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Eating out in the French Alps

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Skiing holidays in the Les Trois Vallées and Espace Killy resorts of French Savoy are not complete without fine dining experiences and there is certainly no shortage of choice. Here are twelve of the best.

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Val Thorens

La Laiterie – a cozy, intimate restaurant specializing in fondues tucked away inside the 5-star Hotel Altapura. Its four choices, each combining two cheeses from different regions include comté (Jura), beaufort (Beaufortain valley), chablais (Abondance Valley) and Swiss (Fribourg). Accompanying wines are from the same regions. The menu is a touch-tone screen containing color photos and information on the restaurant, the chef’s background and the food itself.

Les Menuires and Saint Martin de Belleville

La Ruade - a rustic, two-floor chateau with a lively, informal atmosphere and a potent, homemade fruit cocktail that’ll knock your socks off. The menu features traditional dishes such as tartiflette and raclette and the aroma of sumptuous steaks cooked on an open grill as you enter is sure to make your mouth water.

L'Etoile - in nearby St. Martin de Belleville, a wood and stone chalet with a terrace offering wonderful views over Belleville Valley. Serves brasserie-style mountain food including hearty onion soup, goat’s cheese salad, beef fillet and a moist breast of duck.

L’Etoile des Neiges - also in St. Martin, decorated with hanging copper cauldrons, cow bells and miners’ lamps, it boasts a six-page menu with set dinner or à la carte. Starters range from escargot to frog legs with rack of lamb and veal liver among the mains. Serves a dish not often seen - baby pigeon – boneless slices with a rich sauce, raisins and foie gras. Don’t miss the Vacherin dessert – a snowball-shaped meringue enclosing biscuit, vanilla and blueberry ice-cream.

Meribel

Le Cèpe - a feast of choice awaits you at this traditional restaurant with local specialties such as raclette and Cep and Savoy cheese fondue, side-by-side with assorted seafood such as roasted sea bass, scallop risotto and fillet of arctic char lake fish. For carnivores, there is duck breast, entrecote with pepper sauce, chunky burgers and thick nutritious lamb stew.

Courchevel

La Cave Des Creux - at altitude 2,112 meters, this former shepherd’s hut is the resort’s newest mountain restaurant. Managed by young, former ski instructors, its dishes range from steak tartare to pastas and veal chops. Great for a lively, informal break on the slopes.

Azimut - having Michelin-star chef François Moureaux at the helm, one expects – and receives – quality here. Tucked away in Le Praz, a picturesque village, a multi-course dinner includes fried foie gras with apple and mango chutney, baked lake fish, slow-cooked rump of veal, with flourless chocolate sponge cake for dessert. Or just pick and choose from a wide menu.

Black Pyramid - at the 5-star Hôtel Le K2 chef Nicholas Sale serves up exceptional food in an elegant setting, with white truffle risotto, veal in creamy sauce and fried tofu, beetroot & cashew nuts perfumed with Tasmania pepper among its diverse choices.

Tignes

Panoramic - eating on the slopes at Tignes is a challenge in choice but a selection of fine dishes here on Grande Motte glacier (3,032 meters altitude) is due reward. From juicy oysters to succulent soups, from pates and pasta to polenta, from lamb to beef to pork, not to mention mouth-watering trays of desserts, this restaurant – with its enthusiastic, beret-clad waiting staff - has it all.

Val d’Isere

Le Grain de Sel – inside the five-star Le Savoie Hotel, chef Alexandre Fabris conjures up wonders of color and taste. Appetizers such as sea bream tartar with celery jelly suffused with coconut or Iberic ham with truffle foam; starters such as pressed foie gras and smoked whitefish with herbs or a black truffle and Jerusalem artichoke ravioli. Mains include slowly cooked fera, the local lake whitefish with ravioli of celery and Granny Smith apple and saddle of venison with a multi-colored carrot sauce.

Les Clochetons (The Pinnacles)– lovely location at the bottom of the Solaise and Bellevarde ski areas with a classic Savoyard atmosphere. This two-floor, family-run restaurant, launched by René Frison, is a popular haunt, not only for classics such as raclette and fondue but also its succulent steaks and beef ribs sizzled on an open log fire. For seafood lovers there’s oysters, home smoked salmon and fillet of fera fish. Lemon meringue, bilberry and raspberry tarts and almond cake create a rainbow of dessert. Friendly staff, relaxed surroundings, a terrace with terrific views over the peaks and potent plum au de vie and yellow Chartreuse complete the package.

La Fruiterie – its interior design is inspired by the old mountain dairies, with white metal milk churns, regional Beaufort-styled furniture and visible zinc pipework. Located beside the lively La Folie Douce music extravaganza, it serves up pleasant surprises - smooth-tasting chestnut soup with mushrooms and a snail version with parsley and garlic; Pike perch stew with quenelle and freshwater crayfish coulis; and shepherd’s pie of duck with blackcurrant and polenta. For fun, order the beehive, a dessert of ice nougat and fine honey jelly. It comes in a delightful miniature wooden…. bee hive, of course.

For further information, see Atout France and France Montagnes.

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