The resort of Meribel sits at the heart of the 3 Valleys ski region – the world’s largest with 600 kilometres of piste that connects four major resorts. Meribel is a collection of several different villages with the largest of them being Meribel Centre. Les Allues is a little further down and is built around a traditional village church, with Meribel Village sitting further out on a limb, tucked away and a quieter option if you’re looking to get away from the crowds. Higher above the main town sits Meribel Mottaret with a traditional Savoyard feel, it provides good access to the slopes and is a convenient base if you don’t need the bright lights and après ski action that the town of Meribel is renowned for.
Approximate Transfer Times
Skiing in Meribel
Meribel is extremely well located at the heart of the Three Valleys ski area and provides options for skiers and snowboarders to easily explore the other resorts such as Courchevel and Val Thorens, on either side. The ski area is good for all levels and has a variety of beginner’s options, as well as a huge choice for intermediates and advanced skiers looking to get some blue and red run mileage under their belts. Experts can find good off-piste possibilities in the Meribel area and of course beyond, in the vast Three Valleys ski and snowboard region.
From the main hub at Chaudanne, lifts span out in all directions and it forms the starting point for most skiers from Meribel Centre. On the other side of town, the Morel chairlift takes skiers up to the Altiport area which has excellent beginner’s options and a wide choice of blues and reds that can then be linked over to Saulire (2,738m). From here, the choice is either to descend into the Courchevel area or take advantage of the mainly red runs back towards Meribel, with some of the harder slopes left un-pisted following snowfalls, providing a controlled environment to experience powder snow conditions. It’s also possible to reach Meribel Mottaret (1750m) from this side via the Aigle red, linking through to the other side of the Meribel Valley towards Val Thorens and Les Menuires. Once again, red runs dominate the area, although there’s plenty of blue runs too, and it’s generally easier terrain on this side, but with more interesting and controlled freeride options following fresh snowfalls. Above Mottaret itself, Mont Vallon (2,952m) is accessed via a gondola-style cable car and is the highest point within the Meribel sector and provides some of the most interesting and challenging skiing for the more experienced, with some good off-piste also available in the right conditions and for those with a guide as some of the terrain here is glaciated. The Elements Snowpark is ideal for freestylers and located above the Tougnete lift, accessed from the Chaudanne hub.
Meribel is arguably the best-placed resort within the vast Three Valleys ski region as it sits right in the heart of the area and provides good access to both the Courchevel and Val Thorens sectors. For intermediate skiers and snowboarders to advanced and expert riders, the opportunities seem limitless, especially if you’re into ticking off a different area every day of the week. There are two points that cross over into the Courchevel side – Col de la Loze (2,305m) with a trickier descent down towards La Tania or an easier route across to Courchevel Village (1550m) and then Saulire (2,738m) with multiple options including blue and red runs and the famous Grand Couloir that drops straight down into the Courchevel 1850 area, steeply. The whole Courchevel sector could easily take up a week or more of a ski holiday and has some of the best terrains for experts and off-piste enthusiasts in the area. There’s also huge amounts of intermediate terrain with blues and reds dominating the piste map – more confident beginners who might be on their second weeks skiing, could explore the area providing they had someone to show them the easier ways down, of which there are many, but it’s always easy to take a wrong turn. Heading in the other directions, skiers can access the Val Thorens and Les Menuires sectors of the Three Valleys via no less than six summits or cols (passes), with varying difficulty levels but mostly suitable for intermediates and above – it’s generally easier in terms of terrain to link in with Les Menuires than any of the other Three Valley’s resorts.
Meribel Resort Overview
Meribel is a collection of several different villages including the main centre, known as Meribel Centre (1450m), which forms the largest and liveliest part of the resort. The more modern Mottaret, the highest part of the resort (1750m) is a collection of wooden cladded chalet style apartments built on the slopes. It’s generally quieter than Meribel Centre and suits families, with plenty of convenient ski in, ski out options. Les Allues (1100m) is located further down and neighbours Mussillon but is connected via shuttle bus to the main resort. Built around an old church, the village has developed and now offers accommodation options and is popular with seasonaire’s and therefore can have a lively atmosphere during the evenings. Meribel Village (1400m) stands alone between Meribel Centre and La Tania and provides a quieter alternative to the other villages with traditional chalet style accommodation and access to the slopes via a chairlift into the main system. Whilst all of the villages offer something unique, Meribel Centre has the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops and usually has a buzzing atmosphere during the after ski hours, especially in peak season. Rond Point sits just above Meribel Centre and easily accessed by bus or by skiing.
