Chamonix Travel Diary: The Foodie Factor

One day in particular I found myself taking more than my usual share of food photos, so I thought I’d round them all up in one post. Whether it’s a sweet snack, or a regional speciality I always have time for French food.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day (although I beg to differ) but it’s not always easy to choose what to eat. The typical French breakfast is simple; croissant, maybe a pain au chocolate, bread, butter and jam. It’s a carb overload, but boy is it satisfying. Fresh French bread can not be beaten, and even though I’m not a convert to croissants, I don’t mind this particular offering.

Bread does leave me slightly full though, so instead of a ‘proper’ lunch I opted for an English take on a French favourite – macarons with tea. The French supermarkets may carry a wide selection of teas, but I can never find a particularly decent one, usually having to settle for imported British tea. How English is that? I can’t even last a week without a cup of tea. Anyway, I do enjoy pairing teas with sweet snacks such as cake or chocolate, but macarons have to be one of my all time favourites. Can you believe I originally discovered this amazing treat in Japan, not France? I don’t know how I’d managed to miss them for all those years, but it was the Japanese who wowed me with their own unique versions. True, matcha and sakura are not your typical flavours in France, but I can always go for pistache, cafe, or chocolat.

Now as for dinner…

The overuse of cheese to some, is complete heaven to me. I’ve always loved cheese and would gladly give up all other foods for it. So of course a fondue was on the cards whilst we were in Chamonix. In fact fondue is always on the cards in this particular region. It’s a speciality, and you’ll find it in almost every restaurant. Some do it better than others (I speak from experience), and it doesn’t just come with bread (I always recommend potatoes and ham). You’ll probably want to share with someone, although I’ve tackled one by myself and come out alive on the other side. Speaking of the other side… after all that cheese you may want something a bit sweeter, and my personal favourite is Coupe Mont Blanc – an almost sickeningly sweet ice cream dessert topped with pureed chestnut and cream. It’s safe to say I’ve been hunting it down in London since I first had it several years ago. Alas I have had no luck so I knew I had to have it during our trip. Our waiter winked at me as he place the dessert in front of me. It was as if he knew I’d waited a whole year for this…so he’d given me a whole years worth to eat. Everyone around me laughed (with me), but little did they know I’d easily demolish it…and demolish it I did.

Chamonix Travel Diary: Part 5

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Yesterday was all about getting back to nature. We hopped on the train and headed to Servoz, a small village that reminded both of us of our time in the Japanese countryside (thanks to the lush greenery and the lack of anything apart from a train station). Walking through the village and small hamlets we happened upon a house that I am 100% certain either has been, or must be featured in the next Wes Anderson movie. It’s perfect, right? I wonder if it’s for sale…

Servoz was not our final destination though, we were there to find the Gorges de la Diosaz. The gorge has seen the public walk it’s paths for hundreds of years…even at night (no thanks!). The trail starts with a cave that tells a rather sad story, and a monument dedicated to a poet who died at the gorge. The walk continues with a variety of bittersweet stories and facts about the area. The various waterfalls that litter the gorge aren’t very strong at this time of year (Spring is better), but they were still impressive. The steep footpaths that wrap around and over the gorge are worth visiting for alone though, as they offer spectacular views. The gorge itself is a thing of beauty, and it’s almost humbling to walk the footpath and be reminded that humans can’t control nature (although some of us would like to think otherwise). The walk is around an hour and a half, with plenty of stunning views and hidden secrets to find. The inscriptions carved into the rocks and the remains of the old footpaths in particular made me feel as though I’d been transported into another world.

Les Gorges de la Diosaz has reminded me of how wonderful and magical nature really is.

Chamonix Travel Diary: Part 4

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As a little girl holidaying with my parents meant museums, art galleries, trying food we’d never seen before, and learning the language basics (hello, please, thank you etc) of the country we were in. Naturally this has shaped the way I travel today. It also means I tend to dislike sitting on a beach for hours working on my tan…although that may also be down to the fact that my pasty white skin shrieks at even the thought of sun. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind relaxing on the beach or taking a dip in the pool if my companions want to, but when it comes to planning my own travels I take a different route.

After finally getting our guest cards from the Town Hall yesterday, we grabbed a coffee (the French do a good decafe) round the corner as we waited for the museums to open up again. Note: shops, pharmacies and museums etc close around 12 until about 2-3pm for a long lunch in the South of France. Several coffees later we went for a stroll around town, before we ended up at the Musée Alpin. The museum tells the story of Chamonix and Mont Blanc throughout the years – offering a great chance to test the ol’ French reading skills. I loved seeing the old Winter sport advertisements and reading about the women who had conquered Mont Blanc (girl power!). The museum also happens to have an amazing exhibition of Chinese paintings on right now, which was worth the visit alone.

We had intended to visit a couple of other museums too but the draw of Richard’s ice cream stand was too much in the insane heat. So we went for “deux boules” of salted caramel butter and macaron ice cream. Yes you did see and read that correctly, macaron ice cream. It was basically chocolate with a macaron on top, but that’s still pretty darn awesome. And yes, the salted caramel butter ice cream was as deliciously decadent as it sounds.

