A visit to an artisan pottery shop, a digestif tasting and a macaron class from a master chocolatier… This is what Michelle and Damien at 1786.Travel suggested for our day out in Les Bauges and I can tell you we were not disappointed. Gorgeous scenery, local experts in their trade and a first class guide made a winning formula!
Michelle and Damien at 1786.Travel are true specialists of Authentic Travel in the Alps. With years of experience between them and a love for the areas they work in, they can tailor unique and unforgettable tours and excursions specific to your interests so you can experience the Savoie and Haute-Savoie like the locals do!
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As 1786.Travel are a growing enterprise they are starting to add packages in new regions such as the Aravis and Annecy areas. We thought that we should test them out and asked Michelle to put on a sample day for us. Our day was in Les Bauges however similar itineraries should soon be available in La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and Thônes, as well the Annecy and Lake Annecy area.
I understand from talking with her that guests are more than welcome to be as involved in the planning as they wish. However, as time is something of a precious commodity for me, I thought I’d let the expert choose the itinerary for us.
Michelle picked us up first thing in the Aravis and drove us to the beautiful Bauges region which is only an hour away. Being so close to home I was amazed that I had not visited the area before. The Bauges is a truly beautiful region with quaint little villages filled with old farm houses, connected by tiny winding roads. Every second building seemed to be home to an artisan of this or that! It was very clear that Michelle loves this area and she brought everything to life with her knowledge and passion.
Tant que la Terre Tourne
Our first stop was at a gorgeous little artisan potters called ‘Tant que la Terre Tourne’ which is set in one of the rustic farmhouses of the area. We were met by the shop owner Aurélia, who told us a bit about her pottery and the methods she uses. The workshop was open and we got to take a look at the pottery in the various stages of preparation. The finished articles were really lovely and we came away with a few pieces for ourselves.
Liquor tasting at Artémisiane
After a scenic drive through the beautiful countryside we ended up at an artisan Génépi producer called Artémisaine. Marie welcomed us into this tiny distillery which is tucked away at the back of her house. The small room was filled with bottles and the distinct aroma of Génépi. We were treated to a tasting of her whole line of digestifs.
Marie and her team manage the whole process, from picking the wild Génépi at heights of up to 3200m, all the way through to bottling. She showed us some fantastic photos of her trips to collect the plants in the mountains, getting within 10m of wild mountain goats!
My personal favourite was her Génépi des Guides, a blend of two types of wild génépi. The idea behind this particular one is that it is made of what the guides find at their feet when exploring the area. The bottle cap doubles up as a cup which makes having a nip on the move all the easier!
Marie has fashioned a special tasting tap, adapted from a caravan sink! The tap is fed directly from the current batch meaning that she can taste the liquor as it matures.
All of her liquors make wonderful Savoyard gifts and they deliver! Visit Artémisaine for more information.
Lunch at the Auberge des Clarines
After the warming tasting we went on to lunch at an exquisite little restaurant called the Auberge des Clarines. We were served an excellent four course lunch by one of the owners, Mathieu. The other half of the team, ‘Cheffe’ Catherine came out at the end of our meal to make sure that we had all eaten well which was a lovely touch. We were even offered some of Marie’s Génépi as a digestif at the end of the meal!
Macaron Masterclass at the Chocolaterie Artisanale des Bauges
After lunch we headed over to one of the local chocolatiers, the Chocolaterie Artisanale des Bauges. This was probably my favourite part of the day. Master Chocolatier, Frédéric Pellier-Cuit welcomed us into his ‘laboratory’ for a macaron masterclass.
We spent a couple of hours with Frédéric learning all of the intricacies of the macaron. It was a wonderful experience and Frédéric was a fantastic tutor.
Frédéric showed us a number of technical skills required to make the perfect macaron. Even something as simple as piping the mixture onto the baking tray was harder than expected!
All together we made three different flavours of macarons. As the class was taking place in a chocolaterie it was no surprise that we made a chocolate macaron. However we also made an exotic passion fruit macaron with a passion fruit ganache as well as a chocolate and salted caramel macaron with a salted caramel ganache.
The importance of drying the cases
The cases needed to dry out a bit before cooking. This would ideally be done overnight but as we only had a few hours we left them while we made the ganache. The important thing apparently is that they don’t stick when you touch them with a dry finger.
Once we had made our ganache it had to cool before we could assemble the macarons. While the ganache was cooling and the cases were cooking Frédéric showed us shop front and told us a bit about the delicacies available for purchase. Absolutely everything in the shop is handmade and it all looked delicious!
Assembling our macarons
After our ganache had cooled and our cases had cooked it was time to get the piping bags out again. A reasonable amount of ganache had to be squeezed on to the cases before we topped them with a second case of the same flavouring. A few of the cases didn’t make it this far! And we were definitely making a good attempt at eating the macarons faster than we could make them…
After two and a half hours we had made a total of nearly 240 macarons! We left with smiles on our faces and boxes stuffed with our delicious creations.
For more information about Frédéric and his team visit Chocolaterie Artisanale des Bauges. You will find the schedule for upcoming masterclasses and you can even order the chocolates from their online boutique.
And that was the end of our fantastic day with Michelle in Les Bauges. Our host was second to none, keeping us smiling from start to finish! I can not recommend 1786.Travel enough, what a way to spend a day.
For expert advice on what to see and do and to get a bespoke itinerary contact visit 1786.Travel.