Méribel - The Jewel Of Les Trois Vallées Ski Area

by : Mark Scriven

Most skiers can only dream of endless, uncrowded, powdery slopes. Méribel, located at the heart of Les Trois Vallées, the world's biggest ski area, is the perfect place to make that dream come true. Méribel's resorts have been built especially for skiers and are interlinked with all other resorts in Les Trois Vallées, so that one pass provides access to over 180 ski lifts and more than 600 km of ski runs - as well as 120 km of cross-country trails. Skiing doesn't get any better than this.

Méribel is one of the world's great cosmopolitan ski resorts

Founded in 1938, Méribel is now one of the world's great cosmopolitan ski resorts. Situated between 1450 and 1700 metres above sea level, the main village of Méribel has real Alpine charm, with authentic chalets built of wood and stone. The more traditional and less developed village of Les Allues, is situated below the main resort, at 1100 metres, and is linked to the resort lift system by gondola, while Méribel-Mottaret, with chalets that are mostly budget, mid-range and self-catering, is sited above the main resort at 1700-1800m metres. Méribel Village, to the east, is a smaller development, set at 1400 metres, with mid-range, luxury, and self-catering chalets. From here you can take the 'golf chair', for a fast ride to the Altiport, at 1700 metres, where planes can land.

A variety of fantastic snow sport options

With over 70 groomed runs, Méribel caters for skiers and snowboarders at every level of expertise. Most slopes are particularly suited to intermediate and advanced skiers, plus there are 11 green slopes for beginners and nine expert slopes, as well as two incredible snowboard areas. Many advanced skiers favour the alpine skiing, with its excellent powder and mogul fields, glacier skiing options, and exciting, steep descents through the trees. There are 18 chairlifts, 16 gondola lifts, and 14 draglifts, and the infrastructure is being continually improved. Méribel's also has 685 snow cannon and 25 grooming machines that go to work as soon as the runs are closed to ensure your next day's skiing is the best possible.

The resort also has many skiing and snowboarding schools for all ages and capabilities, plus non-ski kindergartens and créches that are open daily. The nightlife is lively and the bars and restaurants in the village centre are reasonably priced - try the Platin or the Plein Soleil for a delicious meal. There are also plenty of shops, supermarkets, vacation centres, a mobile home park, banks, a post office, and of course all kinds of accommodation.

Not only skiing

Once you've had enough skiing, you can try the indoor swimming pool and the climbing wall at the Olympic centre, situated near the Chaudanne lifts. The resort also has an ice-skating rink, bowling alley, fitness centres, cinemas, and facilities for snowshoeing, parasailing, hang-gliding, plus hot air balloon flights.

If you'd rather take a walk, the Méribel Valley offers over 25 km of groomed walking trails, even during the winter, and you don't need snowshoes or special equipment to enjoy them. The trails link the resorts to the local villages as well as some of the mountain restaurants, and you can also join a group for a guided snowshoe walk around the valley.

Méribel's ski season runs from early December to late April, but the area is beautiful all year round. Just take a train to Moutiers, then a bus or taxi to Méribel, and enjoy your stay in the 'jewel' of Les Trois Vallées.