FEEL­ING ALPINE

Hermione Eyre lives the good life at a tran­quil moun­tain re­treat

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Magazine - - Weekending - Edited by Di­pal Acharya

Le Grand Joux is a work of im­pres­sive ded­i­ca­tion. It is a pic­ture-per­fect French alpine chalet with gourmet cater­ing, si­t­u­ated far, very far in­deed, from the madding après-ski crowd, on top of a moun­tain path ac­ces­si­ble only by snow­mo­bile. Clearly, if you want to taste the ham hock frit­ter amuse-bouche, you gotta sad­dle up.

The chalet’s Land Rover met my mother and me at Geneva air­port, but stopped half­way up the moun­tain when the road be­came im­pass­able. The woods were silent and heavy with snow. Morzine twin­kled in the dis­tance. We hoiked on boots and hel­mets, and our guides revved up the snow­mo­biles. The ride took about ten min­utes, but seemed longer as we sped through acres of craggy pines un­til fi­nally there was our desti­na­tion, with its wait­ing warm slip­pers and wel­com­ing glass of cham­pagne.

Morzine is the new desti­na­tion of choice for Bri­tish skiers priced out of (or jaded by) Val d’Isère and Cha­monix. Here, in the Portes du Soleil area, near the ham­let of Gray­don, Bri­tish owner Karen An­der­son has cre­ated Le Grand Joux (the big one), which refers to the moun­tain that looms be­hind the chalet. Karen has at­tended to ev­ery de­tail, from the Wedg­wood Con­ran china to the am­bi­tiously pitched cui­sine. Chefs in­vited to spend the sea­son here have pre­vi­ously been grad­u­ates of Ray­mond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Clar­idge’s and Club Gas­con, and the evening meals are six-course affairs, imag­i­na­tively work­ing in lo­cal pro­duce such as ceps, Swiss chard and duck con­fit. The cel­lar is stocked with or­ganic and bio­dy­namic wines from Langue­doc’s Do­maine des Trinités, and the cheese­board of­fered home­made pear chut­ney with Bril­lat Savarin, Ro­que­fort, Comté and Maroilles.

The five bed­rooms have faux-fur throws and baroque French fur­ni­ture. The mas­ter bed­room de­lighted me with its pitched wooden ceil­ing and ad­join­ing hay loft, ac­ces­si­ble by lad­der — the per­fect sleep­ing quar­ters for young Heidi lovers or devo­tees of Dis­ney’s Frozen. This chalet would be per­fect for a small Elsa-ob­ses­sive. I left our tod­dler at home with her father, but I couldn’t help notic­ing that th­ese moun­tains could pass for Aren­delle. Sleep was has­tened by choos­ing from a pil­low menu, and

Above Le Grand Joux Left The sauna Be­low The chalet’s bar

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