Chocolate box charm, historical character, traditional values, colourful locals, and picture-perfect villages. Not to mention the fourth largest ski area in France! Samoëns and the Grand Massif offer all this and more, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the media of late. The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, City A.M – no matter which print or online news outlet you follow, it seems everyone is singing Samoëns’ praises. Much of the hype is about recent investment from major players like Club-Med and MGM. This has certainly raised the profile of our little alpine paradise, but investors wouldn’t be here if the region didn’t offer something to write home about in the first place. So, what is it that sets Samoëns and the Grand Massif apart?
After reading the articles, hearing from holiday-makers, talking with locals, and living it for ourselves, we’ve decided it’s because Samoëns is quite simply, typically French. So is Morillon, Sixt-Fer-A-Cheval and the whole Giffre Valley. Come for a visit and experience the real France – authentic working villages that just happen to be attached to an incredible ski area. Yes, the skiing and snowboarding is amazing in the winter. And yes, the mountain environment provides the ultimate playground come summer. But the cosy, relatively quiet towns here – their rich history, authentic charm, and local village vibe - is something you just don’t find in other ski resorts.
Head to Samoëns’ town square for your pre-ski dose of caffeine and croissants and be bid ‘Bonjour’ by locals wherever you go. If you’re staying in Morillon, Raymond at Le Bon Coin will likely know your coffee order by heart before the week is out! There’s something very joyful about lining up for bread and pastries at the Verchaix bakery too. No matter how busy it gets, Katty always wears a smile and the ‘Bonjours’ and ‘Bonne Journées’ just keep flowing as people come and go. It’s the same at Le Pied du Poule and the Veau Gras, Samoëns’ local butchers. Or Bocquet’s Fresh Produce & Grocery Store.
These small, family-run businesses are what make the Grand Massif the destination that it is: a place where traditional ways of life thrive despite modern progress. What’s more, the locals want you to experience this too. And the best way to do that is by interacting with local business owners and artisans. Agriculture, arts & craft, gastronomy, even skiing and snowboarding. No matter where your passions and interests lie, you’ll discover the typically French, locally owned and produced equivalent right here in the Grand Massif.
Fancy yourself a foodie? Sign up for the free tour of Tiffanie’s renowned bakery in Samoëns and discover how the perfect baguette is made, as well as some of the many other skilful secrets of these master bakers. Or stop in at Karine’s La Bergerie du Lochet on your way back from Sixt’s stunning Cirque du Fer-A-Cheval, and sample her delicious ewe’s milk cheese and yoghurts. Karine also visits the weekly market in Samoëns, the ideal place to practice your French while stocking up on locally grown produce and handmade crafts. Samoëns’ market is one of the biggest in the region and attracts visitors from far and wide, many of whom travel specially to do their weekly shop.
While the market is superb, buying direct from a local farm shop like Aurore and Bernard’s GAEC Le Criou is something quite special. Like many of the valley’s farms, they also supply the local shops and some of the best local restaurants. Angelique and Hugues from 8M Des Monts source most of their ingredients locally, including Aurore and Bernard’s famous Crioutin, a deliciously fresh cow’s milk cheese. We think Angelique and Hugues’ restaurant is by far the best place to sample this delectable delight. To ensure your meal is matched with the perfect wine, the pair also work closely with Martin from Le Nez en L’Air in Samoëns. Wine buffs will love a private degustation evening with Martin, who is also always happy to share his specialist knowledge of the region and France’s best wines with anyone visiting his store. Just remember to save space in your suitcase, as you’ll want to take a bottle or two home!
You’ll also definitely need space for some of the gorgeous handmade pieces on offer at Asa’s shop Popcorn Vintage. Standout from the crowd in one of her organic cotton beanies or headbands. Or choose something from the selection of locally made jewellery, bags, and homewares. Atelier de Puce, a quaint pottery workshop in the hills above Samoëns is also worth a visit if you’re into arts and craft. This is where you’ll find artist Cecile, who offers a beautiful range of handcrafted pottery.
While we’re filling your suitcase, what about a new pair of skis or a snowboard from Aluflex? Occupying the third floor of an historic building in the Haute Giffre, you’ll find the workshop of Daniel and Pier-O, creators of custom-made skis, boards, snow-scoots, and, well, all things snow! This long-established company has been offering specialist fabrication based on specific rider specs for more than 25 years – and they’re still just a team of two! You don’t get more locally owned and made than that! Aluflex host special test days every winter in the Grand Massif, so if you time you’re holiday right you can meet the guys and take their gear out for a spin.
Samoëns and the Grand Massif really is the destination to experience authentic French alpine life. The year-round mountain adventures you’ll enjoy are of course a bonus! Spectacular scenery, charming villages, wonderful locals – it really is the perfect package. So, contact Alps Accommodation today to organise your next holiday.
You’ll make amazing memories on the mountains, but you’ll also experience the true essence of traditional French alpine life. It’s easy to do while holidaying in Samoëns and the Grand Massif - we promise!