There are a bunch of places to choose from to eat at Plaine Dranse near Morzine in the Portes du Soleil but none of them are in the same league as Chez Babethe. The interior is packed with fairy lights, ornaments, fur drapes and people turning it into something of a magical alcove. Babette ushers you to your seat - and she seems to know everyone - and you sink into cushions and fur while you wait for an aperatif. It's not cheap - starters are about 16 euros - and you won't be back on the slopes any time soon. But if you're looking for a slopesie restaurant that you'll remember for years to come then Chez Babethe is it. And the thing is - she'll remember you too, which is a nice touch.
Slope side hole in the wall snack bar with prices to reflect. BUT has fantastic spicy home made soups. "La patronne" travels to India a lot and brings home stocks of exotic spices. The soups are a welcome break from the usual resort offerings of saucisson and fromage and really hit the spot at lunch. Great for a quick aperitif too. Try Peche mignon (like a kir but with peach liqueur)
Place du Tour, Le Tour, near Chamonix
Google map: bit.ly/10ks8zM
Rustic slope side restaurant for fondue and house specialty "croutes aux fromages". Run by the Ravanels for generations. The fondue is the best you will get and the service is super friendly. A genuine hang out for the locals. Great value (12 euros for a fondue made with beaufort cheese, wine by the "pichet" from four euros) and quality all round.
Slopeside in that it's right at the bottom of the home run in Les Houches so you can literally ski onto the top terrace. Funky, kitsch, big and a large inside area for apres ski make it a great stop. They do lunch specials and though evening meals maybe push towards being a bit pricey its all wholesome English/French fusion cuisine so there's a lot more choice than just tartiflette and variations there of.
Live bands play regularly and if you're down in family-friendly Les Houches as opposed to knees-up Chamonix, you'll be thankful for the Kitsch Inn offering a bit of liveliness!
This is the alpine restaurant you secretly dream of owning. With the most wonderful views of the Alps all around you, it beckons you in from the (blue) slopes. Choose whether to curl up in front of the log fire, or sit outdoors in the sunshine ordering from a huge range of home-cooked food, watching in disbelief as expert off-pisters descend vertically in the distance. The food is delicious, the service relaxed, the bill very reasonable and the experience will stay with you for a long long time.
Opposite the St Esprit chair lift about 2km below Arcs 1950.
+33 4 79 07 44 18
Bistro in Paris 15 - open all day until around 11pm. Very varied menu with some interesting and unusual daily choices. Large terrace. Friendly service. Nearest metros Charles Michels and Boucicaut. Has a very good, reasonably priced, wine list. Lots of people and a really good atmosphere
167 Rue Saint-Charles, 75015 Paris, France
+33 1 45 58 31 63
Google map: bit.ly/X0asSV
Small restaurant with a menu that changes weekly - rare for Honfleur - friendly service and very good food at reasonable prices - 24 euros fixed price three course menu - à la carte around 35 euros. Is also a wine bar and so has some really good wines to choose from.
58 rue Haute
Google mp: bit.ly/13ybrRp
The walk to the Cascade of Angon is ideal for the whole family as it is easy and shaded. The climb to the cascade takes about one hour. On the way up, there is a good opening in the woodland from where you can get a beautiful view of the Duingt Castle, located on the shore of the Annecy Lake. When you reach the waterfall, take care as the rock can be slippery. If you have some energy left, you can go for a swim in the Lake of Annecy or a bike ride to Annecy about 12.5km away.
Paris in spring - what not to recommend. To cycle there makes it even sweeter. The French have created a lovely cycle route from Dieppe to Paris via old train tracks, rolling French fields and then into Paris via the parks. Best route to follow is one carved out by Donald Hirsch.
Best place to stay on first night is 23 Grand Rue where you will welcomed by Madeleine and Peter, and eat a wonderful meal loving cooked by Madeleine. Watch out though; Peter is a wine expert and if you share his knowledge too much, then there's a danger of not enjoying the next days cycling!
23 Grand Rue, Mesnières-en-Bray,Normandie 76270, France
+33 (0) 2 32 97 06 31
Late spring is the perfect time to cycle some of the Tour de France's iconic climbs. The weather's not too hot, and you'll be one step ahead of Le Tour frenzy 2013. Last May, I did a three-stage trip from Grenoble to Avignon via the infamous Mont Ventoux, with Red Lantern Cycling. It's a stunning part of France - there's definitely something special about climbing Ventoux's lunar-like landscape (a stark contrast to the neighbouring lavender fields). Red Lantern Cycling were great too. As road cycling specialists, the support service was excellent: they transferred my bike from the UK (I won't let an airline near it!) and looked after my bike as well as they looked after me. Often on these trips you are given a map and a phone number but they offered full support to all the riders on the route.
