8 Reasons Why Méribel Is Your Next Ski Holiday Destination
Time to shred some fresh pow...
Want to experience that quintessential ski holiday? Look no further than Méribel, located in France’s infamous 3 valleys region.
Relax in a wooden chalet, appreciate the stunning mountains, ski one of the biggest ski areas in the world and get loose at one of the famous apres ski bars.
Snow, Snow, and Snow again
No matter your level of ski expertise, fresh powder makes for a dreamy day on the pistes. Consistent snowfall means Méribel offers fantastic ski and snowboard conditions across all the seasons.
For hardcore snow lovers, booking in the peak season is the obvious safe bet, but off-season still offers excellent snowfall if you are looking for a more cost-effective trip.
This year, to ensure a good dusting of snow all season-round, Méribel has invested in artificial snow production, drastically increasing the number of snow cannons lining the pistes.
Meaning if mother nature hasn’t blessed her presence with the standard 8 inches of fresh powder overnight, then it’s time to fire up the cannons, delivering good quality slopes throughout the day.
Méribel is part of Les 3 Vallées, the world’s largest interconnected ski area. A legendary 600km of pistes criss-cross the conjoining valleys, creating a well mapped out adventure playground that you can explore indefinitely. You can even ski it’s many slopes for 3 months and still not cover it all. Trust us, we’ve tried!
Conveniently, it is possible to cross all three valleys without touching anything harder than a blue run, making it ideal for the beginner or casual holidaymaker. However, this does not mean the more experienced and adrenaline-fuelled among you will get bored, Méribel and Val Thorens are full of challenging black and red runs.
Excellent off-piste areas can be found easily by following tracks through the forest or under the chair lifts. If that isn’t enough, the DC area snow park on the eastern face of Méribel will leave you somewhere between buzzing and bruised.
Centrally positioned, west of Courchevel and east of Val Thorens, Méribel boasts the best access to the entirety of the ski area with lifts available in all directions, reaching either of the neighbouring valleys within 20 minutes. Its spectacular panoramic views is not a bad place for a glamorous Instagram update... or 10.
A good starting point is Legends, a new, heated, high-speed chair lift carrying you comfortably through chapping conditions towards Val Thorens. This lift makes the journey to ski on the glacier which crowns the very top of Les 3 Vallées doable in one long day.
Many lifts offer spectacular panoramic views, particularly Saulire 1 and 2 which take you into glamorous Courchevel. Catching this set of lifts is highly recommended, either to ski back down into Méribel on wide and manageable red and blue runs, or to plummet over the precipice of Combe de saulire, a “squeaky-bum” black run leading into Courchevel 1850.
Overall, Méribel offers the best value for money if you wish to purchase a 3 Vallées lift pass, even if just as an extension of your Méribel pass for a day.
Unlike your ex, French cuisine will never let you down.
Traditional restaurants are dotted through Méribel centre and serve what you might expect of a French mountain town, warming and hearty portions of cheese and meat. Perfect after a tiring day on the slopes.
The best of any menu is Raclette, a regional dish consisting basically of melted cheese can be found at most venues.
The Rond Point serves good food, big portions and draft beers. It’s easily found on the way down into Méribel centre past the Altiport and daily live music means you will probably hear it before you see it.
However, sampling the slope-side rest stops is part of the joy of a ski holiday on the mountain. Diving out of the cold and into a log fire warmed, contemporary cabin scented with vin chaud and grilled meat is tough to beat. For a real treat find your way to Le Clos Bernard, a hidden gem on the Courcheval side of Méribel. Tucked away in the forest behind the Loze lift, Le Clos Bernard requires a small amount of determination to reach, but will not disappoint.
Unexpected Après Ski
Après Ski in France is typically more subdued than in a party resort like Mayrhofen, Austria. However, Méribel offers similar, with a good range of bars and party venues. A branch of the bar La Folie Douce can be found at the top of the Saliure 1 lift, search this one out on a sunny day for a big sound system, great views and dancing on the tables. Don’t mind if we do.
Additionally, Méribel centre has a collection of late bars finishing between 3-5am and are a great place to get a little bit messy if you feeling up to it. Bar crawls are available through tour operators, such as Ski Total, who can send you out with your weekly resort rep to guide your night, making sure you sample everything that Méribel nightlife has to offer.
Where to stay
Chalets, hotels and self-catered apartments are found throughout the three resort areas: Méribel Centre, Méribel Mottaret and Méribel Village. Most accommodation has traditional alpine decor, meaning that you will never miss out on that cosy “chalet in the mountains” feeling, even if you don’t want to pay for the real deal.
Chalet Hotel Alba is a great example of the ski-in-ski-out accommodation located in Méribel. Its equipment-hire store is located on the ground floor making it super easy for you to roll out of bed and onto the slopes, only 20m to be precise. And at the end of the day, drop off your gear and head to the sauna, steam room and indoor whirlpool spa bath to reset for the next day.
Time for School
Ecole du Ski Français is a world-renowned ski school operating throughout France, whether you are a novice or an experienced seasonaire these guys and girls can take you to the next level. The level of instructing in Les 3 Vallées is second to none, five years of training and assessments give them the skills to help you hone your technique or just guide you across the valleys they know so well.
All that extra good stuff
So, after all of this, what happens if you don’t want to spend all day on the slopes? Maybe you just need a day off? You are on holiday after all. Conveniently, Méribel offers loads of options to allow you to relax and settle down into that holiday feeling.
The Méribel Olympic Park caters for all needs; hosting a spa with a zen Japanese feel, a full-sized American style bowling alley and an ice rink staging professional hockey matches.
Méribel’s high-street is full of shops to purchase the new season’s line of winter apparel, so you can look your best while you glide down the mountain or sip on a little something at La Folie Douce. The high-quality range of winter accessories available will ensure you are #gramworthy when you step out in front of those jaw-dropping views.
If all of that isn’t enough then head across and spend the day in Courchevel, the most exclusive of the three valleys and ski resort of choice for Harry and Wills. Apart from the Bond Street-style shopping, and Michelin Star dining, Courchevel is a great place to just sit back and spot A-listers.
Just be ready for a shock when you come to pay your tab.
By Gus Pitfield
MTV Travelled With... Ski Total (www.skitotal.com / 01483 791 935) is offering seven nights at the four-diamond plus Chalet Hotel Alba in Méribel, France from £721 per person. Price includes flights, resort transfers and chalet catered accommodation with wine. For more information on visiting Méribel, go to www.meribel.net and to book lessons or guides, go to www.esf-meribel.com.