Chamonix | A True Luxury Retreat In The Heart Of The French Alpes
It’s no secret – we all often surrender to our holiday daydreams. And you seem trustworthy, so I’ll tell you a recent one of mine:
A traditional charismatic French mountain chalet, standing peacefully in a picturesque garden, complete with bubbling stream, all against an astonishing background of magnificent mountains…
But surely, this much peacefulness doesn’t exist, right? Well, it does, and it’s been up and running since 1903. A flight away from Madrid Barajas to Lyon’s airport, then a brief trip to the picture-perfect mountainside world of Haute-Savoie, I got to discover unbelievable luxury, ultimate relaxation in an offbeat destination, and exquisite award-winning cuisine.
- The marvelous setting, right in the heart of the stunning mountain scenery of Haute-Savoie, just a 5-minute walk from the centre of Chamonix;
- Relaxing in Le Bachal Spa, which has a terrific range of treatments, as well as a divine hammam and hot tub;
- Admiring awe-inspiring views over Mont Blanc as you take an evening dip in the glorious heated pool;
- The outstanding quality of the cuisine, dreamed up by Chef Pierre Maillet in the award-winning Albert 1er Restaurant;
- The contemporary blue and purple tones of the jazzy Quartzbar, where atmospheric live music and delightful cocktails dictate a laidback tone.
What is Chamonix like?
It’s safe to say that this is a traditional French town with a long history. According to the locals we conversed with here, Chamonix owes its reputation to the Carrier-Maillet family, who have brought in tourists and winter-sports enthusiasts since 1903, by artfully evolving the town’s beautiful architecture over five generations.
With Art-Deco verandas dating back to the 1920s, chalet-style balconies from the 70s, the abundance of chimneys and charismatic granite windowpanes, Chamonix now takes the form of a picturesque village, complete with gorgeous gardens that are full of fruit trees, and a bubbling river with a bridge dedicated to lovers.
Don’t let the traditional architecture fool you though, the elegant inhabitants of this town have a taste for sleek white walls. They tactfully counterbalance numerous modern amenities by original wooden mountain furniture, to create an inspiring ambience.
Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, Chamonix is a small town with a reputation: a world-renowned destination for mountain sports and skiing over the years. But even if you don’t fancy all the outdoor activities that come courtesy of the gorgeous Alpine scenery, I would strongly advise you to visit just for a dip in the luxury of a heated pool that is surrounded by snow, at -5 degrees (check out the one at Hameau Albert Premier, and thank me later). I genuinely didn’t want my afternoon to end.
As you start your evening with a glass of French wine, it’s hard to believe that this Alpine dream you’re living is real – but at Chamonix, they really have done it. Get ready to experience the sort of mountain luxury you never thought possible in your dizziest daydreams.
But the comfort is just getting started. The highlight is yet to come: food lovers will truly be in heaven. Chef Pierre Maillet works magic in the award-winning Albert 1er Restaurant, using delicious seasonal ingredients to create lust-worthy dishes.
These were our favorite dishes from the gourmet dinner “Menu La Maison de Savoie,” prepared by double-starred Chef Pierre Maillet:
Foie gras de canard en ballotine, poire de Savoie et hibiscus.
Poireaux, pied de veau, œuf de caille et caviar Osciètre.
Homard en carpaccio, mangue, passion et glace corail.
Filets de perches du Léman de la pêche d’Éric Jacquier, gentiane et citron confit.
Escargots du pays du Mont-Blanc, polenta et jus de persil.
Noisette d’agneau en viennoise de truffe, asperges vertes de chez Robert Blanc.
Les fromages frais et affinés.
Ananas victoria, citron vert et sorbet fromage blanc.
Noix de pecan et sirop d’érable, glace à la bière du Mont-Blanc.
Petits fours, mignardises et chocolats.
- For the thrill-seekers, Step Into The Void is a reinforced glass box, suspended 1000m in the air. If you can bear your pumping adrenaline, you can admire unparalleled views of Mont Blanc to your left. The attraction is accessed via the Aiguille du Midi lift;
- The Espace Tairraz museum is home to an extensive collection of crystals and minerals, such as smoked quartz and pink fluorspar, which have been gathered in the valley;
- Tuck into some hearty homemade Savoyard food at Les Vielles Luges in Les Houches. Set in a cozy, charismatic 18th-century barn, this is the ideal spot to refuel after a long day, but can only be reached on skis or by a 20-minute hike.
- Make the most of the breathtaking scenery on foot. One of the most beautiful hikes (and mostly flat!) is from the top of Télésiège de l’Index, to the vibrant turquoise of Lac Blanc, taking up to two hours.
Peaceful and elegant, Chamonix was the perfect place for me to unwind during winter break.
Which is your favorite winter destination? Tell us in the comments section.