Made up of a collection of hamlets at the gateway to the Chamonix valley, Les Houches has some interesting associations in this Winter Olympic year.
It has been twinned with the city of Sochi - this year’s Olympic host - in the areas of health, education and the development of tourism for the past ten years. The partnership is now paying dividends as preparations for the Olympics come to a head and French firms are helping to realise a number of Olympic projects.
Les Houches is also home to the oldest ski race in the world - the Kandahar. Created in 1928, it was the first international alpine competition to combine downhill and slalom events. In more recent times it has played host to the men’s downhill World Cup and the course they use provides a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of pro skiers, without stopping to catch your breath, of course. You may also see some of these elite athletes training there as it provides a training ground for the French National Ski Team and the Ski Club of Great Britain.
Despite the associations of Les Houches with elite performance, the area aims to offer a family-friendly experience to its visitors, with gentle pistes in winter, and hiking and biking in summer. The ski area also has a purpose-built ski touring and snow shoeing track allowing those going uphill to separate themselves from those going down.
Each summer, Les Houches plays host to the start of the famous Tour du Mont-Blanc, where hikers travel around the white giant, crossing high mountain passes and staying in rustic alpine refuges along the way. It is also the start of the popular Goûter Route taken by those attempting to climb Mont Blanc.
Bio Supermarket – for those of you who share Sébastien and Camille’s passion for organic agriculture, this shop is for you. You will find the highest standards of fresh organic produce as well as excellent baby, gluten free, and dairy substitute product ranges.
The Kitsch Inn – re-opening this winter after a major fire in June 2013, the Kitsch Inn is set to return with a vengeance. With live music every day from 4pm until 7pm during winter, as well as regularly throughout the summer, this quirky off-beat bar diner serves up some pretty good grub too.
Ghandi – this maybe not be appropriate if you are only away from multi-national cuisine for a few days. But for those that have eaten their body weight in fondues and tartiflette during their stay, Ghandi offers an authentic curry experience guaranteed to spice things up a bit. The onion bhajis are particularly good.