Autumn in the French Alps is one of Europe’s best kept secrets and we’re letting you in on it.

As the sun lowers in the sky, the autumnal colours of fall reflect boldly against the deep blue skies. The days remain warm, but as the cold nights draw in so the dawn fog appears. As if by magic, it snakes around the valley waterways, creating an ever-changing surrealist landscape of half-hidden trees, roofs and spires. Boar, ibex and deer descend from their summer feeding grounds and can be observed feeding on nature’s abundant food source, as the Earth gives up her prolific summer bounty.

Forage for apples, chestnuts, walnuts and and mushrooms

Mushroom hunters among you will discover an incredible variety in our local woodlands. You can check with the local pharmacy in Samoens, to ensure your harvest is indeed edible, before trying your hand at our Sautéed Wild Mushrooms recipe. Laden-down apple, walnut and chestnut trees are simply dropping their goods onto the ground for you to harvest and enjoy. A simple way to enjoy the abundance of apples at this time of year, is to make our Apple Tart (with an optional adult kick), it’s sophisticated, delightfully French and easy to put together. 

Pack your binoculars to watch wild boar, chamois, ibex and deer

As the golden eagles soar overhead, the stags can be heard rutting, and their sounds ricochet off the steep mountain faces of the Cirque du Fer a Cheval (live webcam). Walking alone through this extraordianry landscape offers a sense of continuity and raw natural beauty rarely observed in the craziness of our everyday lives. 

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Taste the bounty of La Chasse

Each local village has a culling allowance to maintain a healthy population of deer and boar. This carefully monitored local tradition, brings to the village restaurant table delectable plates of venison and boar accompanied with seasonal vegetables, cheeses and local wines.

Discover the UNESCO World Heritage-listed vineyards of Lavaux

The vineyards in the region are bursting with ripe grapes and given the warm weather we hope to enjoy this summer, the yield is sure to be bountiful. You can enjoy an easy hike through the terraced vineyards of Lavaux by Lake Geneva and sample their produce at the local wineries. Invest in some local wine knowledge before you go, with our guide to local wines: Savoie Wines- The Myths Uncorked

Ditch the suit and go out to play

In our valley alone, there are more than 900 km’s of well-marked hiking trails. The famous GR5 route passes through Samoens on its way from the low countries to the north, through the Alps to the Mediterranean. We have also written an extensive guide to one day hikes in the area, graded from easy to pretty tough: Samoens Mountain Huts.

If you’re searching for the true backcountry vibe and some awesome wilderness single track, then you’ve found it. Check out our exclusive guide to Samoens’ Mountain Bike Trails and Maps.

The Samoens area offers some of the best best cycle routes in France. The Tour de France makes a regular appearance here as athletes battle each other on the infamous Joux Plane road. Try pitting your strength against the best on the Joux Plane or choose a more sedate route. Here’s our exclusive guide with maps to the Samoens Cycle Routes- 3 Classic Rides.

Of course the Giffre valley is famed for having some of the best year round outdoor activities in Europe and we attempt to inspire you with a personal selection of the best: A Thrill-Seeker’s Guide 

Chalet Chocolat Tip:

Bring your camera! The photographic opportunities here are so extraordinary, we have devoted a page to it.

Chalet Chocolat is so beautiful you may spurn the mountains for a day at home. Nowhere is perfect, but Chalet Chocolat comes very close. We came on a short break from frantic city life to reconnect in the mountains. We were surprised at the quality of the accommodation offered for the price, this is a seriously upscale chalet and we almost felt embarrassed at having it all to ourselves for such a paltry sum. The Samoens area is really very special indeed and we are no strangers to it and go there regularly. We have stayed in a number of chalets around the valley, but Chalet Chocolat tops them all in terms of value for money. We thought twice about sharing our little secret, but we’re booking ahead anyway, so who cares if half the world knows, “Chalet Chocolat is quite simply perfect!”

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