The slopes

  • Extent 5 out of 5
  • Fast lifts 2 out of 5
  • Snow 2 out of 5
  • Queues 4 out of 5
  • Terrain p'ks 3 out of 5
  • Expert 2 out of 5
  • Intermediate 4 out of 5
  • Beginner 3 out of 5
  • Boarder 2 out of 5
  • X-country 4 out of 5
  • Restaurants 4 out of 5
  • Schools 3 out of 5
  • Families 3 out of 5

The resort

  • Resort charm 4 out of 5
  • Convenience 2 out of 5
  • Scenery 5 out of 5
  • Eating out 4 out of 5
  • Apres ski 2 out of 5
  • Off-slope 4 out of 5

Key facts covers:

  • Megève

Key facts

Resort1100 m
Slopes850-2355 m
Lifts88
Pistes325 km
Price index100

Megève

France

Megeve

The upside

  • Extensive easy, scenic slopes
  • Charming old town centre
  • Some very smart hotels and shops
  • Some special mountain restaurants
  • Good for weekend trips
  • Great in snowy weather – woodland runs with no one on them
  • Plenty to do off the slopes

The downside

  • Low altitude of slopes means a risk of poor snow, though the grassy terrain does not need deep cover
  • Lots of slow, old lifts remain
  • Three separate mountains
  • Few challenging pistes
  • Very muted après-ski (though it now has a Folie Douce)
  • Latest user reviews

    Hi, Had a great time in Megeve at half-term in Feb…

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 26 Apr 2015 

    We absolutely love Megeve. Pretty streets, excellent…

    VeronicaC 22 Apr 2014 

    Your views?

    If you have visited this resort not too long ago, why not add your own short review to this page?

    News – 2017/18

    The rickety 34-year-old Chamois gondola from the centre of town will be replaced by a smart new 6-seater gondola with greater capacity. And the ancient double l’Épaule du Joly chairlift at the top of the Mont d’Arbois ski area is being replaced by a high-speed six-seater chair. This will give quicker access to the Grande Épaule red run along the top ridge, which has stunning views of Mont Blanc.

    A free guided tour of the pistes will be available every Sunday morning, given by ESF instructors.

    A new toboggan run is planned. This will be 3km long and ‘laid out in a fun and playful way, mainly in the forest’. It will go from the top of the Mont d’Arbois and Princesse gondolas to the mid-station of the Princesse gondola.

    And the first Four Seasons hotel in the Alps will open in December in a ski-in/ski-out postion on the Mont d’Arbois slopes.

    News – 2016/17

    A big new sports centre – Le Palais de Megève – opened with an Olympic size indoor pool, indoor and outdoor saunas and fitness pools with bubbles, steam room, gym, climbing room, spa treatments, and more.

    The snowmaking system on Rochebrune was improved by changing the pumping system.

    Summary

    Megève has a medieval heart but it was, in a way, the original purpose-built French ski resort – developed in the 1920s as a response to Switzerland’s irritatingly swanky St Moritz. Although Courchevel long ago took over as France’s top resort, Megève’s smart hotels still attract the old money. Happily, the rest of us can enjoy it, too. And just look at that list of plus points on the left.

    This is one of our favourite places to be in falling snow, when Megève regulars take one look and retreat to their duvets; we had a great time in mid-January 2015 making fresh tracks all morning in knee-deep powder on deserted slopes. But when the sun is out and we want to zip around the pistes, we get very frustrated by the number of slow lifts. Thet should change though over the next few years – see ‘Fast lifts’ below.

    We are planning a return visit in 2018 to check progress so far.

    THE RESORT

    Megève is in a lovely sunny setting and has a beautifully preserved, partly medieval centre. Visitors are mainly well-heeled French people, who come here for an all-round holiday.
    The skiing divides into three sectors. One is directly accessible by lifts from close to the centre and from the southern edge of town, another from an elevated suburb or from an out-of-town lift base; these two are linked by cable car. The third involves a bus or free horse-drawn sleigh, for most people.

    There are several alternative bases (which offer some good-value lodging) on the fringes of the area. St-Gervais and Le Bettex above it have gondola access to the main sector. But beware slow access lifts from otherwise attractive spots. The slopes also link with La Giettaz; this has interesting local terrain, but is out on a limb and is not a sensible base.

    The Evasion Mont Blanc lift pass also covers Les Contamines. Plans to create a link with this resort have existed for ages but we hear are now on hold yet again. A car is handy for outings like that, and for using the Princesse gondola, a bit out of town.


