Food & Culture

Seven Alpine dishes to try on your mountain holiday

After an active day exploring the mountains, your appetite will yearn for a satisfying meal – and Alpine cuisine presents an ideal answer! Just four hours of walking in the mountains can burn up no less than 2,500 calories, and in cold weather, you use even more energy – it increases by 100 calories per hour as your body tries to keep warm! Rich, cheesy Alpine food is the perfect way to make sure you are well-fuelled during your stay!

Here are seven popular Alpine dishes that you have to try during your mountain holidays: raclette, fondue, tartiflette, crozets, poêlée montagnarde, gâteau de Savoie and tarte aux myrtilles.

1. Raclette, a superb mountain speciality

An electric raclette device on a checked tablecloth, with potatoes, charcuterie and red wine
Don’t hold back on the cheese! © M. Sauvage/Office de Tourisme de Manigod

A bit of history

This sociable mountain speciality goes back to the Middle Ages, in the Valais mountains in Switzerland. The word “raclette” comes from the word “racler”, meaning to scrape, and was first used in the early 20th century.

Traditionally, raclette cheese was melted on a flat stone that was placed near the oven. Once it started to bubble, the cheese was scraped off with a wooden spatula and used to top potatoes.

This dish was usually part of a celebration, and although we now associate raclette with the winter season, it was traditionally eaten during the mid-August festivities, when the first raclette cheeses were made.

This speciality has become very popular in recent years. A traditional recipe of the mountains and winter, it’s a great sharing dish!

How to prepare it

You’ll need a few ingredients if you want to cook a good raclette. Traditionally, this dish is served with potatoes, cold meats and, of course, raclette cheese. However, you could also add other elements, such as gherkins or salad. Nowadays, there are some variations on the recipe to make it lighter – for example, you could swap cold meats for vegetables.

Choose potatoes with thin skins and firm flesh. This way, you won’t need to peel them and they won’t collapse when you cut into them. Take your cheese and cold meats out of the fridge a little while before the meal, so that it has time to come up to room temperature. This will help the cheese melt and make the meat more tasty!

This mountain speciality is best served with a good glass of dry white wine, or a red such as Mondeuse.

The best places to eat Raclette

If you want to eat raclette, you have several choices – you could go to a restaurant or perhaps visit a cheese farm, where they will prepare the dish for you and rent out the equipment.

Here are two restaurants you can try on your Alpine holiday:

  • Le Freti in Annecy: This restaurant serves raclette and other mountain specialities. Whether you choose to eat on the terrace or in the dining room, this restaurant in the heart of the historic old town of Annecy is sure to please!
A half wheel of raclette cheese sits on a traditional heating device
A traditional raclette device © Annecy Restos & Cie

Book a gourmet stay in Annecy

  • Aux comptoirs des Alpes, in Le Grand Bornand: This cheese and charcuterie shop offers a wide range of local products. An ideal place to discover the specialities of the Alps, they also stock a wide range of raclette cheeses: choose from ail des ours, chèvre, fumée, raclette fermière du Grand Bornand…Complete your raclette evening with some charcuterie from their wide selection.
Customers get some advice on the best salami to eat with their raclette
So much to choose from! © Clément Hudry

A foodie holiday in Le Grand Bornand


2. Fondue – an Alpine classic

Three people dip their bread in a cheese fondue, surrounded by plates of cold meat and pickes
Dip in – but don’t lose your bread! © Clément Hudry/Office de Tourisme de Manigod

The history of the dish

Is it Swiss or Savoyarde? That’s the age-old question when it comes to fondue.

The truth is that it’s our Swiss friends, and more specifically those in the canton of Fribourg, who are responsible for this mouth-watering recipe.

In the 18th century, the people of Fribourg made this delicious dish using leftover cheese and stale bread. It was an economical and nutritious meal, which quickly spread throughout the country. This mountain dish then spread to the French Alps.

In 1794 a French chef, Brillat-Savarin, made fondue official by writing the first recipe. It consisted of gruyère cheese, egg and butter. Wine was not added to the dish until the early 20th century.

