If you’re used to purpose-built ski resorts such as Courchevel, Les Arcs or La Plange, Megeve will come as a surprise. It’s a traditional Alpine town, which was made fashionable in the early 1900s by the Rothschild family. The well-preserved medieval centre with its 13th century church is picturesque, while horse-drawn sleighs and cobbled streets ooze charm. It may not be as popular as it was at its peak in the 1960s but it’s still one of the most chic resorts in France with smart shops selling antiques and jewellery.
The slopes are set out on three different mountains – Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois and Le Jaillet – and are mainly wooded, making them great if the weather is poor. Confident intermediates will eat up the miles in Megeve but there are loads of beautiful cruising blues for the more timid. Experts and beginners will get on fine too and mixed ability groups won’t have a problem here. If you like a good lunch on the hill, there are some impressive mountain restaurants to choose from.
Megeve has a low altitude so pick your week carefully but as the terrain is grassy, a lot of snow cover isn’t needed – which is great in poor snow seasons.
Megeve’s mountains add up to a great amount of slopes. All suit good intermediates and there’s so much choice there’s no chance of getting bored. The resort still has some old, slow lifts but the mileage hungry can plan their day around the fast lifts.
A gondola takes you up from the centre of town to the Rochebrune area, which is connected to Mt Arbois by cable car. The skiing is fantastic in these sectors with plenty of motorway runs and tree-lined slopes ranging from speedy reds for confident intermediates to cruisy blues on Mr Arbois for the more timid. Of note for the confident are the shady reds on the back of Mt Arbois and the runs at the front of Rochebrune.
The nursery slopes are down in the valley but once beginners have found their ski legs, they can progress to higher up slopes on each mountain and then cruise the lovely greens.
Megeve is excellent for cross-country skiing with 40km of varied trails – and not all are on the valley floor. Some are higher up, so if you’re in a mixed group you can still meet your Alpine friends on the mountain for lunch.
It’s easy to meet non-skiing friends up the mountain at one of the restaurants – either gourmet or more modest cuisine. The rustic Auberge du Christomet has beautiful views and you can get there on snow or by road. As you might expect in a chic resort like Megeve, there are several hotels with spas and the fantastic sports centre has a new one.
Off the slopes and apres ski
Tone your tired muscles in the pool, then relax in the sauna or Turkish bath before indulging in a spa treatment. There are so many off slope activities that non-skiers are guaranteed a brilliant holiday. There are indoor and outdoor ice rinks, dog sledding, snowshoeing, 50km of cleared paths for walking, paragliding, horse-drawn carriage rides, ballooning, not to mention various indoor pursuits such as a climbing wall, gym, cinemas, concerts, exhibitions and painting courses.
Megeve won’t set the world alight regarding apres ski bars and clubs but the 5 Rues is a cool jazz club/cocktail bar that attracts some big-name musicians. Or you could pop into Brit favourite, the Cocoon, which has live music and sports TV if you need a fix of football or rugby.
There’s a casino but it’s more slot machines than blackjack so why not save your euros and splash out on dinner at the Michelin-starred Roches Fleuries or the more modest Flocons Villages. Fancy a steak? Then pop along to the Brasserie Centrale for entrecote and frites.
Bars and clubs
Table du Trappeur
Chez Tante Alice