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Of the eight countries touched by the Alps, France is home to some of the range’s most beloved and internationally renowned destinations. Every winter, serious skiers and snowboarders flock to the Three Valleys — the world’s largest contiguous ski area connecting the resorts of Courchevel 1850, Val Thorens, Méribel, and Les Menuires — as well as historic, picturesque mountain towns like Chamonix, host of the 1924 winter Olympics and widely considered Europe’s capital of mountaineering.
If its neighbors are known for attracting expert skiers and glacier hikers, Megève, then, has emerged as the gourmet destination among the region’s prestigious resort towns. As the snow piles up outside huge picture windows, diners dip into rich pots of fondue at elaborate wood-lined chalets, clink craft cocktails while cozying up on faux fur and leather banquettes, party late into the night with culinary stars, and eat their way through Michelin-starred Alpine cuisine from some of the country’s most esteemed chefs. With even more elevated fairytale vibes than Chamonix and a more laid back atmosphere than The Three Valleys, Megève is beloved among mountain newbies and full-time diners who consider any winter sport a perfunctory prelude to après-ski.
Looking down on Megève from the slopes.
In 1911, the town became a stop on the Tour de France, and in 1926, Baroness Noémie de Rothschild opened a resort at the foot of the Mont d’Arbois to compete with Switzerland’s glamorous St. Moritz. Over the course of a century since, the former farming village has evolved into a well-manicured storybook town complete with horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone footpaths, grandiose forests, and iconic chalets. Especially following WWII, France’s high society (including, most famously, Jean Cocteau) cemented Megève as a luxurious Alpine lifestyle destination. Like Aspen (which originated as a mining town), Megève became a playground for wealthy winter enthusiasts — though it does still retain some affordable pastimes (like snowshoeing) and dining options (traditional fondue spots, plus a new crop of bars for cocktails and shared plates).
As Meredith Erickson summed it up in her comprehensive mountain cookbook, Alpine Cooking, the French Alps may be smaller than other European ski regions, but “the quality of the cuisine and wines is inversely proportional to its size.”
WHAT IS FRENCH ALPINE CUISINE?
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Megève landed on the destination dining map, mostly thanks to Emmanuel Renaut, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France and chef at three-Michelin-starred Flocons de Sel. “When I first moved to the area, ski stations were for skiing. Food was decent but basic, not worthy of any kind of dining expedition,” he says. Aside from fondue, no one was exploring seasonal, vernacular cooking. After coming up under celebrity chef Marc Veyrat, an early proponent of country cooking and sourcing local ingredients, Renaut broke out on his own in 1998 with (the original location of) Flocons de Sel,