Thursday, 24 July 2008

Haute-Savoie Region

As promised, here is a bit of a travel blog type post on the Haute Savoie region of the French Alps which extends from the southern shores of Lake Geneva down to Lake Annecy to the south west and Chamonix, Mont Blanc and the Swiss and Italian borders to the south east.

The culture and architecture of the region are fairly typically Alpine, with a tradition of small farming communities. More recently of course, tourism plays a major part of the economy and there are many world class ski resorts - Chamonix, Megeve, Morzine, Avoriaz to name a few.

Architecture uses the local materials of wood and stone with the traditional chalet style being quite common. Stone lower floors with wood above are quite common, as are balconies running the length of the upper floors. Roofs are tiled with wood, stone or often just corrugated metal sheets.

The wooden church spire in Argentiere

A typical old farmhouse in the region

The food in the Haut Savoie and Savoie regions could be described as hearty - the staple ingredients are potatoes, cheese (including goats cheese) and cream. Also popular are onions and various meats, particularly pork products. Restaurants offer various cook-it-yourself options including meat and cheese fondue, Pierrade/pierre chaud - cooking meat on a hot stone, and Raclette - melting cheese onto bread with a fancy gadget.

A typical local dish is Tartiflette, made with sliced potatoes, lardons (diced smoked bacon), onions, cream and Reblochon cheese. Although typical, and apparently traditional it was actually invented in the 1980s by the union of Reblochon cheese makers as a ploy to boost sales. It is a great winter dish though and I will post a recipe in the next couple of days.

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