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Chamonix... anything hound worthy?

_emilie_ Oct 7, 2013 01:58 PM

Hey chowhounds,

There's not a ton of info, certainly not recent info, about Chamonix on the boards. Does anyone have any updated advice on the area? Any good mountain huts or in town places, or even good places nearby in neighboring towns?

I've been considering Atmosphère, La Maison Carrier, La Calèche, Bergerie de Planpraz and La Cabane Des Praz based on some old posts here.

I'm resigning myself to some degree to overpriced tourist food in exchange for beautiful mountain scenery (and hoping that our bellies will still be full from our first stop in Lyon), but if there are any gems, please share!!

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    WillJones26 RE: _emilie_ Oct 8, 2013 01:44 AM

    Having been reading Chow for several months, this compelled me to sign up and write my first post as I had one of the best meals of my life in Chamonix at the Hameau Albert Premier Hotel.

    Granted it isn't cheap but there are a fair range of prix fixe menus which permits choice based on your desired spend. We went for the 85 Euro menu which got us around 6 courses including a truly spectacular dessert trolley off of which you can choose whatever you want and as much of it as you wish. The highlight was a red mullet dish which was genuinely other wordly good. The wine list is as you would expect for a 2* in a French ski resort- very expensive (I dont recall anything under 40 Euros).

    Chamonix is also blessed with a great 1* restaurant called Le Bistrot which happens to do the cheapest michelin starred lunch menu I have ever come across. For 17 Euros (this was around 18 months ago so it might have since increased) you receive canapes, amuse bouche,bread, the plat du jour and a dessert from the a la carte selection. For sure you wont be seeing Foie or Turbot as the plut du jour BUT you will be served something well cooked and at a bargain price for the whole package. Well worth considering.

    1. Parnassien RE: _emilie_ Oct 8, 2013 02:38 AM

      I often ski in the area and usually stay at a cousin's chalet between Megève and Chamonix. Usually we end up in Megève rather than Chamonix for our noshing. And you are very right to assume that everything is overpriced... I often become breathless not because of the altitude but because of the sticker shocker. But it's probably a lot of more tolerable out of ski season.

      If you can handle a very rarified and very expensive experience, the restaurant in the historic Hameau Albert 1er hotel on the Route du Boucher is considered by many as the best in Chamonix itself.... very plutocratic older crowd with the odd celeb... not my scene mais chacun son truc. Slightly less expensive and much favoured by Chamonix's trendy set, the Auberge du Bois Prin in Les Moettieux (just a km from Chamonix centre) has a Michelin star, very "précieuse" French cuisine, and gorgeous views... I've only been for lunch and had the fixed 30 € "formule" so not quite sure of the depth and breadth of the cooking... but sure does look good and the chalet setting is terminally appealling. For something a little more egalitarian, L'Impossible off the Carrefour du Cry has a very loyal following, is quite cutesy, and not terribly overpriced for Chamonix... mostly Italian/ Med cuisine but not exactly mindblowing... I go for the fun factor rather than the food. For decent updated trad French & Savoyard cuisine, Le Panier des 4 Saisons behind a not very attractive apartment block on the Allée Recteur Payot. Further down the food chain, there are some fondue/ raclette restos scattered around town for a very casual meal. Except for the high prices, none really etched themselves in my memory.

      I do have fond memories of Le Sérac in Saint-Gervais-des-Bains (25-km drive from Chamonix). Avoiding the usual Savoyard clichés, the cooking and the "cadre" are very modern and so might not appeal to the average tourist.

      Edit: Oops, I didn't see WillJones post. I defer to his rec and agree that the Hameau Albert 1er is indeed probably the best in Chamonix.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien
        BlueOx RE: Parnassien Oct 9, 2013 10:08 AM

        Parnassien,
        Thanks for the food help with Chamonix and Megeve. We were going to do a week in Megeve this winter until the Vail Resorts Epic pass was extended cover 5 days in Courchevel. So now its “the worlds largest” ski area for us. With your masterful help in Paris and now the Alps, wondered if you have any thoughts about food in the La Tina, La Praz or 1550. We have not interest in the “flashy” 1850.

