Walking on a spring, sunny day in the nurtured and green central boulevard Rothschild of Tel Aviv, it felt like strolling on a symbolic bridge between Tel Aviv and Megève in France.
You would think what connection could be between the busy Metropol in Israel and France's peaceful ski resort town? The answer is the Rothschild family, who donated a lot to the foundation of Tel Aviv, and they are an unseparated part of the city. Their name, especially of Baronne Noemi de Rothschild, is also linked to the history of - Megève, a prosperous resort town in the mountains, and to its rise.
"You are going to Megève" lightened my friend's eyes when I told him I would be there for the jazz festival.
"It is a charming town surrounded by mountains and very stylish too," he added.
When I arrived in Megève on the 31 of March, I discovered how beautiful this town was, in the heart of the mountain, and I was enchanted to learn its history and how it became so popular and dynamic.
I wished, long after the crises of the Corona occurred, to immerse in the mountain's healing power. I hoped to find it Crystal -white, and I hoped it would be a snowy mountain at the end of the winter.
I went to Megève, a vibrant town, all through the seasons. On the specific dates, I was there, from 31of March, for three nights of a great jazz festival in the Palais, a colossal building with everything, from culture to leisure. Outside and inside swimming pool with a panoramic view, an exhibition gallery, and a massive stage for the performances.
But first, some history.
Back to Noemi de Rothschild, as soon as World War I was over, she posed her suitcases in a quiet Middle Ages village with a mysterious Calvary spiritual path, where you find several chapels and oratories, denoting " la Via Dolorosa" leading to Golgotha in Jerusalem. realized by the priest Ambroise Martin.
Noemi de Rothchild had a vision, desiring to create, according to her words, " A French Saint Moritz"- a luxurious ski resort in Switzerland with high-quality hotels. Before the war there was a young sportive skier- Mathilde Lefournier, who saw the immense potential of Megève and started the initiative of installing central heating in the hotel of Mont Blanc. World war I had put an end to the project.
The Baronne de Rothchild had "picked up the slack" after the war.
She inaugurated together with the architect Marcel Auburtin the Hotel of Mont Arbois in December 1921.
Another influential architect who marked the history of Megève is Henri Jacques Le Meme, who invented the mountain cottage made of wood, and created the ones of Mont Arbois.
Slowly Megève has turned from a village, relatively sober, mystical with a holly aura, into a flourished, open town, holding picturesque lanes, luxurious shops, waterfalls, bridges,and quaint wooden houses.
It has offered plenty of diverting activities, from skiing to cultural events attracting thousands of visitors from all over Europe all along the year.
I was soaked in the wintery- snow ambiance in Megève, just before the burst of the spring. Walking in the narrow lanes was delightful, and I stopped for short breaks by the wooden bridges and contemplated the flowing river underneath.
It was scenic and very relaxing.
I appreciated the sight of the wooden houses in the white background.
The church of Megève - Saint Jean Baptiste , in the village's center is spectacular inside, painted with the light blue-sky colour.
On Friday morning it was fun to discover the food market. The fruits and vegetables were extremely colourful next to the white decoration.
I happened to be there during a jazz festival programmed every year in the Palais, in the end of March. During the three nights, were manifestations of talented bands and singers.
Three different bands performed on the first opening night, the 31 of March.
With her powerful, haunting voice, The Swedish singer Isabelle Sorling reminded me of Björk. The American singer Robin Mckelle did excellent covers of various famous jazz songs and shared intimate anecdotes in French with the audience.
The evening ended with the French artist Sly Johnson, who sang hip hop and afro-soul.
The second night the 1 of April, belonged to the Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf. He told many stories in the interval from one piece to another. Mainly about his feelings during Covid-time and memories of Beyrouth being destroyed by the bombs, swinging lightly from sadness to joy.
On the third night, 2 of April, arrived on the stage, the band "Pink Martini" was composed of 12 musicians from various nationalities. They gave a passionate show, performing beloved tunes accompanied by melodic instruments.
I visited the exhibition in the Palais of comic graphics and their interpretation of "the world of mountains." Traditions and creatures from the land of imagination who give ideas, about the secretive and unknown aspects of the mountains.
The Palais is an exciting place that hosts cultural events and art exhibitions throughout the four seasons.
A town in the mountains has an enormous peacefulness effect, mixed with a lightness joy especially when it is as festive as Megève.
One of the fabulous moments was taking the cable car, reaching Mont d'Arbois, and enjoying a jazz session with musicians who played beloved tunes to the skiers and other passengers, on a mountain covered by snow.
The sights from the cable car over the mountain were breathtaking.
I appreciated walking and discovering the landscape. It was so refreshing to take a long walk surrounded by mountains. Because of the heavy snow, it wasn't possible to reach a massive waterfall near Mont d'Arbrois.( I hope to see it next time) On the warm days of spring and the summer, the mountain will offer you other genuine experience.
There is the wild nature of the mountains with the challenge that it gives you, but Megève is also an extravagant town with luxurious hotels.
I loved staying in the comfortable Novotel Hotel right by the Palais. It was in a perfect location, right at the village entrance and a step from the "Palais," and I had a panoramic view from my window of the mountains. The hotel design was blended perfectly with the Wooden style of Megève's architecture.
I would advise you to visit another stunning, dreamy hotel -Grand Hotel Soleil d'or. It is sunny and sparkling, particularly at night. We had a light dinner on the rooftop, a fantastic atmosphere. Being on the highest level of the hotel, you can admire this incredible view of the mountains around you. If you are as fond of chocolate as I do, you will be enchanted to discover their Chocolatery.
This Café is like the mini–Chocolate Kingdom in the core of the mountains. I could have stayed there for hours, just being enveloped by these chocolate aromas. It is meditative and fills you with sweet energies.
I took a challenge to walk solo on the last day of the weekend to reach the Mont Arbois, and I decided to take a longer journey, strolling on the mountain, where I admit I got a bit lost.
When I wanted to return to the village. The view was just an infinite white tapisserie, but I didnt see thy way to reach the village. My imagination started to work fast, remembering all the mysterious cartoon creatures from the exhibition , it made me mindful, I was relieved as I found the way back to Megève -town with the help of another hiker and his cute dog. ( It was a 15-minute walk straight down, but the thick layer of snow hid the view)
So when I returned to the Grand Soleil d'Or for a tasty chocolate drink in the cozy Chocolatery. It was a rewarding treat -an adorable epilogue to my discovery of Megève.
The snow and the cold seem far away at mid-Mai, this is an updated image of Megève now in the spring- all flowers
Other nice recommendations.
I had lovely meals in these restaurants. They are all in Megève, and they had not only very good choice of food but also traditional one and moderne, and also i loved the decoration,
Please check out : Le Hibou Blanc - light, good quality French cuisine right in the center
Le refuge de Calvaire , up on the Calvary path, traditional great food and decoration.
Le Café - for a late festive dinner
and the River for moderne light cuisine
The rooftop of hotel Grand Soleil d'or, for wine and tapas, this place is ideal to hang out there to be in the perfect set design, surrounded by mountains and the amazing Chocolatery.
And the Hotel Novotel for its cozy atmosphere, and super breakfast.
Text and Images-Niva Josef