[B]ack in July we headed out to the French Alps together for our first ‘Life on a Plate’ adventure and the start of exciting times ahead. Our mission was to photograph all things food-related at Nikki and Hugh’s beautiful 1900s farmhouse in Fontaine Naves in the heart of the Alps. Chalet Savoie Faire is a typical Savoyard barn which has been transformed into a luxurious bed and breakfast and unique cookery school. Read on and you’ll discover why it’s no surprise that it has been voted one of the top 300 places to stay in France in the Figaro recently and has scooped excellent reviews on both Tripadvisor and Alistair Sawdays. The possibilities for adventure and relaxation are endless thanks to the location and the flexible space that Nikki & Hugh have created. The chalet has been rebuilt from a shell by hand, by Hugh with every single detail of the interior lovingly sourced by Nikki from brocante shops and markets across the country. It’s a true labour of love, and between them they have created an irrestible mix of the luxurious and the quirky.
Fontaines Naves is a tiny, peaceful mountain hamlet 15 minutes from the nearby town of Moutiers, with the ski resorts of Valmorel and Meribel/Courchevel 20 minutes away by car. With the Trois Vallees resorts close by and cross-country ski trails right on the doorstep, it’s the perfect location for those with a sense of adventure. Hiking, climbing, snow shoeing, nordic walking, and ski touring also popular options. Equally if cycling is more your thing, you can easily access some of the world’s best routes for mountain biking or road biking: the notorious Col de la Madeleine, being one of them nearby. In fact, Hugh’s specialist subject is cycling. A former mountain bike guide, he knows the best Alpine routes in the area which makes the chalet a great base for enjoying the Tour de France.
I must confess that I did pack my trainers, but Melissa and I were far too busy photographing and sampling all the wonderful dishes prepared by Nikki, so we’ll have to sample the more adventurous activities another time. Nikki is a very talented chef and her unique cookery school at Chalet Savoie Faire is becoming increasingly popular. The kitchen itself is beautiful with views of the snow-capped mountains from the balcony. This combined with the fresh local produce available and Nikki’s culinary skills make for a very special opportunity to improve your cooking.
Sleeping up to eight guests, Chalet Savoie Faire has been carefully designed with flexibility in mind and is available to rent all year round. The chalet can be reserved on a bed and breakfast, fully catered or self catered basis or perhaps a combination of these during your stay. The décor is stylish and luxurious, all lovingly crafted and sourced by Nikki and Hugh themselves.
We experienced and photographed one of Nikki’s cookery classes and you can read a full review here. The bespoke nature of this cookery school makes possibilities endless. Nikki can really tailor the classes to your personal needs and gluten-free options can be discussed and arranged to suit you.
It wasn’t just about the learning and cooking of course. We all sat down to enjoy the wonderful food that the cookery course attendees had prepared. The berries below had been picked earlier from the garden so you get an idea of how fresh and locally-sourced the ingredients are.
Nikki and Hugh make you feel at home straight away. After ten minutes, you feel like you’ve known Nikki for years. She’s actually an Aussie but has been living in France for over 20 years. Her French is flawless and so is her knowledge of French cooking and ingredients. And did we mention, Milo and Bailey? Their two cute little pups have the run of the village.
We couldn’t head to the airport without a quick visit to the local market at Moutiers and a stroll through the historic part of Annecy, all in close proximity to Chalet Savoie Faire. In fact Nikki will often tie in a market visit to source the ingredients and produce with her cookery class attendees.
We can’t wait to return to Chalet Savoie Faire and perhaps see the mountains in all their snow-capped glory next time and some wintry, warming dishes to photograph. For more information, you can contact Nikki Shields-Quinn at www.chaletsavoiefaire.com or +33 (0)4 79 24 54 28(landline) or +33 (0)7 71 60 50 48(mobile).