“My husband John and I have been taking our children – Marina (21), Ollie (19), Chloe (17) and Oscar (13) – to Megève since they were tiny, so it’s a home away from home for us and our perfect place to be. If I say we’re going, the children will drop everything and come along.
We have a great apartment in the village, very cosy with lots of log fires. On a Saturday I’ll lie in until 7.30am, check the forecast and text our ski guide Fred to arrange a place to meet. One of the best things about Megève is the amount of off-piste skiing, and Fred knows the routes inside out. Plus he looks like an older Eddie Redmayne, which adds to the thrill.
I’ll nip to the family-run Le Fournil for delicious fresh croissants and we’ll be out the door by 9.30am. We ski as a family and there is no sight more beautiful than blue sky, fresh powder and frozen pine trees. If we’re lucky we’ll spot a chamois standing on a ridge or a white hare.
Having earned our lunch, we’ll head to one of a number of tiny local restaurants: hidden huts that are another of Megève’s special features. They’re not fancy but the food is fantastic. Le Forestier is a favourite, where we’ll have the plat du jour and frites. There’s a terrace, but I like to sit inside where it’s all quite hugger-mugger and there’s a roaring fire.
I love ski touring – plugged into my iPod to distract me from the thigh burn – and if we’re feeling especially energetic we’ll ski to Refuge de Porcherey, the “pigsty”. It has spectacular views of Mont Blanc and if the children aren’t with us, John and I might stay the night.
Otherwise we’ll get back to Megève late afternoon. It’s a beautiful town with a lovely church square and excellent shopping. Scarlett has wonderful midcentury pieces: on my last visit I bought a 1950s silver-plated Italian ice bucket, and I found two 1970s Slim Aarons photographs of Verbier at Village Market, a boutique with an eclectic mix of clothing, artwork and interior design.
The children might hit the wonderfully old-fashioned dodgems on ice while I sneak off for a massage: I have a brilliant girl – whose details shall remain sacred – who comes to the apartment and really gets to work on my ski-weary muscles.
In the evening John and I will have a drink at Lodge Park hotel, which is all fires, furs and antlers, or at art-deco Les Enfants Terribles, which has a wonderful mural by John Cocteau. Dinner might be at Le Cintra, a local place with excellent steak tartare. Or we’ll all get a Ski-Doo to Chalet des Bachais at the top of the mountain. We’ll have a fondue and then don helmets and headtorches for a sled race back to the bottom.
On Sunday, we’ll jump in the car and drive 50 minutes to Courmayeur in Italy. There we’ll ski to the tiny Chiecco, the best restaurant in the Alps – run by the fabulous Anna and Paolo – for great pasta and excellent wine.
A total white-out would give us an excuse for a pyjama morning at home. We’ll play competitive games like Logo or Racing Demon, which turns me into a ghastly person. For lunch we’ll go up the mountain; I’m always optimistic the weather will clear, and as Megève is so wooded you can always ski among the trees, which offer plenty of protection. We’ll eat at L’Alpette, a well-known restaurant with a bit of a scene. There are huge fires, more dynamic menus and a table groaning with amazing puddings, including an excellent tarte aux myrtilles.
We’ll catch a 7pm flight and be at home in Sussex by 9pm, where I’ll have a bowl of soup in front of something like Homeland. I’ll plan my week and go to bed feeling relaxed, re-energised – and counting the days until we can go back.”