‘Alpine’ is a magical word – upon hearing it, the mind conjures thoughts of wooden chalets, white pistes and zigzagging skiers. But, for the Abbaye de Talloires, its appeal lies in something altogether more blue. Perched on the eastern lip of Lac d’Annecy, this former monastery, now a luxury four-star hotel, welcomes guests to Haute-Savoie with a body of shimmering turquoise water.
Fed by fresh mountain streams, the lake is famously pure and draws throngs of tourists in summer. Where some bask in the crystalline shallows, others cross its 15 kilometres or follow the cycle path that loops around the outside. Many more come here to fish. With such a proud offering on its doorstep, it’s no surprise that the Abbaye de Talloires has long been a magnet for visitors to the area – including high-profile clientele like Paul Cézanne, Mark Twain and Jean Reno.
Above all else, the hotel serves as an oasis of calm. It did, after all, start life as a dwelling for Benedictine monks; that sense of peace and solitude carries through into its 36 suites today, which plump for comfort over lavish trimmings. Spacious and simple, each room has its own character and a breathtaking view over the lake, cloisters or gardens.
Plus, if ever there were a time to visit, it’s now. Marking the Abbey’s 1,000th birthday with fitting panache, the on-site restaurant has welcomed chef Christophe Le Digot on board for a mouthwatering (and staunchly local) menu. Between produce grown out of the hotel’s own jardin, lightly smoked trout and a cheese platter from Savoie, and even whitefish from the Lake d’Annecy, the Abbaye de Talloires’s dishes are the most scrumptious way to fuel all that lakeside leisuring.
From France Today magazine