Megève, a charming and traditional village in the Alps
The perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors
With its views of Mont Blanc, its mountain pastures, its ski slopes and its exclusive feel, Megève can feel aristocratic, yet deeply traditional: it’s difficult to describe this truly unique village, home to some 3,200 people.
It’s a hidden gem, nestled in the mountains between the Giffre massif to the north, the Aravis mountains to the west and the Beaufortain massif to the south-east. The village of Megève is built on a col which separates the Arly river in the south-west and the Arbon river in the north-east.
Visitors come to Megève from all over the world to ski, to be seen and to unwind, but they’re also keen to visit a traditional village with centuries of history on the borders of several Western European countries.
The history of Megève
The village is said to have been founded by Muffat and Grosset; according to local legend, they killed a flying viper which was nestled in the valley, preventing anyone from settling there.
Megève was originally part of the Duchy of Savoy; France annexed Savoy in 1792 and Megève became French territory for a period lasting some thirty years.
At the end of the French revolution, it was returned to the Duchy of Savoy until 1860 when its French integration was recognised by the Treaty of Turin. At that time, Megève was an agricultural village, visited by very few tourists.
One of the first people to promote Megève as a tourist destination was the journalist Mathilde Maige-Lefournier who wrote for the newspaper La Montagne. During her visit to Megève in 1913, she saw plenty of people trying the latest sport: skiing. Captivated by the sight of these figures seemingly floating on the snow, she immediately wrote an article, praising this new sport and the village of Megève.
The first skiing competition was held there in 1914. This journalist also came up with a phrase which sums Megève up perfectly: “I believe that Megève was made for skiing and skiing was invented for Megève”.
This sentiment is still shared by visitors to Megève today.
At the end of the First World War, the village became the focus of Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, the wife of Baron Maurice de Rothschild. She decided to transform Megève into a luxury resort for the aristocracy and crème de la crème of French society by opening a hotel there.
She wanted to compete with St Moritz in Switzerland and avoid any visits by German tourists to help both countries to heal after such a painful event.
The hotel was a success and, over time, Megève became a luxury mountain resort, known for its skiing.
In 1933, the village’s first ski lift was installed by local farmers, enabling skiers to enjoy delightful descents without all the effort of climbing up the mountains themselves. The Rochebrune cable car is still used today. The first button lift arrived a year later, earning Megève its reputation as a pioneer in terms of ski lifts across Europe.
In 2001, Megève received a Marianne d’Or award for the resort’s commitment to sustainable development. In 2004, it was included in a global list of the 12 best luxury ski resorts.
What to do in Megève?
The village of Megève consists of 3 mountains: Rochebrune, Mont-d'Arbois and Jaillet. At an altitude of 1113 metres above sea level at its lowest point, with a peak at 2350 metres above sea level and an Alpine climate, skiing is undoubtedly the first thing which comes to mind here!
As a pioneer in terms of ski lifts in France, Megève has seen the sport develop in and around its 3 iconic mountains. There are 450 kilometres of marked slopes and 111 ski lifts make it possible to enjoy the resort’s peaks with minimal effort.
Skiers of all levels will find just what they’re looking for in Megève. Beginners and families will love its gentle slopes, bordered by pine trees and with incredible views of Mont Blanc.
More experienced skiers can race down a vast black slope, go off-piste or try out some tricks on a freestyle airbag or at the snow park. Of course, adults and children who want to learn how to ski can take lessons with the resort’s ski schools.
A sledging area is also available as an après ski activity or for a morning or afternoon of fun with friends or family.
Winter in Megève is also an ideal time to enjoy traditional mountain pursuits including dog sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Although winters in Megève are cold and snowy, its summers are mild, offering ideal conditions for a wide range of activities which show another side to the region. The mountains are the perfect setting for hikes, mountain climbing and via ferrata. Magnificent views at every turn will help you to remember why you made the effort.
As the snow melts, it gives access to caves and tunnels which can be explored on caving trips.
If you’re not a fan of high-speed, physical activities, try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, sip on a drink as you play pétanque on the playing area in the village centre or enjoy a round of golf on the 18-hole Mont d’Arbois course.
If you’d like an even better view, you can admire Megève from above in a plane, a helicopter or a paraglider – or even in freefall (not for the fainthearted!).
Megève has a wide range of activities which you can enjoy in summer or winter:
Racket sports including tennis (indoors and outdoors), table tennis and badminton. The complex also has two skating rinks including an indoor Olympic-sized rink and a curling rink.
A mini golf is open outdoors during the summer along with a pump track where you can prepare your knees on the tarmac for the upcoming winter season. The complex also has an outdoor 50m Olympic swimming pool for use in summer, a 25m indoor swimming pool, slides, a paddling pool and everything you need to cool off with your family or to enjoy some exercise. Anyone who wants to try their hand at mountaineering can put their forearms to the test with the Palais’ indoor climbing wall.
Away from the Palais, there are plenty of other activities which can be enjoyed in winter and summer, including airsoft shooting, paintball and laser quest; these are also excellent activities for team-building or seminars.
If you want to enjoy some quality time with your other half, you can always drop your children off at the village’s crèche or childcare centre.
But Megève is also part of the Haute-Savoie department: an endless source of local cuisine. With cheese, charcuterie and local dishes, you’ll be able to take your pick!
At Le Fer à Cheval’s restaurants, L’Alpage and Le Traditionnel, in our mountain chalet or in the resort’s other restaurants, there’s something for everyone. You certainly won’t want to miss out on a delicious fondue or raclette by the fire.
When it comes to shopping, Megève has plenty of choice. The village’s shops have everything you could ever want or need: from legendary local products like Aallard ski pants to luxury labels, well-known ski brands and independent concept stores.
Your evenings in Megève will be as memorable as your days there! With its stylish Alpine feel, Megève has plenty to keep you entertained, with a wide range of bars including Le Fer à Cheval’s bar, clubs and a casino.
Megève is proud of its roots and the village’s traditional buildings are undoubtedly worth a visit. The church, the calvary where pilgrims once arrived and the village’s fortified houses are just a few of the historic buildings you can visit during your stay in Megève.