Savoyard fondue is traditionally made with three kinds of cheese: Comté, Emmental and Beaufort. Each region then adapts the dish to suit its own cheese specialities. Swiss fondue, on the other hand, is usually made with Vacherin and Gruyère cheeses.

How to prepare your fondue

A piece of bread dripping with melted cheese is lifted from the fondue pot
It’s all about the cheese © Anncapictures, Pixabay

Fondue is a fairly simple dish to prepare. However, there are a few tricks that can make the recipe even better! The bread should be cut into cubes in advance so that it has time to dry out a little, and choose farmhouse or cereal bread as they have a denser crumb. To make your own croutons, simply cut up pieces of bread and rub them with garlic and herbs, for example. Delicious!

As for the cheese, add it gradually to the pan, along with the white wine and butter, for a smoother texture. Various fondue machines are available, but you can’t beat a real fondue pot with a heavy base. That way, there’s no risk of the cheese burning!

A fresh, dry white wine goes very well with your fondue, whether it’s mixed with the cheese, enjoyed by the glass… or both! Chignin or Roussette de Savoie are great choices.

Where to try a fondue

Here are two restaurants where you can enjoy a proper Savoyard fondue in great surroundings:

  • La Scierie in La Clusaz: this family restaurant with a long history is a great place to try traditional mountain food. The setting is modern and fresh, with mountain touches – the perfect place to spend an evening with friends enjoying a superb fondue, whether it’s Swiss or Savoyard!
A table set for dinner in front of an open fire, with a picture of an Alpine cow on the chimney breast
The perfect table in front of the fire © La Scierie

Enjoy a stay in La Clusaz

  • La Peille in Saint Jean de Sixt: You’ll find authentic, simple and gourmet cuisine at this restaurant, where the hosts welcome you in a chalet-style dining room. Try their three-cheese fondue, or if you fancy a change, what about the porcini mushroom fondue?

Book your stay in St Jean de Sixt


3. Tartiflette, a heartwarming mountain speciality

A dish of tartiflette is served on the terrace of a mountain restaurant
Mountain comfort food © Office de Tourisme de Manigod

A unique history

The comforting dish of tartiflette is not actually that old. In fact, it was invented in the 20th century and has its origins in the famous Reblochon cheese. This well-known cheese, made from the second milking of cows, has a particular creaminess, which is what makes it so appealing for a dish like tartiflette.

The Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Reblochon is said to have developed this recipe to boost sales of the cheese, but they deny any involvement.

However, the dish has its origins in an old traditional recipe called pêla, made with potatoes, onions and cheese. In the 20th century, cheese maturers in Savoie had too much Reblochon and were looking for a way to sell it. They brought the pêla back into fashion by replacing the original cheese with Reblochon … and tartiflette was born!

A restaurant owner in La Clusaz is said to have given the dish its name. The word “tartifle” in Savoyard dialect translates to potato.

How to make a great tartiflette

A delicious dish of tartiflette, with a Reblochon cheese melting on the top
An irresistible delight © La Minute Gourmande

First, cook your potatoes in a pan of salted water. The bacon and onions should also be cooked separately in a frying pan. The addition of crème fraîche adds a certain creaminess which binds the dish together.

When the ingredients are all cooked, mix them together and put them in an ovenproof dish. Then place half a Reblochon cheese on top to cover as much of the dish as possible, skin side up. This way, it will melt over the potatoes, creating a tasty sauce for this speciality from the Alps!

Where to eat a great tartiflette

This rich mountain speciality is real comfort food. We recommend you try it at the following places:

  • Top Marmotte in Manigod: a restaurant offering traditional cuisine in a warm and simple setting. And of course, tartiflette is on the menu, so you’re sure to have a great time!
A restaurant dining room decorated in a mountain style
A traditional delight © Top Marmotte

Enjoy mountain specialities in Manigod

  • La Ferme des Corbassières in La Clusaz: this farm is the ideal place to stock up on good Reblochon, which is made on the premises, to make a tartiflette with cheese that couldn’t be fresher! And you can sit down to try the dish in a traditional mountain chalet.
A woman turns the Reblochon cheeses after washing
Reblochon straight from the farm © Laurent Madelon – AFTalp/ Savoie-Mont-Blanc

Find a chalet in La Clusaz


4. Crozets, a Savoyard tradition with many variations

A scoop of Crozet pasta on a wooden table
Crozets – a mountain pasta © Chef Simon

The story behind this dish

Crozet pasta, made from eggs and buckwheat flour, first appeared in Savoie, in the Tarentaise Valley, in the 17th century. The name “crozet” comes from the Savoyard word “croé”, meaning small. Their square shape made them easier for mountain people to transport.

