As a ski holiday location, France’s Savoie region really has got it all. This is a land of wild, majestic beauty dominated by the snow covered peaks of the Rhone Alps - especially Mont Blanc, the mother of all French mountains. Easy accessibility, miles of ski and snowboarding slopes, glorious scenery, friendly villages with cosy chalets and apartments, great apres-ski, fabulous food and wines exclusive to the area. No wonder the Savoie is our featured area of France this month.
My first introduction to skiing was when my neighbour tried to teach me knee bends and leans in her spacious living room, using broom sticks as props. It was nothing like as much fun as being shown the moves by a handsome French ski instructor with a voice just like Yves Montand. Then there’s the thrill of the ski lift, the winter sun on your face, the brilliance of all that snow and the exhilaration of flying through crisp mountain air.
Even when your landing is less elegant than you hoped, there’s the compensation of a rich hot chocolate by a blazing fire, a hot shower and later the amazing tastes of the Savoyard cuisine. Personally I’ll pass on the fricassee of frogs legs with garlic, onions and vinegar, but give me perch poached in red wine or just about any local game dish followed by a taste of the region’s delicious cheeses. Washed down, of course, with a soupcon of mountain wine... Generally unobtainable outside the Savoie, the local wines are becoming more sophisticated as growers concentrate on raising their production from jolly nice plonk to high quality vintages.
There is a terrific range of ski accommodation in the area, from popular resorts to traditional villages. Our photo shows Le Hameau des Airelles, a chalet holiday rental at St Martin de Belleville.