Cradled between innovation and tradition, dive into the heart of a hundred years of history and discover the incredible destiny of Megève, this small agricultural town that has now become an iconic ski resort of international renown.

Once upon a time in Megève

Before the advent of winter tourism, Megève was above all an agricultural town where the inhabitants benefited from a fertile and rich land. Megève, from the Celtic name “Mageva”, derives from media aquarium which in Latin means “in the middle of the waters”. This expression refers either to the position of the town on a watershed line, or to the location of its priory, the probable nucleus of the current chief town, between the streams of Glapet and Planay. A place therefore conducive to agriculture and livestock farming.

Cited as a benefactor stopover, the village of Megève was once a place of passage for peddlers and churchmen. Many pilgrims frequented the sanctuary of Calvary before continuing their journey in the surrounding valleys. Until the 20th century, the religious heritage of the village increases considerably. The territory is then covered with chapels, oratories and crosses. Megève developed in small steps until the arrival of the first tourists in the XNUMXth century, who came to enjoy the pure mountain air.

But it was not until the beginnings of the First World War that skiing was mentioned in Megève, in particular thanks to an article by the journalist Mathilde Maige-Lefournier, a mountaineer from Chambéry, who praised skiing on the heights of the village. . Entitled “Megève or the glorification of skiing”, his article is a real spotlight which will already have its influence and boost the village as a mecca for winter sports. It was then that in 1914 the first ski competition was created, as evidenced by the many photos of this period of discovery and development. Farmers invent ski lifts, almost everything will be tested.

General view with Rochebrune
© Tops Socquet

I believe that Megève was created for skiing and skiing invented for Megève

From agricultural town to ski resort

It all really began the day after the First World War when Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, a mountain enthusiast, decided to settle in Megève to flee the Germans, and in particular Baron Krupp, a great supplier of cannons for the German army, who she meets during her holidays in Saint-Moritz. This is how Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, seduced by the exceptional view, settled on the heights of Megève, at the Mont d’Arbois estate, to build a ski resort there that would allow the aristocracy to enjoy the mountains without having to rub shoulders with the hereditary enemy, the Germans.

In 1921, the Palace des Neiges made its appearance. A flamboyant construction, planted on hundreds of hectares and equipped with an ice rink. Accompanied by her husband, Maurice de Rothschild, the Baroness deploys a unique French way of life which, even today, remains unchanged. Success was immediate, the hotel became the place to be for high society reunions. Over the years, new hotels have been added to the landscape, modeled on traditional chalets. The agricultural town is then transformed into a real ski resort which will become, a few years later, a destination of international reputation.

From authentic village to iconic ski resort

At the same time, the village of Megève is equipped with innovative infrastructures. An ice rink in 1929, a cinema in 1931 and a cable car in 1933, the very first specifically built for downhill skiing. The appearance of the famous spindle by the tailor Armand Allard, a child of the region, also highlights the village of Megève. A few years later, it was the sportsmen's turn to sublimate Megève with a fine track record. Bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Garmisch in 1936, 3 gold medals at the world championships in Chamonix in 1937, downhill world champion in 1963, Megève then became a real land of champions.

In the space of a few decades, Megève obtained the status of a prestigious resort. A Paris-Megève air link is established, films are shot there, sports and cultural infrastructures are built, top-of-the-range establishments are born and new mountain facilities are created. Very quickly considered as the Saint-Tropez of the snow due to its sporty and festive atmosphere, its luxurious addresses and its many international events, Megève then became the essential ski resort for holidays in the mountains.

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