A Weekend in the Alps
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to head out to Meribel to visit my brother who is doing a ski season at a luxury villa in the French Alps. I’ve never been anywhere snowy before and have never seen a mountain in real life, so this was a trip I’d been looking forward to for a while. Not just because of the lovely family time but also because I knew there would be some time to mooch around the little French towns nearby and hunt out some beautiful architecture.
I travelled with my friend Holly who is the best person to go away with - mainly because she loves food and wine as much as I do. When we hunt for a place to visit, it is mainly scored on how good the brunch offering is.
We flew into Geneva airport and built in a few hours of exploring time before our connection to France. We were excited to find out you can catch a free bus into the town centre, and from there can access most of the central part of the city within 30 minutes. I was so excited to find some pretty winding streets and a cute cafe to have lunch in. Usually we do research into places to eat before arriving, but I’d heard great things about Geneva and thought it might be more fun to amble around wherever looked nice when we got there. I don’t know about you but I find there is something so lovely about following your curiosity when you’re in a beautiful new place. Unfortunately on this occasion that was a bad move.
The area around the main station is very shiny and corporate with lots of chain stores and not much else. It is glamorous and spacious but not at all what we were looking for. There was no character and everywhere felt like the inside of some kind of sophisticated shopping centre. We turned to Google Maps and noticed that most landmarks and activity seemed to be around the lake so we headed there. It was beautiful but still very soulless. We spent a few hours hunting around for a decent place to eat (because we refused to give up and go to a Starbucks) but not having much luck we scoffed a very expensive burger and made our way to the train. To our surprise we stumbled across a lovely looking department store called Manor which had a huge food court, filled with the most amazing food! Check out my instagram highlights if you fancy having a look at what we found there - it was amazing! Stocked up on bread, cheese, cake and wine we headed to the station.
The rest of our journey that evening was in the dark so there’s not much to report, other than the pear torte from Manor food hall is amazing!.
Waking up in Meribel the next day was something pretty special. My brother’s cabin is nestled on the side of the mountain and his bedroom has a balcony looking right out over a valley with cable cars bobbing above it. Lucky boy waking up to that every morning!
We spent the next few days exploring Meribel, eating lots (I discovered pain au chocolat et a l’orange in a patisserie and it blew my mind - next time you have a pain au chocolat, try adding a bit of marmalade!) and drinking gallons of red wine. There is something very special about sitting in a log cabin in the silence of the snow, drinking with good friends and family. I was a very happy bunny.
Sadly the trip couldn't last forever, even if I was reluctant to leave my supply of pastries and cheese, so we headed to the little town of Moutiers to catch our train back to Geneva. We made it there with plenty of time to spare and I’m so glad - it was such a hauntingly beautiful town. Because we arrived early, pretty much everywhere was closed, giving it a very eerie atmosphere. The foggy mountains towered behind the warm-hued buildings and an icy river ran through the middle. We stood on a bridge peering down into the freezing water until we were in need of coffee and more pastry.
I loved the buildings in Moutiers. There was a quiet charm to the architecture and the colours were rich and comforting. We spotted a few pretty murals painted on people’s houses and I was very drawn to the shop signs and the rambling side streets.
When we had refuelled and loaded our bag with baguettes for the journey, we jumped on the mountain train back to Geneva. I had posted to Instagram about the bad experience we had there earlier in the week and one of my lovely photographer friends sent me a message telling me to go back and find the Old Town. It turns out that she is Swiss and knows Geneva very well, so I took her authority and gave it another shot. Boy I’m glad I did! I LOVE Geneva!
The Old Town snakes down the side of the hill, meaning the streets meander and sprawl in all directions. Everywhere is cobbled with exquisite detail, all the buildings have incredible shutters and most have balconies and gorgeous doors and windows. There are interesting boutiques everywhere, although I couldn’t afford to even set foot in most of them - we ventured into a chocolate shop and left as quickly as we could when we realised a single chocolate was over 10€! I loved the simple decor of the shops though - they all felt so sensitively considered and had lots of charm. Needless to say I photographed every cute doorway, every shutter design and a few Police signs because they reminded me of Playmobil.
I could have stayed in Geneva for a lot longer than we had time for and would definitely recommend it as a destination for anyone interested in design, architecture or luxury shopping (although be prepared for it to cost ££££££). Failing that, head to Moutiers - it’s weird there but I liked it.