France|October 2020
Alpine resorts have long been known for their restorative properties, catering to both body and soul. Lara Dunn enjoys some active relaxation in Annecy Mountains
Lara Dunn

My stay in Annecy Mountains, just an hour’s journey from Geneva Airport, began in La Clusaz. A compact resort with the authentic character of a real village rather than a tailor-made ski town, everything here is on the doorstep, from the ski lifts to the numerous wonderful spas. Right from the word go, a pattern very quickly began to develop for my stay.

The day would start out on the mountain. Sometimes with a spot of skiing, taking the first lift up to enjoy the amazing network of relaxed blues that are one of the area’s highlights (for me, a nervous intermediate skier) – here, it’s straightforward to explore without ever having to overdo it.

Charmed by La Clusaz

A lunch on the mountain somewhere was a must, a chance to enjoy some of the region’s justifiably famous specialities. The Restaurant La Ferme above the blue Le Bossonnet piste offered a surprise one day in the form of the Reblochonnade and Braserade. I’ve been visiting the French Alps for three decades, but this was my first experience of this tabletop grill/ raclette combo on which you melt your own cheese while simultaneously cooking fresh, raw steak pieces. All the best of Alpine produce crammed into one crowded table. I think I rolled, rather than skied down that day.

After a morning out on the snow, it was time for some afternoon relaxation. The Deep Nature Spa at the Hôtel Prestige Odalys Le Chamois provided a therapy pool with soothing (and less so) massage jets, saunas and steam room as well as a host of massage and treatment options designed to undo the stresses of the morning. Thankfully, it was a downhill walk to my hotel, as I’m not sure my now-liquified muscles would have cooperated after a few hours there.

Challenge and change

Another day, I had a go at a beginner’s introduction to ski mountaineering on the incredibly beautiful Beauregard plateau and found that although the technique sounded deceptively simple, it required more raw fitness than I have, and a knack that I just could not get, no matter how hard I tried. Snowshoeing in the same area was more successful, giving ample opportunity to enjoy the views after which the area is named. An afternoon in the outdoor swimming pool at the Aravis Aqua Centre, with its distracting views of the dazzlingly white chain of the Aravis mountains, was the perfect antidote to my energetic morning.


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October 2020