MEGÉVE, FRANCE - One of the traditional winter holiday towns

by Louis Bignami

Megève is the essence of rustic chic. It has a medieval heart, but it was, in a way, the original purpose-built French ski resort - conceived in the 1920s as a French alternative to Switzerland's St. Moritz. And although Courchevel took over as France's most fashionable winter sports resort ages ago, Megève's sumptuous hotels and chalets still attract plenty of 'beautiful people' with fur coats and fat wallets. Happily, you don't need either to enjoy it.

The risk of poor snow still makes us nervous about booking way ahead; but it is certainly true that a few inches of cover will do, and if you want a relaxing and indulgent holiday in France, Megève should certainly be on your shortlist.

What's Great
What's Not-So-Great

+ Extensive slopes, with miles of easy slopes, ideal for intermediates

+ Scenic setting, with splendid views

+ Charming old village center, with very swanky shopping

+ Some lovely luxury hotels

+ Sophisticated nightlife

+ Gourmet mountain lunches in attractive surroundings

+ Excellent cross-country trails, including some at altitude

+ Mont Blanc lift pass covers many other worthwhile resorts nearby

+ Great for weekends - cooperative hotels and close to Geneva

+ If it snows, deserted mountains

+ Plenty to do off the slopes


? With most of the slopes below 2000m there's a risk of poor snow, especially on runs to the village - although the grassy terrain does not need a thick covering and snowmaking has improved a lot

? Three separate mountains, two linked by lift but not by slope and the third not linked at all

? Not many challenging slopes

? the few blacks are not extreme - but good off-slope potential