Review: Lakes and peaks of Savoie Mont Blanc, France is a magic mix

Port de Talloires
Savoie Mont Blanc

Port de Talloires Savoie Mont Blanc

Famous for its wine, history and gastronomy - the Savoie Mont Blanc area of France is well worth a visit.

France is an ever-popular holiday destination.

The food, the wine, the scenery and the lifestyle continue to enthral and tempt us British.

And the Savoie Mont Blanc region in the east of the country has it all.

Flying into Geneva, it’s a short drive across the border to one of the region’s most attractive towns – Annecy.

Full of ancient streets and plenty of history Annecy is a pretty town nestling on the shores of the lake that bears its name.

For the energetic there is the option of cycling along Lake Annecy to the little lakeside village of Sevrier – complete with a museum that gives the visitor an idea of how local residents lived in the region a centuries ago.

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The museum offers an insight into a remote community that struggled against the elements, struggled with the climate and struggled to make ends meet – long before the area became a hot spot for the well-heeled skiing set.

For the less energetic a lazy lunch at the Brasserie Saint Maurice offers a tempting menu. I had the Carré d’agneau rôti au thym - Rack of lamb roasted with thyme.

A walk round the town will throw up plenty of historical delights including the Palais De L’isle – one of the most photographed historical buildings in France. The town’s cathedral of St Pierre is a further landmark on the not to be missed list. And, of a course, a lake cruise is by far the most relaxing way to take in the scenery.

If you’re staying the night in the town the comfortable Auberge de Savoie is right in the heart of the bustling town and an ideal place to make a base.

For those interested in food and drink the vineyards of Jongieux are the home of Savoie wine – one of the region’s most sought after products.

Driving through the vines and tasting the produce is a great way to see some more of the region and learn a little of its heritage.

At Chanaz on the shores of the Savieres canal there is a charming walnut oil mill where walnut based products are still made in the traditional way.

Chanaz is a peaceful little place complete with little shops and, of course, is ideal for lunch at the Auberge de Savieres.

From Chanaz it is a short drive to one of the region’s best known monuments the Hautcombe Abbaye perched on the shore of Lac du Bourget.

A former Cistercian monastery, the abbey is best known as the family burial place for the House of Savoy – the family that ruled the region and later Italy for centuries.

Here you will find, explained in English, the tombs of the counts, princes and kings that ruled Savoy.

The last queen of Italy - Queen Marie Jose – who died in 2001 is buried there as is a former Archbishop of Canterbury – Boniface of Savoy.

Chambery – the region’s capital is another medieval gem. With its ancient passageways, bustling markets, chic shops, cafes, restaurants and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Chambery is a great place to explore.

If you’re staying the night and fancy something a little more contemporary the Hotel Le 5 is comfortable, reasonably priced and modern and well placed for the city.

Of course it is the food of France that appeals so strongly and the Savoie Mont Blanc region isn’t without its fair share of local specialities.

Reblouchon cheese, made from the milk of alpine cattle, is a menu stalwart. A visit to a cheese maker on the alpine pastures is a lovely way to find out more about the cheese is made and a chance to buy some straight from the farm.

And if you’re a real foodie you can try your hand at cooking your own dinner at Bocafina – a purpose built cooking school in a stunning location looking over Lake Annecy.

Run by English woman Joyce Lamy, Bocafina offers bespoke cooking master classes, wine tasting and private dining for the discerning chef.

Bocafina is a fascinating and fun experience that will be a real highlight to your holiday.

Talloires is an enchanting village on the shores of Lake Annecy and for a restful night’s sleep the hotel La Charpenterie comes recommended.

No visit to the region would be complete without a closer look at the mountains.

In winter this area offers some of the finest skiing in Europe and in the summer the high pastures are perfect for a bracing walk with breathtaking views – the perfect way to round off your trip.

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