Auberge will make you very happy with its mountain memorabilia and traditional menu.
Head up into the mountains for glorious views and more fabulous restaurants. A short drive from Le Grand Bornand you’ll find the Col des Aravis. At 1498m it has magnificent views that take your breath away. Those ski lifts that make skiers life easy, also work in the summer and make for a fun ride.
Enjoy a meal high up in the fresh air, there’s nothing quite like it to whet your appetite and there’s lots of great choice. For views, ambiance and scrumptious dishes, Restaurant les Rhodos ticks all the boxes, great friendly service and the views are wonderful.
Find out more about the history of the area, life in the past and Reblochon cheese at the new Le Hameau des Alpes museum near La Clusaz. Interactive exhibitions and great photos make this a fascinating visit.
Genepi – the Liqueur of the mountains
Take a trip to Distilleries des Aravis where Matthieu Castellano runs a family liqueur manufacturing company. In the grand tradition of liqueurs in France, ‘génépi’, a sort of gin, was created by a monk in 1878. Matthieu’s great grandfather was a fan and built the atelier and business from the monk where it’s still produced in La Clusaz. It’s like a taste of mountains and herbs in a bottle, and it’s strong! These days Matthieu makes around 45 kinds liqueurs from lavender to melon, raspberry, pear, prunes, a scrumptious limoncello and absinthe. He also makes a prize winning pastis, quite different from the Marseille one, with a sprig of fennel that’s put in the bottle by hand.
“Génépi makes for a great digestif” says Matthieu “and is very good for a cocktail base, especially mojitos”. He honours the heritage of his ancestors and the tradition of making liqueur, using an old copper still. “Even the crates we keep the bottles in are older than me” he jokes. You’ll find the eye catching bottles on sale in local shops.
Get there: If you’re going by train, head to Annecy from where you can take the bus to Le Grand Bornand.
Stay at: 3 Star Hotel Les Ecureuils
Tourist office information: http://www.aravis.com/; https://www.legrandbornand.com/