French Alps, Episode 59


French Alps, Episode 59
Cynthia Caughey
This week we head to the French Alps with tour designer Cynthia Caughey. She lives in the Alps part-time with her French husband and has come to know it very well. Her company offers two tours: one is the Alps exclusively, and the other is French Alps and Provence. On the show we discuss both and I must say they sound like fun and action-packed tours, yet accessible to all. One of the attractions they take their visitors to is the Carrières de Lumières at Les-Baux-de-Provence, which I highly recommend (lots of photos on the website).


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Granier French Alps
Granier French Alps

Philosophy Behind the Design of the Tour

Introduce Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and other cultures to the French Alps and Provence. The two owners of the tours have lived in French Alps for years and know it as their home, not as a tourist or tour guide. The tour is designed to be savored like a fine wine.

We want our guests to see and experience the area rather than just quickly pass through it seeing it from a coach/bus window. We offer lots of insider information on architecture, history, art, nature, geology, traditions, political system, laws, and cuisine. We shop and eat at family and locally owned stores and restaurants. We eat locally produced products.

Annecy France colors
Annecy, France

Focus of the Tours

Food and wine – Private chef at the Chalet Lodge – evening French meals. Michelin Star restaurant farewell dinner, cheese tastings, wine tastings (Chateauneuf du Pape and Chateau Lucey -The Chateau itself is an ancient, but fully restored, castle/chateau that was once owned by General and Count Boigne in the late 1700’s), chocolate tasting, nut oil tasting, local French markets, after dinner liquor tastings – watch local cheese owners make the famous Reblochon cheese on our French Alps Tour. We also visit a fromagerie on both tours.

Beautiful landscapes – pastures of Col des Annes above Annecy – cows with cowbells, wildflowers dotting the landscape, visit to a historic chalet and learn the reasons for the chalet architecture. Visit to Auguille du Midi taking the cable car to the top and the magnificent views, plus Chamonix and Mer de Glace, scenic villages, lavender fields in Provence, red ocher hills of Roussillon, grape vineyards.

Chanaz, France
Chanaz, France

What We See on the French Alps Tour (listed by tour day):

Yvoire, medieval village on Lake Geneva

Col des Aravis for pastures, wildflowers, cows, fromagerie (Rustic Refuge restaurant and fromagerie), cheese and cured hams tasting, historic chalet visit, pottery store (Rustic Refuge in the middle of stunning views, pastures and hiking trails is not to be missed – this is one of my favorite places)

Chamonix, Auguille du Midi cable car, visit Mer de Glace on the train (a day not to be missed and kids will love it too – this is one of my favorite days/events)

Annecy tour, Fier Gorges, French Resistance Museum/Cemetery, boat ride on Lake Annecy to Talloires

Chanaz on Lake Bourget to visit old grinding nut mill and taste oils, wine tasting at Chateau Lucey, visit Hautecombe Abbey

Visit to Lyon and Vienne – see historic centers, cathedrals, Roman ruins and Roman-Galeo Museum. Traboule.

Chambery visit and tour, afterwards Funicular du Touvet (2nd steepest funicular in Europe – great views – the kids will love this!) + Michelin Star Restaurant dinner (Atmospheres overlooking Lake Bourget)

Tarte Praline de Lyon
Tarte Praline de Lyon

Hotel: The hotel is Chateau des Comtes in Challes-les-Eaux. The city features a Casino and Thermal Baths, both dating to the 1800’s. The Chateau has an award-winning restaurant where you’ll dine for two evenings (dinners are included in the price of the trip).  The restaurant has received the coveted 2 Medallions and 4 Forks by Gault Millau for it fine cuisine, which is presented as works of art. The restaurant also has an exceptional wine list – the wines are stored in the 4,000-bottle wine cellar underneath the Chateau. The cellar holds the largest bottle of wine in France.

Annecy France
Annecy, France

 What We See on the French Alps and Provence Tour (listed by tour day):

Yvoire, medieval village on Lake Geneva

Col des Aravis for pastures, wildflowers, cows, fromagerie, cheese and cured hams tasting, chalet visit, pottery store

Chamonix, Auguille du Midi cable car, visit Mer de Glace on the train

Annecy tour, Fier Gorges, French Resistance Museum/Cemetery, boat ride on Lake Annecy to Talloires

Chateauneuf Du Pape wine tasting, Avignon visit

Nimes, Pont du Gard, St Remy French Market, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastary (Van Gogh hospital),

Senanque Abbey with lavender fields, Gordes, Roussillon

Baux de Provence, Carrieres de Lumiere art exhibit (unique experience, fairly unknown, not to be missed), Arles tour, and Michelin Star Restaurant farewell dinner (Prevot – Jean-Jacques Prévot’s Michelin-recommended restaurant in Cavaillon. The chef is a master and a magician. Everything is centered around Melons and everything is delicious. The establishment is not only a restaurant, but also home to the “Melon Museum of France”.

Carrières de Lumières at Les-Baux-de-Provence

These pictures were taken during the Kimpt and Vienna Show at the Carrières de Lumières at Baux-de-Provence. Different shows and themes are shown at different times, so you may not see this one in particular, but no matter what they show, you can be sure it’ll be a great experience. Children enjoy this very much because they can walk around, touch the walls, be immersed in the beautiful music. Like I said in the show, I love everything about this attraction other than the fact that it’s hard to park at times. I’ve seen it twice and will gladly see it many more times.

 

2 thoughts on “French Alps, Episode 59”

  1. Oh my goodness! Touring this area sounds fabulous. My list of things to see and do when in France is getting longer and longer. The Join Us in France podcast is definitely number one in my book. Keep up the good work. 🙂

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