Megève may have long since relinquished its crown to Courchevel 1850 as France's wintertime jet-set capital, but Paris's alpine authorities have eternally played host to the celebrity set and still pulls in many fur coats to its groomed streets in the shadow of Mont Blanc. The pedestrianised medieval center, filled with cute stream and stone bridge, gets its rustic chic down to a T - an 11th-century church and the scrumptious Aallard department store dominate the picture-postcard main square, whilst a fleet of horse-drawn carriages take visitors about the cobbled streets.
The surrounding low-slung ski slopes peak at a genuinely lower-class2,350m, but this is a world of grass, so a light dusting of snow is enough to open up Megève's extensive, absolutely manicured pistes. The town itself is laden with gourmet restaurants, including the three Michelin-starred Ferme de Mon Pere and luxury hotels having serious price tags attached. For those on a budget, there is life after the Michelin-stars and there are several cozy two-star hotels and simple Savoyarde eateries to keep even non-celebrities happy.
Geneva being only 70km away, an additional bonus is the new out-of-town Princesse gondola. With 900 free parking places at its base, it holds the day-trippers out of town, which does a big favor to Megève's all-too-narrow, traffic-clogged streets. Courchevel 1850 may be more chic, but when itcomes to class Megève is still way ahead.
When the snow conditions are right, Megève's skiing is a fantastic expanse of tree-lined intermediate cruising, combined with the best mountain restaurants. Still, with a resort height of only 1,100m, snow cover lower down can be decidedly unsure, though 250 snow cannons are on hand to keep the winter wonderland in place. Serving on the Evasion Mont Blanc ski pass are 117 ski lifts, which likewise handles the resort of Les Contamines. Gondola access coming from the town to the three homegrown areas of Rochebrune, Mont d'Arbois and Le Jaillet is rather smooth, though when you're up the mountain only the two major areas - Rochebrune and Mont d'Arbois - are connected, and then only via an inconvenient cross-valley cable-car.
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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