Travel black book: Aye to the alps

Travel black book: Aye to the alps

Who: Ms Gauri Garodia, 42, founder, nose and creative director of Singapore-based perfumery Code Deco. The Indian national and Singapore permanent resident is married with two children.

Favourite destination: Chamonix, France

Why: The cosy, quiet alpine town has stunning vistas and beautiful treks through the French Alps. Though Chamonix is predominantly known as a skiing destination, it is equally beautiful in the summer.

I am a big walker and the fact that the town is mostly pedestrianised is a real pleasure. It also provides access to incredible hikes and walking trails.

A visit here is never frantic. You are here to enjoy great food and fresh mountain air and to detox from busy city lives.

Favourite hotel

The elegant Grand Hotel Des Alpes (www.grandhoteldesalpes.com/en/) was built in 1840 and has been beautifully maintained and restored. The service is warm and personal.

Its little garden overlooking the river is where it serves breakfast in the summer. Looking out to Mont Blanc as you sip your coffee is a great start to the morning.

Rooms here start at €147 (S$230).

Favourite restaurant

Our best meal was at the Italian restaurant Casa Valerio (www.casavalerio.net) where we had extremely hospitable service and superb food. Despite the relatively formal setting, it was extremely child- friendly. I highly recommend the truffle ravioli and its homemade ice creams and sorbets.

A meal here costs about 100 Swiss francs (S$146) for three.

Favourite neighbourhood

The square in front of the Church Saint-Michel, which has the magnificent alps towering in the background.

We visited when the town was celebrating Midsummer's Eve on June 21, the longest day of the year.

It stayed light till very late at night and the atmosphere was very festive and fun. Local bands were playing and townspeople, tourists and people from neighbouring villages were mingling. Everyone seemed to know everyone else.

The walkways along the river are also great as spots for dining and people watching or for a leisurely stroll. There are little squares and benches where people tend to cluster.

Best view

The Aiguille du Midi cable car is the closest you can get to Mont Blanc without actually hiking. It leaves from the centre of Chamonix town, at 1,035m above sea level, and takes you up to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 3,842m.

The trip takes two legs - first to the Plan de l'Aiguille (2,317m) and the second takes you across the Des Pelerins glacier and then rises up the north face of the Aiguille du Midi (3,778m). From there, a footbridge takes you to the Central Piton terrace for spectacular views of the French, Swiss and Italian alps.

Be prepared for the rapid changes in altitude and temperature, which drops to below zero at the top.

Favourite indulgence

I have a sweet tooth, so I love visiting the patisseries in town. I would try a new one each day, sampling its marzipan and candy. My favourite was Patisserie Richard (www.face book.com/PatisserieRichardChamonix).

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