French cuisine has made a hugely positive impact on British eating habits over the years, and the standard of food served in British restaurants is generally high as a result of French culinary influence, especially that of Le Cordon Bleu institution. Although French restaurants in Britain have been facing stiff competition in the last few years, they are still able to hold their own amidst the myriad of other styles – Thai, Japanese, Chinese, ‘fusion’, Spanish for instance.
Eating is taken very seriously in France – despite the rise of the fast-food phenomenon in recent years. Meal times are generally considered to be valued occasions – a time to stop doing other things and simply savour and enjoy delicious flavours with friends and family.
Le Cordon Bleu is considered to be the guardian of haute-cuisine, a French culinary technique involving elaborate preparation and presentation of dishes, served over numerous courses. At the other end of the scale is a diverse range of regional cookery carried out in homes, bistros and restaurants, where the emphasis is still on high quality, but is altogether much simpler in the way ingredients are combined.
French ski resorts are renowned for the range and quality of their food establishments, from the fast-food style buffet to specialities of the region, through to the Michelin-starred restaurant specialising in haute cuisine. In fact, the quality of cuisine is undoubtedly one of the reasons for France’s enduring popularity as a top ski destination. The other reasons, of course, are the excellent pistes and lift networks, and its convenience for British skiers.
Although other destinations such as Switzerland, Austria and Italy may contain some excellent gastronomy, the variety and quality is simply not comparable to that of the best French ski resorts, such as Val d’Isere or Chamonix. Eating good regional food, whilst in France, is a hugely pleasurable experience. High-quality, imaginatively prepared, French dishes are hard to beat, especially when you can enjoy them in their country of origin.
Savoyard cuisine, from the high Alps of France, is one of the best-loved regional cuisines in France. It can be described as robust, rich, varied and down-to-earth. It makes excellent use of local cheeses such as reblochon for authentic dishes such as fondue and tartiflette. Other specialities include the local variations of saucisses (salamis) and patisseries.
This type of cooking is perfect for skiers who have burned off countless calories during the day and need to refuel before the evening’s entertainment. At the same time many lighter options are also available, making good use of fresh local produce. Combined with a stunning backdrop of alpine scenery or within the cosy ambience of a traditionally built ski chalet, the food takes on a new dimension.