Cerys Matthews on her love for the French Alps

Matthews rock climbing near Grenoble this summer
Cerys Matthews rock climbing near Grenoble this summer Credit: Courtesy of Cery Matthews


A love of outdoor activities, family adventures and fabulous food lures the broadcaster and singer-songwriter to this exhilarating region

My passion for rock climbing keeps me moving through the Alps, where I love to holiday with my husband and two sons. We never go to the same town twice because I always want to discover somewhere completely new and try different foods.

This photograph was taken this summer near Grenoble in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France. I took up outdoor climbing last year. I was turning 50 and wanted to do something extraordinary, so I decided to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. I am now addicted.

Being alone on the side of a mountain gives you time to contemplate. I often sit there and reflect – sometimes about people who are no longer with us – and it is such an intense, high-adrenaline experience. I always feel so alive. 

As a family we spend so much time sitting down in our daily routines, so I am desperate to get the boys, aged nine and 14, outdoors and away from the internet. We often walk for hours, picking wild berries and taking in the scenery. 

Performing on stage in London  Credit: Getty

I also love to cook, so I tend to look for holidays that cover both. I found this summer’s holiday in the Telegraph’s Travel section. It was a walking and cooking holiday, and we did things like visit a farm to see how cheese is made.

I have this pact, if I am going to go somewhere, I don’t want to eat anything I eat at home. I like regional, healthy and wholesome foods – such as vegetable soups, fresh fruits, salads and herbs – and that is what you get in the Alps. 

The Vercors Massif rising above the city Credit: MAISANT Ludovic / Hemis

I am at a point in life where I want to be doing everything  I can to make the most of my body and health. Climbing, walking and eating my way through the Alps with my family offers me exactly that. 

Four places to stay in Rhône-Alpes

Hotel Beauregard

Hotel Beauregard Credit: Getty

This cheerful family-run hotel  sits in the vibrant village of Sevrier, a five-minute drive from the town of Annecy on Lake Annecy’s western shore. From £120 pn.

L'Impérial Palace ​

L'Impérial Palace ​ Credit: Getty

The Impérial Palace lives up to its name with a pearly white, six-storey stack of luxury rooms and spa in wooded parkland between mountains and lake. From £254 pn.

Le Palace de Menthon 

Le Palace de Menthon  Credit: Christine HAAS

A full makeover has injected new sparkle into this five-star  hotel, with spa, landscaped gardens, beach and private harbour on the Lake Annecy’s eastern shore. From £209 pn.

Hotel Clos Marcel

Hotel Clos Marcel Credit: Getty

Lovers of contemporary architecture and urbanites seeking tranquillity will be instantly smitten by this designer boutique hotel beside Lake Annecy. From £178 pn.

Where the Wild Cooks Go: Recipes, Music, Poetry, Cocktails, by Cerys Matthews (Particular Books, £25), is out now. Join Matthews at one of  her cookery talks, from 3-26  September; visit Penguin to find out more