Meribel sits in the middle of the 3 Valleys, the world’s largest lift-linked ski area. As well as 600kms of linked piste, the resort offers a huge amount of off-piste (best (and safest) when enjoyed with a guide). The entire area has just over 175 lifts. The local runs are mostly aimed at intermediates. It’s also a good place to learn to ski with a wide choice of ski schools, and novices who are keen to start exploring will benefit from the clear signage, excellent piste grooming and the opportunity to ski from Meribel into both of the other valleys and return entirely on gentle green and blue runs.
There are no lifts taking you higher than 3000m in the Meribel valley but just across the Col de la Chambre there are plenty in Val Thorens. Local tree skiing is limited, but ski over the Col de la Loze and you can find a lot more in the woods above Le Praz and La Tania. And whilst Meribel’s own black runs are not very steep, you only have to cross the Saulire ridge and ski a few metres into Courchevel to find the Grand Couloir, which definitely deserves its grading.
As a place to stay in, Meribel is a purpose-built resort that feels very much more than that. The main village sprawls away from the centre which means that some properties are quite a distance from the main lifts. There is however a ski-bus service, some properties have their own driver service and there are useful connecting pistes and lifts.
For real ski in ski out, the satellite resort of Meribel Mottaret is worth considering. Mottaret probably has the best location in the whole of the 3 Valleys in terms of skiing, but to be missing out on the charm and vibrant nightlife of Meribel itself, for the younger crowd at least, might be a bit too much to ask.
1125m – 3330m
December – April
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The best place to learn in Meribel is the Foret green slope. It is by far the most gentle slope of the lot. The Blanchot green, accessed by taking the Rhodos gondola from the Chaudanne, is also flat and winds nicely through trees. Halfway down there is a restaurant with a decent terrace if things get too difficult. Those stationed in Meribel-Mottaret will have to rely on the Truite green that runs down the Chaudanne in Meribel proper.
There are just some many options for intermediates in Meribel. The Chamois red and the Mauduit red (from top to bottom) are two wonderful long runs that offer a slight challenge without allowing any fear to set in. All blues in the resort are easy and well within even the timid intermediate’s ability range. We suggest taking a trip up the Tougnete bubble and drag and then heading right, where you will meet the Blaireau red. Loook out also for the the reds Pramint and Jerusalem that take you down to St Martin de Belleville are perhaps two of the best red runs in the entire Three Valleys, certainly first up in the morning. They are a wonderful route to some great lunch options. All of the runs from the top of Saulire are wide cruisers (once you have navigated the sometimes rutted and always icy path around the headland to the runs leading down to Meribel). The Niverolle and Aigle reds combine for a nice long ski down to Meribel Mottaret.
Locally, the blacks of Bartavelle and Bosses pretty much guarantee some bumps should that be your thing. The black, when it is not struggling with snow, is again always a mogul field. Le Face (the women’s Olympic downhill) can be sublime in unpisted powder or a massive adrenaline rush on freshly pisted corduroy. Grande Rosiere and Sanglier are unremarkable but testing and enjoyable and Combe Tougnete is a good quick run with a very steep first hundred metres. Skiers wanting to sample the off-piste challenges in the valley should head to Mont Vallon and from the safety of the lift carefully inspect the area inbetween the Combe de Vallon and Campagnol pistes. We advise that a guide is necessary should you wish to explore the off piste in the region as many of the areas can be exposed to avalanches. And of course, experienced skiers should not stay in Meribel valley, bit explore the wonderful variety of skiing on either side of the resort.
The Snowpark at Plattieres has an enclosed area where beginners can evolve without being intimidated. There are 17 acres, two half-pipes plus jumps, whoops and banks. The Moon Park in Meribel has a decent vertical drop, one competition standard half pipe, another for learners and a boardercross that stretches to a kilometre. For those who like things more natural there is an enormous wall beneath the Adret chair just before you reach the top. The wall can be accessed from either the Marmotte or Geai blues. Runs that boarders should consider avoiding due to their flat nature are the Ours blue from the base of Mont Vallon and Lac de La Chambre from the top of Cote Brune to the bottom of Mont Vallon. The Boulevard de La Loze that takes you from Loze to Saulire is very flat, while the Perdrix green that takes you into Mottaret from the Tougnete is very flat at the bottom – make sure you get some speed up.
