Forty years ago, Rene Meilleur built a modest restaurant on a potato field in the farming hamlet of St. Marcel near St. Martin de Belleville on the edge of the vast Trois Vallees ski area in France. Now, Rene and son Maxime preside over one of the highest three-star Michelin restaurants in Europe, a cozy alpine chalet with rooms and a spa, and a place of pilgrimage for skiing gourmets with deep pockets.
The pair draw on the culinary heritage of the old Savoie region, taking inspiration from the terroir of the valleys, lakes and mountains. The signature foie gras on a sweetcorn pancake with St. Marcel honey and balsamic vinegar has been on the menu since the early days.
"Lunch here has a habit of stretching into a luxurious, lengthy affair," says Simon Hooper, owner of WhiteStorm ski rental in neighboring Courchevel. "If you're feeling a bit full -- and a bit flash -- you can get a chopper home from the helipad next door."
Where else? The one Michelin-starred Les Explorateurs up the road in Val Thorens offers a menu inspired by mountain expeditions.