Restaurants & bars
Meribel is blessed with a huge choice when it comes to restaurants and bars – the food is varied, with regional and international cuisine on offer. The wider Three Valley’s area provides arguably the world’s best choice for foodies looking for gourmet experiences with a packed map full of Michelin stars and other highly regarded accolades. Whilst Meribel Centre has the highest concentration of eateries, there’s also plenty of options in the surrounding villages too. Le 80, in Meribel Centre is a gourmet restaurant serving up a huge choice of meat dishes in a quirky, but stylish interior. Another upmarket option in the centre is Le Plantin, where you can find a Wagu steak, Fois Gras and truffle and wild mushrooms featuring heavily on the menu. But there’s plenty of budget options too, like Jack’s Bar which serves up the likes of pizza and nachos and like the name suggests, is good for a drink too. Over in Meribel Village, La Terrasse La Brasserie is a popular destination with a mix of traditional dishes such as fondue sitting alongside burgers and steaks, whilst Les Allues has a smattering of decent eateries including Tsaretta, L’Arbe and En’k. The Barometer Bar in Meribel Centre is a good bet for a drink and a pizza from lunchtime onwards, as is L’Abreuvoir which is more Tapas orientated.
Meribel itself offers a huge variety of on-mountain eateries with a mix of options depending on budget – and then there’s the chance to explore further afield in the Three Valleys area to open up even more foodie possibilities including some real gourmet treats. For a top end experience, Le Blanchot close to the Altiport is a good bet, serving up modern French cuisine as well as some traditional favourites. It’s also good for non-skiers because as well as being next to the slope, you can also drive there too. La Folie Douce and it's Fruitière restaurant is also high end, and more contemporary. A good budget option is the Le Grand Lac that serves up a traditional menu, alongside salads, burgers and omelettes. Le Cookie’s Club is another popular restaurant for families with a wide choice that includes sandwiches, burgers and salads. Le Rond Point is a well-known, renowned mountain restaurant that serves good food and has a large terrace for al fresco eating on sunny days.
If you can manage to drag yourself away from the huge variety of pistes in Meribel and the Three Valleys area, then you’ll be in for a treat when it comes to the après ski scene, which is one of the liveliest in the French Alps. The atmosphere is normally always fun and sometimes frantic – especially at La Folie Douce, a kind of nightclub on the snow that kicks off after lunch and ends at 5pm, when revellers make their way back into town. From there, the Rond Point attracts those who want to continue the party, with live music the norm. There’s other places to escape the younger crowds too, with more traditional pubs and bars where the conversation is more important than the music. If you’re still going strong later on then O’Sullivans is the place to go, open until 4am, it’s the place to dance with the funky people.
Pedestrians are allowed full access to many of the ski lifts on a much reduced price to the normal lift pass, meaning it’s possible to explore the mountains and visit many of the high-altitude restaurants in the Meribel sector. There’s also evening snowmobiling available from Meribel Mottaret, if the mountains continue to call once you’ve finished skiing or snowboarding. Good winter paths provide some interesting excursions too and there’s around 25 kilometres of them available that crisscross the various villages and hamlets in the area.
Meribel offers a lot for anyone who is a non-skier. Many of the lifts can be accessed with a special pedestrian pass, which also means being able to reach La Folie Douce party in the afternoon via the Saulire Gondola. Located in Meribel Centre, the Parc Olympique, built for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games based in nearby Albertville, has a 25 metre swimming pool, a climbing wall, fitness centre and indoor ice rink. Guided snowshoeing tours are available on some of the higher altitude slopes above Meribel, and the well-marked winter walking trails offer something more sedate closer to town. Dog sledding and horse drawn sleigh rides are a great way to see more of the resorts or go full on and take a scenic hot air balloon flight to get a real birds eye view of the Three Valley’s and over to Mont Blanc.
Who is Meribel Suitable For?
With the vast array of skiing and snowboarding available, not only within the Meribel area but it in the wider Three Valley’s region, it’s not difficult to see that for intermediates who can handle blue and red runs confidently, it’s an absolute paradise on snow. For those who like to explore new runs and areas on a daily basis, there’s probably nowhere better and with Meribel sitting at the very heart of the world’s largest ski area, it’s a fantastic base to start exploring from.
Although the popularity of the resort means it can get busy during peak periods and in certain locations, it’s always easy enough to get away from the crowds due to the sheer size of the area. It won’t be long before you’re on those long, wide-open groomed slopes that link into the other valleys via a large, modern and efficient lift system. More confident intermediate skiers can also take advantage of some of the tougher pistes in the area and also access some relatively easy off-piste slopes, preferably with a qualified guide or instructor.
Meribel feels like a classic family ski resort – good nursery slopes, choice of ski schools, plenty of things for kids to do off the slopes and a nice atmosphere in town. It’s extremely popular with families and they tend to return year after year. The progression from nursery slope to mountain is also a good one and then, of course, there’s so much scope to enjoy the huge area when the children, or parents, start to really improve. The fact there’s lots to do for non-skiers too and access to many of the mountain restaurants means that anyone in the family choosing not to ski or snowboard can still feel part of the group through the week.
Whether it’s a group of friends or a company outing, Meribel is ideal for a group trip due to its huge choice of activities and things to do off and on the slopes. There are skiing and snowboarding for all levels, huge choice of accommodation options, activities to suit a wide variety of tastes, loads of restaurant options and of course some lively après ski and nightlife too.
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