    © Megève OT

    Village charm

    Old France at its best
    Megève’s charming old centre is car-free and comes complete with open-air ice rink, horse-drawn sleighs, cobbled streets and a fine church. Lots of smart clothing, jewellery, antique, gift and food shops add to the chic atmosphere.

    The main road to Albertville bypasses the centre, and there are expensive underground car parks to hide cars in. But people arrive here mainly by car, and the resulting traffic can be a problem at peak holiday times such as the French school holiday periods and New Year, particularly if you are based outside the very centre.

    Convenience

    Stay close to a lift
    Unless you have a car, staying close to one of the main lifts makes a lot of sense. Some hotels are close to a lift. But many lodgings depend on the free ski-buses.


    © Chris Gill

    Scenery

    Beautiful town, beautiful views
    The slopes are prettily wooded, but what earns Megève its five star rating is the view of Mont Blanc from many of the runs – especially the red Grande Épaule along a ridge above St-Nicolas-de-Véroce.

    THE MOUNTAINS

    The slopes are largely below the treeline – this is a great resort in poor weather – though there are extensive open areas, particularly higher up in the Mont d’Arbois sector.
    Piste classification frequently exaggerates difficulty. The piste map could be improved, particularly in the Mont d’Arbois sector.

    Extent of the slopes

    More than enough for a week
    Each of the three mountains has a worthwhile amount of terrain, and they add up to a great deal of skiing.

    The town is most directly linked with the Rochebrune sector – the smart new Chamois gondola goes up from the centre of town, and a cable car from the southern edge. A network of gentle, wooded, north-east-facing slopes, served by drags and mainly slow chairlifts, leads to the high point of Côte 2000, which often has the best snow but is now often used for racing, reducing the pistes available to recreational skiers.

    From the top of the Chamois gondola from the village, the Rocharbois cable car goes across the valley to link Rochebrune to the gondola for the bigger Mont d’Arbois sector, starting from an elevated suburb of the resort. The Princesse gondola starting a couple of miles north of the town (with extensive free car parking) offers another way up. 
A two-stage gondola comes up from St-Gervais via Le Bettex. You can work your way over to Mont Joux and up to the small Mont Joly area – Megève’s highest slopes. And from there you can go to the backwater village of St-Nicolas-de-Véroce (preferably via the splendid Grande Épaule ridge run, with wonderful views of Mont Blanc).

    The third area is Le Jaillet, accessed by gondola from just outside the north-west edge of town, or from the separate village of Combloux. The high point of Le Christomet is linked to the slopes of tiny La Giettaz – worth the trip, not least for spectacular views.


    © Megève TO/JPNoisillier

    Fast lifts

    Still far too many slow ones
    Megève continues to lag way behind its rivals in the uplift business, despite recently being taken over by the Chamonix lift company. Gondolas and cable cars provide the main access, and fast chairs are dotted around – but overall three out of four lifts are slow. At least all the slow lifts keep the pistes uncrowded most of the time. But things should change over the next few years because the new lift company has promised €35 million of investment by 2020 (there are two new lifts for 2017/18) and €80 million by 2033.

    Queues

    Few weekday problems
    During the week, Megève is relatively queue-free and its slopes are delightfully quiet, mostly. ‘Virtually none’ and ‘non-existent’ were typical recent reporter comments on queues. But sunny weekends (when day-trippers from Geneva appear) and school holidays can mean some delays. The draglifts between Côte 2000 and the rest of the Rochebrune slopes and the cable car that links the Rochebrune and Mont d’Arbois slopes can then have long queues. A recent reporter even found queues at the relatively new Mont Joux chair. Crowded pistes at Mont Joux and Mont d’Arbois at peak times have also been reported. On a snowy day, even in peak season, the slopes can be delightfully quiet as the Parisians choose to stay in bed, leaving the powder to you and us.

    Terrain parks

    Four, surprisingly
    The park near the bottom of Rochebrune was designed particularly for beginners. There is a snowcross course and an airbag jump nearby. There is also a park on Mont d’Arbois, with good jumps for all ability levels plus a host of rails. Combloux also has a park and La Giettaz a smaller park, albeit with a real multitude of jump sizes and a few rails; both have snowcross courses – ‘great fun’ says a recent visitor.

