Savoie, like its near neighbour Haute Savoie, concentrates on hearty food such as diot herb sausages or farcon – grated potatoes, dried fruits and cabbage baked in a tin lined with bacon.
Even cheese is served warm. Traditionally, shepherds heated raclette by their fire and scraped its softness onto bread. Look for other cheese-based dishes like fondue and tartiflette. Restaurants serve cows and goats cheese over a variety of dishes especially little potatoes, vegetables and charcuterie. Visit cheese dairies making Bauges tomes (the taste varies with the seasons) in traditional villages like Lescheraines, Aillon-le-Jeune and the Abbaye de Tamie near Albertville. Open daily for sales and sometimes tours.
Ham, smoked and salted meats and charcuterie in general are all good here. Polenta (made with corn) and pasta dishes reflect Savoie’s closeness to Italy and its cuisine.
Savoie wines use a range of local grape varieties well suited to high altitudes and produce is often named after individual villages. A glass of Jongieux Blanc - from Jacquere grape with a hint of citrus – makes a great companion for river trout or a variety of delicate lake fish such as pollan and char (omble chevalier).
A liqueur infused with mountain herbs like Corbier from St Jean-de-Maurienne makes the perfect end to a good meal. But don’t miss unique Chamberyzette from Chambery flavoured with local strawberries.
Savoie’s array of tasty fruit tarts and cakes, including the famous light sponge Gateau de Savoie, will keep those with a sweet tooth happy. Visit the baker’s shop in place l’Eglise in Saint Genix-sur-Guiers which still sells its famous Saint Genix brioche - filled and decorated with red pralines - invented here in 1880 by patissier Piere Labully. You’ll find most towns have excellent patissiers and chocolatiers and jars of mountain honey make lovely presents.