This "département" (county) allows you to travel anywhere on long distance bus for just 1€. So you can travel from Perpignan to the ski slopes or to visit the excellent Modern Art Museum in Ceret.
They are also running tests for local trains for 1€ as well.
Paris is certainly jam-packed with some world class museum through which thousands of tourist trudge their way through daily. However a lesser known attraction is the rather intimate Edith Piaf Museum. She was most famous for her warbly voice and those timeless classics ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’. This tiny museum is housed in the apartment of a private apartment belonging to a friend of the singer. He has built something of a shrine to her memory as well as written a number of biographies of her life. Here you will find her dresses, gold discs, photos, private letters as well as a giant teddy bear on display. It of course helps if you like the singer herself, but this is a marvelous way to really get close up and personal with this legend.
It is worth mentioning the museum is accessed via four flights of stairs and there is no lift so it may not be suitable for all visitors. You will need to call ahead to gain the door entry code. Quaint huh?
5 Rue Crespin du Gast 75011 Paris
+33 1 43 55 52 72
Google map: bit.ly/QRT8mW
Ok, this has to be one of the most famous upmarket shopping streets in the world, but don't let that put you off taking a look round. Window shopping can be almost as much fun as carrying handfuls of bags home with you. This incredibly manicured street is the best place in town to do a little people watching. Enjoy a coffee in one of the many uber-chic cafes along the strip or simply wander at your leisure taking in the elegant ambience of it all. Horse chestnut trees line the streets, snipped and buffed within an inch of their life and of course everything around you is neat, polished and perfectly ..well.... perfect! That's 1.91 km of perfection - rather impressive, I'd say.
Check out the famous Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the street while you are here. It's bigger than you ever imagined.
Google map: bit.ly/U65Lbe
A refreshingly unpretentious jazz festival on the banks of the River Aulne in one of the most beautiful corners of Brittany. A young crowd, young musicians and a family atmosphere. Good travel/admission offer from Brittany Ferries too. It is held on the last week of July. Have a look at the video to get an idea of the ambiance:www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv_AEeS8pQQ
Jacques & Evelyne run the most idyllic camp site at the end of a quietest valley of the quiet Cantal region of France's Auvergne. I have kept it a secret for a while because i don't ever want to be told that there isn't a space for my family each summer, but this year is time to share the secret.
Montgenevre is a great resort if you want to mix and match different types of skiing. The resort has won an award for its cross-country skiing and has about 25kms of trails on its doorstep with bus access to another 40kms. For downhillers it offers a wide range of slopes, a constantly improving lift system, access to the massive Milky Way system and also lift pass which allows a day in other resorts including Alp D'Huez where you could ski the Sarene run which has been claimed to be the longest black run in the Alps.
It's the largest ski resort in the French Pyrenees, where the French and Spanish ski but few Brits. Great range of runs and backs on to the beautiful Neouvielle reserve, for stunning off-piste, ski-touring and snow-shoeing. You'll need a bit of French to get by but you'll be rewarded by friendly locals, lamb chops the size of your head, and quality dining in traditional restaurants. Everything is reasonably priced (ie cheaper than the Alps and Andorra) and good value. What keeps us coming back is the combination of great skiing and food, based in a traditional mountain village (Bareges) rather than a purpose-built resort town.
It's an online ski (and snowboard) hire calculator that shows how much you could save by renting in the UK and then picking up skis in France. It compares rental costs versus ever increasing airline baggage fees.
Grizzly's is a bar in Val Claret. The whole bar is made out of wood hand crafted by Grizzly himself. The designs are amazing and have an almost Native American vibe to it. It is cosy and beautiful and there are wood carvings of animals to look at with seats in different nooks and crannies always close to a roaring fire.
Not only that Grizzly (the owner) is a sight. Everyday he will shovel snow topless wearing a large turqoise pendant and is incredibly welcoming. It is the most unusual bar I have ever been to in the Alps and its decor and vibe is not something you expect to find on the snowy mountain.
Place des Curlings, 73320 Tignes, France
+33 (0) 479 06 3417
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