High life in France

Turning far north after Tuscany, I had a couple of days in the Haut-Savoie town of Les Gets, close on the French side of the the Swiss border. Will it surprise you to learn landscape is absolutely, chocolate-box spectacular?

Mountains rise steeply from the collection of villages which number 500 in the off-season, but still manage to sustain three hairdressers and four boulangeries or bakeries. You’d think the locals were fat and well-coiffed, but this long weekend was pretty quiet, and most of the people we met were English, so I can't report back.

When they are in town, the locals (originally drawn from just three families and includes the surname ‘Bastard’, proving the old design motto that anything said in French sounds better) can choose from the reputedly sticky-carpet venue of igloo, the Dublin bar or even Le Boomerang Bar, reportedly run by an Australian (no, really!).

The regional dishes of the Haut-Savoie would also lend you to believe the population is a capillary away from heart failure – the fondue is a big pot of melting, winey cheese in which stale bread is dipped (great for small kids, despite the open flame beneath the pot), while tarteauflette is a mix of sliced potatoes sprinkled with bacon and smothered in local cheeses which include Reblochons, Tommes de Savoie and the stronger Abondance.

The find of the decade was the artisanal fromagerie, Fruitere des Perries, shelves loaded with local wine and cheeses.

A short drive up the hill and you can spot the skirts of Mont Blanc, hiding behind its sisters, glacial lakes and the winter photographs show snow up above the windows, making the view from the kitchen window a distant memory…or a beer fridge, if you were so inclined.

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