I met Gideon at Geneva Airport, as I do with most of my clients as it probably offers the widest range of flight options. Gideon is the President of Quivertree Family Expeditions, Vancouver, Canada who offer custom tours for families from Canada and the United States.
From the airport we set off to Annecy with the first call being the Vieux Ville; Annecy’s medieval centre. Having enjoyed a light lunch on the edge of the river we made our way to Talloires. Here we visited the renowned Auberge du Pere Bise (Relais et Chateaux) with its reputed restaurant. The hotels’ grounds go right down to the waterside in what must be on of the most idyllic locations on Lac d’Annecy
A drive throught the Bauges followed passing through the quiet, sleepy villages, cowbells tinkling in the fields. We stopped at Le Revard that overlooks Chambery, Aix-les-Bains and the Lac de Bourget (France’s largest natural lake). Unfortunately the cloud was down and we couldn’t get the view however luck would have it that a chamois and it’s young cabri were on the extremely steep ground just below us.
A visit to the old port at Aix-les-Bains where boats offer trips on the lake including visits to the Abbaye de Haute Combe, the resting place of the Princes of Savoie. Chambery’s old medieval centre was next on our agenda with it’s narrow alleys where the two sides are so close you could almost touch someone on the other side. Gideon checked in to the Hotel des Princes right in the heart of town; recommended. Chambery is the administrative capital of the department of Savoie. The chateau is now partly occupied by the ?Conseil General? but there’s an excellent little museum where you can learn about the history of Savoie until its attachment to France in 1860.
The following morning I showed Gideon around some of the delights of Chambery market (although Saturday morning’s market is much more substantial). In addition we explored the sensory delights of Denis Provent’s shop, a ?maitre fromager? where your senses are assailed with the sight and smell of a wonderful selection of cheeses. Provent supplies many of the top hotels and restaurants in Savoie. Tearing ourselves away it was off to follow the Route des Vins between Chambery and Albertville. The road hugs the bottom of the ramparts of the Bauges and is the home to many of Savoie’s fine vineyards at: Chignin, Cruet, St Jean de la Porte, Freterive. We stopped at Cruet and enjoyed a degustation of a fine Chignon-Bergeron, a wonderful white wine and a Mondeuse. Mondeuse is a cepage dating back to Roman times and is not widely known. Sadly, being the driver I needed to hold back and use the crachoir.
Skirting round Albertville we took the twisting road via Queige, Beaufort and arrived in the pretty little village of Areches basking in autumn sunshine. We went in and were greeted by Ludovic Blanc who oversees this little family hotel.
Leaving the village we took the narrow road that winds up the hillside, passing Boudin, to the Col du Pre. The view, as always, stunning with the Lac de Roselend spread out below and the Roc du Vent dwarfed by the backdrop of Mont Blanc. We stopped for a picnic lunch breathing in the fresh mountain air. Next stop the Cormet de Roselend (cormet is a Savoyard word for col or a pass) where we went for a short walk towards the Col du Grand Fond stopping to chat with an old shepherd with his two young border collie dogs watching over a flock of over 500 sheep.
Gideon’s last day saw us driving up the Val d’Arly and through Megeve to Chamonix. Being early October the streets were very quiet and we visited the church and the Maison de la Montagne before Gideon took the teleferique (cable car) to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi (3800m). Time to head to Geneva for Gideon to catch the train to Zermatt and his conference.