Chalet Cannelle

Abondance Valley, French Alps, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
A gorgeous chalet with beautiful views, ambrosial food and fabulous skiing and walking in the Portes du Soleil - B&B or catered rental for 8-14 + children
Nowhere is perfect, but Chalet Cannelle comes close. This is a stunning 200-year-old farmhouse with original timbers running wild. It stands on the edge of the tiny hamlet of Suvay in the Abondance Valley, a picture of rural simplicity that gives way to lovely contemporary interiors. The vast lounge has a high ceiling, an open fire and comfy sofas scattered about, but the star of the show is the enormous window that frames huge views of Les Dents du Midi. The 5 chic bedrooms come in cool chalet style. One has a balcony overlooking the valley and all have smart bathrooms.

During the peak ski season (late Dec-April) you can take the whole place for a week or more, a house party for family and friends with owners Andy and Lorraine doing all the hard work. After a lovely breakfast, you’re whisked off to the lifts at Châtel (1km up the road), then disappear into the mountains of the Portes du Soleil, some of the best skiing in Europe. At the end of the day you return for afternoon tea, a nap and a drink, then discover the big surprise - Andy’s outstanding food. Otherwise, you book B&B and Andy will cook dinner if you want. Whatever you do, just come: it’s gorgeous, it’s great value, and you couldn’t hope to fall into better hands.

Highs

  • The house is so beautiful you may spurn the mountains for a day at home. Andy and Lorraine look after you brilliantly and make your stay very special
  • Very family-friendly - extra beds and cots, a kids’ bedroom, a playroom, tailored meals
  • Andy’s cooking is so much tastier than most of the food you eat in restaurants; whole-chalet rates during the peak ski season include breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner and all your drinks - wine, beer, vin chaud
  • The Portes du Soleil - 650km of skiing on one very well-priced pass. There’s plenty to do in summer, too: hiking, mountain biking, zip wires, wild swimming
  • You don’t need a car in winter and airport transfers are easily arranged

Lows

  • Whole-chalet bookings (7 nights, Saturday-Saturday) are preferred during the peak ski season, although some individual rooms may be available on a last-minute basis (3-night minimum)
  • Two of the bedrooms aren’t huge and a couple don’t have much of a view
  • The fifth room, Moo, sleeps 4 but has no bathroom of its own, so is only available when booked with another or if the whole chalet is taken by one party
  • This isn’t a ‘ski in, ski out’ chalet, but you’re shuttled to and from the lifts every day
  • No TVs in the bedrooms, but there’s one in the lounge (that’s never used!)

Best time to go

If you book the whole chalet during the ski season, Andy and Lorraine do everything - cook, clean, polish and shine - and you’ll find yourself in a deliciously small house party (you can throw in a few children, too). If this is what you’re looking for, believe us, you’ve found it here.

But this is a house for all seasons and there’s masses to do in spring, summer and autumn, when you take an individual room. The lifts are handy for walking and mountain biking, although they close from late April to June. However, there are plenty of mountains that remain accessible on foot or by car.

Our top tips

Chalet Cannelle is pretty much on the Swiss border and if you are arriving in a French hire car, you can’t drive on Swiss motorways unless you have bought the vignette (annual permit). You must tell your car-hire company if you are going to do this.

Equally, if you hire a Swiss car you must tell them that you are going to drive into France so that they can make sure you have a non-Swiss registered car (in this case the vignette comes included).

For hiring a car during winter, you must hire from the Swiss side as French cars are not equipped for mountain driving.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Alpine Chalet
  • 5
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request; half-board whole-chalet rental)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Playroom
  • Nintendo Wii
Room: Antler

Rooms

Chalet Cannelle is an upside-down house, with the 4 main bedrooms below the lounge. Two are bigger, two have the view; all are spotless with an uncluttered contemporary chalet style (low ceilings, lots of smart wood). Comfy super-kingsize or twin beds are dressed in white linen, and stylish bathrooms come with Cowshed products.

Capra, the best room, is big and beautiful with doors onto a balcony for views of the valley and mountains. Inside, you’ll find an original wood-panelled wall and a big bathroom with an oversized power shower. It can be made up as a double or twin. Antler (double only), the other room with a valley view, is a little smaller, but this doesn’t matter - it’s a warm, cosy room with a chic feel. Expect lovely colours, pretty fabrics and a smart bathroom with a power shower over a big bath.

Owl, a double or twin, is the biggest room. It doesn’t have the view, but inside there’s a sofa from which 2 single beds emerge - perfect for young families. It has a bath with a power shower overhead, and you’ll find the odd piece of upcycled rustic wood. Bear is the cosiest room with a cabin ceiling and a vast shower. It too can work as a double or twin, and is good for older children who want a room to themselves.

