Hermione Eyre lives the good life at a tranquil mountain retreat
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