If you thought that regional enclaves like Asterix and Obelix’s Gaul belongs to the past – think again! In some regions, the cultural identity of the past remains strong and is still celebrated by the locals…
Before the French Revolution, France wasn’t centralised as it is now. Though ruled by the King, regions were effectively governed by local aristocracy and the church. They were the main landowners, the holders of political and economic power. Regions often did their own thing administratively and language.
After the French Revolution, government, systems and rules were centralised. And so was the language. It’s estimated that around half of France spoke French at the time of the Revolution. The rest spoke different dialects – Breton, Occitan, Basque, Flemish and more. Over time, French replaced the local languages, local cultures became diminished.
But in some regions, the cultural identity of the past remains strong and is celebrated by the locals…
Megève is one of the most exclusive luxury ski destinations in the Alps, but its rustic charm and understated glamour will win over those uninterested in ostentation.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Megève is the lack of bottleneck-style crowds lining up at the lifts, clogging up the slopes, shops and restaurants. It’s simply quieter here than it is at more obviously glamorous stations like Courchevel and the Val d’Isère; so if it’s tranquility and space you’re after, you’re likely to get it here. The station offers some 400 km of well-groomed pistes that suit all levels, including for those who wish to snowboard, but is ideal for skiers who value variety and peace over adrenaline-filled runs. The pistes are varied enough that you can try something different nearly every day, from relaxing, scenic blues to thrilling and challenging blacks.
The charming old town and luxury resort, situated in France’s Haute-Savoie region near the Swiss and Italian borders, is also brimming with rustic, old-world European ambience. From traditional chalets and Alpine storefronts that combine warmth and chic to the village center that comes alive in the winter with soft holiday lights, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and cheerful boutique windows, Megève makes the perfect backdrop for a romantic or family-centred luxury winter getaway.
While those in search of obvious “bling” and grandiosity might be a bit disappointed by the “après” amenities in Megève, travelers who appreciate a more understated variety of luxury, combined with local authenticity, will thoroughly enjoy what the elegant town has to offer. From casual strolls around the cobbled streets to horse-drawn carriage rides in the snow, drinks and live music, there’s plenty to do following a full day in the powder.
For exceptional drinks, light meals or tea in a refined atmosphere, try the Le Georges bar and tearoom at the Hotel Mont Blanc: indulge in fine champagnes, whiskies, afternoon tea and sumptuous, gorgeously presented cakes and patisseries. They also boast some of the finest accommodations and one of the best luxury spas in town– see our dedicated sections on hotels ad spas below for more on those amenities in particular.
Meanwhile, more classic resort bars at the foot of the slopes and in town include the 540 Cafe with its pleasant, sprawling terrace– perfect for a craft beer, glass of wine and/or casual meal– and the unfussy but pleasant Brasserie Centrale, serving hearty Savoyard dishes and a wide selection of drinks.
For nightlife, your choices are numerous– from an evening trying your luck at the local casino to clubs, discotheques, cinema and jazz bars. Megève is in fact well-known for its jazz scene: Les 5 Rues jazz bar is a legendary place in town for memorable live performances, and they also serve food and drinks.
One of the highlights of any luxury stay in Megève is its numerous high-end hotels and their superb ambience, amenities and distinctive Alpine character. Make sure to consider one of these remarkable lodgings for your next sojourn there– some of our very favourites.
The Fermes de Marie is a 5-star hotel built around rustic Alpine farmhouses, with rooms and private cabins emanating warmth, luxury and old-world coziness melded with modern design. The sprawling premises, which have been lauded by luxury travel specialists and magazines as some of the most-charming in Megève, house several gastronomic restaurants and dining options, a full bar and lounge, indulgent spa (see #4), afternoon tea lounge, and other amenities that are all but guaranteed to make you relax and leave the world of work behind. Of course, the hotel might also offer the perfect setting for a corporate getaway or team-building event in France.
