Megève, France

Photo: Flocons de Sel

The morning started on the slopes. You skied around rock formations, under trees sagging with freshly fallen snow, and through woods probably inhabited by elves. You stopped at Le Refuge, a traditional mountain bistro, to refuel. Then you headed into the Alpine town, where the streets are cobbled, the center square is reserved for pedestrians and sleds, a Christmas tree stays up all winter, and chic boutiques are outlined with twinkling lights. Could this day get any better?

Yes, in fact, it could. You have a reservation for a Michelin-starred dinner tonight. The rustic-chic restaurant actually has three Michelin stars. The chef, who likes to forage for herbs and mushrooms, creates deceptively simple dishes and desserts that look like pieces of art. Better yet, the 19th-century farmhouse also offers six rooms and two apartments. That’s right, you’re staying at the boutique hotel, so you don’t have to find your way down the winding Route de Leutaz after completing the eight-course tasting menu.

Welcome to magical Megève. The French ski town sits in the foothills of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, near both the Italian and Swiss borders. Geneva, plus its well-connected international airport, is just over an hour away. The former farming village—most of its buildings are still wood-and-stone chalets—was turned into a ski resort after World War I as an alternative to glitzy St. Moritz in Switzerland.

Photo: Flocons de Sel

Megève is now home to 88 lifts and 200 miles worth of beginner-friendly slopes. Meg-Bus, a ski bus, runs between the center of town and the trails. Horse-drawn carriages depart for the lower hills. French designers have shops in between the 13th-century church, the outdoor ice rink, the charcuterie, the cobbler, and antique dealers. While unique hotels extend well beyond the center of town.

Flocons de Sel (Flakes of Salt) is definitely one of those hotels. Though only a mile outside of Megève, the little hotel feels worlds away. It’s deep in the mountains with views of the sparkling valley and snow-covered peaks. It features large, individually decorated rooms. Superior rooms have their own terraces, while wood-burning fireplaces are added to junior suites. There’s a ski room to stash your wet gear and another shuttle to the nearby lifts, of course. Plus there’s a spa with a sauna, a steam room, heated indoor and outdoor pools, and a wooden hot tub for two. It’s the perfect spot to loosen your tight muscles and prepare you for dinner.

An advance peek at the à la carte menu shows parsnip and beetroot gnocchi in a pinkish horseradish garden consommé, pike and monkfish biscuits, roasted scallops with earthy butternut squash and chestnuts, and a filet of venison, which is one of the house’s signature dishes. You’re anxious to see whether any of them are on tonight’s tasting menu. You’re even more excited to be a guinea pig for new plates that haven’t made it to the regular menu yet. Crisp white wines from Savoie are sure to accompany some of the dishes, as well. Apparently, the best has yet to come.

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