A white out in Les Alpes heralded the arrival of the ski season. MR PORTER was there – and dressed Mr Pierre François Jacob for the occasion.
“No. Ça, c’est impossible. I cannot.”
Don’t ask Mr Pierre François Jacob to pick a favourite out of the mountains and the sea; you’re unlikely to get a satisfactory answer. Between his home in Cannes on the French Riviera and his chalet in Megève in the French Alps – a property that he bought off the back of his very first modelling job 32 years ago – he has built a way of life that revolves around, and depends upon, both.
In light of recent events, though, Mr Jacob might be forced to conclude that the sea can wait. A sudden change in the weather has brought low temperatures and widespread flurries of snow to the Haute-Savoie in eastern France, transforming its Alpine peaks and valleys into a winter playground, and against the backdrop of the great, looming summit of Mont Blanc, the resorts of Chamonix, La Clusaz and Courmayeur have begun to hum with activity. The ski season seems at last to have arrived – and Mr Jacob, who first strapped on a pair of skis at the age of two, is not one to miss out. From his base in Megève, he spends no fewer than 100 days a year on the slopes.
At the age of 50, Mr Jacob is in the fortunate position of having a modelling career, which began in 1983, that has never hit a major hiatus. If there’s a downside to this, it’s that he continues to live something of a peripatetic existence, traipsing halfway across the world at a moment’s notice. But the mountains remain his centre, and he returns to them whenever he can. “They bring me back to life,” he says. “No matter where I find myself, I know that I can return here and I’ll always feel at home.” In addition, his time spent in the Alps allows him to concentrate on PistaNera, an Italian-made ski line with which he is closely involved (check the PistaNera helmet he’s sporting here).
MR PORTER met Mr Jacob in La Clusaz, an old mountain village south east of Geneva. In the Haute-Savoie, a day on the slopes begins the night before and, you know, when in Rome… So we ate. Traditional French mountain cuisine, we discovered, is warming and indulgent, particularly what’s known as tartiflette, a potato gratin that’s made with lardons, onions and an entire reblochon cheese and typically washed down with a glass (or two) of Savoy Pinot. Suitably fuelled and refreshed, we set out early the next morning, braving a bout of stormy weather to reach the freshly frosted mountaintops where the snow was settling deep, weighing down the boughs of the pine trees. Here, we tried out some of this season’s best winter gear – you can view the results while we go on mentally reliving that dinner…