An hour from Geneva, the village of Megève is found in the snow-capped peaks of Mont-Blanc. As well as being like a setting from a chocolate box (honestly, it’s beyond pretty) the village is home to: 80 restaurants, three of which have Michelin-stars, holding six between them; seven art galleries; 30 hotels (seven of which are 5*) and over 200 shops. During the winter the major draw is the skiing, it’s home to Evasion Mont Blanc and Portes de Mont-Blanc which, between them, have 235 ski runs equalling 400 km of ski slopes. In the summer, it’s all about golf. Flights take under two hours from London Southend to Geneva, so what this all comes down to is that it needs to be added to your bucket list of places to go. Simple.
5* Mountain Retreat
Just 500m from the ski slopes is the five-star Chalet du Mont d’Arbois, a Relais & Châteaux hotel, it’s made up of three chalets (the main chalet, Chalet Noémie and Chalet Alice), in typical Savoyard architecture and is home to 41 rooms, eight suites, a spa, fitness rooms and a two Michelin- starred restaurant. The main chalet is adorned with antlers and stags and the theme continues inside, bringing together the understated grandeur of a country house with a typical mountain retreat. Rooms are cosy, with stone bathrooms, wood panelling and balconies looking out over the mountains. They range from Standard Mountain to the Suite Baronne Noémie, which covers an impressive 140sq metres and can sleep up to six people. The bathroom alone is the sort of thing dreams are made from with its own sunken whirlpool bath. Coming home from a long day in the cold, you’ll want to get a drink and sit in the hotel’s sitting room. It’s all wooden beams, furs, Persian rugs, a big open fire and sofas to sink into. When it’s time to head back out again, make the most of the hotel’s shuttle buses that will run you into the village.
Rooms start at €207 per night, room only, with breakfast €32.
Two Michelin Star Restaurant
Le Chalet du Mont d’Arbois’ restaurant is the two Michelin starred restaurant, Le 1920 with chef Julien Gatillon heading up the kitchen and Olivier Alglave in the dining room. The restaurant is relatively simple, warm tones of cream and yellow, curved banquettes and a painting covers one wall depicting skiers from In the evening, we recommend the tasting menu. Each dish served with French finesse, a langoustine served with watercress puree and Kristal caviar was exquisite and the duck liver terrine was served with black truffle, shallots and toasted brioche in a beautifully light mille feuille style. Rich veal was accompanied by puffs of potatoes, so that the dish wasn’t too heavy leaving us room for the cheese, if anyone knows how to do a cheese course it’s the French, the trolley is like a thing of wonder. We still somehow managed to fit in a pudding of candied citrus, marinated Mexican lemon, lemon sour cream and citron sorbet – as you’d expect it had a real zing.
Lunch in the Mountains
Le Chalet du Mont d’Arbois also has a mountain restaurant, Idéal 1850, so called because it’s at an altitude of 1850m. Whether you ski right up to the door way or just ride the cable car up, it’s definitely worth heading here for a long lunch, for the views if nothing else. Inside, it mirrors the chalet, with lamps made of antlers, stag heads mounted on the walls and open fires. You’ll want to sit on the veranda though, it’s here you can breathe in the views, watching the skiers fly past beneath you and bask in the mountain sun. On the menu, you’ll find the likes of pumpkin soup with white truffle cream; the decadent, Mac Rothschild burger and baskets of warm profiteroles with chocolate sauce. If you’re anything like us, you’ll feel akin to a snowball coming back down the mountain.
3 Michelin Star Restaurant
When it comes to the crème de la crème of Michelin-star dining, London might have Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, but Megeve has Flocons de Sel. It’s run by Chef Emmanuel Renaut who also holds titles such as Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsmen of France) and Compagnon du Tour de France (Companion of the Tour de France). Once Head Chef of Claridges, he moved back to France in 1997 and founded 5* hotel and restaurant Flocons de Sel in the heights of Megève. During the low season, you can spend the day in the kitchen helping the chefs prep and make the dishes. Each dish was intricately put together, masterpieces in their presentation. Standout dishes included a silky smoked egg yolk served under a Champagne sauce with mushrooms and just a subtle hint of coffee coming through at the end. Delicate, pomegranate -esque jewels of beetroot and parsnip gnocchi was served with a light horseradish consommé and a rich hunk of venison accompanied an onion and truffle tart. Puddings are also extensive, if you can, go for the smoked chocolate tart, it’s rich, warm and like nothing you’ll have tried, likewise the wood ice cream that it was served with was intriguing. Take an afternoon off from skiing, it’s once in a life time dining.
For the Best Views
The best views in London you’re going to find at the top of the Shard, on the London Eye or sat up on Primrose Hill. In Megève, they have their own airfield, where you can get a tour of the Mont Blanc Massif from Aérocime in a single-engine JODEL D140 ‘Musketeer’ plane. Yes, admittedly they look a little like you’re flying in a tin can which is rather daunting, but the scenes are unimaginably beautiful and they encourage you to take your camera to capture photos that are going to have your friends back in London envious. If flying has you feeling giddy then you can also take a tour of Megeve by horse and carriage, less daring but still well worth it.
Prices for Aérocime start at €40 for 10 minutes.
Balneotherapy Fitness Pools
The recently opened sports and congress centre, Le Palais, is home to an ice rink, gym, spa, climbing wall, saunas, steam rooms, a swimming pool and various seminar rooms. After a day of skiing we recommend heading to the balneotheraphy fitness pools. Not only does the pool feature eighteen water features – think bubble seats, massage beds and fountains, but it is also heated to a balmy 34 degrees. Ideal for relaxing your muscles but also needed given that half of the pool is outside, go at dusk for magical views of the Mont-Blanc mountain. Our favourite part? The counter current pool, swim against it for a tough work out – trust us it’s much harder than it looks or go with the flow and be pulled along – guess which one we opted for?
Flights to Geneva from Southend cost around £50.00 return in low season.