Non-skiers can admire breath-taking panoramas from Meribel’s summits and join skiing friends at mountain restaurants without ever strapping planks to their feet. Simply buy a pedestrian pass from the ski pass office and make your way to your chosen summit. Le Panoramic Restaurant at the top of Saulire, le Bouche Oreille at 3 Marches and Le Plan des Mains restaurant at the foot of Mont Vallon are our pick of the best viewpoints and nicest restaurants reachable on foot. 16.50 euros will take you to a single summit, or 23.50 euros gives you unlimited use of all the pedestrian-friendly lifts in the Three Valleys for one day. Meribel offers 25km of wonderful winter walking trails which link the various villages. They are regularly groomed and well signposted and all you need is a pair of stout walking boots to enjoy them. Our favourite walk is the very easy circular path around the Lac Tueda above Mottaret. The frozen lake and jagged peaks make for a wonderfully picturesque setting and there’s a restaurant (le Restaurant du lac de Tueda) and slightly more distant refuge (Refuge du Plan) where you can enjoy lunch in the sun. Top tip: plan to visit around the middle of the day as this valley loses the sun relatively early in the afternoon.
Take a trip in a light aircraft
Get even higher above the Alps with a tourist flight from Meribel’s own airfield. You’ll take off from the snow-covered Altiport and enjoy a spectacular flight either over the 3 Valleys or you can go further afield towards les Arcs and experience amazing views of le Mont Blanc from the air. It’s an unforgettable experience and surprisingly affordable (flights start at 90 euros per person).
Watch the cabaret at La Folie Douce
Professional dancers, flying champagne bottles, singers strutting their stuff in exotic costumes and music so loud you can hear it the opposite side of the valley there’s nothing in Meribel quite like the afternoon cabaret at La Folie Douce. Take the Saulire Express 1 gondola lift (non-skiers can buy a pass for 12 euros) to enjoy this wild party on the mountain on any sunny afternoon.
Whizz around the mountains on a high-powered snowmobile
If you are missing the adrenaline of skiing, a snowmobile ride will give you all the thrills and excitement you seek. The one-hour evening outings start from Le Hameau in Mottaret and you will follow tracks and go off-piste. Choose between a standard discovery tour or a sportier, high-adrenaline one. Prices start from 120 euros per driver, and 20 euros per passenger.
Spend an evening in a refuge
Nothing gets you closer to the mountains then spending an evening high in a mountain refuge. Enjoy a Savoyard meal with a group of friends and walk back by torchlight or overnight there and awake to the silence and beauty of the mountains at dawn. Meribel has two refuges, offering traditional simple accommodation (Refuge du Plan in the Tueda Nature Reserve) or more luxurious surroundings with private en-suite rooms (Refuge du Christ above les Allues). Both are located in spectacular scenery and feel a million miles away from the busy ski resorts below you. Depending on how energetic you are feeling, you can arrive on foot or be driven in a snow-scooter and walk or toboggan back down.
Take a trip in horse drawn sleigh
This is a gentle and relaxing way to discover the magical Tueda lake setting. The sleigh takes up to four passengers for a half or one hour tour of the lake and its surroundings (55 / 95 euros for the carriage).
Make the most of Meribel’s Olympic Centre
A legacy of the 1992 Olympic Games, Meribel’s multi-sport centre offers indoor activities to suit absolutely everybody. Try something new such as indoor climbing; splash in the pool; show off your skill in the bowling alley, skate or watch an ice-hockey match. Fitness freaks will love the gym and the huge range of exercise classes: aqua-bike, paddle boarding, circuits or aqua-aerobics for anyone.
Discover the valley on a snowshoe outing
Snowshoes allow you to get off the beaten track and find hidden corners of the valley. It’s best to go with a guide to discover the prettiest, quietest areas and learn all about the flora, fauna, history and geography of the valley. It’s great exercise too, you’ll deserve your tartiflette or fondue after a half day walk. Outings are run by the ESF (French ski school), Snow Shoe Walks, Snow d’Light and a few other companies.
