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Megeve City Guide

The Megève Style

One of the most important figures in the history of Megève, Henry Jacques Le Même gave his architectural soul to the resort and, even more so, influenced its way of life...

Henry Jacques Le Même, inventor of the Megève style

It is a certainty, the landscape of Megève would not be the same if Henry Jacques Le Même had not decided to settle there in 1925. Because its singular and so well integrated architecture founded the identity of this resort launched by the Rothschild family in the early 1920s. Born in 1897, a graduate of the Beaux-Arts in his native Nantes, then of Paris, where he won first prize in the prestigious Rougevin competition in 1923, the student architect then joined the studio of one of the masters of the Art Deco style, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. There he learnt how to carry out a project from start to finish, from architecture to interior decoration, from space planning to furniture design with remarkable craftsmanship. Skills that he will apply to each of his building sites. But in poor health, the future builder was forced to take a cure in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. Adolphe Beder, an industrialist and director of the Société Française des Hôtels de Montagne (SFHM), for whom he had just designed the decorations for a casino in the Nièvre, advised him to go to a small village that Baroness Noémie de Rothschild had just decreed the ideal winter sports resort: Megève. The latter asked the young man to look at the plans for his private chalet, with the old farms of the country as a paradigm. Henry Jacques Le Même thus left Paris for Haute-Savoie for good.

Draw Megève

Of the agricultural buildings in the region, Henry Jacques Le Même only keeps the shape and volume. Inside, the spaces, rational and practical, integrate comfort and elegance worthy of a private mansion. An architectural vision which will be like the sketch of what will be part of his fame: the famous "Chalets du Skieur", later declined to more than 200 projects. Constructions recognizable by their double-pitched roof, base in local stone covered with light-coloured plaster, wooden cladding for the first floor, shutters with graphic and colourful lines, large picture windows and corner windows... A typology that has since been widely copied. The subject of his diploma, obtained in 1929, is the remarkable chalet built for Princess Angèle de Bourbon. He then set up his practice in an avant-garde villa-studio, a family home as much as a place of work. A red cube, a model of manifest architecture, designed under the influence of Le Corbusier but also of André Lurçat, Jean-Charles Moreux and which joins, in its preoccupations of opening on the outside, the villa E-1027 of Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. The success is overwhelming. The workshop is always full of well-informed customers who choose Megève as a holiday resort. At the same time, he collaborates with his friend the architect Pol Abraham, in the elaboration of the great sanatoriums of the Assy plateau in Passy. He signed the creation of the Edelweiss (1928 and 1945), Albert 1er (1930), du Mont-Blanc (1934), Royal (1934 and 1945) hotels... but also of shops, including the sports hotels of Brette and Reussner (1929) and Emile Allais (1946-1949)...

A post-war reconstruction architect who enjoyed a remarkable national career while assuming numerous official and expert functions in the profession, Henry Jacques Le Même forever marked the megèvean panorama of his incredible production, in the momentum of the dynamism of the station. While remaining faithful to his convictions, particularly that everything must be "thought out and drawn" in exact proportion, to serve what he liked to call the "science of landscape".