Travel + Leisure
We'd decided to ease into the region by spending two nights in Megève, a quiet village about 45 minutes west of Chamonix. Megève represents the area's more rural side. It's a wealthy ski-resort town, dotted with farms, chalets, and the occasional designer boutique. When we pulled in through the gates of our hotel, Les Fermes de Marie (or Marie's Farms), it was obvious that the place was agrarian in name only. The property is the very definition of rustic-chic. It consists of a clutch of nine chalets, each built from parts of old barns that had collapsed nearby. There were beamed ceilings everywhere, and oil portraits of gouty-looking men. In between the buildings were plum trees, apple trees, and a spa of many pools, around which sun-crisp French vacationers lay reading paperbacks and wearing robes. A chicken coop had each bird's name written on a chalkboard (Mélanie, Claire, Lydia, Florence). For dinner that night we ate a delicious local river fish, though he was served nameless.
Sometimes when I can't sleep I like to picture a European breakfast. There's just something soothing about a big spread of muesli and charcuterie and five kinds of yogurt. On our first morning, our jet lag got us up early — to encounter the breakfast of my dreams. Three types of bread. Four kinds of local cheese. An assortment of brioches and viennoiserie that included fresh pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins. Not to mention the best omelette Rachel had ever tasted. (From the eggs of Mélanie? I wondered. Or Florence?) After such a feast, it seemed vital to expend energy. We'd signed up to take a hike that evening into the mountains, for stargazing, but it had been canceled because of an impending storm. I explained to the concierge my interests: a good hike, a spot for lunch. "Here's what we'll do," he said, whipping out a topographical map and highlighting it like a cavalry officer. He then launched into 60 seconds' worth of rapid-fire instructions to remember, starting with, "Take the lift."View more