February 15, 2019
As any true skiing aficionado will tell you, a skiing holiday is as much about the idyllic snow-capped surroundings, Alpine air and après-ski as it is about the pursuit of powder.
As an avid skier, I have always gravitated towards the more traditional resorts with their cobbled medieval squares and old-world charm; nowhere captures this magic quite like the enchanting French village Megève.
Situated in Haute-Savoie overlooking the mighty Mont Blanc, Megève is just over an hour from Geneva airport. This picturesque C.13th village has long attracted a glittery Euro crowd – the Rothschilds set it up as a French rival to St Moritz back in the early C20th and by the 1960s it had become so popular with the Parisian party crowd that Jean Cocteau referred to it ‘as the 21st arrondissement of Paris’. Today it continues to backdrop the on- and off-slope antics of the cosmopolitan jet set; here’s a guide on where to sleep, eat and, importantly, enjoy the après magic of Megève.
Megève’s low elevation (approx. 1,100m) means that conditions are best later in the season. Once the snow builds up, the area offers easy skiing and is particularly well suited to beginners and intermediates. With 80 ski lifts spread across 400km of slopes, you will find some of the most enchanting forest pistes across the Alps.
If you’re travelling in a large group, check into one of the sleek chalets by Les Portes de Megeve. The fabulously helpful team will cater to your every whim, whether that be sourcing hard-to-find ingredients, or providing a full team of staff to help you entertain.
For a more boutique stay, rustic-luxe log cabin Les Fermes de Marie comes with a renowned spa, while Rothschild-owned Le Chalet du Mont d’Arbois is perfectly located near the Mont d’Arbois ski lift. A more recent addition is the Four Seasons Megève - a 55-room modern alpine retreat perched on the Mont d’Arbois, with immediate skiable access to the slopes.
Food is often an afterthought in ski resorts, however, Megève is as famous for its culinary offerings and as it is for its slopes. There are 89 restaurants in the village, three of which are bestowed with three Michelin stars. Located in a 19th-century farmhouse on the outskirts of the village, Flocons de Sel by Claridge's alum Emmanuel Renaut serves a Savoyard menu that is as simple as it is delicious – sibling bistro, Flocons Village offers a more informal experience in the village itself.
La Ferme de Mon Père gained fame when it opened in the late 90s due to its glass floor through which you could peruse the restaurant’s 20,000 bottle cellar and cheese room; today its part of the Le Chalet Zannier complex and worth a visit for its understated setting.
For a hedonistic mountain lunch head to La Fruitière, part of La Folie Douce Alpine group (be sure to book ahead, especially if you’re in a large group). Sophisticated L’Ideal 1850 is a favourite; nab a table on the balcony for grandstand views of Mont Blanc.
There’s a slew of afternoon tea options including Parisian fave Laduree, for macarons and cha, while Bar Edmond at the Four Seasons serves a lavish afternoon tea that easily turns into evening cocktails on the sweeping balcony.
Chances are you’re looking for a more typical après vibe, and you’ll be hard pushed to avoid the notorious La Folie Douce where Champagne-fuelled frolics, firecrackers and table dancing soon kibosh the best-laid afternoon ski plans; dodgy dancing and a panda tan are mandatory. This is après ski at its cheesiest best.
Should you make it back into town in a sober state, find a cosy nook at Le Bar du Lodge; the seductive Alpine vibe and dim lighting make it the perfect setting for date night. Afterwards, shuffle over to Club de Jazz Les Cinq Rues, one of the best jazz clubs in all of France known for its crowd-pleasing roster of big-name performers.
Hans-Christian Andersen’s ‘Snow Queen’ is brought to life in four different performances held in the village every Tuesday, 5.30pm-7.30pm, 19 Feb-5 Mar.
Swansong to the 2019 ski season, the International Jazz Festival welcomes 200+ performers, including Norah Jones and Gregory Porter. 28-30 March.
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