Flocons de Sel, with its three-star Michelin restaurant, is one of Megève’s most luxurious and acclaimed places to stay. The five-star hotel offers those interested in enjoying fine French gastronomy a taste of local Haute Savoie cuisine, all prepared by star chef Emmanuel Renaut (who happens to also co-own the entire establishment with his wife, Kristine Renaut). In addition to the inspired cuisine at the restaurant, enjoy the luxurious yet charmingly countrified rooms and private cabins, offering woody warmth combined coupled with an almost Scandinavian-style, minimalist aesthetic.
Looking for a traditional hunting lodge ambience during your stay in Megève? Lodge Park would make an ideal choice. The four-star hotel boasts tartaned decor, dark wood, ornamental bucks gracing the walls, and luxuriant rooms without a hint of modern pretension. The spa and restaurant are well-appreciated by guests, too.
The Hotel Mont-Blanc is one of the town’s most famous and prestigious hotels, meanwhile, and boasts an excellent bistrot and champagne bar, spa and luxurious suites with old-world Alpine decor.
Finally, the Four Seasons Hotel Megève, which opened last December, form a local luxury powerhouse of sorts alongside the coveted Chalet du Mont Arbois. The latter five-star hotel, once the private Alpine home of the powerful Rothschild family, is yet another of Megève’s acclaimed luxury hotels. It has long appreciated for its mountain warmth melded with artistic refinement (items from the Rothschild’s private art collection grace the walls alongside numerous traditional antlers), superb spa and outdoor pool, and a two Michelin-starred restaurant.
Together with the new, 55-room Four Seasons property, the Chalet du Mont Arbois will form a sprawling high-end resort complex that will no doubt add another few stars to the little Alpine town’s luxury firmament, just in time for the 2019 ski season. As Forbes’ Jim Dobson notes, “The hotel will be managed by the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and along with the 5-star hotel, will include Le Chalet du Mont d’Arbois and Spa, the 5 family restaurants, which include the 2-Michelin-star Le 1920, and the Mont d’Arbois Golf course.”
We’re awaiting the expanded offering with bated breath, needless to say.
We would be remiss if we didn’t highlight Megève’s many wonderfully indulgent and relaxing spas. After a day of skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, there’s little better for tired muscles and chilled extremities than an afternoon of luxuriant soaks and top-rate treatments.
The Pure Altitude Spa at the Fermes de Marie hotel is renowned for its treatments made with native Alpine ingredients such as Edelweiss, and the charmingly rustic treatments rooms and large pool will instantly eliminate both muscle tension and stress. Founded in Megève,the cosmetics brand and spa prides itself on its expert use of healing mountain plants and botanicals in its treatments and products. Tip: if you can’t make a booking at this location, there’s a second Pure Altitude spa located at the nearby Hotel Mont Blanc.
With its large, heated outdoor pool and Alpine tranquility, the spa at the five-star Chalet du Mont Arbois is another of our favourites. Three treatment rooms, sauna, jacuzzi, Turkish baths and a relaxation room make this spa a must after a long day on the slopes.
Another wonderful spa we personally recommend is the one at the Flocon de Sel resort. Rather than your usual branded spa using products from a specific cosmetics line, their spa– which features a large pool, sauna, hot tubs and treatment rooms, offers their own treatments, specially blended by chef and owner Emmanuel Renaut in consultation with his expert beauticians.
Did you like the content? Share it now!
If your ideal après-ski afternoon includes perusing the boutiques and coming away with a few chic new items that can’t just be found anywhere, Megève offers some excellent shopping opportunities.
From standalone designer boutiques (Hermes, Lacoste) to multibrand concept stores offering pret a porter and designer wear for men, women and children (I Wear; Défilé, Megeve Concept Store), luxury jewellers and watchmakers (Bijouterie Jolly-Pottuz, La Horde d’Or), accessories and bags (A Allard), and high-end skiwear and fashion (Rossignol, Duvillard Lafforgue), boutique-going in Megeve is surprisingly diverse. And since the crowds tends to be on the thin side in this quieter resort, you won’t likely have to fight to navigate your way through the shops….
Did you like the content? Share it now!