Maison Caramel is located in the Tarentaise, part of ancient kingdom of Savoie and right at the heart of the French Alps. Although internationally renowned for its ski resorts, the area also has a rich farming heritage and many areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Winter is the time to ski and enjoy other winter sports, but in summer there’s lots to see and do. Explore picturesque villages with their baroque chapels and traditional farmhouses, tiny hamlets on the high pastures, or wild unspoilt mountain landscapes with fascinating flora and fauna. Go further afield and visit one of the region’s fine historic cities for the day. Wander around the cobbled streets, have lunch in an old square, then browse the street markets and tiny shops.

Things to do and see

Villages and meadows

There are many picture-book alpine villages to visit perched on the mountain sides – either on foot, by bike or car. Setting off from the door, see the orchards frothy with blossom in April and May, the incredible alpine meadows thick with wild flowers in late May and June, or the colourful autumn leaf displays in October. Winter is spectacular too, when the rooftops are several feet deep in snow and the mountain peaks shine white against the blue skies. Ask for our route maps and trail suggestions.

Majestic mountains, rivers and lakes

We’re on the edge of the incredibly beautiful Vanoise National Park, a protected high mountain landscape home to ibex, chamois, marmots and, rumour has it, a few brave Italian wolves. Opposite us is the Beaufortain, with its beautiful gorges, pastures and villages. Wherever you go, there are breath-taking views, often with Mont Blanc in the background. For those hot summer days, there are cobalt-coloured mountain lakes and hidden waterfalls. Just 15 mins by bike along the river’s cycle path is a swimming lake surrounded by grassy parkland dappled with shade.

Ancient castles, forts and towers

We are in the old kingdom of the Dukes of Savoie, the longest surviving royal house in Europe. Annexed by France in 1860 and formerly part of the Roman Empire, the area has an ancient history reaching back to the celts in pre-Roman times. Many of the ancient forts, towers and castles of the region are still standing today and are well worth a visit.

Historic cities and shopping

Take a trip to one of the region’s old towns and cities for a slap up lunch and a good shop. Visit Grenoble for its impressive museums and galleries, or go to Annecy, the “Venice of the Alps” – so named for its canals, medieval arcades, cute cafes and beautiful lake. It has a weekend food market and a brocante on the last Saturday of every month with over 200 stalls – great for bargain hunting. Chambery has an Italian feel, with grand arcades, rose-coloured facades and shuttered windows. The maze of narrow streets, alleyways and squares in its perfectly preserved old town are a delight to explore.

Local food and specialities

Try Beaufort, a hard Gruyere cheese – the best is “alpage” (made with milk from cows grazing on the high summer pastures). Tomme and Reblouchon are other well-known local cheeses. The latter is best in Tartiflette, a calorific peasant gratin with potatoes, bacon and onions. Other local specialities include Diot and Pormonier sausages – thick, fatty bangers with a rich flavour, often cooked in wine.