    Snow reliability

    The area’s main weakness
    The slopes are low, with very few runs above 2000m, and quite sunny – the Megève side of Mont d’Arbois gets the afternoon sun. So in a poor snow year, or in a warm spell, snow on the lower slopes can suffer badly. Fortunately, the grassy slopes don’t need much depth of snow. There is extensive snowmaking, but that can’t work in warm weather. Grooming is very good but read ‘For experts’, below.

    For experts

    Off-piste is the main attraction

    One of Megève’s great advantages for expert skiers is that there is not much competition for the powder – many days after a fresh dump you can often make first tracks on good slopes. The resort now leaves several runs ungroomed immediately after a snowfall, so you get to enjoy the powder for a bit (as we experienced on our last visit, when we skied knee-deep powder all morning on red and black pistes served by a fast chair).

    The Mont Joly and Mont Joux sections offer the steepest slopes. The top chair here serves a genuinely black run, with some serious off-piste off the back of the hill; and the slightly lower Epaule chair has some steep runs back down and also accesses some good off-piste, as well as pistes, down to St-Nicolas. The steep area beneath the second stage of the Princesse gondola can be a play area of powder runs among the trees. Côte 2000 has a small section of steep runs, including good off-piste.

    The terrain under the Christomet chair on Le Jaillet can be a good spot to develop off-piste technique, given decent snow – and a reporter recommends the extensive woods at La Giettaz.

    For intermediates

    Superb if the snow is good
    Good intermediates will enjoy the whole area – there is so much choice it’s difficult to single out any particular sectors. Keen skiers are likely to want to focus on the fast lifts, and happily several of these serve excellent terrain: the Princesse and Bettex gondolas on Mont d’Arbois, the Fontaine and Alpette chairs on Rochebrune and the Christomet chair in the Le Jaillet sector. But don’t confine yourself to those – there are lots of other interesting areas, including the shady north-east-facing slopes on the back of Mont d’Arbois and Mont Joux and the front of Rochebrune, and the genuinely red/black slopes of La Giettaz. The slopes above Combloux are well worth exploring, particularly the quiet reds and black served by the Jouty chairlift. If you want to try powder, some reds and blues are left ungroomed immediately after a snowfall.

    Megève is also a great area for the less confident. There are long, easy blue runs in all sectors. A number of gentle runs lead down to Le Bettex and La Princesse from Mont d’Arbois, while nearby Mont Joux accesses long, easy runs to St-Nicolas. Alpette and Côte 2000 are also suitable. As is most of Le Jaillet, especially the long easy runs down to Combloux.


    © Megève TO/JP Noisillier

    For beginners

    Good choice of nursery areas
    There are beginner slopes at valley level, and more snow-sure ones at altitude on each of the main mountains. There are also plenty of very easy green runs to progress to.

    For boarders

    Beginner friendly
    Boarding doesn’t really fit with Megève’s rather staid, upmarket image – and there are quite a few flat linking runs to deal with. But freeriders will love it after snowfalls. It’s a good place to try snowboarding for the first time, with plenty of fairly wide, quiet, gentle runs and a lot of chairlifts and gondolas. The draglifts are generally avoidable (except between Alpette and Côte 2000, unless you take the bus).

    For cross-country

    An excellent area
    There are about 40km of varied trails spread throughout the area. Some are at altitude, making meeting with Alpine skiers for lunch simple.

    For families

    Language problems
    The kindergartens offer a wide range of activities. But lack of English-speaking staff could be a drawback. The slopes are family-friendly and the schools rated by reporters. There are snow gardens in the main sectors. See megeve.com/en/winter/exert-yourself/child-family/

    Blogs, features and news

    Map unavailable.

    The slopes

    • Extent 5 out of 5
    • Fast lifts 2 out of 5
    • Snow 2 out of 5
    • Queues 4 out of 5
    • Terrain p'ks 3 out of 5
    • Expert 2 out of 5
    • Intermediate 4 out of 5
    • Beginner 3 out of 5
    • Boarder 2 out of 5
    • X-country 4 out of 5
    • Restaurants 4 out of 5
    • Schools 3 out of 5
    • Families 3 out of 5

    The resort

    • Resort charm 4 out of 5
    • Convenience 2 out of 5
    • Scenery 5 out of 5
    • Eating out 4 out of 5
    • Apres ski 2 out of 5
    • Off-slope 4 out of 5

    Key facts covers:

    • Megève

    Key facts

    Resort1100 m
    Slopes850-2355 m
    Lifts88
    Pistes325 km
    Price index100