Philippe Gaillard - 2012-02-06
One of France’s finest up-market winter sports resorts, Megève offers far more than just superlative skiing. With its sports centres, cultural events and posh boutiques, this is a prime destination for tourists in quest of a well-rounded sojourn in the Alps.
In the heart of the immense Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area and its 445 kilometres of pistes, the tony town of Megève is a well-preserved haven with a rich architectural heritage. Since 1927, when Baroness Noémie de Rothschild asked the brilliant French architect Henry Jacques Le Même to build her a chalet inspired by the area’s traditional farms, the resort town has succeeded in maintaining a style that is comfortable, efficient and perfectly integrated into the surrounding landscape. Today, Megève attracts a good number of artists and celebrities who come to enjoy all aspects of the good life at the base of the Mont Blanc.
Megève has put a great deal of energy into developing its diversity so that skiers and non-skiers alike can benefit from the fine quality of its services and remarkable events planning. The resort is tailor-made for those (and their numbers are increasing) whose interest in the mountain reaches beyond snow-covered pistes and breathtaking scenery, as it also offers an impressive array of activities centred around sports, culture, art and gastronomy.
Sports, nature and well-being
Amongst the dozen or so fitness centres in Megève, the Palais des Sports et des Congrès is without doubt the best equipped. This Sports Centre holds two ice rinks, a covered tennis court, a climbing wall, a gym with a fitness centre, a beauty spa with a Turkish bath and sauna and much more. The Aquatic Centre has been newly renovated, offering a choice of an outdoor olympic pool (heated – not to worry!) and two new stainless steel indoor pools, one of which is 25 metres long. The use of stainless steel makes swimming possible in the Palais des Sports 350 days per year.
Megève is also able to cater to sportsmen and women who practise less common disciplines such as curling, ice hockey, snow polo and snow golf – a sport that was actually invented here.
The team that oversees town planning is keen on improving the various infrastructures while keeping it all green: Megève has received ISO 14001 certification for its attention to environmental management. Private motor cars are not permitted in the town centre; instead, horse-drawn carriages provide necessary transport while preserving the quietude, pure air and traditional charm of the resort.
The good life: culture, fine dining and more
For those who love art and history, the region offers several excellent possibilities, including the Megève Museum, the Haut Val d’Arly Museum, the exceptionally lovely St. Jean-Baptiste church and several art galleries, such as the Bartoux which is currently showing works by Salvador Dali. Admirers of the Catalonian master are in luck as the town of Megève is also holding a remarkable Dali exhibition featuring nine outdoors sculptures chosen among his most famous pieces: Space Elephant, Surrealist Piano, Alice in Wonderland, Profile of Time, Persistence of Memory, Vision of the Angel, Saint George and the Dragon, Dance of Time II and Dalinian Dancer (until 5 April 2012).
As with all things Dali, various commercial activities are never very far away and it is easy to marry culture and shopping here. From the most basic of brands to the most exclusive marks (Mont Blanc, Hermès, Lacoste, Swarovski…), there’s plenty of choice for all tastes and budgets. Even Ladurée, the super-famous Parisian confectioner specialised in macaroons, has opened shop in the Haute-Savoie town. Epicureans have their pick of a wide range of establishments, from simple snack bars – you might try the inviting Deli’s Corner where Olivia and François-Xavier serve the best pizzas in town ‘til 2 a.m. – to the prestigious Flocons de Sel restaurant (two Michelin stars) and the excellent Savoyard bistro Taverne du Mont-d’Arbois.
A resort town that rocks around the clock
As soon as the sun goes down, the village turns its attention to the needs of night-birds. Some of the local venues to look for are the legendary jazz club Les Cinq Rues, the cabaret-dinner show Stefano Forever and the excellent Casino-nightclub. There is also a wealth of hotels to choose from, from traditional Savoyard chalets such as the warm and welcoming Au Cœur de Megève to posh five-star hotels such as Le Chalet Zannier and Les Fermes de Marie.
Days are growing longer and Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Why not seize the moment and bring that special person who has stolen your heart to Megève? Unsurprisingly, the ultra-romantic town has been elected number five on the list of the ten best places in the world to get married!
By car: 1,000 km from London via the Chunnel, 600 km from Paris, 180 km from Lyon and 70 km from Geneva. There are 1,980 places is covered car parks.
By train: the Sallanches station is 12 km away. The super-fast TGV train from Paris is direct at week-ends and holidays; change in Annecy during other periods. You can even take an evening Eurostar from London, comfortably change trains (and stations) in Paris, catch the Lunéa night train and wake up in Sallanches. There is a shuttle service to Megève from the Sallanches train station and the Geneva coach station.
The closest airports are Annecy, Geneva and Lyon. Easyjet flies to Geneva from a dozen British airports. www.easyjet.com