I’ve written about Annecy previously, and I’ve mentioned my time at La ferme de Charbonnière in this blog in several previous posts, but I had such a magical time visiting this little family-owned farm that I wanted to write up a post just about my experiences there.
We had just visited the nearby Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, which was a beautiful castle nestled in the hills above Annecy with an incredible view of the Alps and the lake. After a lovely afternoon spent touring the castle and wandering the castle grounds, we headed back towards Annecy. On the way, we stopped at La ferme de Charbonnière, intending at first to just pick up some freshly made cheeses. However, when we arrived we were informed that the dinner service would be starting in just 45 minutes if we wanted to stay. Our friends in Annecy had been wanting to try the dinner here at the farm for quite some time, so we decided to stop. They told us if we wanted while we were waiting, we could go downstairs and see them making the cheese, so down we went.
It was really cool to see the cheese-making as it was happening. This wasn’t a usual tour people did of the farm, so it was fun to just see a real working environment. We chatted with the cheese-makers for a little while as they worked and they were happy to ask all of our questions. As we headed outside, the two little children who lived on the farm, ages 5 and 7, popped out of a little room and asked us if we wanted to see the animals and gestured for us to follow them. That’s how we found ourselves getting a tour of a working farm by two little French children. They led us down some more stairs into an area where we met cows, pigs, and even baby cows, which we got to pet. It was enchanting! They also led us down a tunnel and out to a pasture where most of the cows roamed freely in the grassy area.
The thing you should know about touring a working farm is that…well, there’s a lot of poop. It’s everywhere. Since the animals had space to roam around and wander wherever they wanted to go, and were frequently led back and forth between the stables and the grassy pastures, there was a lot of poop along the path as well. As we skipped over piles of poop in order to keep our shoes clean, the two little farm children were a little less careful. The girl, aged 7, was more careful than her younger brother, however. As she also skipped over the poop, the boy just stomped right through it, and upon noticing that he had stepped in an enormous pile of cow poop, he just smeared it up his entire leg. I suppose at that age when you live on a farm, that sort of thing is just normal.
After our little tour, we made sure our shoes were clean and waited for a few more minutes near the entrance to the restaurant portion of the farm for the service to begin. This is where we met the enormous dog that lived on the farm. It rolled over for me so that I could scratch his enormous furry belly, and then he decided to move on to my husband, who he seemed particularly interested in for some reason.
When the dinner service began, we washed up our hands and settled in for a long and delicious meal. I noticed that although the restaurant was completely packed, it seemed to be all locals. We were the only foreigners in sight. But oh, the dinner…it was amazing!
They had several price-fixed menus that you could choose from, but ultimately we decided to go with the raclette dinner because if there’s one thing I love, it’s a good raclette. For 21 euros per person, we had assorted charcuterie, cornichons, little baked potatoes, salad, bread (I didn’t eat the bread because gluten, but my dining companions did…everything else was gluten free…rejoice, celiacs!), and that beautiful, freshly made raclette cheese. They provided us a little grill that we could grill up our raclette on before scraping it onto the top of our potatoes. It was heavenly. We all ate until we were absolutely stuffed, only to then be offered a cheese platter featuring the other freshly made cheeses from the farm (which of course we had to try…because fromage), followed by freshly made ice cream and a coffee to end the meal.
We left happy, full of delicious food, and wondering if we would ever be hungry again. In the weeks that have passed since this wonderful meal, I find myself replaying it in my mind over and over again, and wanting to re-create that experience. It was one of the most delicious, most fun, most unique dining experiences I’ve had in a very long time. If you find yourself in the Annecy area, I highly recommend this place. One thing I should mention is that since this place isn’t geared towards tourists, not all the staff at the farm speak English. I speak some French, and of course we were there with our friends who live in Annecy and speak fluent French, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this enchanting place. Learn a few phrases in French before you go, and just download the French language onto your Google Translate app before you visit the farm and you should be good to go. Don’t forget to say, “bonjour” when you arrive (or “bonsoir” if it’s evening), and settle in for one of the most enchanting dining experiences you’ll ever have.
I know I’ll return to Annecy again because we’ll likely visit our friends there again the future, and when we do, I can’t wait to visit this farm again.