Samoëns

 

The largest of the villages in the Giffre Valley, and proud holder of the 'Coq D'Or', recognising its status as one of the prettiest in France. The old livestock-droving lanes make for peaceful pedestrian access into the town square, where many of the old buildings remain in use today.  

Farming is still very much part of economic life of the valley. Take a walk through some of the outlying hamlets of Samoëns, and you'll hear the bells ringing as the cows are moved between pastures.   

The Wednesday market is one of the biggest in Haute-Savoie, with a great selection of local produce (cheese, sausage, wine, fruit & veg, honey, jams, more cheese), alongside more purposeful things for mountain life, like chainsaws, pick axes and pen knives. 

The square in the heart of the village lives up to its name - La Place de Gros Tileul - with an enormous ancient lime tree at its heart.  Its home to various shops, bars and restaurants. During the ski season, there's a lovely buzz about the place in the late afternoon, as folks stop off in town for 'apres ski'. In summer, it's leisurely lunches that drift into balmy evenings.  Not so much a buzz, but a gentle hum.

 

Morillon

 

Chalet Nordchamp is right on the border between Samoëns and Morillon. It's a gentle fifteen minute walk down the country lanes to Morillon village centre. There's a few bars and restaurants, and the key feature of French village life, a bakery.  

The Morillon telecabine runs right from the heart of the village upto to Morillon 1100, where there's lovely tree-lined pistes, and chairlifts to the rest of the Grand Massif ski domain. It's also open in summer for walkers and mountain bikers.

Walking from the village down towards the river, you'll find open-air swimming at Lac Bleu, and zip-wires through the trees at the adventure park.  

 

 

Sixt

 

Tucked up near the end of the valley is Sixt.  Pretty much unchanged in decades, it still has a bakery, a few restaurants and bars, and a grocery store with fantastic cheese and sausage.  It's still very much a farming community.  There are beautiful walks around the village, spotting all the old agricultural buildings, or venture just outside to the Cascade de Rouget - stunning in summer and winter.

 

 

Fer à Cheval

 

Quite literally at the very end of the valley road, lay the Fer à Cheval.  The road stops at the foot of the giant horse-shoe shaped mountains ahead.  If you're up for a serious hike, Switzerland is just the other side of the mountain.  Its a magical place - in summer the only thing you can hear are the waterfalls and the bird calls (we've seen buzzards, owls and eagles all circling their prey).  In winter the waterfalls freeze and the snow deadens all sound, leaving just the crunching underfoot.