Cloistered in the French Alps between the turquoise edge of Lake Annecy and La Tournette mountain’s frosted peak is a five-star Relais & Chateau inn that’s not only home to a fine, Savoyard restaurant, but welcomes cigar smoking on its outdoor patio with a resplendent natural setting. The fairy-tale town is Talloires and the boutique hotel is Auberge du Père Bise, a luxury hideaway where the fresh mountain air and stunning lakeside views have lured the well-to-do from their stuffy city dwellings for more than 100 years. (Eight suites, 15 rooms, starting at $254.)
An environmental restoration project that started in the late 1950s has turned Lake Annecy into what locals insist is the purest lake in all of Europe. One look at its Caribbean-like waters, and you’ll see the claim is more than just regional pride.
While boat rides across the lake and Alpine hikes up into the mountains have eco appeal, the culinary draw is the two-Michelin-star restaurant helmed by chef Jean Sulpice whose locally driven, seasonal Savoyard cooking is executed with skill and refinement. That alone is worth the trip, as the hearty alpine fare that features cheese, fish and potatoes is barely represented outside of France.
But cigar smokers will find themselves most at home on the patio after choosing from the bar’s respectable assortment of Cuban and non-Cuban selections ranging from Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo and Partagás to Davidoff and Rocky Patel.
Simply order something snazzy from the inventive cocktail list and light up on the terrace. A waitress will arrive with your drink in one hand and a Bernardaud porcelain ashtray in the other while you’re still marveling in disbelief at how blue the water really is.