This time last week I was shoop shoop shooping down the snowy mountains of Les 3 Vallées under blue skies on our skiing escapade to Méribel. After a few days of R&R back in the UK (I think I’ve just about digested all the cheese I ate) I thought I’d share this post with some of the highlights.
Méribel, well Les 3 Vallées generally, is a fantastic place to ski and it certainly deserves its popularity. There are so many pistes across Méribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens, with loads of variety, plenty of off-piste options, and indescribable, out-of-this-world views. Staying in Méribel meant that we could get over to both Courchevel and Val Thorens fairly easily with our 3 valleys pass, whereas staying in one of the other two might limit your options a bit more. In addition to the huge variety of pistes, there are plenty of “fun zones” too – the Elements Park is awesome where you can practice jumps and race your friends at boardercross, and there are loads of fun routes aimed at kids too like the Piste des Inuits and Yeti Park. You can find piste maps here: https://www.merinet.com/maps
There are a couple of options for ski schools in Meribel. I went for New Generation ski school who offer a range of different types of lesson – all in English – from beginner and intermediate group lessons to private lessons and explorer lessons where you can get guidance on the local skiing environment. I was in one of the intermediate groups with lessons Monday to Friday at 9:15 till 11:15 which was a great way to get out and set up the day whilst still having plenty of free time. The instructor was brilliant as he was chilled out but really knew his stuff. I came out of each lesson with great titbits of technique and loads more confidence to tackle more challenging slopes. I felt like I was in great hands with a fab instructor and a ski school that were really welcoming of all levels and accommodating if you weren’t sure which level you were.
Highlights (aside from the skiing)
If you like live music and dancing in your ski boots half way up a snow-capped mountains with a cold beer (or other beverage) and views of all the other snow-capped mountains – you need to go to La Folie Douce. We went on a lovely sunny afternoon and it got fairly busy but that only adds to the atmosphere as everyone is having a great time and there’s an infectious party mood in the air.
It wouldn’t be right to write a post about skiing in the French Alps without reference to the local cuisine. Delights such as tartiflette, raclette, fondue, and crepes are not difficult to find in Meribel, but book a table at La Fromagerie for some of the best. Try the seasonal melted Vacherin for something exquisite and a little different and buy some delicious cheese in their shop to take away too.
On Méribel’s main high street we happened upon a beautiful artisan food shop with huge, beautiful displays of cured saucisson, cheese, and wine. There were plenty of little plates with samples and it’s a great place to pick up something a bit special to eat back at your chalet so best not to wait too long into your trip to take a look.
Some practical stuff
Getting to Méribel, you fly into Geneva and take a bus transfer from there – we booked through snowbus.com. Our flight landed in the early evening and we figured it was best to eat at the airport and take a later transfer as they can take between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on the snow and conditions on the road. Waiting was no problem though as we thoroughly enjoyed a meal with great background music at the Montreux Jazz Cafe.
We were looking to stay in a chalet/apartment where you can ski in and out or at least very close to it, rather than always having to get the local bus. Our apartment, Le Jardin d’Eden, was close to the Morel lift, meaning that we could get straight on to a lift in the morning to ski down into the main areas, and that we could ski back at the end of the day. The apartment was in a great location, well-sized and with a lovely warm shower! Another good thing was that we were able to book ski passes through the chalet’s booking system so they were on the table when we arrived.
Local buses in Méribel are free and run every 15-20 minutes which is great when you want to get into town in the evening or if you’re a beginner (you can take your skis on too).
I can thoroughly recommend Precision Ski for hiring equipment. The service was quick, very friendly, and efficient, and I had no issues with anything I borrowed from them. Returning everything was really simple as well.
If you’re heading back via Geneva airport, it’s worth being aware that security can be pretty slow, food options are ok but were super busy for us, and you should give plenty of time to get to your gate because there’s a passport check that you might not be expecting. On a positive note though, there’s an awesome (if a little pricy) chocolate shop before you go through security that’s well worth a look.
Have you been to Méribel or Les 3 Vallées? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. Or are you looking to go on your first skiing trip? I’ve shared some tips here for first-timers: A complete guide to surviving your first skiing trip.