Can you keep a secret?
I know spring is here and no one wants to discuss snow, but if you’re like me and plan way ahead for vacations, this is definitely one you will want to book without further delay.
There is something so charming and wonderful about Europe in the winter. This year, we spent one of the holidays in a small ski town called Megève—and I am not exaggerating when I say it was a winter wonderland.
My in-the-know friends who told me about Megève would prefer to keep this lovely spot their secret, so if you decide to venture over, please call me first—depending on who you are, I might give you the secret password! 🙂
Megève is about an hour drive from Geneva, which is a great spot to spend a couple of days beforehand. If you do, there is a Chinese restaurant called Tsé-Fung in La Reserve Hotel that I highly recommend. I loved the red lacquer ceilings in the restaurant, and the people-watching was pretty good, too.
We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva, and look what a fabulous surprise was there to welcome us—how clever!
You can also take a fun day trip to the town of Gruyère and tour the factory at La Maison de Gruyère, where the namesake cheese is produced. I recommend lunch at a little place called Le Chalet de Gruyères for the Swiss delicacy raclette.
Five minutes away is the Cailler chocolate factory, which you can also tour; make sure to buy tickets for in advance, as it tends to get crowded.
To get to Megève, you can either rent a car or hire one to drive you. Hint: If you rent a car in winter, make sure it has four-wheel drive or chains on the tires; otherwise you risk getting stuck midway to Megève on snow-covered mountain roads. We passed many people stuck on the side of the road trying put chains on the tires of their tiny European rear-wheel drive cars—quite a scene!
We stayed at La Fer a Cheval, which I adored.
It’s done in typical French chalet style, mixing beautiful wood with gray cashmere fabrics and cozy fur pillows.
There’s even a small screening room that shows movies for children or families. The staff was unbelievably helpful and accommodated our every request.
While my family skied, I went snowshoeing most days with an instructor, Nicole, who took me on some extraordinary hikes in the mountains. You can book Nicole for a half or full day of snowshoeing or cross-country; her mobile is +33(0) 6 70 77 80 42.
La Fer à Cheval also has indoor pool/spa, and I took a few aqua bike lessons in the morning, which was a great way to start off the day.
Now, on to my favorite part of the trip and one of the reasons I would return again and again: the food.
Megève has no shortage of phenomenal restaurants, but I want to tell you about some of my favorites. Advance reservations for both lunch and dinner are needed, especially over the holidays.
One of the best burgers I’ve ever had was at OK Burger, which is great for a quick lunch or a super-casual dinner with the kids. If you have more time, there are plenty of places that attract quite the scene at lunch; to enjoy the party, arrive between 1:30 and 2 and plan to stay for around two hours.
My favorites for dinner were La Refuge, Flocons Village, and Da Vino—but my absolute favorite for either lunch or dinner (and possibly one of my favorite restaurants in the world!) is the three-Michelin-starred Flocons de Sel. The concierge worked some magic and got us a lunch reservation, which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful views from the restaurant along with our food.
Of course I bought these very cool steak knives and used them for a French-inspired “meat and potatoes” dinner when we got home.
During lunch, we enjoyed getting to know the wife of the chef and hearing the history of the restaurant and what goes into achieving the infamous three stars. Later, we even got to meet the chef, and my son told him the dessert alone deserved four stars!
Last but not least, Megève has some excellent shopping.
For artisanal French candy, mustards, and cheese, head to L’ Epicurie; the staff is very knowledgable about the products and can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Being 5’2 with long legs and a small waist but a derrière makes it a bit of a challenge to find pants (I know, poor me), but I did finally manage to find the perfect style (a stirrup, so you have to wear a boot) at a store called Allard. And I wasn’t the only one—everyone who tried on the pants looked great! I highly recommend buying them in lots of colors if you go.
So now you know my travel secret: Megève is an ideal winter destination, and I hope your family enjoys it just as much as we did.