PUBLISHED: 11:33 15 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:54 15 November 2019
A life-changing occasion impressed Sarah Dougall to observe her desires of studying a brand new language and changing into a greater skier, each of which she has fulfilled with a transfer to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
What had been you doing earlier than you moved to France and what prompted you to make the transfer?
I began an web enterprise within the late 1990s, utilizing my authorized background to promote customised authorized paperwork on-line, but it surely went belly-up.com after two years and I needed to promote my flat as a result of I might not afford to pay the mortgage.
I did not know what to do with my life, however after studying The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, it impressed me to make a want listing and the 2 issues that got here out on prime had been to study to talk a international language fluently and change into a great skier.
That very same evening I went on-line and utilized for chalet jobs in ski resorts in Europe and 4 days later I used to be working within the kitchen in a chalet in Courchevel.
What attracted you to Savoie?
I feel it was destiny. I’ve had a love affair with France ever since watching Belle et Sébastien as a toddler (the TV present a few six-year-old boy and his wild mountain canine residing within the French Alps).
After my season in Courchevel I knew I needed to remain in France within the mountains and I ended up right here within the Maurienne Valley the place I met my associate, Sébastien.
Did you discover it simple to discover a appropriate property?
Funnily sufficient, the itemizing for the property I ultimately purchased (‘ancien moulin‘ it was described as within the property agent’s journal) sat on my kitchen desk in my house in Courchevel all season and I did not even look at it as a result of the photograph was so unhealthy (it seemed like the within of a barn taken at evening!).
However after taking a look at a number of different properties (and having two presents rejected) I returned to the shadowy ‘moulin‘ and after I lastly realised it meant ‘watermill’ I used to be utterly bought earlier than I would even seen it.
Did you must do a lot work to it?
Aside from the unique exterior stone partitions, all the pieces else has been changed in each the watermill and the outdated workshop which is now the gîte.
How lengthy have you ever lived there now?
I’ve been right here for 16 years.
When did you practice on the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery College?
In 2010, on a visit again to Edinburgh, I ran into an outdated good friend and fellow foodie in Waverley station who gave me a ebook he’d simply completed studying on the practice about Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I learn it and instantly determined I needed to go.
What do you most get pleasure from about residing in Saint-Alban-d’Hurtières?
After I lived in Paris throughout my course at Le Cordon Bleu, I got here again to Saint-Alban a few occasions on the practice. If you get close to Chambéry you begin to see the mountains within the distance and the additional you go the larger they change into till you are engulfed by them. That is when my coronary heart would soar and I knew I used to be residence.
I have been throughout France and Savoie is by far probably the most lovely division (and likewise the one with probably the most hours of sunshine per yr apparently). I’ve additionally met some great folks.
What’s it like all through the seasons?
Residing within the mountains, the seasons are very pronounced. In spring/summer season, all the pieces is vibrant inexperienced, carpeted in probably the most wonderful spectacle of untamed flowers.
In autumn the hills flip purple, orange and yellow – after which pure white in winter. What I particularly like is when the solar units on a transparent winter’s day and the tops of the mountains glow pink, just like the frosting on a cake.
Is there any side of residing in Savoie that shocked you?
Should you go spherical to somebody’s home within the morning, you are supplied white wine, not tea or espresso, which is sweet. Additionally, how just like Scotland a whole lot of the panorama is.
Have you ever all the time needed to run a B&B?
I needed to have a food-related enterprise for a very long time. I wrote a marketing strategy for a vegetarian restaurant again within the 80s however that was side-tracked after I grew to become a solicitor.
After I began my enterprise right here it began off as a B&B however now it is predominately self-catering and I do night meals on request. My subsequent step is to begin cookery programs and a pop-up restaurant.
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What’s a typical meal you would possibly prepare dinner in your company?
I like cooking with components that I’ve both grown myself or foraged for, or which hunter associates have given me.
A few of my favorite spring/summer season dishes are pea velouté with wild garlic pesto; carpaccio of recent beetroot with goat’s cheese, basil oil and caramelised walnuts; lavaret (a freshwater fish from Lac du Bourget close to Chambéry) with child summer season veg and lemon beurre blanc; mini pavlovas with summer season berries and lemon curd.
In autumn/winter, wild mushroom risotto; civet of untamed boar (stew); tartiflette (a Savoyard winter basic of potatoes, onions and lardons topped with melted Reblochon cheese); trio de pommes (a mini tarte tatin, panna cotta with apple purée and an apple sorbet).
All rounded off with my home-made liquors.
The place is your favorite market?
There is a good outside market in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne on a Saturday morning. However the perfect indoor market is Les Halles Savoyardes in Albertville. The variability and high quality of recent fruit and veg is a prepare dinner’s dream.
Are you able to suggest a great restaurant close to Le Petit Nid?
After I first began coming to France 30 years in the past, it was virtually unimaginable to eat badly. Now, sadly, I discover the other is true.
These unpretentious little inns the place you can eat an incredible home-cooked meal for 10 francs are actually all however misplaced. However there are two good eating places close by which have my cooking philosophy. Ferme Ambrune et Polalye right here within the village, the menu showcases duck (it is a duck farm) and puddings are primarily based round home-grown purple fruit. Le Chaudron in Montsapey, on the opposite facet of the valley, makes use of regionally sourced components and all the pieces is made within the restaurant kitchen, together with the bread.
What recommendation would you give to expats considering of transferring to Savoie?
Get to know the native folks. Go to the native fêtes. Invite your neighbours spherical for drinks or a meal. Do not get caught in an expat crowd as a result of you’ll miss out on what it is actually prefer to reside right here.
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