This easy-to-cook pasta goes perfectly with a variety of mountain cheeses. It can be used to make a variation on tartiflette, which is known as croziflette. However, many other dishes can be made with crozets, such as gratin. This contains neither bacon nor Reblochon cheese, but instead uses Beaufort, Comté or Emmental cheeses from Savoie.

Insider tips

A baked dish of croziflettes
An appetising mountain speciality © France montagnes

It’s so simple to make croziflette, all you have to do is replace the potatoes with crozet pasta… and you’re done! This dish is just as comforting as the original, and it’s another great way to enjoy cheese!

Like the potatoes for tartiflette, crozets must be cooked beforehand in a pan of salted water. Then just assemble the ingredients and bake them in the oven.

For crozet gratin, simply cook the pasta and layer it with the cheese of your choice in a baking dish, before placing it in the oven.

Where to eat crozets

Looking for a place to enjoy a croziflette? Discover this Alpine treat at the following places:

  • Auberge du Croix, Le Grand Bornand: A mountain farm overlooked by the Aravis mountains, this restaurant offers some of the best Alpine food around – and it’s a great place to try croziflette.
A creamy reblochon cheese, with a wedge removed
Creamy reblochon is perfect for croziflette © Saveurs des Aravis
  • Fromagerie de la Ferme de Lorette in Thônes: If you’re looking for an authentic flavour and quality ingredients, this cheese farm is the place to go. Pick up some creamy cheeses and fresh crozet pasta so that you can make your own delicious croziflette.
A display of Alpine products, including crozets pasta
Pick up the finest ingredients © Office de Tourisme de Thônes

Book your stay in Thônes


5. Poêlée Montagnarde, an Alpine delight

A dish of potatoes, bacon, cheese and herbs laid out on a table with a wooden spoon.
A treat for the tastebuds © Tourisme Annecy

A symbolic dish

Poêlée montagnarde is one of the mainstays of Savoyard gastronomy. The recipe is simple: potatoes, white wine, bacon, onions and cheese. Originally, Abondance cheese was used in this dish.

This mountain speciality is the Savoyard dish par excellence. The secret lies in its authenticity and simplicity.

Traditionally, this recipe is accompanied by a Savoy white wine, which is also used for cooking.

How to prepare it

A dish of potatoes, cold meats and cheese, served with salad and bread.
A feast for the eyes © La cuisine des chefs/Radio Mont-Blanc

This mountain dish is quick and easy to make. First, fry the onions in a pan. Then, add the potatoes followed by the lardons and brown well. Moisten the pan with the white wine and top with cheese.

Boil your potatoes until they are cooked through – check them with a knife. You won’t need salt, as the lardons are already quite salty.

When the cheese has melted perfectly, the dish is ready to eat! Eat it piping hot, to enjoy the softness of the cheese.

Where to try a poêlée montagnarde

Here are two places where you can try this delicious pan-fried dish:

  • La Ferme du Pépé, Le Grand Bornand: this charming chalet has been converted into a restaurant where you can enjoy delicious home-cooked food. It’s the perfect example of mountain cooking!
A restaurant dining room laid for dinner on the top floor of a wooden chalet
Enjoy your meal! © La ferme du pépé
  • La Grignoterie, Manigod: Take a break to enjoy some delicious local food at this restaurant which is known for its fresh produce and local specialities.
White chairs and wooden tables in a simple restaurant setting
Simple traditional food at this Manigod restaurant © Office de Tourisme de Manigod

Find a chalet in Le Grand Bornand


6. The Gâteau de Savoie, a light mountain dessert

A gâteau de Savoie in a lace doily on a plank of wood on the grass
A simple pleasure © Office de Tourisme de Manigod

A diplomatic cake

The Gâteau de Savoie, also known as Savoy biscuit, has its origins in the Savoy region. It was invented in the 14th century in Chambéry by Pierre de Yenne, who was the Count of Savoy’s pastry chef.

