Cold places are not usually my cup of tea but what can you do when your family likes to go skiing? On the other hand long nice walks in the snow, hot chocolates in cute little cafes, escapes to the spa and sauna, while my family hits the pistes, well, there are worse things in life …
Chamonix did not disappoint, it is a sweet little town/village nestled within mountain peaks with lovely shops, cafes, patisseries, restaurants and bars. The perfect place to escape to for a long weekend especially as it is so easy to reach from London – less than a two hour flight and only an hour’s drive from Geneva. The drive itself is a lot of fun as you drive through beautiful mountain settings, just connect your music library to your rental car’s stereo and the holiday starts right there.
A good place to stay at is the Hôtel L’Heliopic Sweet and Spa, a new and modern hotel with a spa just outside of Chamonix centre with direct access to the L’Aiguille du Midi Cable Car. Ski equipment can be bought or hired from the on-site shop where you can buy your Ski passes. A free shuttle service is available to reach the slopes, however, according to my husband, it does take a bit of time to get to the slopes.
The spa and pool area is great after an active day of skiing or shopping 😉 Although be aware that the spa looks a lot more stunning on the hotel’s website than in real life. It is never the less a nice area to relax. Have a swim in the indoor swimming pool, sweat in the Turkish steam bath or sauna, before or after you receive a comforting massage. I went for the cashmere massage which is very intense, perfect for my needs. If you just want to relax choose a different kind of massage, they have an impressive spa menu from which you can choose from.
The little bird nests in the pool area are a great way to sit back and relax
The hotel has a fabulous sauna
Tea and water is provided in the pool area
We were very lucky during our stay and had lots of new beautiful snow that turned the village and its surroundings into a winter wonderland …
An easy stroll along the river and you will find walking paths through little woods … Our time was sadly too short to discover more of the walking and hiking trails Chamonix has to offer.
For lunch I found this adorable little organic café/food store called Organic Epicerie in 145, Rue des Moulins. This little gem is a bit hidden away from the main hustle and bustle of the centre. Have some of their freshly prepared smoothies, homemade sandwiches, or something from their lunch selection that they warm up for you. I especially enjoyed my granola topped yoghurt after a light noodle/prawn dish.
This little furry friend said hello to me from underneath the table and I could not resist lifting him up into my lap for some cuddles that he seemed to enjoy as well.
The restaurants won’t disappoint you either! There are two restaurants on Rue de Moulin that I can highly recommend – Munchies and Cap Horn.
Munchies offered one of the best dining experiences I had, full stop. Not just in Chamonix, you’d have difficulties to find an equivalent anywhere. The food is fresh, creative and plain delicious. The restaurant is run by a Swedish team that combines traditional French and Scandinavian cooking with Asian influences.
For starters we had duck dumplings with Asian salad and porizu emulution and the spicy blue crab soup (Softshell crab and scallop dumpling) – both absolutely delicious!
Two of us went for the meat options, slow and low 5 hour cooked pork shoulder roast with Asian greens, a mango and pineapple chutney and jasmine rice (on the left) and to the right the Munchie’s signature dish Duck Teriyaki, crispy thin sliced duck breast with teriyaki braised vegetables. Perfection!
My son fancied sushi that he very much enjoyed as well.
Last but not least a nice desert to finish a perfect evening, Chocolate fondant mud cake with ice cream.
For lunch we went to Cap Horne which offered set lunch menus for 19.90 Euros, another fabulous restaurant in Chamonix which is opposite Munchies.
To start with we had the Yakitori de Saumon Grille (left) and the Gnoccis aux Lemumes (right). Both were wonderful but I must admit I preferred the salmon.
As a main we all had Persille de Boef, fabulously well prepared.
Aux Petits Gourmands – Pâtisserie -Salon de Thé
Chamonix has many cute patisseries like Aux Petits Gourmands – Pâtisserie -Salon de Thé, where you can indulge yourself in chocolates, macaroons, pastries or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while sitting outside covered in cosy blankets.
If you are after more hearty things you will find delicatessens in small shops dotted along the main shopping street. Especially useful for longer stays in a self-catering Chalet.
As mentioned, shopping is another option – not only clothes, Reves d’Hive (picture in the middle) had gorgeous stuff for the home and a petit L’Occitane section.
Before I forget to mention, I am totally in love with my Sorel boots. They are comfortably warm, water tight and look good. A wise investment – highly recommend them for long walks in the snow.
Before we headed back to London, we left Chamonix for Geneva, well worth a small stop on your journey home.
I especially enjoyed my stroll along Lake Geneva with the elegant ‘Jet d’Eau, one of the world’s largest fountains.
If you still have energy, climb up the stairs of the Cathedral Saint-Pierre where you will be rewarded with stunning views over Geneva.
View from the Cathedral Saint-Pierre
Alternatively, take advantage of Geneva’s high end shopping district, situated in Geneva’s Old Town and have a quick lunch at Globus.