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Alpine Splendour: A Guide to Chamonix and Megève

Nowhere is the landscape more breathtaking than amidst the towering peaks of the French Alps, where snow-capped summits stand against azure skies almost all year round. Offering family adventure, alpine indulgence and serene time out, the atmospheric villages of Chamonix and Megève embody the essence of mountain living with August’s homes in these exceptional destinations providing the perfect base from which to experience it.

What to Do…

In the shadows of majestic Mont Blanc, world-class shopping, internationally inspired dining and exhilarating outdoor activities abound. Whether visiting during the winter months, when the region is blanketed in powder-white snow, or in the spring season when the forests are in full bloom, discover our curated August guide to spending time among the slopes (and streets) of Chamonix and Megève.

For adrenaline seekers:

In winter, the slopes of Chamonix and Megève beckon snow sports enthusiasts, with skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities well catered for. The former boasts the famed Vallée Blanche descent - a 20km route that descends 2700m into the town - while the latter is home to the Le Jaillet area, August’s pick for the quietest pistes and panoramic mountain views. 

For those searching for other kinds of adventure, snowshoeing offers the opportunity to venture deeper into the alpine surroundings, sighting the local wildlife along the way. Set off with an experienced guide - there are several operators in the region - for a full or half day hike, leaving the crowds far behind. For an even more exhilarating experience, Cloud9 Adventures offers snowshoeing by moonlight, with a hike under the stars leading to a secret mountain restaurant where dinner awaits.

During the spring and summer seasons the mountains transform, yet there are still many ways to enjoy their verdant pistes. Catch a lift to the highest peak and cycle back down, or take to the trails on foot with a picnic in tow. Our favourite route is an 8km loop to Lac Blanc that departs from the Flégère cable car. A moderate ascent, on arrival, the lake’s waters gleam against their mountain backdrop offering a truly spellbinding scene - the perfect place to rest before descending back down.

Whatever the weather, thrill seekers shouldn’t miss booking a paragliding flight with Les Ailes du Mont Blanc. Accompanied by a qualified guide, a choice of flights offer different perspectives on the alpine world, soaring high above the valleys below. 

For soul soothing: 

No trip to Chamonix would be complete without visiting Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France, and the good news is that it’s easily reached by the ‘rack and pinion’ railway of Montenvers. Travelling in its retro red carriages, ascend 1000m, winding through tunnels and pine forests before emerging beside the Mer de Glace. Here, visit the ice caves and take in the crisp, clean air, before refuelling with a warming tipple at Bar des Glaciers. 

After spending the morning exploring, there is no better way to unwind than at the QC Terme Chamonix day spa. A world of wellness, various packages include massages and facials, designed to combat the Alpine elements, while thermal baths target any ski-induced stress. Open until 10pm, evening aperitifs can also be enjoyed from one of several heated outdoor hydrotherapy pools. 

By night, Megève’s Les 5 Rues Jazz Club offers an alternative to the traditional après ski scene with live music, cocktails and a laid back atmosphere to help you unwind following the day’s adventures. 

Where to Eat…

Alpine eats:

No trip to the French Alps is complete without a comforting alpine feast. Thankfully, the Mont Blanc massif area is home to many warm, wood-panelled restaurants where traditional Savoyard cuisine is accompanied by great French wines. 

In Megève, the iconic Le Refuge draws visitors with its chalet setting and wraparound terrace, perfect for enjoying bluebird skies accompanied by a large pot of bubbling cheese fondue. La Table du Trappeur is another August favourite, famed for its grilled meats and nostalgic dishes by head chef, Jérôme Blanchetière. 

In Combloux, a quaint village between Chamonix and Megève, Signature restaurant wins acclaim for its contemporary takes on traditional French cuisine, with its morish tartiflette and Burgundy speciality, oeufs en meurette, making for the most memorable of dining experiences.

Fine dining:

France - the home of the Michelin guide and the country with the world’s most Michelin stars - is renowned for its fine dining scene. Its ski resorts hold the bar just as high as home to some of the globe's most talented gastronomes. 

Drawing on the culinary heritage of Savoie and Piedmont, Chef Damien Leveau is one such chef, whose Chamonix-based restaurant Albert 1er Pierre has been in the family since 1903. Passed down through generations, fresh produce from across the region (think fish from Lake Geneva and meat from local farms) combined with home grown herbs such as loveage, lemon balm and thyme, helped the restaurant achieve its coveted Michelin star.

Across the valley in Megève, Flocons de Sel boasts similar accolades, with three stars to its name as a result of chef Emmanuel Renault’s predilection for Alpine ingredients. Set high in the mountains at the end of the Leautaz road, Flocons de Sel is as much about the food as its setting, making it perfect for the most opulent of occasions. 

Best of the rest:

After a week of dining on the finest French meats and cheese, there are ample venues across the region that provide a welcome break, with the aromatic flavours of international cuisine. Mumma, in Chamonix, is one that August recommends, with its non-pretentious, neo-bistro atmosphere and tastebud-wakening pan-Asian cuisine. Creative cocktails accompany dishes designed with sharing in mind, while a selection of saké is also available for those seeking an authentic Asian experience.

Of course, in the comfort of one’s own private home, dining in is always an option. In Megève, no home-cooked meal is complete without a visit to L'Épicerie des Fermes, an epicurean paradise stocked with the finest local produce. The store also offers private catering, ideal after a long day on the slopes. Or grab a wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza from Il Girone, a pop-up pizzeria on the outskirts of the village, where outdoor tables are well-suited to families travelling with little ones. 

Where to Shop:

After a morning of adventures, nothing restores the soul better than a little retail therapy. While the children rest, take to Chamonix’s Avenue Michel Croz and Rue du Docteur Paccard where designer stores are interspersed with kitsch boutiques stocking artwork, stationary and artisanal souvenirs. Alternatively, foodies should wake early on Saturday mornings and head to the Place du Mont Blanc market to source the finest French cheeses, meats, flowers, alpine honey and fresh rôtisserie chickens – all the elements needed for a decadent weekend lunch. Pick up your favourite bottle from wine boutique, Le Bistrot des Cristalliers, on the way home as a finishing touch.  

In Megève, the village’s cobblestoned streets are lined with the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès, yet venture beyond the central square and there is no shortage of boutiques waiting to be explored. Head to the Scarlett bookshop to pick up a holiday read; Atmosphere for interior inspiration; and Patisserie Le Comptoir Du Père Sotie for a sweet treat when it’s time to refuel. 

What to Pack:

Spring, summer, autumn or winter, the French Alps ooze adventure. While visiting in the warmer months might mean leaving bulky ski gear at home, the same packing principles apply – think layers, comfortable shoes, socks and accessories to help you embrace all of the elements. Throw in some swimwear for a well-deserved spa or sauna session and remember a pack of playing cards for nights spent sipping Savoie under the stars. 

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August Collection house for sale/properties for sale/buy house/ in France, Spain, Italy, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Tuscany, and London (Quotation Icon)

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August Collection house for sale/properties for sale/buy house/ in France, Spain, Italy, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Tuscany, and London (Quotation Icon)

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