Skiing weekend in Megeve, France: Day 1

Last weekend, the boy and I took a trip to Megeve, in the Haute-Savoie region of France for a spot of skiing. We were first attracted to Megeve by its close proximity to Geneva – it’s only an hours drive away and is famous for its gastronomic heritage, being home to a whopping 90 restaurants (eight with Michelin stars). A perfect destination for a foodie fan, such as myself!

It was my first time flying Swiss from Heathrow to Geneva however it shan’t be my last. They offer impeccable service and competitive prices. I generally fly EasyJet however throughout the ski season it is well worth shopping around to get the best deals on your flights. EasyJet flights were priced at £250 return whereas my Swiss flights came in at a mere £120 (including baggage and free drink/snack onboard).

We set off around 11am and immediately noted how easy the journey looked on our map. The best part about the route from Geneva is that you spend the majority of the journey on the main motorway, A40, until turning off at Salanches and drive 20 minutes up into the mountains via a main road. Megeve town sits 1,000ft above sea-level with the highest skiable peak at 2353ft. A relatively low resort, we were pleased we hit the Megeve slopes during January but the lower pistes are riddled with snow cannons so at least they are well equipped in case of poor snow fall. The Evasion Megeve ski area covers 445km of interlinking skiing across 5 main areas; Le Jaillet, Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois, Mont Joux and Mont Joly. These areas connect the towns of Megeve, Saint Gervais de Bains, Clomboux and Le Bettex. I would certainly suggest, for anyone wanting to ski on a budget, to stay in the smaller villages of Clomboux or Le Bettex, as they are far better value for money being outside of Megeve centre and have equally easy access to fantastic skiing.

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Megeve Pistemap

This trip was most definitely a spontaneous decision as we booked our hotel the day before I flew out. This meant that we limited to only a handful of hotels which hadn’t already been booked up. We decided on a traditionally French hotel/chalet, a short drive out of Megeve centre (to save on cost). A mere five minutes out of Megeve centre, Le Chalet du Prariand is a 3* hotel with 52 rooms and 16 apartments. An onsite canteen and sauna spa area are also available to residents. The hotel offers a free ski shuttle to and from the Megeve bus station in the centre of the town, which we found very useful indeed (runs from 9am – 6pm every hour). The hotel also offers complimentary wifi on the ground floor, where there is also a bar and warming log fire lounge.

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The staff were extremely welcoming and we were pleasantly surprised by the reception area. The pictures featured on TripAdvisor made it seem very dated but it was lovely and cosy inside with a relaxed atmosphere. Our room was basic to say the least but were pleased with the mountain view and balcony off our bedroom. For a 3* we felt that there should have at least been a kettle for morning coffee and were shocked the ensuite didn’t have a bath (surprising for a ski resort chalet). You get the feeling that this hotel is used to catering for familes as they host entertainment in the evenings, from karaoke to pub quizzes.

We headed into the town centre to pick up our ski passes for the next two days and hire some skis. There is plenty of parking in the centre but beware the steep hourly rates! The village is your typical traditional French alpine resort with pedestrianised cobbled streets and a fast flowing stream running through the middle. You can’t help but be taken in by the sheer quaint charm as horse drawn sleighs rattle past. The shops have an air of Parisienne chic and are home to many established designer boutiques. Head to the tourist office, just off the main high street, to pick up a village and piste map. The staff inside told us of the annual BMW snow polo cup which was taking place across the weekend we were there (such luck!). Megeve has a long standing history with polo as the town was originally owned by the Rothschild family who developed the town into the first purpose built ski resort in the Alps and a regular haunt for French artistocracy throughout the 1900s.

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Megeve main square

First stop was a drink at ‘Le Bistro Megeve‘, a funky bar attracting a young crowd with smooth house tunes playing via outdoor speakers (pied piper-esque). A modern take on a apres ski bar, the timber features are complemented by exposed stone walls and a stainless steel bar. The drinks were particularly expensive but we feel that was due to the surroundings more than anything  This place is certainly one of the places to be seen – but at what cost? A large local draft beer coming in at nine euros and a small glass of vin chaud (mulled wine, my favourite), five euros. For a quick drink, I would certainly recommend it but it could be an expensive evening if you decided to stay any longer. Le Bistro Megeve is also home to an underground restaurant, Le Cave de Fromage – the boy wasn’t keen on exploring as after his fondue experience in Zurich, he has been scarred for life!

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The boy avec grande bierre

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One thing to note about staying outside of Megeve, is that the money you save in accomodation, you most definitely spend on taxis to get back into town for evening drinks/meal. Must note that our hotel does offer an on site restaurant, but with such a wealth of restaurants to choose from in Megeve, we felt we had to head in after dark. A taxi from Les Chalet du Prariand will cost you 15/20 euros each way – pricey!

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I highly recommend stopping by Bar le S, next door to the Au Coeur de Megeve Hotel. It boasts an extensive cocktail menu and has large heated outdoor smoking area. We stopped in for a quick Margerita and Mojito – one of the best I’ve had as it wasn’t too sweet!

When planning dinner in Megeve, you should definitely take into account the popularity of all of the restaurants in and around the main high street. We popped in to a few places before stopping by Le Chamois however they were all fully booked. In the end, we were very pleased to have found Megeve’s little culinary gem!

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Le Chamois famous Tartiflette

Situated just below one of the main telecabins, off Megeve’s main high street, Le Chamois is a moderately sized restaurant serving traditional French, hearty dishes. A homely feel goes hand in hand with this casual dining experience and is obviously very popular with the locals as well as tourists. There isn’t an english translation on the menu, but the staff were very helpful and spoke very good English. A popular favourite amongst diners is the fondue priced at 22 euros per person. This seems pricey but the portion sizes are large and Megeve is notoriously expensive!

I went on my gut instinct and ordered a  tartiflette, what I can only describe as a cheesey dauphinoise potato dish with bacon and caramelized onions topped with even more cheese and grilled – simply delicious! I am certain it was made with the local reblochon cheese, a relatively strong, smooth and creamy cheese from the Haute-Savoie region (Alps). Almost a mix between camembert and brie. I will certainly be recreating my own version of this – despite the high calorie content!

The restaurant offers reasonably priced house wine served by the carafe as well as other traditional meat dishes such as salami sharing platters which we had as a starter. The boy ordered a dish called ‘Le Diots’, French thick cut sausages and chips! The meat was packed with flavour and reminded me of a typical German bratwurst as it was heavily seasoned with herbs and spices.

All of the restaurants we ate at during our time in Megeve were expensive but of course there are places to eat if you are watching the pennies. For a nice evening meal, Le Chamois was certainly worth it and was a great opportunity to experience local fare. The bill for the two of us plus wine came in at 69 euros. Pricey, but worth it!

Do let me know if you are planning a ski trip to Megeve or any of the other Alps resorts. We are always on the look out for new and exciting places to visit, so would greatly appreciate your comments!

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