If you mention the Alps to any motorcyclist, their eyes will almost certainly light up with mental images of stunning alpine views, switchback after switchback and they’ll make a comment like “we had a great time” or “wow,- I’d love to ride there”.
As part of a larger trip exploring the Alps, we managed to spend a few of nights at Chalet Saskia, located in the village of Vaujanay about an hour east of Grenoble in the Alpe d’Huez area. In the winter, Vaujany gives access to some fantastic skiing and in the summer it is equally as popular with cyclists, as it’s located near to Bourg d’Oisans, the cycling mecca of the area with the famous climb up Alpe d’Huez.
As you ride through the village of Vaujany, you head up this picturesque mountain road towards the chalet. On arrival we parked our GSs in front of the chalet off the main road. We could have parked them in the secure garage, but that seemed a bit unnecessary given the quiet nature of the location. We were met by Marcus, the chef, who gave us a tour of the chalet before showing us to our large double room on the top floor, with fantastic views overlooking the mountains from the balcony. The room was very well equipped for motorcycle riders. It had a lot of good storage space for motorcycle gear; shelves for helmets, sturdy hooks and hangers to hang up bike kit, and a balcony to air boots at the end of a long days riding. The bed was incredibly comfortable, the crisp linen perfect for collapsing into after an exciting day in the saddle.
With the windows open I became aware of a low hum/white noise. At first you could be forgiven for assuming that it was from an air conditioning unit, but imagine the smile on my face when I realised it was actually the sound of the water falling down the mountain not so far away.
It was my first time staying in a well-appointed chalet like this, so the dining experience was new to me. All the guests dine together, which creates a really good opportunity to meet new people and share experiences, whilst eating some of the best food I have ever had.
I need to take a moment here to talk about the food and drink in more detail. It turns out Marcus is an absolute genius in the kitchen. His food is incredible, the wine is paired perfectly and each of the 4-7 courses are served with an explanation of what we are eating. There are some unusual flavour combinations and textures – but everything just works so incredibly well together. Marcus’s food alone makes the stay at Chalet Saskia worthwhile. The wine flows, and before you know it, you’re chatting away to all the other guests like you’ve known them for years.
So what’s the riding in the area like? Vaujany has easy access to many passes, or cols, including Col du Lautaret and Col du Galibier. If you don’t mind going a bit further afield – the Little St Bernard pass is about 2 hours’ ride away. If you’d rather leave the tarmac, there is no shortage of gravel roads to play on. Some look to be cross country ski-pistes in the winter. In the chalet reception, there are maps of the local area which are helpful when planning your riding for the day.
If you don’t feel like riding, the ski lifts are only a short walk away and you can take a gondola to the top of the pistes and go for a hike. If that seems like too much like hard work, or you just want some recovery time before getting back on the bike, you can relax in the hot tub and sauna whilst overlooking the stunning mountains.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay for a couple of nights whilst exploring the passes in the area, then I would thoroughly recommend staying here. When I travel, I would rather spend my money on eating well and enjoying myself, than on a sterile overpriced hotel with tonnes of amenities.
Chalet Saskia delivers on all accounts; incredible food, luxury of relaxing in the sauna or chilling in the hot tub whilst overlooking the alps, whilst meeting new people over dinner.
All in all, a two thumbs up from me, and definitely somewhere that I would like to return.
At time of writing Peak Adventures are advertising the chalet at €105 person/night, or €210 for the two of us. This is on a half board basis, with a 3-night minimum stay. To put that in perspective, we spent €85 for a night in an Ibis Styles Hotel on our way home, which only included the room, no dinner or wine. If we would have gone to a restaurant and ordered a 5 course meal with wine, then we would easily have exceeded the cost of Chalet Saskia. Considering the standard of Marcus’s food, and what is included with the chalet, the price is well worth it.