Holidays are a great time to switch off and enjoy a massage in your chalet or beauty treatment in one of the many spas.
View the live snow report for Meribel here
Meribel was awarded Famille Plus status in 2013 in recognition of its commitment towards catering for families with children. In addition to a wide range of family friendly accommodation and restaurants, the resort also offers fantastic ski school and childcare facilities, plus a wide range of activities to keep kids occupied off the slopes. In recent months the resort has improved its facilities for families further still with the introduction of new children’s play areas, a programme of entertainment for kids, and an information brochure for families visiting the resort, all of which is overseen by their new kids’ mascot, Kenotte.
Family Friendly Accommodation
Les Fermes de Meribel is an excellent choice for families travelling to Meribel. Located in the quieter setting of Meribel Village, a five minute shuttle bus ride from Meribel Centre, these spacious luxury apartments have excellent facilities and are so close to the slopes that you can ski right back to the door. Kids and adults alike will love the indoor heated pool and spa area, and there’s also a games room as well as a good selection of board games to keep everyone entertained in the evening.Another residence that’s perfect for families is Les Crets in Meribel-Mottaret. These spacious and well-equipped apartments are situated right by the slopes and just a few minutes walk to the funicular that takes you to the centre of Meribel, so getting everyone from A to B will be stress free. Close by and occupying another enviable ski in/ski out location are Les Sentiers du Tueda apartments, which are also ideal for families.For those who prefer hotel accommodation, the 4-star Hotel Le Tremplin offers modern rooms in a convenient location near the slopes.
Ski School and Childcare
There are several good options for kids’ ski school and childcare in Meribel, ranging from the ESF through to smaller, UK based ski schools. There are also several companies that offer nanny and babysitting services where professional child minders will look after and entertain your kids in the familiar surroundings of your own apartment. Families of two adults and two children (or more) under the age of 18 will also get a special deal on lift passes where the adults pay the kids’ price.
With all the activities that Meribel has to offer, both on the slopes and off, there’s no way the kids are going to get bored:
Themed Kids’ Ski Areas
There are several themed ski areas for kids, to help make their early experiences on skis even more enjoyable. One of the newest is the Inuit Village in the Altiport area of the resort, which has whoops, banked turns, a mini slalom and Inuit-themed games. In the same area is the animal-themed Moon Wild piste, which has life sized woodland animals dotted about. There’s also a mini ski and boardercross course, Le P’tit Moon, which is suitable for kids aged 6 to 12 who are of an intermediate level or above.
There are several slopes throughout the resort that are set up specifically for sledging. La Chaudanne, Meribel Village and Meribel-Mottaret all have their own sledging areas with crash mats for safety, toilets and picnic areas.
The Parc Olympique is a fantastic amenity in La Chaudanne area of Meribel Centre, which is home to many of the resort’s best off-snow sports facilities. The centre was built for the 1992 Winter Olympics and has a large indoor swimming pool and spa area, Olympic size ice skating rink, and indoor climbing wall, all of which run special programmes of events for kids. There’s also a bowling alley with 6 lanes that can be adapted for kids as young as three. Rental of bowling shoes is free for kids under the age of 6.
The cinemas in Meribel Centre and Meribel-Mottaret both screen a programme of films that are suitable for kids from the age of three.
Hotel Le Kaila
Hotel Le Savoy
Hotel La Chaudanne
Hotel Le Tremplin
Geneva airport – 2 hours
Lyon airport – 2 hours
Chambery airport – 1h 30 min’s
Grenoble airport – 1h 30 min’s
There are regular buses and shared transfers from Geneva Airport with less frequent options on offer form other airports. Please enquire for further information.
The resort is approximately 600 miles from the channel ports and is conveniently served by motorway to within 12 miles of the resort. Toll costs are approximately £45 each way.
The Eurostar runs directly from London St Pancras and Ashford International to the town of Moutiers, which is only 25 minutes drive from Meribel. The train that leaves London on Friday evening arrives early Saturday morning in Moutiers.