Portes du Soleil in the heart of Savoie

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Caroline Dierckx took a trip that guarantees a rich heritage of culture and discovery.

Most of the time, the mountains resonate with skiing and snow. But this trip to Portes du Soleil in the heart of Savoie proved that there is just as much to do in summer months – share moments of relaxation, discovery, surprising encounters and sports at all levels, with the dramatic backdrop of the floral pastures of summer.

After a fine lunch at the heart of the vineyards, we visited a place that is the pride of the region: The House of the Vine and Wine in Apremont. Savoie wine is popular in the region and beyond, and we discovered several winemakers and grape varieties. You can even take a course in oenology, to get closer to know the subject at hand!

You’ll also find hidden jewels perched on the mountainside. Little ones and adults head for the Château de Miolans, a spectacular fortress dating from the middle ages. Stroll amid the medieval garden terraces with spectacular views of the valley and the majestic mountains. The castle was once home to one of the haute Savoie’s most feared prisons – with a little imagination you can hear the plaintive echoes of the inmates. Activities are organized in the castle ruins (egg hunts at Easter by example). www.chateau-de-miolans.com

The taste of adventure between lake and mountain
The SavoieMont Blancregion boasts anextraordinary amount of water.With hues of emerald, Lac du Bourgetisamong thelargest natural lakesof glacial origin inFrance, offering a multitudeof activities, such as swimmingand water sports , sailing, boat rides,pedal boatingor fishingand, of course, the beaches.

Lovers of thrills and discoveries should head for Portes du Soleil and Les Gets station for a mountain bike hike. Every year, the Pass’Portes du Soleil is held, and it is the largest mountain bike trail in Europe. Between 1,000m and 2,450m altitude, straddling France and Switzerland, the event is a great way to discover a fabulous area. Mountain lovers from about thirty nationalities gather –80 exhibitors with more than 200 brands are present, including free mountain bike tests in Morzine, 15 lifts, eight refreshment points and 80km of mountain bike riding. The courses are suitable for beginners and pros. Don’t forget to show a little recklessness!

Savoie gastronomy
On the heights of Bourget-du-Lac, a beautiful gourmet restaurant clings to the mountainside with stunning views of the lake. The Atmosphere restaurant, 1 Michelin star, offers a refined and delicate cuisine with a daily market menu concocted by Chef Alain-Périllat Mercerot and Delphine Pontet. A little tip: some rooms can be rented to prolong the pleasure of this exceptional place.

In another style but equally charming, Château des Allues is located in St. Peter Albigny, in a beautiful park overlooking Belledonne, Chartreuse. With bed and breakfast and charming cottages, the castle offers comfortable suites and rooms, which, depending on the location, offer views of unspoiled nature and an extraordinary garden.

The place is renowned for its organic vegetable garden, cultivated in squares. Fruit, vegetables, herbs and aromatic plants will end up in dishes prepared with loving by the owners. They highlight former and forgotten vegetables and aromatic herbs, with a rich diversity of colours – here, pesticides and other harmful substances are strictly banned. And you can take a workshop to find out more. It really is a magical place, where time stands still for a few hours and where all senses will be awakened.

Practical information and links

Get there by car, train or fly to Geneva airport
Mountain biking: www.passportesdusoleil.com
Accommodation: www.chateaudesallues.com
Gastronomy: www.atmospheres-hotel.com
The region: www.savoie-mont-blanc.com