Where to Ski And Snowboard -

Megève: relax in style

18th February 2011, by Chris Gill

Megève's picture postcard style

Megève's picture postcard style

Megève is effortlessly chic, its slopes incredibly flattering and getting there equally easy. For a picture-postcard French resort, steeped in charm and tradition with cobbled streets, horse-drawn sleighs and picturesque old buildings look no further. The 325km of skiing is some of the least challenging you’ll find, with crisp neat grooming and a high proportion of huts to linger around. Once the domain of visiting royalty, the place is sometimes likened to St Moritz in character with its hub of winter activities, beautiful people and leisurely lifestyle. Well-heeled clientele, poets and novelists still reside here in smart chalets; but most hotels are small and cutely rustic rather than grand.

The slopes are not high, so the weather somewhat more critical on a short break. But the grassy slopes hold their snow cover well; we had a splendid two days cruising around the slopes below Mont Joly during a prolonged dry spell. Meals and drinks are pricey, likewise for most major French resorts. One handy on-slope dining tip though, is to head for the St-Gervais side where lower prices give a saving on lunches.

Getting there

Just 90km and an hour’s drive from Geneva airport makes Megève refreshingly accessible. Specialist operator Stanford Skiing organises transfers for their guests, but Alpine Cab (www.alpinecab.com) is an alternative for shared or private transfers. And there are lots of similar outfits. Rail journeys from the UK via Paris take you to Sallanches (20-minutes from Megève), where you can pick up a bus or taxi.

Staying there

Megève has a choice of individual chalets and small hotels, luxury or modest but often delightfully rustic. Many are dotted around the various lift bases, so widely spread. Chalet St Georges typifies an intimate Savoyard chalet and has a good position by the main square and Chamois lift – ask Flexiski (www.flexiski.com). The Fermes de Marie are 4-star lovely rustic chalets, with pool and three restaurants on site (White Roc – www.whiteroc.co.uk).

Stanford Skiing (www.stanfordskiing.co.uk) is a Megève specialist and offers mini breaks in chalets or apartments. Three night stays are available on Sundays or Thursdays, and four nights from Sundays or Wednesdays. Catered chalet-hotels Rond Point or the Sylvana are basic but comfortable.

Skiing there

It’s not the stuff of adventurous dreams, but the area is big enough to satisfy a travel appetite interspersed with a few challenges. Three distinct areas surround the resort, suiting carvers and cruisers best – broadly similar part-wooded terrain with open upper slopes, long ridge tops and pretty treelined runs. Novices can take gondolas to gentle, wide greens on the main ridges too. Mont d’Arbois usually has the best snow, with some fantastic treelined runs down to the hamlet of La Princesse. Head up to Mont Joly for steeper gradients and do the wonderful, scenic red along the Epaule (shoulder) towards St-Nicolas-de-Véroce. Or spend time getting familiar with the separate Le Jaillet-La Giettaz area on the other side of the valley, which has a few steeper options.

Lunch seems to be the focus of the day, whether the full table-service and fur-covered chairs, or the large self-service and, er, deck chairs. The Raviere and Sous Les Freddy’s on the St-Gervais side of Mont d’Arbois are cute favourites; welcoming places that open for set three-course menus of good Alpine food. Prices are lower on this side of the ski area too. Warmly recommended is Auberge du Christomet, a good spot to relax and take in the views in the Jaillet-Giettaz area.

Après-skiing there

Megève pace is sedate: strolling, sleigh rides and teatime cakes are what you might expect to get up to here. Perhaps a classy nightcap to the sound of a jazz band or a quiet drink in an upmarket bar after dinner. Club de Jazz is considered the liveliest venue and there are several cool, Brit-run bars. Linger over dinner instead, with a Michelin platter at the Flocons de Sel or a more conventional meal at the Prieuré or Brasserie Centrale. There’s a wide choice. Perhaps then try your luck in the casino …



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