This dessert was produced for the visit of Charles IV of Luxembourg and the recipe for this light and airy cake has not really changed since then. A few flavours were added during the 17th and 18th centuries, including cinnamon, orange blossom and citrus zest.

The Gâteau de Savoie really took off in the 18th century, when it was served throughout France at the tables of the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It was only a little later that this Savoyard speciality was available to others.

For a lightness you can’t beat …

A Gâteau de Savoie dusted with icing sugar on a black surface
Elegant and delicious © Savoie Mont-Blanc

Patience is key to making this cake. You’ll need strong arms to gently whisk the eggs until they form stiff peaks. Tip: in addition to flour, potato starch can be used to make the cake even lighter!

The egg whites should be gently folded into the rest of the mixture to obtain a super fluffy texture. At this point you can add citrus fruit, lemon or orange depending on taste, to give extra character to this mountain speciality.

The mould must be well-buttered and sweetened to ensure the cake has a lovely golden crust. The higher the edges of the mould you use, the easier this dessert will rise.

Where to try this cake

Here are two places where you can try this Savoyard delicacy:

  • Le Petit Marquis, Le Grand Bornand: The gâteau de Savoie is just one of the delicious treats you can try at this bakery and tearoom.
Bread and cake are displayed in this mountain bakery
Time for cake © Photos Google
  • Le Relais, Megève: this restaurant is a showcase for Alpine food. Traditional mountain cuisine is served in a refined setting. The Gâteau de Savoie features on its dessert buffet!
Interior of a restaurant with its tables set and ceiling lights.
Treat yourself to a meal at this elegant restaurant! © Office de Tourisme de Megève

Book a stay in Megève


7. The Tarte aux Myrtilles, a traditional mountain recipe

A bilberry tart on a cooling rack, with fresh bilberries and a jug of cream
A delicious bilberry tart © Liliebakery/Pinterest

A trip down memory lane

Bilberry tart is the traditional seasonal dessert in France, particularly in mountainous regions like the Alps. Sweetness and acidity come together in perfect harmony!

A simple, effective speciality using fruit from mountainous regions, bilberries provide just the right acidity for an appetising dessert.

This dish can be found in restaurants, bakeries and even at home. Simple but emblematic of the Alps, the bilberry tart has many derivatives. The fruit used varies from region to region.

How to make the best tart

A slice of bilberry tart on a white place with two golden dessert forks
Such a sweet treat © Liliebakery/Pinterest

The best way to ensure the success of your shortbread pastry is to refrigerate it for 30 minutes before rolling it out. That will make it less sticky and easier to work with!

As for the bilberries, it’s important to wash and dry them well before placing them on the tart base. This avoids adding moisture to the pastry, which will keep it crispier.

To enjoy all the flavours of this mountain speciality, some people prefer to refrigerate the tart before eating it. Others recommend eating it warm – each to their own! However, this is still a fairly tart dessert, so take the edge off by serving it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Take a tea break

Here are our suggestions for two places to try a delicious mountain tart:

  • L’Auberge Nordique, Le Grand Bornand: The chef at this restaurant comes from Le Grand Bornand. The food is tasty and the delicious bilberry tart is a great way to round off your meal.
A slice of bilberry tart on a white plate
Round off your meal with a slice of bilberry tart © L’Auberge Nordique
  • La Vieille Ferme, Manigod: enjoy a slice of delicious bilberry tart in a traditional mountain setting.
Tables ready for dinner at a traditional mountain restaurant
Enjoy your dinner! © Office de Tourisme de Manigod

With bilberry tart, raclette, fondue, tartiflette, crozets, poêlée montagnarde and gâteau de Savoie to choose from, holidaymakers in the Alps always eat well! Each of these recipes combines warmth, flavour and sweetness in its own way, so make sure you try some of these Alpine specialities on your holiday.

As well as restaurants, the local markets are also excellent places to try them. Annecy, for example, has a variety of markets not to be missed.

If you enjoyed this and would like to find out more, you might like these articles:

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