The Southern Alps is a truly special place, with a heartwarming soul and irresistible quality of life. Angela and Maxime originate from Vaucluse and Hérault. Today, they live in Embrun, where they enjoy a delightful combination of lively village life and outstanding natural scenery combining lakes, forests and mountains.
How did you discover the Southern Alps and what prompted you to set up home there? Did the wild landscapes and mountain environment influence your choice?
Maxime: I was born in Carpentras, so the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has always been my spiritual home and I was already very familiar with the Southern Alps. I travelled a lot during my studies – especially in Canada where I really became passionate about wine and winegrowing. I took a Higher National Diploma in winegrowing and oenology and Angela studied agronomics. For two years, we talked a lot about how we could get out of town and into the mountains we loved so much.”
Angela: We finally made our decision based on two major criteria: we didn’t feel at home in cities and we both loved the mountains. We chose Embrun over the rest of the Southern Alps because it had just what we were looking for: a good balance between our private and professional lives. Embrun is a human-scale town, near the Écrins mountain range. It’s ideal for winegrowing and offers an endless choice of leisure and outdoor activities, including walking of course. Our families aren’t far away. We can also enjoy a dip in the evening, not far from our vines. But we especially chose Embrun because it fits with our new business projects. The climate here is ideal for winegrowing, with plenty of sunshine, water and cool nights – three essentials if you want to make good wine!”
The inspiring Hautes-Alpes
How does this area inspire you? Angela, you now sell shortbread biscuits made with edible flowers while Maxime focuses on winegrowing. Can you tell us about that?
Maxime: I was a wine merchant and it was Angela who encouraged me to explore winegrowing further. It ended up being a joint venture and in parallel, we also developed a passion for local history and winegrowing traditions
Angela: Then, two years ago, we came up with the idea of making shortbread using edible flowers. Embrun’s incredible environment and natural heritage have a lot of potential. For the biscuits, I wanted to make the most of the area’s amazing wild flowers and work hand in hand with local producers for the other ingredients.
Making a new life in the Southern Alps
Now you’re in Embrun, you plan on buying up some vines. Can you tell us about the project? Have you already started planting?
For now, we’re just renting out some existing plots and that’s mainly due to the history of winegrowing in the Embrun area. In recent generations, vines were planted in and around Châteauroux-les-Alpes, Saint-André-d’Embrun and Embrun by local inhabitants, who used them to generate extra income. They were mainly small plots held by individual owners. The idea of breathing new life into the high-quality but largely unrecognized local production appealed to us straight away. Some of the plots we’ve salvaged are over 80 years old and planted with very diverse grapes. We’re planning on launching major research to determine the most unusual varieties and unveil their full potential – we’re hoping to produce our first wine in 2021.
The good life
What would you say to people who are considering setting up home in the Southern Alps?
Come on down! What we love most here is the lifestyle: the fact that you enjoy fantastic scenery at the gateway to the Queyras and Écrins mountains, but the town and its amenities are just nearby. We’re located midway between lakes and mountains. There are tons of incredible hiking trails here, not to mention many rare flowers. But it’s also a very dynamic destination that attracts more and more youngsters. It’s a smart life choice too: a place where you can achieve personal fulfilment while helping to preserve the environment. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and see what you really want and need – if the call for change starts getting loud, go for it!