October 20, 2022

Like a Local: Taste Your Way Through the French Alps

The Alps are a rugged area of France, Switzerland and Italy with a history of tough alpine inhabitants …

By Corinne Van Houten

French Alps



Photo Source: Megève Tourisme

The Alps are a rugged area of France, Switzerland and Italy with a history of tough alpine inhabitants who worked hard, toiling the soil to grow potatoes and other hardy crops as well as herding goats and cows who provided dairy products, especially cheese. Thus it comes as no surprise that their cuisine is centered around potatoes, cheese and meat.

A wide variety of cheese is produced in the French alps, among which are Beaufort, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon, Raclette, Tomme de Brebis (a sheep’s milk cheese) and various goat cheeses. Several of these cheeses make their way into popular dishes such as fondue which means ‘melted’ in French. Almost everyone is familiar with this dish; a cheese mixture into which you dunk bread. This super yummy take on melted cheese toast is often mixed with white wine or kirsch for an added oomph.

Another popular dish is raclette which is derived from the French “racler” or to scrape. Traditionally the cheese was melted over a fire and scraped off to eat with bread and potatoes. Today it’s more common for raclette to be grilled in a special machine then eaten with potatoes, charcuterie, cornichons and bread.

Although both fondue and raclette originated in the Swiss alps, these dishes became popular and were adopted throughout the alpine region.

Tartiflette is a rich dish much like a potato gratin with bacon and gooey melted Reblochon cheese. In the same vein there’s croziflette made with cheese and pasta shells instead of potatoes.

Photo Source: Megève Tourisme

Meat is another staple of Alpine cuisine. Diots are sausages from the Savoie region. There are several varieties but the most common is made from ground up pork, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Grilled or boiled, they are a delicious addition to the table and may be served with boiled potatoes or polenta.

If you love grilled meats, be sure to try pierrade or pierre chaude. “Pierre” is French for stone and “chaud” means hot, an apt description of this dish. A stone is heated on which various cuts of meat are seared, leaving them juicy, tender and delicious. As with most alpine dishes it’s often served with a salad, bread and boiled potatoes or polenta.

Photo Source: Megève Tourisme

Alpine food is sure to satiate the heartiest appetite but there are sweet delicacies as well. Tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry tart) is a delicious way to end your meal. There’s also gateau de Savoie. Created in 1358 by the pastry chef of the Duke of Chambery, it’s a very light sponge cake that goes perfectly with coffee or tea.

When visiting the Alps make sure you treat yourself to at least one of these delicious alpine specialties. If you’re looking for recommendations for the best restaurants in Megève where you could try great alpine food, check out our article Top Five Restaurants in Megève.

If you’d like to book a luxury holiday chalet in the French Alps, browse our portfolio of private luxury holiday chalets.

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