What time do they milk the cows? And the goats? How is Tomme cheese made? What’s life like at a mountain chalet? Experience the daily routine of the men and women producing their 100% local products – a world totally in tune with the lives of their animals. Take a closer look at nature and taste the bounty of the mountain landscape. Why not spend some time down on the farm this summer?!
A tour and a taste: a great mix!
PRALOGNAN LA VANOISE (73)
Explore the mountain pastureland on a weekly tour offered by the Pralognan mountain guides. The “Matin’Alpage” option gives early-birds the chance to experience mountain life as they enjoy a delicious breakfast. Or you can meet Mr Sylvain and his herd of goats in the afternoon; see them being milked and sample Tomme cheeses from the Chavière dairy.
SAINT LARY SOULAN (65)
Go and see the Bigorre Black Pigs who live above the village of Vignec in the Hautes-Pyrénées. Pamela the cow leads her “herd” of visitors from the La Ferme Vignecoise up to see these very posh piggies with 2 AOC labels to their name! You get to taste the cured ham, too!
La Ferme la Batailleuse up at 930 metres in Rochejean invites you to take a wander round the farm and meet the animals - rabbits, chickens and pigs – and see the cows and goats being milked. What’s more, the farm has been organic since 1995!
You can also visit farms in St François Longchamp (73) and Monclar (05) and see the cows being milked.
Mountain herdsman for the day
LE GRAND-BORNAND (74)
In the Haute Savoie region’s leading agricultural town, what could be more natural than training up the next generation; showing 5-12-year-olds how things are done in the countryside? The little “young farmers” get to take care of the animals – sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and ducks - and work in the vegetable garden - rewarded by a pony ride at the end! Cost: €29 for 2 hours.
BESSE SUPER BESSE (63)
Nathalie makes Saint-Nectaire AOP and holds a "Tomme workshop" as an introduction to making this wonderful cheese. The younger ones can enjoy a "Little Farmers" session; feeding and stroking the animals to get to know them better. Nathalie is actually a teacher, sharing her knowledge with the children in a fun and easy way!
SAINT SORLIN D'ARVES (73)
The VIAL family invites holidaymakers to watch the cows being milked from 6.30pm every Wednesday in summer high up above the Col de la Croix de Fer. Retired teacher and now a farmer, Marie-Rose explains how the cows are cared for and how their milk is used for making our local Beaufort cheese. You get to taste the fresh milk at the end of the session, which is very different from the sterilised version you see in the shops.
VAL THORENS (73)
From 5.30am every Tuesday and Wednesday, Valentin introduces groups of adults and children to the life of the mountain herdsman: milking the goats and cows, turning them out in the meadows and cleaning their stalls.
If you like staying in bed a little longer, there’s a second milking at 3.30pm and everyone can get involved. Milk is collected for making Tomme de Savoie and Sérac cheeses at the chalet every morning. Every Tuesday evening Valentin takes you to see the animals by torchlight quietly asleep.
LES GETS (74)
Children over the age of 3 can spend 2 hours as apprentice farmers at the Ferme de la Sarre - feeding the rabbits, making cheese and seeing to the pigs. A whole morning at a real farm; never a dull moment! A great experience for the little ones – booking required. More information soon.
ARECHES BEAUFORT (73)
24 hours in the land of Beaufort: experience a day in the life of a mountain farm: milk and tend the Tarine and Abondance cows, meet the herdsmen and see what life is like at a mountain chalet on the Cuvy Plateau. What’s more, you can eat with the family and watch over the cows – it’s the real deal!
Teatime down on the farm - fresh from the producer!
Jean-Louis invites you to tea at the La Grange du Travérole - he will tell you all about how Beaufort cheese is made, the history of the village of Bessans and his goats.
Teatime menu: enjoy goat’s cheeses at different stages of maturity, milk straight from the goats and still warm, as well as homemade blueberry tart out on the terrace or by the fire in the chalet, depending on the weather. You can even have a go at milking the goats!
LES GETS (74)
Caroline and Noël invite you to experience daily farming life in the mountains with the goats and the Herens cows, followed by a meal of their own produce on the farm.
7pm every Tuesday evening during the summer season - booking required: +33 (0)6 36 50 11 05.
For adults and children aged 5 years and over.
Cost: €25/adult and €18/child (aged 5 to 12).
LA PLAGNE (73)
Le Forperet is a great place to take the family and enjoy fresh local products from the farm next door. Pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, geese, donkeys, ponies cows and dogs – a proper farmyard Noah’s Ark to visit before or after enjoying a meal. You might even see a cute baby animal being born - aah!
The mini Ferme du Châlet Refuge Chantovent is a great place for a meal in authentic surroundings. Enjoy good food, stroke Lila the St Bernard and cuddle the rabbits, meet the donkeys, goats, chickens and ponies living on this wonderful mountain farm! You can even sleep in the mountain hut or bivouac outdoors - themed evenings (storytelling and film screenings etc.)
Photos: Frédéric Prochasson / Fotolia - Parc National de la Vanoise - Philippe Royer / La Plagne