or thirty years, he ventured all around the Alpine and Himalayan summits. But in 2019, a bad ski touring fall changed things. The former president of the Courchevel Mountain Guides Office said goodbye to his career. With the support of his partner Nathalie, he threw himself into a new line of work, running a café at the Chalet du lac de La Rosière. A gourmet address in a magical setting, where tarts, Beaufort cheese ‘crozet’ gratin and wild blueberry crêpes delight his customers. “I’m very happy with my change of career. But whenever I’m cooking, despite everything, I still daydream about the high mountains!” Conscientious about protecting the environment, he works with organic, local produce, and in winter, uses a pulka* because he feels that snow scooters are too polluting. Treetop adventure trail and via ferrata fans will find all the equipment they need available to hire on site. And if it’s hiking ideas or top tips you’re after, the place’s affable owner is a mine of information! * Pulled by a person or a dog, a pulka is a sledge used for sports or transport. It’s pulled by a person or a dog.
t all began with a chalet and farm located in the hamlet of La Chasse, near Lac du Lou. In 1986, when owner Nicholas Suchet passed away, his three children took over the business and added a café area. Expansion came in 2011, followed by the opening of the Chez Pépé Nicolas restaurant. “After my father died in 2014, my uncles suggested that I should take over the farm,” he says. “My cousin Margot manages the restaurant.” The business has a lot going for it: top-of-the-range organic cuisine, dream panoramic views, as well as access to the farm where cows, poultry and goats roam around freely. “Our concept?” From farm to plate. The eggs and cheese are produced on site. In season, the fruit and vegetables come from our garden, grown according to the principles of permaculture by my Aunt Magali, who also runs our shop.” Never short of ideas, Valentin and his family run themed storytelling evenings around the campfire. “We never get bored around here!”
In 2017, when her parents were retiring, this political sciences graduate didn’t hesitate for a second: her future was entwined with theirs! So, she took over the Villarenger family goat farm, near Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. It was a success: the thirty-year-old, who is also an equestrian guide, is brimming with good ideas. “As well as selling our cheese directly, my new direction is sharing and teaching” she explains. With the wide variety of activities she runs, Morgane manages to bring the traditions of a whole region to life. Workshops on harvesting edible plants and cooking with them to make soups and delicious pastries. Pony rides along the heritage trail crossing through the village, or whole-day mountain rides for experienced horse riders. Cheese- making, loved by children, or an evening climb up to La Gitte pasture to milk the goats. “At 6pm, we all enjoy homemade snacks, washed down with fresh milk. A unique experience that city dwellers love!”
Since 1947, Brides-les-Bains’ family cabinetmaking company has showcased French expertise. Beautiful work, rigour and ethics are the values passed on by its founder Alphonse through his son Pierre, to his grandson Yvan Martinod, who took over in 2005. “I started out as a chef,” he says. “It was that old thing about doing something different to my dad! But after working at some wonderful Michelin-starred places, I realised that woodwork was what really made me happy.” He went back to school to take his qualifications in cabinetmaking and management. “My father already had a good selection of architect and master builder clients. I took things in another direction, pushing even further, and have tackled some very complicated briefs.” Among the creations he’s most proud of is the woodwork interior of Le Kaïla hotel in Méribel, a fantastic adventure which took two years, as well as Les Bruxellois chalet, a design gem in Courchevel. “We try to reach out and touch excellence. But that doesn’t mean that we think we’re better than anybody else!”
Her relationship with nature is visceral. There’s nothing, she says, like an Alpine getaway for nourishing the imagination. “When I’m walking in the mountains,” she says, “I trace the glacial vestiges on the rocks, I pick moss. The textures, the imprints, the passage of time all form a conduit for my imagination.” As someone who defines herself as a “high-altitude ceramicist”, making an artwork emerge from a slab of clay is a special thrill. Her creations – plates, vases, bowls, teapots… – mirror the shapes found in the mineral landscapes. Her unique signature designs won over Josselin Jeanblanc, the Michelin-starred chef at Les Explorateurs and Base Camp at the 5-star Pashmina hotel in Val Thorens. Among the 500 pieces she made were plates moulded around pebbles, and mugs incorporating climbing carabiners, in harmony with the site’s identity: “I’m always looking for ways to make things different!”
Exhibition sale at the 5-star Pashmina hotel and at L’Alpen Art in Val Thorens.
His years at Grenoble School of Fine Arts endowed this artist with a joyful outlook on the world. He even turned first to contemporary dance before eventually focusing on plastic arts. “I realised that painting and drawing have always come very intuitively to me.” Since 2020, he explains, his canvasses have explored the duality between figuration and abstraction, and he’s taking his artwork to the summits. His current mission is to translate the “feelings of the mountains”, which so inspire and fascinate him. The strength of emotion. As an example, his Dent de Burgin was drawn in pierre noire pencil and charcoal, criss-crossed with bands of horizontal colour, like a piece of music with a cadence, a heartbeat. “I create my paints myself, by mixing pigments with melted paraffin. For me, art, like cooking, has a gourmet quality.”
An exhibition to savour from the 1st to the 15th of August 2021 at the Art Gallery d’En Haut, Méribel Tourist Office.