The fifth room, Moo, is only available when booked in conjunction with another room or if the whole chalet is taken by one party. It’s at the top of the house and great for children, who love it as it’s away from their parents. It has 4 single beds but no bathroom, so you will occasionally have to round up your children, march them downstairs and clean them.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Andy’s fresh, local food is a lovely surprise - you don’t expect to find such accomplished cooking on a holiday like this. He’ll mix and match more creative stuff with delicious comfort food - roast chicken, a vegetarian Thai, seafood curry - all just as tasty as his formal dishes.

Breakfast sets you up for the day. You get fresh bread, croissants and pains au chocolat, then Savoie yoghurts, homemade muesli or local ham and cheese. There’s fresh juice and always something hot - home-cured smoked bacon and eggs from the chickens in the garden. For lunch you’ll probably eat at a mountain restaurant, but you can order packed lunches - a baguette sandwich, a homemade sausage roll, some fruit and chocolate.

As for dinner, the 4-course menu is preceded by aperitifs and accompanied by lovely wines. There’s no choice but dietary requirements are discussed in advance. We were served porcini mushroom and Gorgonzola arancini (fabulous), a pumpkin ravioli (light as a feather), a plate of Taleggio cheese (irresistible), then a Sicilian lemon and vanilla pannacotta (the best comes last). Fish and meat are served regularly, and accompanied by seasonal produce, much of it from their kitchen garden.

If you take the whole chalet during the peak ski season, dinner is included for 6 of the 7 nights, along with afternoon tea and drinks. This means you eat out once - Andy and Lorraine will make suggestions, book tables and order taxis. Their favourites are Les Cornettes (serving great food since 1894!) and Le Clos Savoyard (they do a mean fondue), both a couple of km down the mountain.

Otherwise, you can book B&B with dinner available a few times a week on request (at time of reservation). You eat at a big table under a beamed ceiling, or out on the terrace with the mountains looming above.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Half-board whole-chalet rental (breakfast, afternoon tea + dinner) in peak ski season
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Picnic lunches
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The Portes du Soleil area straddles France and Switzerland, offering 650km of fantastic skiing, connecting Châtel with Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets, Champeréy and Morgins. The 6-day passes are well-priced and cover all runs and lifts. Andy and Lorraine can arrange ski hire and advise on local ski schools
  • If you need a little winter pampering, head up to Val d’Illez for its Thermal Parc, where you can sit in hot-water pools or roast away in a sauna or steam room
  • Walking and hiking are the big draws in summer, with lifts running to the top of mountains to make your life easier. Hundreds of km of signposted tracks wait, with low-level walking through valleys and serious hiking in the mountains
  • Mountain biking and road cycling are hugely popular, too (the Dauphine pro-cycle race passed through in 2013). Mountain biking is slightly easier - you can strap your bike to the side of a cable car, then roll down the mountain
  • In summer, the fantastic Châtel multi-pass (only €1 a day during our 2013 visit!) gives access to 24 lifts, local swimming pools, bathing lakes, tennis courts and ice rinks, plus discounts for bobsleigh runs and the Fantasticable, a zip wire 240m above the valley, which travels at 120kph
  • Some excellent day trips are on your doorstep: Thonon-Les-Bains for lovely old buildings and beaches on Lake Geneva; Evian, where ferries zip you across to Lausanne in Switzerland, and Montreux (also in Switzerland) for its famous summer jazz festival and Christmas market
  • Or visit Annecy to the south for some excellent shopping and its picture-perfect lake

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Festivals
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Ice skating
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Zip wires

Kids

Children are very welcome; the gardens are safe for playing, and there’s a Nintendo Wii, a playroom and even an electric piano to keep them entertained indoors. There’s plenty for kids to do nearby, too - skiing for all levels in winter, and zip wires, bathing lakes, mountain lifts and biking in summer.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Owl has a sofa that cleverly turns into 2 single beds, and Moo has 4 single beds - ideal for children who want their own space, though this room has no bathroom so they have to rattle down and share their parents’. Baby cots can be added to all rooms. Note that Owl and Antler are the only rooms with baths; the others have showers only.

Babysitting:

Available on request.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Special meals are available for kids - you can discuss dietary requirements in advance. Packed lunches can be provided for day trips, too.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Nintendo Wii
  • Playroom with toys, games, dressing-up boxes and an electric piano
  • Gardens to play in

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Skiing in the Portes du Soleil
  • Mountain biking in summer
  • The Châtel multi-pass - access to swimming pools, bathing lakes, tennis courts, ice rinks, bobsleigh runs and zip wires
  • Boat trips across Lake Geneva (15km away)

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours (Geneva)
  • Shop: 5 minutes (Châtel)
  • Hospital: 40km
Kid Friendly: Moo

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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