This is a gorgeous drive, about 30 minutes from Chamonix with a fantastic view of the Mont Blanc massif, culminating in a perfect view of the mountains reflected in Lac Vert.
It’s a hugely popular place for parapentes and hang-gliders – we stopped at the parapente launching point to watch the colourful wings take off and drift over the valley.
After a few more kilometers, we arrived at the lake and passing a lovely hour walking slowly around it – the view from the far end is a postcard classic, and the winding, woody path around the clear green water is enchanting
We had lunch at the lovely Jardin des Cimes. This is a new project, a garden terraced into the side of the mountain, with the emphasis on the local Alpine plants and a charming kitchen garden – the idea is that it will also be a cultural hub for the area, and they have often have music, festivals and occasional evening openings. They have used local plants beautifully to create different areas (I particularly liked the “porte de l’ombre” , a shady lattice tunnel of wild clematis) and here I am in the sculptural “porte des anges” with recorded glacier sounds.
The cafe is overseen by Mickey Bourdillat (chef at the superb Michelin-starred Bistrot in Chamonix) and has a small but perfectly formed menu of organic, vegetarian food. We had the fixed menu of the day (3 courses, 16 euros) with a bottle of organic rosé. They brought a lovely selection of crudites with dips and tangy sourdough bread straight away, followed by a starter of chilled courgette veloute, tomato tart and salad
The main course was ratatouille with hot goat’s cheese on toast with mountain thyme, and the pudding was caramelised apples with ice-cream and brownie. It was all absolutely delicious, thoughtfully presented and cheerfully served – one of the nicest lunches I’ve had for ages. Highly recommended
The garden is only a few hundred metres from Plateau d’Assy’s cultural gem – the astonishing modernist church of Notre Dame du Plateau d’Assy. The main force behind the church was the inspirational figure of Father Couturier (is the Couturier Couloir on the Aiguille Verte named after him, I wonder?) who later worked with Matisse and Le Corbusier. Constructed between 1937 and 1946 to serve the many sanatoriums in the area, the interior contains commissions from some major French artists of the time – Matisse, Braques, Rouault, Chagall and Bonnard are amongst the contributors.
The rich, bright colours and strong shapes are lovely against the grey sandstone. You can see details of the incredible tapestries in this excellent set of photos from oliverelbs on Flickr which also has very interesting information about some of the artists.
Interior of Église Notre-Dame de Toute Grâce du Plateau d’Assy by oliverelbs on Flickr (used by kind permission, all rights reserved)
Assy Bercot St Francois Assise Cubiste by oliverelbs on Flickr (used by kind permission, all rights reserved)
It’s an amazing building and well worth a visit.
I’d allow a full day to visit Plateau d’Assy, there’s a lot to see and a leisurely lunch at the garden is a real pleasure, but if you did have more time, the Gorges de Diosaz (Summer only) are close by in Servoz.