Chamonix Travel Diary: Part 3

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Yesterday we decided to go on an adventure. We wanted to visit the George de la Diosaz in Servoz as we missed it last year. So we headed to the town hall to get our guest passes for the train. Unfortunately the town hall closed at 12 (for lunch) and we arrived at the office at 11:59. In a typically French fashion we were turned away. So we healed our wounds with a thick Italian hot chocolate at Green Soft Bar, where the charismatic waiter spoke to me completely in French. You may be thinking “What were you expecting Emma, you’re in France.” That’s very true, but it so often happens that when they catch even the slightest glimpse of an accent here, they reply in English. That’s actually really kind, but it’s also a little disheartening when you want to practise a language other than your own. So I laughed and chatted with the waiter as he asked me if I wanted a ‘proper hot chocolate – so thick you have to drink/eat it with a spoon’. My favourite kind!

We soon decided that instead we would hike to Glacier des Bossons – we have a thing for glaciers. Off we went walking through the woods, passing perfectly blue lakes with hidden caves and old ruins. It felt like we were in a fairytale. Once we arrived to Les Bossons Ben decided we would take the chair lift up to the glacier. I have a real phobia of chair lifts after being stuck at around 60 foot in the air above a lake when I was 12. I decided I would power through though and fight my phobia…guess what happened? Yep, half way up, it stopped. I have the worst luck! After a little cry and managing not to throw up (go me!) we were on our way again. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to have my feet on solid ground. It was all worth it though (at least I’m telling myself that now) as the view was beautiful. The small chalet offering food and coffee next to the glacier was perfectly placed, so we sat in the sun looking on at the slowly disappearing natural beauty.

Oh yeah we walked back down, and I rewarded myself with a gigantic burger at Monkey that evening.

OOTD: I Don’t Do OTT

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Blouse – Primark | Jeans – Topshop | Flats – Primark | Sunglasses* – Playn | Ring – Tatty Devine x Rob Ryan

Minimal make-up (or none at all) has become a daily occurrence when I’m on holiday, as I opt for a more natural look. Of course it helps that pretty much all of the women in the South of France are sans make-up…or just know how to cleverly disguise it to look as if they aren’t wearing any. This time I took it a step further and let my hair keep it’s natural curls and frizz. It’s odd to think that only a few years ago I would never have left the house without styling my hair and throwing on some make-up. It’s empowering and kind of wonderful to feel so comfortable in my own skin.

Of course my clothing follows the same path lately. Minimalistic with clean colours. The old white blouse and jeans combo can never fail, take my word for it. Pair it with some ballet flats (a French favourite), an oversized bag (for all the cheese and grenadine you’re going to buy later) and some subtle shades (very mysterious, darling), and you’ve got yourself the perfect holiday look.

Chamonix Travel Diary: Part Deux

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Admittedly our first full day in Chamonix was always going to be a lazy one. That didn’t stop me waking up at 8am though to go to the boulangerie for baguette and croissants (you gotta be early to get the pick of the best). It did mean that I took a rather leisurely stroll back to the apartment, making sure to take a few photos here and there. Each chalet in town seems to be unique to it’s owner, baring marks of their personality and history. As someone who admires architecture this is perfect for my holiday snaps. After devouring my croissant amande we took a stroll into town and did a bit of window shopping.

It was intended to be an actual shopping trip, but Ben (he’s after some new kicks) can never decide when it comes to clothing. Usually it’s me who is after a new outfit or the latest beauty product, but I’m actually pretty content right now. I guess I want to remember this holiday through experiences, rather than material items. That’s why we had to stop off at one of the best sandwich places in Chamonix. The hole-in-the-wall food vendor is usually populated by skaters and snowboarders (depending on the season), taking me back to my high school days. Good nostalgic comfort food. Whilst we were sat enjoying our poulet frites baguette, a sudden cheer erupted in a crowd that had somehow gathered around us without our knowledge. A marathon was happening, and the stars were the waiters and waitresses from the local bars and restaurants. Their task? To carry a tray of filled glasses and bottles around the town as quickly as possible. Not something I’d personally want to partake in, especially in the hot sun. Yet everyone was smiling as they competed against each other.

Travel Diary: Countryside Escape

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I love London, but sometimes travelling outside of the big smoke is just what the doctor ordered. This time we headed off into the Welsh countryside for a long weekend. I only discovered Wales about 5 years ago when I met my fiancé, yet it has quickly become a second (third?) home for me. The scenery is beautiful and the people are welcoming, what more could you ask for?

Whilst I’m in Wales I enjoy taking long walks in the hills, making friends with sheep as I go by. Sampling the amazing local food at home (and in restaurants) is always a must, as is having a good catch-up over a glass of wine. Unfortunately the rain may have got in the way a little this past weekend, but we still managed to fit in: a 15 mile bike ride, a trip to a manor house and a stroll around the local castle ruins. Relaxation success!