Megève, located in the southeastern part of France, became an exclusive ski area with the arrival of Baroness Noémie de Rothschild in 1921. It is said that she fell in love with the easy rhythm of local life that eluded her in St. Moritz. A darling new ski resort was born alongside the construction of her home, The Domaine du Mont d’Arboise. Once a medieval market town dating from the 14th century, today it is a member of Best of the Alps group of premiere ski and summer resort destinations.
It is easy to see why the Baroness fell in love with the petit hamlet during the winter. Clean, fresh powder covers the landscape and casts an enchanting spell on the village. The ski lifts literally rise from the base of town and deliver skiers to the beautiful vista with views of Mont Blanc within seconds. For those who prefer to skip the exercise, but still want a panoramic view, take an exhilarating plane or helicopter tour of the region’s peaks and glaciers.
Wellness is an integral part of the positive psyche of Megève. Everything you need to shake off work and settle into the rhythm of vacation can be found in one of the many soothing spas.
It is thoroughly enjoyable to stroll along the cobblestone streets, popping into chic boutiques, art galleries and specialty shops for unique alpine treats. In summer months, outdoor cafes and bars are lively spots for quick bites and cool cocktails.
First-rate hotels, dining, and spas are all within walking distance or a short ride of the town and slopes.
Where to Stay
A combination of rustic alpine architecture and chic interior design is perfected in in two of Megève’s best hotels of distinction created by the Sibuet Group.
Hotel Mont Blanc ★★★★
Nestled under the steeple of a church, the famous Hotel Mont Blanc is in the hub of the village where French legendary filmmakers like Jean Cocteau (Beauty and the Beast, 1946), and Roger Vadim (Dangerous Liaisons, 1959) hung out.
No two floors are designed the same. Wooden floors, walls and ceilings celebrate an authentic Alpine spirit yet each room’s personality is achieved through the use of distinctive colors and fabrics. The minimalist in me loves the orderly black and white hound’s-tooth chamber with sleek black and white acrylic photos of skiers from the prior century. The Princess in me craves the “Hermès orange” themed room with the canopy bed. My suite, although decorated more subtly, had great features that I appreciate when on the road with my spouse – double sinks, separate shower stall and bathtub, his and her closets, and separate commode so we can get ready for our adventures simultaneously. Two balconies with opposing views; one for morning coffee in the sunshine and the other for an apéritif at sunset, is divine design.
Les Fermes de Marie ★★★★★
Alpine sophistication meets genuine first-rate hospitality at Les Fermes de Marie. It is a dreamy hotel for romantic getaways, but it is also incredibly convenient for families too. Located on three acres within a short walk to the heart of downtown Megève, this gem caters to travelers that want it all.
A collection of rustic farm houses from high up in the French Alps were rescued, taken apart and put together piece by piece then fused together to form the bones of the hotel. The trek to the rooms at the far end of the hotel made us feel like Hansel and Gretal at times, needing to drop bread crumbs to find our way back, but we actually enjoyed the passageways adorned with homestead antiques and interesting art. Smartly, the hotel situated the rooms such that everyone has a private balcony or outdoor space to enjoy.
The Pure Altitude Spa uses products made from local herbs and plants for therapeutic massages and facials. I am partial to their Bulle d’Oxygène facial where they massage reflex zones. It does wonders for people like me who clench their jaws frequently. International treatments using Hammams and hot and cold plunge pools are incorporated into the fitness center.
While the adults get pampered, the children are spoiled in a good way. The “Kids Concierge” list of activities makes me long for grandchildren that I can one day take hiking and skiing in this fine little hamlet.
Where to Eat
Le Torrent – one of the coolest restaurants in Megève, this below ground spot is a wonderful place for a cozy dinner. Petite booths lined with fluffy wool create intimate dining spaces while other comfy spaces allow groups of friends to yuk it up. Cheese Fondue and desserts are their specialty. Do have the profiteroles, but sharing is a must as they are huge! Don’t be afraid, but you will not be going to the powder room alone. I won’t ruin the surprise; let me just say I jumped out of my skin, and then cried I laughed so hard.
Les Enfants Terribles – a fascinating restaurant with bold interior design choices like the mural by the inimitable artist Jean Cocteau and the ruby red carved ceiling. Classic food with modern twists like the Caesar salad with a side of blue cheese mousse and pita chips are sublime and dessert really was a wow factor. Mille feuille filled with an espresso cream beside chocolate ice cream with pieces of fabric-like chocolate on top was everything this chocoholic desired, and then some.
Les Fermes de Marie – There are three restaurant options in the hotel. While the surroundings might be old world, the gastronomy is more eclectic – traditional with a modern flair – fondue and escargot, to quinoa and tabouleh. My favorite meal of the day at Les Fermes was breakfast. Guests are invited into the “kitchen” for a true farm to table experience – homemade omelets made from eggs the chickens in the coop behind the hotel lay daily. There was a kid’s section with pancakes, waffles and other goodies that I am not allowed to eat due to a wheat allergy, so imagine my delight to see an entire section devoted to gluten-free sufferers like me.
What to Do
Scenic Tour of Mont Blanc:
Aerocime offers plane and helicopter tours of the majestic Mont Blanc. I flew on a single engine Jodel D150 “Musketeer” manned by a very professional pilot who navigated around the mountains with ease. I loved the glass canopy that provided panoramic views, allowing me to take some incredible photos of the summit and glaciers below. It was such a breathtaking experience that when we landed I cried tears of complete and utter joy.
Try your hand at the Olympian sport in the village recreation center, Le Palais des Sports de Megève. Never played before? No problem, they have instruction available for individuals and groups. I found it more difficult than it ever appeared, and came away with a huge appreciation for the professional athletes competing in this sport.
As with all Best of the Alps classic mountain resorts, Megève has premium ski areas. There are three main areas to choose from: Mont D’arbois, Le Jaillet and Rochebrune. Nearly 2,000 acres of ski area with 184 runs and 88 lifts spread out between the three ranges means lift lines are shorter than most other resorts. Stunning views of Mont Blanc and on-mountain dining make skiing here a dream.
Megève boasts 200 unique shops for baubles, ski/hike gear, home accessories and clothing. The BEST store, bar none, for alpine fashion is the private label AAllard. Each fine sport coat, ski jacket, purse and scarf is made with attention to detail. One-of-a-kind buttonhole finishes; pocket linings; along with contrasting color collar cuffs are created by craft companies. Everything is made in limited quantities, and offered exclusively in Megève. Their amazing customer service is personal and professional. We had not realized that the staff’s lunch hour had started, and that the store was supposed to be closed. No rushing us out the door, in fact they acted like it was the most important thing in the world to spend time helping my husband choose the right sports coat. He was carefully measured for alterations and to our amazement it was ready that same day in time to wear out to dinner.