        And if you ever want to ski Colorado, would love to try to return the favor.
        Blue Ox

        1. re: BlueOx
          Parnassien RE: BlueOx Oct 14, 2013 12:49 AM

          Sorry for late reply. Very absorbed with work lately.

          My experience of Les Trois Vallées is pretty limited. I can say that the inter-linked skiing from one station de ski to another is excellent for all skills from "ski-sauvage" to beginner. But I tend to avoid Courchevel as a town... a bit of an over-developed mess. I prefer the smaller satellites like La Tania where there is very good restaurant Les Forçons for good eats and very friendly Pub Ski Lodge for partying. I also like Méribel (more organic and less implanted) a lot... for a very enjoyable ski-in/ ski-out lunch, Chalet Tonia reached by the Combes chairlift from Méribel-Mottaret or a downhill run from Mont de la Challe or Tougnete. But all in all, I'm very loyal to Megève.

      2. _emilie_ RE: _emilie_ Oct 8, 2013 06:10 AM

        Thank you both! This is very helpful.

        Parnassien - do you have any restaurants in Megève that you recommend? It's quite possible we'd spend a day over that way. Casual places are just fine (we'd probably be doing lunch).

        Do you have any markets/supermarches near Chamonix that you recommend for self catering needs (for that, we probably wouldn't go as far as Megève)?

        Thanks again!

        2 Replies
        1. re: _emilie_
          Parnassien RE: _emilie_ Oct 8, 2013 04:40 PM

          Caveat: I'm a winter visitor and things are very probably very different in other seasons.

          The main shopping street in Chamonix is the avenue de l'Aiguille du Midi. Very touristy but scattered among the tacky souvenir shops, you can find some gems like Berlucoquet, a wine shop/ épicerie/ sandwicherie with a few tables for eating quite good plates of local charcuterie, cheese, etc. There's a couple of decent but not exceptional bakeries on the same street but my fave pâtisserie (and also good ice cream) is Maison Richard on the rue Docteur Paccard sorta across from the Grand Hotel des Alpes (but Chamonix is so tiered that streets/ addresses can be very hard to find). For one-stop shopping, there's a smallish Carrefour supermarket on the Route Blanche on the outskirts... new-ish so not yet on all maps. The Saturday-only marché on the place Mont-Blanc is worth a browse for cheese, fruit & veg, charcuterie etc but, at least during my mid-winter visits, not great quality or variety.

          Very cutesy Saint-Gervais-les-Bains has the area's largest and arguably best marché (Thursday morning) on the promenade Mont-Blanc near the Eglise St Gervais... a quick 15- to 20-min drive from Chamonix on main roads... very difficult street parking so follow the signs for "centre village/ bourg" and then for "Parking Public/ Gratuit" to the underground parking garage... just a very short walk to market... detours on market days when the village centre becomes pedestrian only... and some very nice butcher and bread shops on the rue du Mont-d'Arbois just off the main "place"

          Megève restos. Chez Nano aka La Sauvageonne in Leutaz hamlet on a mountain road just to the south of Megève would be my first pick... picture-perfect chalet resto, very scenic drive from Megève, very see-and-be-seen but quite egalitarian (well, as much as a 60+ € tab allows) at the same time, very good foodie-ish food from a Top Chef (version française) contestant... but (and a very big but) open only from December to April so not sure if your visit will coincide. In Megève town, your best foodie bet is Bistro Flocons Village (not to be confused with the more expensive Flocons de Sel) on the rue St-François, 100 metres from the town hall... the owner is a 3-star Michelin chef who spends most of his time at his much more expensive resto in Rochebrune up the mountain during high season but his talent is easily reflected in this much cheaper town-centre bistro... lunch runs about €30 without wine but you can also do a one-course quickie for 15 € or so. If you have a yen for old-school trad (and have a very big appetite), the time-warp Le Vieux Megève and its classic Savoyard cuisine will take you back, oh, 60 years or so... maybe 30 € for lunch if you choose carefully but sticker shock if you are not careful.

          1. re: Parnassien
            _emilie_ RE: Parnassien Oct 9, 2013 09:39 AM

            Wow! Thank you, Parnassien. You've made my trip planning so much easier. I think we are going to miss Chez Nano, which is a shame as it sounds excellent, but we'll definitely check these other spots out.

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